The 2019 uBhejane Xtreme MTB Challenge set a new tone for the event with the largest field in the events history as riders enjoyed favourable conditions for the various rides to Hilltop Camp in the Hluhluwe/Mfolozi National Park on Saturday.
The 2019 event has gone raised over R600 000 to date, however there are still donations coming in and organisers are expecting that number to rise.
The three-day ride set off on Thursday on the route from Hillcrest while the other four events set off at various times on Saturday.
The 330km ride left Hillcrest at around midnight on Saturday, while the 250km ride set off from Umvoti a few hours later.
The 110km ride set off from Canefields while the 30km ride, which included the voice of cycling himself Phil Liggett, comprised of the section from the Centenary Centre to Hilltop Camp through the reserve.
With relatively cool conditions and a favourable tail wind the demanding 330km ride was made slightly easier than it has in the past.
Former Cell C Sharks and Springbok centre Jeremy Thomson was back for a third year at this year’s event and said it doesn’t get any easier but the people make it more than bearable.
“I think we must have had the most favourable conditions this year,” Thomson said. “We’ve had torrential rain, extreme heat and strong head winds in the past but this year was great.
“We had a really helpful tail wind towards the end when it started getting really tough.
“We had such a good group of people taking part and everyone did their bit when it became tough.”
There were times when Thomson had to remember the reason why they were taking on this challenge.
“You go through some dark patches,” he said candidly. “But that’s when you focus on the rhinos and conservation to help you through.
“It was made a lot easier by the group of riders that we had and that makes a big difference when you are in a dark place.”