Wildevy MTB Challenge
People rushed to the mining hub of Burgersfort this past weekend, not for platinum but for the annual Wildevy festival. This winter festival includes activities such as a 4×4 show, a flea–market and a mountain bike race to name but a few.
Burgersfort lies on the northern edge of Mpumulanga and enjoys a mild climate during the winter months. This made the event even more attractive for those (myself included) longing for a break from the cold winter temperatures back home on the Highveld.
It would be my first time competing at the event and I always look forward to discovering new races and new places. Race organisers Pieter and Driekie Heyns warmly hosted riders at their lovely guesthouse, Kusile, the evening before the race. This made for a very enjoyable dinner among family, friends and other participants.
The race started and finished just outside of Burgersfort at one of the local schools. The 70km circular route mainly weaved alongside the Watervalsrivier and through the surrounding orange plantations. The highlight of the course was the super fun single track sections – a lot of it running right next to the river itself. I was pleasantly surprised by the finely manicured trails as the Wildevy is the sole mountain bike event held in Burgersfort and the race is only in its 3rd year of existence.
The route was fairly flat and included a mere 690m of climbing. When it comes to terrain the word ‘flat’ might sound easy but it’s actually quite the opposite. It only means you’re going to pedal your heart out from start to finish without those precious moments of respite offered by the downhills.
The short rest period after Marathon World Championships proved to be the right decision as I had fresh legs on race day. This helped me to take the win at the Wildevy ahead of local star Samantha Saanders and Santie van der Westhuizen in 3rd place. It’s always great to finish on the top step of the podium at any event and even more so if it was one you’ve been looking forward to.
I’ve only heard good things about the event but it surpassed all my expectations. The route was great fun, the event very well organised and the hospitality as warm as its climate. Come next winter, I’ll definitely be migrating to a milder climate againJ