A bumper field can look forward to a fast and furious ride on pristine single-track when they take part in the Bestmed Sondela Mountain Bike Classic at Bela-Bela in Limpopo on June 24 and 25. "The trails are in the best condition ever," said chief course designer Mel Meyer, whose team are in the final stages of preparing the 20km, 40km and 60km routes. He said a lot of time went into gaining access to the 15 farms that the event traversed, planning the routes as well as dealing with challenges such as game fencing that encircled most of the properties in the area. "We believe we have a winning route," said the self-confessed mountain bike addict, who felt they were privileged to be granted access to the properties once a year. "We have had a very good rainy season and the bushveld looks beautiful. It is really a nice ride and you need to take time and enjoy the scenery." Meyer said the 60km feature race on the Sunday featured a manageable 544m of vertical ascent and started off with a bit of a climb. "You're going to work hard for the first 20km. It's not leg-breaking; rather a gentle incline that takes you through some very scenic places." From there, he said participants would be rewarded with some downhill action as they entered a beautiful valley on the aptly named Verloren Estate. "We only have access to it once a year. Riders will follow some amazing downhill stretches until they get to the Greyling farm, from where they will continue descending into the river bed." Meyer described the difficulty of the terrain after the second water point at the Shangri La Country Hotel and Spa as "moderate" before riders will be tested by one final climb. "After that, it is all downhill back to Sondela." Although the feature event's route was mostly single-track, he was not concerned about bottlenecks as he believed the gentle uphill start on jeep track would stretch out the field. "Once they're on the single-track, there are about . . .
Recreational cyclists looking to mix it up with the pros have a small window of opportunity to enter the Bestmed Sondela Mountain Bike Classic that takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo on June 24 and 25. Entries for the annual festival - which offers 20km, 40km and kiddies' races on the Saturday to complement the 60km feature event on the Sunday - close at midnight on Friday. Organisers, who are catering for up to 1 400 riders across the three main events, said limited slots were still available in what they billed "the Bushveld's biggest mountain bike bash". "The most exciting part is to see how whole families take part in the riding," said ASG Events' operational director Darren Herbst. He said participants and their families would have access to the 4 700ha nature reserve as day visitors, which is not generally permitted outside of scheduled events. Herbst said the event, which is based a mere 45-minute drive from Pretoria, continued to grow in popularity each year. "To get the serious cyclists out here is awesome, but our focus is to get families to come and enjoy the weekend." He said the races on the Saturday were specifically designed to offer families riding options that suited their ability. As each race that formed part of the Bestmed Sondela Mountain Bike Classic occupied its own timeslot, Herbst said adults could also opt to build their own mini stage race. He said special combination price packages were available for those who wanted to combine either the 20km or 40km on the opening day with the marathon on the second day. After the adult events on the Saturday morning, three to five-year-olds will do battle on a specially built 500m track in the afternoon, while youngsters up to eight can tackle a 5km single-track course. "In my experience, there is no other mountain biking weekend that is as geared towards every member of the family," said Herbst. "It's a proper festival of riding combined with quality family time in . . .
Rory Mapstone and Rex Benson won their second stage on the trot to take overall honours in the men's section of the three-day Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race at Sondela Nature Reserve near Bela-Bela in Limpopo today. The Bestmed Masters team completed the 59km final stage, which included 920m of ascent, in 2:19:52 to lift the title in 7:36:27. Gauteng Dairy's Charles Steyn and Ian McLeod, who won stage one, finished runners-up on the final day in 2:24:11 to consolidate their second place in the standings in 7:41:38. Last year's champion, Gertjie Harmse, who rode with his brother Louis in the colours of SS Timing-ASG, completed the day's podium in 2:24:59 to seal the same place in the general classification in 7:54:09. Mapstone and Benson, who trailed Steyn and McLeod by just over a minute after the first day, made the most of a technical section around 6km into the 51km second stage to surge into the lead. "We got away going down a big rocky decent and just kept our heads down," said Mapstone, who is from Pretoria. "When we came out at the bottom, we couldn't see the guys so we decided if they want to catch up they must work for it." He said they were able to keep their advantage on the course that started and finished at Elements Private Golf Estate and included 1 054m of vertical climbing to move into the overall lead heading into the final day. The last stage of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, had been challenging but enjoyable after a tough start to the event, admitted Mapstone. "I didn't feel marvellous on Friday, with my legs cramping, but I felt good today and was able to set the pace." Their only scare came around 15km from the finish when they veered off course. They were able to rectify their mistake quickly and pushed hard towards the end to remain ahead of Steyn and McLeod, whose challenged faltered after suffering a puncture. Benson, who also lives in Pretoria, said they . . .
After his strong start to the season was derailed by illness, professional mountain biker Pieter Seyffert will be searching for his best form at the three-day Liberty Waterberg Encounter near Bela-Bela in Limpopo from Friday. The 30-year-old set the tone for his season when he teamed up with Travis Walker to steamroll the opposition at the seven-day TransCape in February. Then, in late April, he rode to a strong podium finish in the mixed section at the Winelands Encounter alongside former national road champion An-Li Kachelhoffer. However, after a particularly wet sani2c early last month, his health took a turn for the worse. That resulted in him having to withdraw from the Great Zuurberg Trek in May, a race he had won in 2015. He returned to competition at last weekend's Magalies Monster as the defending champion, but struggled towards the end to finish fifth. "I felt better than I had expected during the race but started battling after 50km," said the ASG-Elllsworth rider, who is from Helderkruin in Gauteng. Seyffert said he was slowly working his way back to full fitness and had been doing some light training as he was mindful of not overexerting himself ahead of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB. "I've been doing everything I can to get back in form and am looking forward to using the race to push myself a bit," he said. The West Rand pro, who will be making his debut at the event, said he was keen to test his legs on a route characterised by jeep tracks, rocky outcrops, flowing downhills, river crossings and single-track. He will line up for the start at the Sondela Nature Reserve alongside his father, Johann, who is a strong mountain biker with several Ironman races under the belt. Stage one will take participants to the Elements Private Golf Estate, where day two will start and finish. The final day will see the field head back to Sondela. Gertjie Harmse, who won last year's inaugural race . . .
Shining a light on literacy issues in Limpopo and what ordinary citizens can do to overcome them, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, is hosting a public imbizo in Seshego, Polokwane, through its activist arm, FUNda Leader. Taking place on June 10 ahead of Youth Day, the imbizo will address the current challenges facing the nation and the province when it comes to teaching children to read and write, and highlight the different ways ordinary citizens –especially young people – can support the development of the next generation. Three FUNda Leaders members operating in the province will be profiled. Key to the FUNda Leader movement is the understanding that literacy change in South Africa is something that anyone and everyone can – and should - be involved in. Says Righardt le Roux, Nal’ibali’s Limpopo Support Coordinator: “Being a FUNda Leader equips young people to understand the current literacy crisis in South Africa and to respond to it through social participation.” Launched mid-2016 and now a network of over 2 500 activists nationwide, the FUNda Leader movement provides specialised training and support for everyday South Africans who want to stand up for literacy in their communities, and emphasises the important role that young people can play simply by acting as reading role models, and reading and sharing stories with children in their home languages. Sharing stories with children in relaxed and engaging ways, and in languages they understand, motivates them to learn to read and write. Followed by their teachers, research has shown that the most prominent reading role models young children have are their parents, but all not children in South Africa have guardians who are available or able to spend time reading and sharing stories with them. Neither do the staff at South Africa’s many under-resourced schools, who lack the capacity to engage with their pupils individually. This is particularly true for Limpopo schools and there . . .
Three years after his official retirement, the competitive juices will once again flow for Neil MacDonald when he takes to the start line of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race from Friday. MacDonald, whose professional cycling career spanned a lengthy 15 years, said he was looking forward to the challenge presented by the three-day event near Bela-Bela. "I believe it is an awesome race and am really looking forward to it," said the two-time joBerg2c champion, who was also awarded national road racing colours on 14 occasions. While he has shifted his focus to that of full-time financial advisor, the 40-year-old from Honeydew in Johannesburg said he still made time to get on the bike. "I run a WhatsApp group, the West Rand Masses MTB Club, which gets together on weekends for rides and to catch up and chat about biking," said the former winner of the Tour of the South China Seas. He admitted that he had lost some of his form since retiring. "It's amazing how much you lose, but the competitive spirit is still there. When the wheel gets on the start line, you're going to do what you can." Other than beating his manager and fellow participant as part of an office bet, he said he had no specific goals. MacDonald, whose palmares also includes two runner-up spots at sani2c and 14th in the Cape Epic, has taken part in a few local races in preparation of the Waterberg Encounter, which forms part of the Liberty Encounter Series. He said he would team up with his brother Ewan as team Big Mac and thanked Jamie Taylor of the Office Guru for providing kit and a vehicle. The Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, will see teams compete over a total distance of 200km on some of the best mountain biking terrain in the north of the country. Participants will start and finish their journey at the bush lodge on the Sondela Nature Reserve, while day two will see them tackle a circular route from Elements Private Golf . . .
Self-confessed adventure addict, Letshego Zulu, has earmarked the three-day Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race as her next personal challenge. The former Survivor South Africa contestant from Johannesburg said she was amped for her debut in the Waterberg event, which takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo from June 9 to 11. "I've looked at the distances; they are doable compared to the other hectic things I have done," said the rider, who was recently appointed television host of the Global Touring Car Championship. "I have never ridden in the Limpopo region, so that will be a first. I'm looking forward to seeing what it has to offer." The event links the upmarket bush lodge at Sondela with Elements Private Golf Estate in a memorable 200km journey over some of the best mountain biking terrain in the north of the country. Zulu, who has conquered both the joBerg2c and Cape Epic in the past, said she was ready for any challenges that might be thrown her way in the second of the Encounter Series events, which were presented in partnership with STANLIB. "I have done bigger, longer challenges before, so I'm looking forward to going out there and having a jol." The wife of motor racing legend Gugu Zulu, who passed away while climbing Kilimanjaro during the Trek4Mandela charity initiative last year, said she enjoyed the social aspect of off-road stage races. "I'm looking forward to being there and meeting new people. I want to ride and enjoy myself and have good memories of the event." Zulu, who will be teaming up with her Cape Epic partner Maurice Mdlolo at Waterberg, is also no stranger to road racing, having taken part in the five-day Bestmed Tour of Good Hope in March. "Road is completely different to mountain biking; you can never really compare the two. It is two different challenges on the body. "Road is high cadence, high speed all the time, which you can't really do in mountain biking," she explained. "There are a lot . . .
Despite various investigative reports on Carte Blanche and general media exposure, private property buyers are still getting caught by non-disclosed defects. Although the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) provides relief to most consumers by ensuring that a seller or estate agent discloses all defects, the CPA does not apply to one-off, private sales. These sellers are still protected by the old voetstoots clause. While a quick walkthrough and a second visit to the property for a spot check of the condition of the home can help buyers sift through their options and narrow down the property they would most like to purchase, it is best to have a professional inspector undertake a thorough check and advise accordingly. Eric Bell of Inspect-a-Home, (a professional home inspection company) warned consumers against signing a disclosure before getting the property checked by an accredited inspector. He said countless buyers nationally were left with extensive repair costs after signing the documents as they gave some consumers a false sense of security. “These documents ask buyers to sign off on a number of key areas, including roofing, geyser condition, and damp problems. Unless you are a structural engineer or qualified building inspector, it is highly unlikely that you or the seller will be able to identify any latent defects. Every day throughout the country we see houses that are painted to make them look good and unsuspecting buyers are then taken to the cleaners with extensive and unexpected repair bills once they have moved in – their dream house becomes a nightmare.” He said sellers were liable for latent defects that existed at the time of the sale but, by signing a disclosure document, buyers were signing away their rights to that claim, effectively making the defects the buyer’s problem. He gave an example of a consumer who bought his home through an estate agent who tried to get him to sign a disclosure document which stated that the house, . . .
Organisers of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter have slightly shortened the overall distance of the three-stage race, but route director Mel Meyer has promised it will still be a rigorous test for the entrants. Taking place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo, the mountain bike race from June 9 to 11 is the second in the Encounter Series, following the successful Liberty Winelands Encounter in the Western Cape last month. Meyer said the decision to limit the event to two race villages, at Sondela Nature Reserve and Elements Golf Estate, had allowed them to design a more compact route. "This has enabled us to add a much better mountain bike feel to the first day, rather than the longer route we used previously that meant there was more road riding to get the cyclists from point A to point B," he said. "This time we have used a minimum of properties to create the trails and this will give the riders a real flavour of the bushveld in the region. "The wildlife in the areas adjacent to the trials is amazing." He added, though, that the amount of single-track would ensure a strong challenge, particularly once you considered the climbing that had to be done. "Make no mistake, the 62km route with around 800m of ascent means it will be no picnic and even the faster guys will have to pace themselves." The second day will see a clover-leaf route from Elements and Meyer said they had been busy preparing plenty of new trails over the 54km distance. "It is the shortest of the three stages, but 1 100m of ascent will still give it a lot of teeth," said Meyer. "We have been able to develop some amazing single-track on Elements over 23km and we have changed the Shakana climb to do it in reverse. "There are also some new trails which have been built in the Shakana area so that should be a good experience for many of the riders." Meyer said the final stage of 59km would provide a comfortable finish to the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, . . .
A number of changes are tipped to improve the experience across the board when the second Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo next month. The three-stage race, starting on June 9, is the second leg of the Encounter Series organised by ASG Events. The first leg, the Liberty Winelands Encounter, took place in the Boland last month. Route director Mel Meyer said their focus was on providing an "exclusive offering" and were catering for about 150 teams to take to the start at the Sondela Nature Reserve. "There are some serious riders in the field, but the race is also about creating a chance for those in the corporate world who like to get on their bikes and to experience what we have to offer," he said. He added that the biggest change to the event this year was two race villages compared to last year's three, with stopovers at Sondela and Elements Golf Estate. "After making the three days a bit more compact, Zebula was unfortunately just a bit far away. We can now provide an even purer mountain biking challenge for the riders. "Elements is a beautiful golf course and also a beautiful venue. We have made a plan with luxury tented packages at the venue, with the clubhouse facilities available for the entrants." He said those who wished to book in at Sondela for the weekend could make use of the shuttle services to transfer them to Elements, where the second stage starts. While the Waterberg event is a sister race to Winelands, Meyer said competitors would have a completely different experience. "The hospitality is the same, but the test on the bike is quite different. "While you have lots of mountains and climbing in the Winelands, the Waterberg provides shorter climbs, with some rocky areas and a true bushveld experience." He added that they had received positive feedback from the participants on what they were trying to achieve with the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with . . .