Some 800 mountain bikers will have the chance to sign up for the adventure of a lifetime when entries for the international nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c in South Africa open at 8am on Monday (July 8).
Now in its fifth year, event organisers have chosen to do away with the shorter three and six-stage options.
This gives more riders the opportunity to cover the full 910km distance from Heidelberg, south of Johannesburg, to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
According to Craig Wapnick, the organisers decided to focus on the nine-day event due to the popularity of the original option and the logistical challenges surrounding the shorter versions, which ran concurrently.
“We believe it should be a real challenge and that riders should be proud to say, ‘I rode the full nine days’.”
Wapnick said the field would be increased to 350 two-man teams, with a further 100 solo places available.
This year, an international contingent of 112 riders from 20 countries participated and more are expected to take part in 2014.
“Our ride is open to anyone from anywhere who loves riding. We want all passionate mountain bikers to enter.”
Wapnick said participants would enjoy another fresh challenge as GPS navigation replaced conventional route marking.
“We think the GPS element will add a sense of adventure but, at the same time, it’s really simple to follow.”
Participants should not confuse GPS routes with a more “bushwhacking” orienteering event, he said.
“The route and single track will be, as always, fast and flowing and well-prepared for fun on all levels.”
Wapnick said the cut-off times for each stage would be based on an average speed of 15km per hour.
“Our cut-off policy is really nothing to fear if you are fit and can ride reasonably well on single track.”
On the 130km third stage, for example, he said participants riding at the minimum threshold speed would complete the queen stage in less than nine hours.
“It is aimed at promoting a reward versus effort scenario as well as ensuring the safety of our riders and that support crews are not over-stretched. We believe this may affect only a few who won’t make the cut.”
He said prospective entrants could enter online via the event’s website.
“When they enter they will receive an e-mail notification. If they pay upfront, their entry is secure.
“If not, their status will be shown as entered but incomplete. Preference will be given to paid-up entrants on a first come first ride basis.”
With all of these innovations afoot, Wapnick said the event’s “the route is king” trail-building philosophy remained unchanged.
“We continue to assist rural communities in prospering from the event, while creating more single track sections of happiness for riders. Our aim is to keep on making this one of the great feel-good rides of people’s lives.”
Visit www.joberg2c.co.za or follow the race on Facebook or @joberg2c_journo.