The Old Mutual Wild Series iMfolozi Challenge, a 55km mountain bike ride through Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in Northern KwaZulu-Natal is just around the corner, and takes place on 29 July.
Race Director and iMfolozi finisher, Stu Berry from Impi Concept Events, shares his insights and advice on entering and riding this unique event, and why it should be added to your race calendar.
1. It’s less about racing and more about enjoyment
“Usually only about 10 percent of the field actually race the ride,” says Stu Berry. Because racing snakes make up the minority, the event really is for anyone who simply enjoys spending time in the saddle in unique places. Don’t arrive undertrained though, it’s still 55km, but do take your time and soak in the scenery. “The event is 55km and is not that easy,” says Berry, “but there is no time limit (just sunset),” making it a relaxed day out.
2. The terrain is beginner-friendly
Difficult and technical terrain can be a deterrent to beginners, but in the iMfolozi Challenge’s case, it doesn’t factor. This is due to the fact that the majority of the ride is on old, unused jeep track through the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park. At times, because the jeep tracks are seldom used anymore, they might be a bit weathered, especially the hilly parts, but aside from that you’re good to go! “Terrain is technical from the perspective that there are some steep descents with loose gravel, but other than that, there is no technical single track riding at all,” says Berry.
3. It’s suited to all levels of riders
Whether you want to line up in the front with the racing snakes, or pack binoculars in case of rare sightings, the iMfolozi Challenge is for you. Race the course and set a new record, or amble in at sunset just in time for a cold beverage – it’s your call and everyone is welcome. “It’s all about participation and spending time on your bike in one of the last remaining true wilderness areas in Africa,” says Berry. As long as you arrive with the intention of having a blast, you’ll fit right in.
4. You get to ride where no one else does
Not only can you tell your friends that you’re riding through Big Five territory in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, you can also explain that you’re riding in sections of the reserve 100 percent closed off to the public! Think about the abundance of wildlife and birdlife you will see when you steer through an area seldom visited by people. “It’s Africa’s oldest game reserve, and you get to ride on tracks that are never open to the public. That makes this truly unique,” says Berry.
5. Your entry helps conserve wild dogs in the area
Did you know that not only are you signing up for a truly African day out riding in Big Five territory on uncharted trails, but a portion of your entry also goes towards conserving the wild dogs within the reserve. The African wild dog is currently endangered, and there are projects within the game park that work to conserve this remarkable species. “All profits from the event go towards the iMfolozi Game Reserve and in particular, the wild dog projects within the reserve, meaning the populations of Wild Dog are amongst the healthiest in Africa.”
Are you riding the iMfolozi Challenge? We dare to ride it for More Than Yourself and make a difference!