Undeterred by a last-minute course change, defending champion Brandon Stewart and ad hoc partner Neil MacDonald cleaned up on a muddy first day of the FedGroup Berg & Bush on Friday. The RE:CM-FedGroup Itec Connect pair finished in 2:41:20 on an abbreviated 74km course after torrential rains the night before had forced an impromptu route change. They beat nearest rivals Waylon Woolcock and Andrew Hill, of RE:CM-TIB, by 20 seconds after the latter were mired down with mechanical problems on the final stretch of single track. FRIB’s Jarred van Zuydam and Rick Diesel crossed the line in 2:51:30 to round out the podium. Organiser Gary Green said he had been forced to abandon the first 40km of the famed route, which started near Sterkfontein Dam in the Free State and traditionally includes a spectacular drop down the escarpment into KwaZulu-Natal. The changes, which saw almost 90% of the stage take place on safer district roads, played to the strengths of the two lead teams, which featured former roadies Woolcock and MacDonald. Soon after the start, Woolcock and Hill were first to put the hammer down, catching most of their opponents slightly off-guard. They were joined by Stewart, from Hilton in KZN, and MacDonald, who lives in Randburg, and the two teams soon started stretching their lead over the chasing pack. “Waylon really made it hard and we were quite taken aback,” said Stewart. “I think he wanted to show Neil (his regular partner) what he’s got in the tank.” According to the 31-year-old, the two teams stayed clear for the rest of the day. “We shared the work and rolled together most of the way. “There was no point trying to force the issue on those roads because there were no sections where you could get away or try to make it really hard.” Stewart said they knew it would all come down to the technical sections near the finish at Emseni Camp, which is situated in the shadow of Spioenkop just outside Winterton in the Central . . .
G&G Productions is already hard at work producing bigger, louder and safer celebrations for youth across the country as planning for the Vodacom 4U Rage Festival 2012 gets underway. Students across South Africa are set to take over the coastal towns of Umhlanga, Ballito, Durban and Plettenberg Bay to unleash the stresses of their matric and university years in November and early December, at one of the biggest events of the year. 2012 marks the 11th year of G&G Productions running the Vodacom 4U Rage Festival, which is once again backed by the power of Vodacom 4U and BlackBerry. With these Generation Next award-winning brands on board for their second year in a row, G&G Productions will again be bringing their A-game party arrangements and meticulous safety planning to South Africa’s youth. Greg Walsh, Managing Director of G&G Productions says, “Our goal every year is to make Rage an unforgettable experience for everyone involved, be it those who attend the events day and night or our partner brands who bring unbelievable value and unique experiential touch-points to the youth each and every year. The G&G brand promise of being “South Africa’s loudest event brand” is something we are very serious about so we are always looking for new ways to impress our audiences.” Since its first year in 2001, Rage-goers have increased from 8000 to a whopping 120 000. “We are expecting a footfall of 135 000 this year,” says Walsh. “We pride ourselves on providing the ultimate let-loose experiences at beautiful coastal hotspots so that students can experience the South African version of America’s ‘Springbreak’ (hosted by Cancun in Mexico).” Walsh is quick to highlight that the majority of G&G’s resources go into complying with stringent international safety requirements and providing new ways to keep partygoers safe and secure at the 4U Rage Festival. “All 4U Rage Festival events comply with the latest Health and Safety Act of 2011. We are . . .
The FedGroup Berg & Bush mountain bike race through KwaZulu-Natal is joining forces with Spioenkop Game Reserve to protect its 28 white rhino in celebration of World Rhino Day on Saturday. With 381 rhino poached countrywide this year so for and 35 in KZN alone, organisers of the 220km multi-stage event have initiated a fund to improve the plight of this near-threatened species. Because race participants ride through a part of the reserve where rhino sightings are common, local farmer Gary Green said his organising team felt they needed to leave a legacy more lasting than bicycle tracks. “We as neighbours have watched as financial constraints have had a major effect on this beautiful reserve and its diverse species of game. “Due to the neglect of the damaged boundary fence, quite a few animals are escaping and this has also made the rhino more vulnerable to poachers.” While their initial R25 000 commitment will be used for maintenance, Green said any further contributions raised during the event would be allocated to anti-poaching patrols. “Should any extra funds be left over, we will hopefully, in conjunction with KZN Nature Conservation Services, employ more rangers to police the rhino.” The fund will be overseen by former game ranger and Three Tree Hill Lodge owner Simon Blackburn. Although none of the reserve’s rhino have fallen prey to poachers, Green said highlighting the problem was an important part of a preventative approach. “One of our well-known trail runners and local farmer’s wife Tracy Zunckel will also be running the cycle route to raise awareness.” The rhino initiative further strengthens the relationship between the two entities, which has previously seen the race finance the purchase and release of Red-billed Oxpeckers, which feed off ticks and other parasites, into the reserve. “There have now been regular sightings of these magnificent birds on game and cattle in the area.” Widely regarded as one of the top . . .
Vehicle sponsor Subaru Pietermaritzburg has bolstered its ongoing investment into mountain biking in KwaZulu-Natal by reaffirming its commitment to the FedGroup Berg & Bush, organisers announced this week. The partnership with the off-road event will see various models, such as the Subaru Forester, Outback and new XV, put to the test on challenging terrain that includes mountain passes, district roads, cattle and game tracks, and purpose-built cycling routes. According to organiser Gary Green, much of the route would be inaccessible without the support of the long-standing sponsor. “The vehicles are as good off-road as they are on normal roads and that’s why we chose them,” said Green. Participants in the three-day Descent will depart from the Sterkfontein Dam in the Free State on October 26 before plummeting down the escarpment into KZN and finishing at Winterton in the Central Drakensberg. The newly-introduced Great Trek follows the same route from October 30, while the original event, which stretches over two days, rounds out proceedings from November 3. Green said the vehicles would also be used to ferry riders in the three-day events back to their own cars from the finish venue at Winterton Country Club. “For us, the safety of our riders is paramount and the Subarus’ road-holding ability is an important factor.” In addition, Subaru Pietermaritzburg owner Howard Christie said his dealership would transport riders to the summit of Spioenkop Mountain for sundowner tours of this historic battlefield. “Because we know mountain bikers enjoy a little speed, we’ll also have the new Subaru BRZ sports car on display at the event.” Christie said FedGroup Berg & Bush participants would also be entitled to a special discount on the purchase of a new Subaru before the end of the year. The dealership also sponsors vehicles for off-road races such as the Old Mutual joBerg2c, Imana Wild Ride and sani2c, presented by BoE. Although the . . .
Press Release September 2012 Rage Festival: Artists For the first time ever, 4U Rage Festival is bringing an international flavour to the festivities. Not one, but four top international DJs will be hitting the KZN coast as part of the fun this summer. The smoking hot blonde duo that forms Nervo, will be joined by their Tomorrowland anthem (The way we see the world) creating partners, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. Saturday 1st of December Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike is headlining a fantastic event at the Wavehouse in Umhlanga with local stars Goldfish, Pascal & Pearce and new girl Toya Delazy as supporting acts. Just two days later, Nervo will headline the Stimorol ‘Alien Abduction’ party at the DLI Hall. DJs Kent, Euphonik and Royal K will be the local acts to play along side one of the hottest names in electronic music. Another announcement causing great excitement is the date announcement of the Durban leg of the Steve Aoki SA brought to you by Olmeca Tequila. The event takes place on the 7th of December at the Wavehouse which VIP Platinum passport holders gain free entry into as part of their passport benefits. As expected from the 4U Rage Festival, there is a plethora of top local artists performing ensuring each and every night of the 2-week festival is a magical experience with jam-packed venues. In addition to the international artists and the supporting acts mentioned above, the likes of the ever popular Roger Goode, Kent, Euphonik and DJ Fresh from 5FM and South Africa’s biggest Hip Hop sensations SPHEctacula and DJ Dimplez will be mixing beats. Live music remains a highly anticipated feature of 4U Rage Festival and local stars Goldfish, GoodLuck, Toya Delazy and Pascal and Pearce are prepped to set the dance floors alight. 4U Rage Festival brings the best talent from around the country, look out for Cape Town based Nick Supply, Haezer, Niskerone and P.H. Fat. Johannesburg provides the festival with Kyle Worde, Dunn, Mojo, Peter Booth, . . .
In a huge boost for the region, The Windmills Boutique Hotel in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands was recently announced as the Best Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue in the prestigious African Bridal Industry Academy’s (ABIA) annual Bride’s Choice awards. Held on a provincial basis, the ABIA Bride’s Choice awards are the “Oscars” of the wedding industry and are held each year to recognise the best wedding suppliers in South Africa. All judging for the event is done by brides who have been married in the 12 month period prior to the awards (June 2011 to July 2012). They are invited to nominate their wedding suppliers online and rate them on the quality of product, service, value and staff. The winners are those suppliers who score highest across all categories. According to The Windmills Boutique Hotel general manager Andre Schoeman, the award is the result of 18 months of incredibly hard work. “To be the winner in the ABIA Bride’s Choice Awards is certainly an amazing accomplishment as these awards reflect the experience of the brides,” explains Schoeman. “Our entire team is dedicated to making every wedding the perfect occasion so the fact that we came out tops with our brides speaks volumes for our product and service delivery. This award is an achievement that belongs to everyone in our team as we all play a role in ensuring that our brides really do have their perfect day.” The Windmills Boutique Hotel has undergone an incredible transformation over the past 18 months with extensive refurbishment, upgrades and landscaping projects. “In order to become a player in the highly competitive wedding market, the property has had a complete face-lift. These changes have struck the right cord because, in our first year, our wedding venue hosted 75 wedding receptions! This is virtually unprecedented as it normally takes a new venue up to five years to secure more than 40 bookings per annum. In addition, we are hosting our first Bridal Fair in September and . . .
With their first two races already full, organisers of the FedGroup Berg & Bush are giving mountain bikers another opportunity to experience one of the top multistage races in the country. The addition of the inaugural three-day Great Trek to the seventh running of the event now gives prospective entrants three options, which also include the three-day Descent and the two-day “original” Berg & Bush. The Great Trek, which starts on October 30 near Sterkfontein Dam in the Free State before plunging down the escarpment into the valleys of KwaZulu-Natal, follows the same route as the popular Descent. Participants will once again cover the historical heartland of the province as they trace the wagon route over the Drakensberg Mountains taken by the Voortrekkers in 1837. Race organiser Gary Green said he had created the Great Trek in order to give more individual riders and two-man teams the chance to step back in time. “The area is rich in Anglo-Boer War history, which adds something really special to the race,” he said. “Riders summit Spioenkop, for example, which was the scene of a significant battle.” Green said he started the original Berg & Bush in 2006 with just 56 riders, before adding the Descent due to popular demand in 2009. The latter was named the country’s top event in its first year and its prize money attracts some of the country’s top pro riders. Last year’s event was won by Brandon Stewart and Jacques Rossouw of FedGroup-Itec Connect. The Descent gets underway on October 26 and finishes 220km later at Winterton Country Club in the Central Berg. The 110km two-dayer, for the more social rider, starts on November 3. According to Green, the routes are varied every year in order to meet the demands of the adventure-seeking mountain biker. “Although entries for the Great Trek close at the end of September, the response has been fantastic with more than half of the slots already taken up.” He said the community . . .
Participants in this year’s sani2c, which was presented by BoE Private Clients, will have the first bite at the cherry when entries for the 2013 edition open at noon on Monday, July 2. Organiser Glen Haw said the initial online entry procedure for the largest paired mountain bike stage race in the world would not be the rush-based method implemented for the most recent edition. He said successful applicants would have until the end of the month to enter and pay in full, at which time their entry would be confirmed. “If a team decides to split, they will lose their slot and the remaining member will be placed on the waiting list,” said Haw. “Should there still be entries available on August 1, they will be offered to those on the waiting list. Thereafter entries will open to the public.” He said they would be strictly applying the cut-off of 650 teams for each of the three events (Race, Adventure and Trail), which means not everyone who rode this year is guaranteed an entry. “Unfortunately, we have to be very strict. Over the years we have found this to be the magic number. “Anything more puts us under pressure, especially in the race villages.” The three-day, 250km race through southern KwaZulu-Natal gets underway with the Trail in Underberg on May 14. The Adventure departs on May 15 and the Race the following day. Haw said an estimated 380 riders had completed every sani2c since its inception in 2005. Having started with just 492 participants, the event has grown incrementally with the addition of the Adventure in 2008 and the Trail in 2012. He said the latest incarnation had proved to be very successful. “The three events went extremely well and things generally ran smoothly. “The few problems we had were caused by excessive numbers. Solving this is simple – we just need to learn to say we are full and not be influenced by riders desperate to get into the event.” Despite a waiting list of over 5 000 for this year’s race, Haw . . .