Sabie, the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ of the Lowveld, was awakened by the York Timbers Enduro MTB Rally over the past weekend. 24 Corporate teams descended on the little town for 3 days of mountain biking, socializing and fun in general, all with the aim of raising funds to be used for York Timbers initiated community projects in the area.
As one of the biggest employment providers in the region, York Timbers has a strong sense of social responsibility and this was one way for them to give something back to the local community.
During a silent auction on Thursday evening, two dozen 4-man Corporate teams each ‘bought’ a pro rider who would then accompany them for 2 days of Enduro racing as well as a half marathon. The Enduro stages each had 4 timed sections (3 downhill and 1 uphill) which would count towards the overall team standings by the end of the weekend.
Day 1 was all about seeding as the Corporate teams raced each other on a newly built Cross Country course at the York Timbers office park, to determine starting positions for the first Enduro stage. In the afternoon the professional riders raced each other on a 3,4km downhill course to show off their skills to potential bidders at that night’s silent auction. Arno du Toit (ASG/Epic Sports Academy) was the fastest of the men, taking revenge for his second place from last year in spectacular fashion.
On Friday the event started with a 40km stage which included plenty of climbing. The reward for all this toil was some fast, flowing singletrack descents. I rode with the Timrite team and the boys (Kevin Bentley, Philip Cox, Pieter Le Roux and Theunis Bester) made the time fly by as we hammered the timed sections and rode comfortably everywhere else, chatting up a storm when the gradients would allow it.
Day 2 was a little shorter (35km) but not much easier as the Sabie mountains still took their toll before we had the relative luxury of racing the downhill sections back into town. In the afternoon there was also a spectator friendly dual eliminator race just to make sure we stayed on our toes.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and in the evenings we enjoyed dinner while well known artists such as the Blues Broers and Jakkie Louw entertained everyone. This was a great opportunity for the professional riders and the corporate cycling enthusiasts to mingle and share ideas in a very relaxed environment.
Sunday morning dawned with a half marathon event which was also open to the public and finally a pro’s only Cross Country race straight afterwards. The XC race was good fun and a spectacular way to end proceedings with us busting a lung and the crowds able to see almost every minute of our painful effort.
All said and done this unique and innovative event is a great success in no small part due to the organizing team who did everything they could to make the weekend as enjoyable as possible. From the hand built trails to the food and accommodation at the Floreat Lodge, no effort was spared in pursuit of the finest hospitality.
Long may the York Timbers Enduro MTB Rally live and I look forward to being part of this ground breaking event as it evolves to reach its full potential.
Until next time, happy trails!
For some footage, please see the following links