Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 130

TRAVEL | African MTB Series Rift Valley Odyssey After the Botswana adventure our African MTB Series took a short break, resuming with the Rift Valley Odyssey in Kenya. The RVO is not a timed event but rather a tour of sorts, taking riders from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara via some of Kenya’s most famous landmarks. Along the way we stopped at famous Kenyan attractions such as Lake Naivasha, the dormant volcano of Mount Suswa, the Ewaso Nyiro River, the South African/Maasai camp Olkoroi and finally Cottars Camp on the banks of the Sand River right across the Maasai Mara itself. A particular highlight of each day was the catering, especially considering how remote our camps were. The two catering teams used for the event went out of their way to accommodate everyone – even managing to please Marco and Bebo, our Italian vegan/vegetarian duo who completed the event on e-bikes with handlebar baskets full of nuts, leaves and other plant-based nutrition. Back to the riding, and a lot of the trails used were on the best cattle paths available, also selected by local boda boda (motorbike taxis) for their “flow” and then unwittingly sculpted by these overloaded motorbikes going at just the right speed to give the trail a feel of flow often reserved for hand-built, MTB specific single track. Along with the adventure of self-navigating the route this made for fantastic riding, combining to deliver an experience to satisfy any single track connoisseur. Of course this is Africa and things don’t always go to plan as we found out when our finish of stage 3 and the start of stage 4 were delayed by “African toll gates”, spontaneously erected by the local tribesmen demanding money for each bike, car and truck to pass despite similar negotiations having been concluded weeks earlier. Support vehicles also often got held up, due to the bad roads, leaving most riders stranded in their cycling clothes after stages while waiting for their luggage to arrive. Although somewhat uncomfortable, we all made the best of these situations often doing things we normally wouldn’t, as racing requires such dedicated focus and commitment. It’s quite amazing how much a mere dip in the river can lift one’s spirits after a long day in the saddle. Southern Tropical Challenge We left the African continent and travelled to the island of Mauritius where the Southern Tropical Challenge would be our fifth and final stop. Mauritius is arguably the most idyllic place to race a mountain bike as the lush island with its palm-lined, white sandy beaches evokes feelings of relaxed holidays rather than intense competition. The STC defies this preconception with challenging stages and some unexpected competition from European shores with big names like Julian Absalon, Karl Platt and Thomas Dietsch often taking to the start. Luckily there is an easier option with shorter distances and less climbing, ensuring there is something for everyone. The Heritage C-Beach provided a race village few can match with mouth-watering meals served on the beachfront to recharge tired riders. In its 9th edition the race also delivered some well-refined routes with an ideal blend of distance and technical requirement ѼѕЁɥ́Ёѡ͕ͽ]ѡᕐѕ)ȁٕЁ݅́ᅍѱ䁡܁ݔ݅ѕѼѡ啅Ȱȁɥ)5QMɥ́Ս̰ЁɔѡѡЁЁ݅́ѥɥ٥́)ѥٔɥչх)%ͥݔѱͅѡЁͻeЁٔѼɅٕѼѡѱ)ɅɽȁѡѡչхѡUѕMхѕ̰Ѽ)ٔՔչхɥ%аѡЁٕɕ́䁕ٕɥЁ)ȁɽЁѕչMѠɥ(5Qɥٕɔ