Fairbairn Capital Old Mutual joBerg2c Mountain Bike Race 2011: A Review
The joBerg2c mountain bike race is a 9-day event that takes rides from Heidelberg, just east of Johannesburg, to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. The route is roughly 930km in length and incorporates the sani2c route, parts of the Berg and Bush route and the Bielie Mielie route. The various sections of single track on the route are linked up using district and farm roads.
Registration takes place the day before the event starts.
All route profile images are courtesy of the official joBerg2c website.
Also, for novice and seasoned riders alike you may want to check out my stage race checklist for a listing of things that you will need to remember when preparing for your ride.
My daily reviews, in depth, are available here:
Stage 1: Heilelberg to Frankfort, 115km
Distance 115km, Ascent 917m, Descent 935m
Due to the Vaal Dam crossing this day is a neutral zone. All riders get the same time on the first stage, which is the time of the first team across the finish line that day. It is a compulsory stage and riders must complete this stage.
Starting at the Karan Beef headquarters, just outside of Heidelberg, the first stage of 115km is a mix of district road, single track and river crossings. The highlight of the day is traversing the Vaal Dam in Chinese Dragon Boats.
Check out my Day 1 race review.
Stage 2: Frankfort to Reitz, 93km
Distance 93km, Ascent 1030m, Descent 959m
This day takes riders into the heart of the Free State, and passes through many a maize farm. Riders are treated to the spectacular landscapes and vast horizons of this part of the world.
With several sections of single track on this route riders will not be disappointed. The organisers have saved the best for last with an amazing 10km section of single track to the finish at the Reitz show grounds.
Check out my Day 2 race review.
Stage 3: Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam, 127km
Distance 127km, Ascent 1064m
The terrain of day 3 is much the same as the previous day. However, once further into the eastern Free State riders will begin to notice the sandstone features that are so prominent in this part of South Africa. Views of the Drakensberg will also start presenting themselves. The stage finishes at the mighty Sterkfontein Dam, and riders finish by cycling across the 3km dam wall, constructed entirely of earth.
Check out my Day 3 race review.
Stage 4: Sterkfontein Dam to Winterton - 124km
Distance 124km, Ascent 1937m, Descent 2624m
Riders are taken along, and then down the escarpment using trails first cut by the Voortrekkers in their migration to the interior of South Africa. This day consists of some of the most incredible riding available to mountain bikers and includes both technical downhills and testing climbs. Two of them, Retief's Pass and Bezuidenhout's Pass, will be used to drop down to plains of KwaZulu-Natal from the edge of the world.
Aside from the spectacle early on in the race, riders will also be treated to panoramic views from the top of Spionkop Mountain.
Check out my Day 4 race review.
Stage 5: Winterton to Kamberg, 102km
Distance 102km, Ascent 1625m
Riders head straight into the irrigation farms of Winterton. The day consists of tough single track through farmlands and 3 distinct climbs into the Kamberg, the first of which presents a magnificent view from on high of the Wagendrift Dam, the day's natural beauty highlight of the day. The route continues onwards and upwards leading riders to the top of the Kamberg valley.
With the bushveld behind, views of the Southern Drakensberg appear, the most impressive being 'the Giant', who watches over this part of the 'Berg.
The Kamberg route is a contrast to the previous day’s ride, and Thorn Trees give way to Oaks and Planes. The air becomes decidedly European as the riders reach their destination at Glengarry resort, a picturesque setting that sees the race village located on a river that runs through the property.
Check out my Day 5 race review.
Stage 6: Kamberg to Hazeldean Farm
Distance 94km, Ascent 1982m, Descent 1946m
Day 6 holds forth real challenges as riders encounter the mountains of KwaZulu-Natal. The first half of the race follows 50km of district road, with the Drakensberg mountains watching over their foothills.
‘The Giant’ recedes as the riders progress towards the first big climb of the day, a winding section of district road that summits at Snow Top Farm, the highest point on the route at 1864m above sea level. Riders are rewarded with a 12km downhill, after which the route crosses the beautiful Bushmans River.
The second climb is a brutal, technical affair on an ancient, broken and mostly forgotten road. Unfortunately, completing this climb does not signal the end to the days work. The route progresses through pine forest sections and ends on typical ‘Berg ‘roads’ that traverse the rolling KwaZulu-Natal hills.
This is certainly one of the tougher days on the route.
Check out my review of the Day 6 race review.
Stage 7: Hazeldean Farm to Mackenzie Club
Distance 86km, Ascent 1110m
In contrast to the days that got competitors this far, the day presents something of a ‘rest day’ with easy riding and long sections of fast and flowing single track.
The initial 15km of the route is on district road. This ends with the dual single track through the oak trees. Riders then pass through the green valleys that make this area of KwaZulu-Natal very sought after in farming circles.
The last view of the Southern Drakensberg is presented from the to of View Climb, the first significant hill of the day. Then riders are treated to more dual single track through The Ferns and on to the floating bridge, a highlight for all riders.
The day continues with winding single track punctuated by district road sections and there are some very fast sections through the pine forests.
The day starts winding up with a descent on single track through the pine plantations and finishes on a district road section that has some tough climbs up to the finish at Mackenzie Club.
Check out my review of the Day 7 race review.
Stage 8: MacKenzie Club to Jolivet
Distance 97km, Ascent 2230m
Riders have been looking forward to this stage with a wild combination of excitement and nerves. It is another huge day that drops riders into the Umkomaas valley on exception sections of single track and then rides them back out on tough and relentless hills.
The route reaches the first section of single track after just 8km. A short section of forestry road leads everyone on to the real fun; the trip to the valley floor on some of the most dramatic, flowing and well-crafted single track imaginable.
Reaching the bottom the route then follows the Umkomaas River, still and traquil at these parts.
After the excitement of the descent riders start to make their way back out of the valley on game farm roads, jeep track and single track. The climbs are challenging. The scenery wonderful.
The tough hills slowly ease up as riders reach the Sappi timber plantations and some marvellous single track through young forest and a small dam. The day ends with some easy riding that ends at Jolivet Farm.
Check out my review of the Day 8 race review.
Stage 9: Jolivet to Scottburgh
Distance 75km, Ascent 1235m
The final day is a speedy affair through the sugar cane fields, game farms and some forest. Although the end is in sight, there is still a day’s work to be done.
A technical reprieve, the day passes through cane fields and beautiful natural KwaZulu-Natal forest using farm roads interspersed by sections of single track. The Vernon Crooke's Nature reserve holds 3 tough, but short, hills that traverse the grassy knolls in the reserve. There is often wildlife about in the reserve, so keep ‘em peeled.
The route progresses on to some spectacular single track through coastal bush and culminates in the 2 big climbs of the day: Baby Heart Rate Hill, and then Big Heart Rate Hill, both very tough, but once conquered signal the race is almost over and not much is left to be done.
Some fast district road leads riders towards the finale at Scottburgh. As the coast nears the headwind inevietably makes itself felt, as if resisting the end of the adventure. But soon enough riders make their way across the dunes and beach and to the finish of this epic ride.
Check out my review of the Day 9 race review.
And so ends the tour of seldom seen countryside that traversed a total distance of 910km, included a total ascent of 12,875m and a total descent of 14,615m.
Riders who complete this marathon can truly say that they have accomplished something great, and the organisers can once again receive their kudos for producing such a spectacular, well run and much admired event.