Riders and runners at the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge and Trail Run on Sunday are in for some exciting new track with some completely revamped routes – and according to one of the province’s top riders the MTB changes are simply “awesome”.
Part of the ROAG Quattro Series, the Husqvarna Classic has always been one of the most popular mountain bike events on the calendar, partly because riders, and more recently runners, have a wide choice of distances and partly because the organisers are constantly striving to improve the overall experience for riders and runners.The mountain bikers have a wide choice of routes ranging from the 60km Husqvarna X-treme Classic (which was introduced in 2016), the always popular 40km Safire MTB, the family-orientated 18km Gwahumbe Experience and the 10km Fun Ride, while runners can select from the 16km Farmers Agri-Care or the 9km Gwahumbe trail runs.
MTB Course designer Bruce Smith, a farmer in the Mid-Illovo area, oversees the creation of new track and for the 2018 race he has had to work extra hard after he was unable to use some sections of the 2017 course.But the extra effort looks to have been worthwhile as the changes have already received a stamp of approval from one of the province’s top riders. Leeroy Emslie was given permission to ride the route as an unofficial test at the weekend and his message back to Smith was a simple: “Awesome route”.“We have added new trails to the 60km, and the 40km is completely revamped,” said Smith after more work fine tuning the trails at the weekend.
“There will be a bit more climbing in the 60km this year, but it will not be too much … about 1 200m of vertical ascent which will make this event an ideal preparation race for those riders intending to take part in the sani2c.
“The route is not overly technical but it has some nice sections of single track and I think the riders will enjoy the whole experience.
“The first 18km of the 40km is different to last year and there are now some nice sections of completely custom-built track which will be ridden for the first time this year.”According to Smith, the 16km and 9km trails runs are both also very different to 2017 and will offer some new challenges for the runners.
The 9km Gwahumbe Trail Run and the 16km Farmers Agri-Care Trail Run start the action at 6.30am on Sunday, while the mountain bike events get underway at 8am with the 60km Husqvarna Classic MTB X-Treme, followed by the 18km Gwahumbe Family Experience at 8:40am and then the 40km Safire at 9:10am and the 10km Fun Ride at 9:30am.
All pre-entries are via www.roag.co.za, with entries closing at midnight on Wednesday.
The events form the second leg of the Roag Quattro Series and late entries will be taken on the day.