MTB mop-up in KZN

Event organisers have urged eager MTB enthusiasts to stay away from the soaked tracks ahead of the weekend’s UCI MTB World Cup at the Cascades in Pietermaritzburg as they work on the layout that was hammered by almost 100 millimetres of rain on the weekend during the first leg of the CSA mountain bike nationals that served as a dress rehearsal for this weekend’s international season pipe-opener.

ÔÇ£After the recent wet weather and the past weekend’s racing, we have started with minor repairs to the course and decisions to make any changes will happen in the next two days,ÔÇØ said course designer Nick Floros. ÔÇ£The tracks have been designed to drain off and will start to improve as the weather conditions clear up and the riders start practicing. With good drainage along the course and very little rain predicted this week the course should recover and riders will enjoy a superb world class track,ÔÇØ he added.
Track officials will be adding ash to the steeper climbs that on the weekend forced every rider out of the saddle and climbing the slippery slopes on foot. “While the track has a good chance of recovering fully by the long weekend, the rain played havoc with our VIP tents and hospitality,” said local organiser Max Cluer. “It was an ‘extreme makeover’ and we are working hard to set that straight by the weekend.”

The new track, 6.1 kilometres long with 316 metres of climbing, which has been designed by Floros and his team is said to be very challenging and on par with World Cup standard courses.

The course begins with a start chute which allows the riders to jostle for position before conquering the first climb. This short lung bursting climb will become more and more difficult as the laps go by. The next 600m sees the track meander alongside a stream and is spiced up with small man-made rock gardens and a zigzag climb track before the track then widens, allowing for over taking opportunities. This wide contour road is broken up by a short section of fast flowing single track.

On exiting the single track the track continues along a wide forest road, giving the riders an opportunity to overtake and rehydrate. This contour road is short lived as the track starts to climb up one of the longer stretches of uphill single track. Once again the track joins a contour road and at this point the riders are at the second highest point on the track. From here the track drops into Oliver’s Twist which is another fast flowing piece of single track and from Oliver’s Twist the riders enter the Amphitheatre. This area will be one of the talking points after the practice round.

The Amphitheatre is a combination of wide bench cut single track, tight bermed corners, rock sections, bridges and log drop offs. Towards the end of the Amphitheatre there is a short steep hill which will allow for another over taking opportunity. Between the Amphitheatre and the Tree House the track is undulating without any major obstacles.

The Tree House section has undergone one of the most dramatic changes. With 12 truckloads of rock having been placed by hand, this section will test the most experienced riders. Control and choice of line will be key to getting through this rock garden safely.

From the Tree House to the Quarry, the track is a combination of forest roads and flowing single track and riders would be wise to gain their composure before entering the Quarry. The Quarry is the last rock garden of the lap and consist of roots, rocks, off camber track and some tight lines. Once through this section there is only 600m, before the track re-joins the start chute.