Howick MTB Enduro gets a facelift
Howick - The popular mountain bike Enduro that kick-starts the festival
weekend of riding at the Sappi Howick MTB Classic on Saturday 4 March is
getting a bold make-over, much to the enthusiastic response of the sport's
As a result of the regular harvesting of the plantations, the five-stage
enduro course has been moved to the plantations between the Curry's Post
Road and the N3 freeway, giving the event a total facelift for 2017.
The tracks that have been identified in fact return to trails that have
been hidden under years of tree-fall debris, revitalising a historic
section of the forest that was popular amongst MTB enthusiasts in years
The established trails have been supplemented by newly cut sections, and
interesting features such as the blue shale quarry at the bottom of the
trail network have been pulled into use for added fun.
"All-in-all, the plantation closures have encouraged innovation and
creativity, which the riders get to experience first hand at the Enduro on
the 4th of March," said course designer Gavin Ryan.
The Sappi Howick MTB Classic is the oldest race on the KZN MTB Calendar,
and stays true to its motto of "raw and unplugged mountain biking".
The Enduro event was added to the popular Sappi Howick MTB Classic for the
first time last year, creating a festival of mountain biking in the KZN
midlands, and launching a vibrant new platform where traditional mountain
bikers can test their skills against specialist Enduro riders. The Enduro
race format is unique in that riders are untimed on the liaison stages
which are usually stiff climbs to a high point, after which they clock in
using timing chips to race one of several timed sections.
Enduro racing has gained popularity across the country, with 135 entries
at the first round of the KZN MTB Enduro Series held at St Ives on the
12th of February. The event saw 19 female entries from Sprog through to
Masters, and it is hoped this trend will continue throughout the year.
The revamped courses for the Enduro and the Sunday's three marathon events
spanning rides of 40km, 20km and 10km are part of a natural migration
around the extensive plantations in the region, as the forestry production
needs change year-on-year.
Coupled with the thorough communication from the Howick MTB Club advising
riders of the trails that are affected by the forestry harvesting in
progress, the continual retooling of the trails for the weekend serves to
keep the oldest MTB event in the province fresh.
The raw approach to the trails has struck a chord with MTB enthusiasts who
come back to this event every year, to test their skills and soak up the
unique atmosphere of the area.
"Howick locals expect riders to know how to pedal Ė not just bomb down
hills," said Enduro enthusiast Kathryn Fourie, runner up in the women's
Enduro race last year to Charnť Dreyer.
"Itís this facet that allows even competition between XC and big travel
bikes, where XC riders make up for lack of travel on the short, punchy
uphills that occasionally catch the baggy brigade by surprise.
"Itís riders with an even mixture of skill, fitness, vasbyt and love of
speed that will excel on these kinds of trails," she added.
While entries have started to flood in for the Enduro, which attracted
over 100 riders last year despite a clash with the regional XCO Calendar,
the Howick Enduro should attracts most of the discipline's pace setters,
including the likes of Craig Paul, Tiaan Odendaal, local Keira Duncan,
Shane Martin, and in the women's event Sabine Thies, who missed the Enduro
last year could square up to Fourie and Dreyer as well as the class of
riders like Amy Jane Mundy.
More information can be found at