Riders Set to ascend The Descent
The fourth annual Euro Steel Drak Descent, a two-day mountain bike stage race, will be held on the 21st & 22nd of January 2017. This event has proved to be a major attraction for reasons very different to the other successful local mountain bike success stories. While riders still need to complete the route in pairs, the focus of the Drak Descent is the fabulous single track the riders experience within a spectacular setting.
Riders follow the Umzimkulu River over the same weekend as paddlers participate in the biggest canoe race of the year in the area, the annual NT3C Drak Challenge. Both events share common facilities at the finish venues for cost saving purposes, which adds to the vibe and atmosphere for everyone. Participants from around the province, Johannesburg and as far afield as Port Elizabeth make the trip to Underberg for this sporting spectacular weekend.
Corporate involvement in the event has allowed it to grow and develop and the current title sponsor’s partnership was borne out of the supply of material to build a bridge across the river for the riders. Euro Steel provided the material and the local community the solution to make it all possible. The relationship grew and Colin Wilson, CEO of Euro Steel and a local farm owner, extended the partnership once he saw the benefit of being involved with the event. “Our clientele enjoys mountain biking, the outdoors and are family orientated,” said Wilson, “making this event the perfect opportunity for us to host them and provide something for everyone.” Wilson, himself a paddler and winner of this year’s Master Category in the Dusi Canoe Marathon is more at home in a canoe but will be looking at pedaling a few kilometers of the race next year.
The route spans and covers numerous farms in the area and has been made possible by the generous nature of the farm owners who have allowed the riders to pass through unobstructed. The race organisers haven’t looked for the quickest, shortest or easiest route along the river. They have engineered, pioneered and created sections of riding which riders would struggle to experience anywhere else in our country, despite the proliferation of trails, tracks and trail parks happening at the moment.
However, Ed Smith (Race Director), has highlighted the importance of his sponsor in order to enable this to happen, “It has been wonderful enjoying the support of Euro Steel, from the inception of the event. Their support, in sponsorship, allowing us access to their land, as well as their sound advice and guidance in planning of the event, has helped us develop an event that many have described as “Single Track Heaven”. The Spoors team have managed to employ previously unemployed locals to assist with invasive plant species eradication, trail building and even a development cycling team. The event generates a lot of enthusiasm and excitement locally – we are seeing many more locals training and venturing along Sani Spoor’s trails in preparation of the 2017 event.”
Smith’s comments are reflected in the presence of the Kargo Pro Mtb Team who use the race as early season preparation for their upcoming year and were winners of both the Men’s and Women’s events in 2016. The talk around the town is that a few more Pro’s might pop out for the weekend experience as the full route and distance is not open to everyone throughout the year.
While entries are limited to 250 teams, there are a few places left for the event and riders wanting to experience something special and spectacular, while out in the amazing Southern Berg, should consider entering this event before the entries are sold out.
For all the event news and images (post event) log on to http://www.sanispoors.co.za/