Jober2C Day 8 – MacKenzie Club (Ixopo) to Jolivet (Highflats)

Day 8 – MacKenzie Club (Ixopo) to Jolivet (Highflats)

No Valley too steep, no Mountain too high, no river too deep.

Distance: 94km
Ascent: 1705m
Descent: 2163m

Soon after the 5.30am awakening, the reality of what lies ahead will jolt the senses into nervous anticipation. Day 8 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c is another one of those extra special days on a bike. At 7am A-batch will begin hurtling down 7km of district road before Ant’s Entrance and the start of the keep-left-pass-right double single-track.

From Ant’s, we enter Wow single-track – if you have time, stop and take in the view of the mighty Umko valley. Wow is followed by Yankee Doodle, a fast fun piece of single-track that really get the adrenalin going.

A short heart-pumping climb will lead you into Murray’s meander. This new section has to be some of the most dramatically positioned single-track imaginable. At first glance it would seem that a route is not possible above the towering cliffs that drop down to the Mighty Umkomaas. After some breath-taking single-track along old cattle paths, you will find yourself being lead straight into Nick’s Pass overlooking the Umkomaas River Valley. Dropping into the valley, these fast, switchback descents will have your brake pads sending hot whiffs of warning to those behind. After 8 switchbacks, you will enter Sosiba’s section which catapults you towards the school.

After passing the cheering children of our adopted Msayana School, you will then literally fly down toward the Umko River. Here you will find the pride of our route builders – a 3km bench-cut mountain bike pass, built for your riding pleasure. Thereafter, you will experience some of the most enjoyable single-tracks to be found, including School single-track with some technical rocky patches and a short, steep decent that leads you through to Mchunu’s Highway.

These fast-flowing sweeping curves will allow you a quick glance at the Umkomaas River, which slowly grows ever closer as you continue your descent. A sharp right bend takes you into MamTholo’s Pride – a smooth, fast, bush-lined footpath leading you past the remote homesteads of Mchunu’s two wives, many children and grandchildren. Leaving the dancing Mchunus behind, you enter the real African bush where the flowing single-track of Heaven Or Hell races through the thorn trees for 3km before the final climax of Tamika’s Detour, which bottoms out on the banks of the Umkomaas River.

The pace and adrenalin rush now changes. After some 20-odd kilometres of mountain biking euphoria, the reality of the day sets in. You will warm your legs on the tracks that lead along the river before opening up into a game farm that teams with Kudu, Bush Pig and Nyala. The recent single-track cut next to the river is a welcome change from years gone by. The ride along the Umko flats will lead you to our floating bridge across the river.

Thereafter, it is Giraffe Alley and on through the farm of Dave Aardensgard. On William Mapstone’s farm you will be slapped by the first sugar cane on the route. It is here at the 39km mark, that you will find the Maritzburg College Water Point and realise that there is still a long way to go. Be concerned that you have done a lot of descending until this point.

Your heart rate, the altitude and temperature soar steadily as you climb out of the valley. This is a long hot climb that is challenging under the best of conditions. Be inspired by the fact that there is some great single-track along Steve’s Spruit along the banks of the Inhlavini River. Here you are as far as one can get from civilisation.

Many of you might have done sani2c in the past and will remember names like Songololo and Haaibo 1 and 2 – well these climbs, they are back! The new climb to get there is going to be one of those climbs you will remember forever but that you will want to forget. Farmer Glen has picked a new route out of the valley and let’s not say too much now. We will talk to you at Jolivet about it. He reckons it is going to hurt.

Once at the top, it’s onto fast downhill timber roads towards Highflats Church where you will find the third Water Point at the 82km mark – it is expertly manned by Two River Tourism. From Highflats Church seconding table it is a further 15km of undulating forest roads before we enter Charlie’s Cat Walk, a safe section that has been purpose built next to the road for kids to walk and mountain bikers to ride.
This day will be remembered as one of your most challenging ever on a mountain bike.

Once in the Rosevere’s farm at Jolivet the beers will start to flow, the Karan Beef steaks will be devoured and there will be a general level of excitement. One day to go in this mammoth journey. The Highflats Farmers Association are also seasoned experts and host a great race village, they will not disappoint.