Karkloof - With four wins from four attempts at the Sappi Karkloof Trail Festival's STIHL Enduro, Tiaan Odendaal's absence in 2018 will pave the way for a new winner at the event when loyal enduro riders take on one another on Saturday, 26 May.
Odendaal has retired from competitive mountain biking following a successful career on the local racing circuit. This news hands the riders that sat in Odendaal's shadow the chance to get their name on the winner’s trophy.
One such rider will be Greg Minnaar Cycles', Tim Bentley. The Pietermaritzburg local has been a stalwart on the national downhill scene and is looking forward to taking on the 2018 STIHL Karkloof Enduro track.
"I would say that the Karkloof track is right up there with the best in the country," he mentioned. "There are some big mountains and the stages are a lot longer than your normal enduro stages, like six or seven minutes.
"They are a bit harder than other tracks but it is super flowy and fast which is what I really enjoy."
The 2018 showdown promises to be particularly exciting as the discipline of enduro is enjoying a boom time in KwaZulu-Natal, with races attracting large numbers.
"We have seen enduro grow from about 60 riders to around 180 riders at events which is great to see,” said Bentley.
"The reason for the growth, I think, is that it provides riders with cool middle ground between cross country and downhill. It's a bit easier than cross country but it not as hectic as downhill and it has such an appealing social element to it as well.
"The tamer downhills mean that you don't have to be a professional downhill rider to enjoy it and the relaxed climbs between stages means that there is time to catch your breath and enjoy the company of friends," Bentley added.
Bentley's sees enduros as the perfect opportunity to hone his skills as he prepares for the big downhill races around the country.
"I do suffer a bit on the uphill’s because I am not the fittest rider around!" he joked. "We enjoy having a shuttle that takes us to the top of the hill before we ride down but enduro is great for my training and preparing me for the downhill races.
"It's great to see enduro catching on amongst your everyday rider and I think it will continue to draw riders in from around the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands area.
"We have Cascades, Karkloof and Howick all within half an hour of each other so there are plenty of options for riders which is a massive plus for us in the area," he commented.
More info can be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za
Caption: Greg Minnaar Cycles' Tim Bentley will be back to try and stake a claim to the vacant STIHL Enduro title at the 2018 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Saturday, 26 May.
Photo credit: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media