TNN goes mountain biking with CYMOT
Text & Photographs Elzanne Erasmus
Every mountain biker will agree that it’s the terrain that makes the ride: the ever-challenging surroundings, turns, loose rocks and steep declines. Technical sections in routes, difficult climbs and often dangerous, rocky terrain are elements which lure adventure junkies and extreme sports enthusiasts back time and time again.
It’s the combination of such great terrains and the thrill of the adventure in the wilderness that makes Namibia such a popular mountain-biking and cross-country cycling destination. Mountain-bikers flock to the rocky outcrops and steep passes to get their fix.
Independence weekend 2015 not only saw the inauguration of a new president but also the start of what is certain to become an epic annual MTB event – the Erindi Camp Elephant MTB Funride. Riders from across the country (everyone who wasn’t brave or crazy enough to take part in the Cape Epic that took place the same weekend) gathered at the Omaruru Gate of Erindi early on the morning of Saturday, 21 March.
The wet drizzle that descended onto the helmets of eager and enthusiastic cyclists made for perfect mountain-biking weather: not too wet so that they would have to carry their bikes through flowing rivers, but wet enough for the required mud splatter line to be evident on the backs of their shirts when they crossed the finish line.
We were a group of seven riders who had decided to take part in the funride that weekend, sponsored by Travel News Namibia and StayToday and kitted out by our friends at Cymot. The race had three categories: 60 km, 30 km and a 15 km fun trip for the young, the old or the not too fit, and the seven of us were spread out through the three distance groups as we weren’t equally well-trained, or crazy…
Doons van Wyk, the organiser and manager of Camp Elephant, made sure, with entertaining opening remarks, that every rider had an idea of where they were supposed to be going. He jokingly warned them of leopards and the unwelcome boost they might get from an electric fence if they were to stray too close, but the riders all knew that their biggest threat would most probably be a camel thorn’s long pen-like spine puncturing a tyre, something not even fancy slime tyres are immune to. Doons also offered a weekend stay at Old Traders Lodge, Erindi’s luxury accommodation, as a reward to the rider who snapped a picture of a pair of very special little antelope they might find on their route. He did not specify what species but it was assumed that he was referring to Namibia’s smallest indigenous antelope, the Damara dik-dik, which favours the thick thorny bushland area the route led through.
The 60 km riders darted away when Doons sent them off with a loud “Go guys go! Laat julle weg kom” – Afrikaans for “Get on your way” – soon followed by the other two groups. The routes were well marked and clear, interspersed with steep uphill climbs around the sides of mountainous outcrops and some thick river sand to navigate at stages. The most wonderful part of the ride was of course the beautiful landscape and untouched nature. Riders who looked up from the track in front of them every now and then were able to spot yellow-billed kites nesting in trees, tortoises taking their time and steenbok darting through the underbrush. Waterholes along the route also showed signs of kudu and other antelope. The scenic beauty of the area is one of the factors that make a mountain-biking funride such as this one all the more special. Erindi staff waited in the bush at designated water points with refreshments, including Powerades and energy bars, and the friendliest of smiles, cheering us on and helping with flats and bumps and scrapes.
At the finish line Doons and his team handed out more snacks and treats, including freshly barbequed “boerewors rolls” (hotdogs). Each rider received a participation medal made out of wood in the shape of an elephant footprint. Later that afternoon a prize-giving and lucky draw took place at the Camp Elephant swimming pool to congratulate the winners and reward special cyclists, such as the youngest rider who was only 6 years old! Next year’s Erindi Camp Elephant Funride is sure to be just as big a hit, so don’t miss out. Keep your eyes open for those little dik-diks the next time you’re in the area – none of the riders had been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them. TNN
TOP MTB EVENTS
There are numerous mountain-bike and cycling events in various parts of the country throughout the year. Some of the most popular events include the Nedbank Cycle Challenge in February; the Klein-Aus Vista MTB Challenge, Windhoek Light Namib Quest and Kuiseb Classic MTB in May; the Otjihavera Xperience in August; the Desert Knights Cycle Challenge in September; the Namibian Pick & Pay Cycle Classic in October; the 100 km of Namib Desert and the Cycletec Spring Festival in November; and the famous FNB Desert Dash in December.
12 MTB-ING MUST-HAVES:
GEAR UP AT CYMOT!
1. Scott Spark 740
2. Scott Aspect 680
3. FOX Flux Helmet for men
4. Scott WATU Helmet for women
5. Scott Mens MTB Footwear
6. Powerbar water bottle
7. Camelbak water backpack
8. GIRO Tessa Gel Ladies gloves
9. First Ascent Magneto jacket
10. First Ascent Mens Crank MTB shorts
11. Scott Leap precision optic sunglasses
12. Scott Obsess precision optic sunglasses
60 Mandume Ndemufayo Avenue, City Centre
Tel: (+264 61) 295 6000
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.cymot.com