Round 3 of the WFO super Series takes place at Rutleg Dam in Eshowe on Saturday the 21st of April.
We would like to thank all the riders and their supporters who make the effort and bear the expense of participating in this race. We believe you will be well rewarded. An enormous amount of time and sweat has gone into preparing the track. In some sections this has literally required carving a route out of the Zululand bush. None of this would be possible without the support of the landowners and the people of Eshowe. In particular, Keeve van Tonder, Mark Grieves, Leo Byrne and Clinton Jones are owed a huge debt of gratitude for the selfless manner in which they have given of their time and skill to make this event possible.
The track is approximately 30 km in length and consists of faster flowing sections coupled with some technical riding, none of which is extreme or impossible to ride but which will require your attention and test your fitness.
We start at Rutledge Dam. For those of you who attended the National Off-road you will know that the pit area is very nice, with a restaurant and bathroom facilities (9 toilets Ryan!) The course runs straight down “Pipeline” for around 2 km. Speed will be restricted by a series of obstacles (logs etc) placed every few hundred meters. Once out of this section the course flows through a small natural forest and then across the hills for a few km’s to the top of a valley. All the grass has been brush cut and none of the climbs or descents are very steep but require your focus and can be very slippery if wet.
The route winds down the valley following an old trail which has been cleared of bush and trees but is twisty and tight and hard on your legs. At the valley bottom, the course splits with the Pro Section heading up a gulley “Staircase” and back down a gulley “Elevator”. The route here is shaped like an inverted U with Staircase going up the one side and Elevator down the other. The two gulleys are linked at the top by a bridal path on which will be positioned a stamper. Staircase is about 250 m in length and comprises a series of steps, off camber ledges and rocky paths followed by Elevator down with drop off’s, ledges etc. These gulley’s have been completely cleared and those of you who ride them will sweat but should enjoy them immensely. They are not overly technical but will test your ability especially if wet. Extreme tyres and a soft mousse are recommended!
The Hobby Route follows a rocky path for about 80 m which links the bottom of Staircase to Elevator. The path enters Elevator approximately ¾ of the way down, allowing these riders to enjoy some of this gulley. The Pro and Hobby routes merge here so please be cautious. There is a ledge to navigate on this last part of Elevator and a steepish drop, which is completely rideable, and which looks far worse than it actually is!
Riders will follow a path through a forest crossing a stream twice before climbing “Mini Roof”. The forest is twisty and tight at times and runs close to the edge of the river bank in places so please take care. Mini Roof, as the name suggests, looks like typical Lesotho terrain, is not steep and is a very enjoyable section.
A short path veers off to the left at the top of Mini Roof and takes riders to an old jeep track which leads to an awesome river section. The jeep track is open but has not been cut so please exercise caution on this part of the track. A climb known as “Rock Garden” awaits you at the end of the river. Again, not steep or long but wide and covered with round stones and boulders. Perhaps best described as easy to ride but tricky to race. At this point, you would have completed roughly 14 km and your body will be telling you that you are in for a ride.
From the top of Rock Garden a trail, which will keep riders busy, has been carved out of the bush and leads to an eroded section of the track which signifies the start of a rocky climb known by the locals as “Armpump”. None of these climbs are steep or have a high level of technical difficulty, they are fun to ride but will tire you. The track passes through a small quarry, crosses the road and winds down a twisty path cut through the trees and scrub until it reaches the river. There is a small step near the bottom of this path that can be tricky and does have a drop on one side. Please exercise caution here and if you are not comfortable there is an alternative short path immediately on your left. The track crosses the river on a flat rock section and riders will immediately be faced with the climb “Question Mark”. This is a short but technical climb and two paths have been cut. The first path immediately on your right is the easiest of the two. The top riders will not have any problems here but some of us can expect to scrum a little. Fortunately, the pain is over soon as the climbs are only a few metres long. From Question Mark, the route meanders through the bush, crossing the river once more (not deep at all) before riders are once again in grassy hills (all cut). The route from here to the finish is faster and flows nicely. Great opportunity to catch your breath, drink a little and prepare yourself for the last forest section just before the finish which shouldn’t give you any problems at all and is very enjoyable to ride. Well done! One lap over.
The current (17/04) prediction is some rain on Thursday with the odd shower on Friday. Saturday is cool with no rain forecast. From our experience, the track dries out fairly quickly but the gulley will be wet so choose the appropriate mousse/tyre combination.
This event has been generously sponsored by Kingsmead Shoes, Trojan Medical and SMD Group Ballito.