The entry for the new uBhejane Xtreme MTB Challenge three-day ride has more than doubled since its debut last year as the more manageable alternative to the iconic one-day 330km ride from Hillcrest to Hluhluwe in aid of rhino conservation which will take place from 5 to 7 December.
The uBhejane Xtreme, which heads into its sixth year this December and has raised over R2 million for rhino conservation in KwaZulu-Natal, bolted on the three day ride in 2018 to broaden the event’s fundraising capacity.
Riders have overnight stops in Zinkwazi and Empangeni before heading to Hilltop Camp in Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve via the famous bronze rhino statue at the entrance to the park.
Day one of the ride is the longest at 140km, taking riders from Hillcrest through the Valley of a Thousand Hills and down onto the cane roads up the north coast to the overnight stop at Zinkwazi Lodge.
Day two is a 120km haul north from Zinkwazi to Empangeni past Darnell, over the Tugela River and then past Mthunzini until you reach the Canefields Country Hotel. Here riders will have the opportunity to rest up before the final push to the iconic bronze statue.
The final day to the entrance of the Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve is a 100km stretch. The event then incorporates the 30km road from the entrance to Hilltop Camp where they will spend the final night before travelling back home on Sunday.
“We felt that it was important to give riders that might not be as serious about their riding the opportunity to take part,” uBhejaneX Event Director Cliff Wills said. “It is still a tough three days of riding but we believe it adds another important dimension to the event.”
Speaking about the benefits of the three-day ride Wills mentions relationships as an important attraction to the ride.
“Riding with the same people for three days creates remarkable camaraderie and friendships,” Wills said.
“With the other rides all being one day there won’t be as much time for riders to mingle and interact on a personal level.
“There are two overnight stops where riders can share a drink and discuss the day’s riding before they set off on the next stretch the following morning.”
All funds raised are donated to the event’s official beneficiary Project Rhino KZN, to be used for their various rhino protection programmes such as maintaining the aerial support of the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP-Wing) to 26 game reserves in northern KZN.
The funds also help in providing urgently needed anti-poaching training and other resources to field rangers and game reserves, as well as community-based education and awareness initiatives primarily targeting the youth.
The three day ride sets off from Northside Electrical in Hillcrest at 5am on Thursday 5 December.