EXTREME means EXTREME
It has become common practice for events to add an adjective to their name with the hope of somehow giving it more credibility and instant legitimacy. In the case of Bezhoek Extreme we can vouch: This is NOT the case and the EXTREME in the name comes as a subtle warning rather than a hopeful description. Team Garmin MTB has first hand experience.
The Bezhoek Extreme is in its 2nd year of existence. The organizers dropped the Friday night race from last year and focussed on the Saturday Ultra Marathon and Sunday Half marathon to complete a tough but ultimately rewarding weekend. At first glance the 93km Ultra Marathon, with just less than 2000m of climbing doesn’t seem that intimidating but experience would prove otherwise. The rugged terrain and pure diversity of the course offered a challenge few can match.
Day 1: Rocky Horror
To say it was rocky would be an understatement. The rock strewn course constantly challenged and forced you to be on point with your technical riding regardless of fatigue. Incessant changes in gradient meant you were either powering over a climb or tip-toeing down a challenging descent, careful not to puncture while trying to maintain momentum.
Journalist Sean Badenhorst succinctly summed up the race. He said: “I haven’t been so completely challenged on a mountain bike since the early 1990s when our bikes were simple and race routes were rugged. Two days later and my shoulder, neck, back and leg muscles are still aching from the intensity of the effort. We need more events with routes like this, but unfortunately they’re not attractive to the masses. Kudos to everyone involved in the Bezhoek Extreme MTB Challenge for investing in good old fashioned ‘tough’.
We couldn’t agree more and therein lies the beauty of the event. This race is not for everyone. It is a tough challenge which will test your limits in all aspects of riding a mountain bike.This is exactly what the event aims to do and on which its reputation will be built. Underestimate it at your own peril, but complete it and you will be profoundly satisfied.
We are pretty certain that every competitor ran out of gas at some point. Well stocked waterpoints and the lure of the race village at Olifant’s Rivier Lodge replete with passionate race organizers’ hospitality spurred everyone on to finish stage 1.
Day 2: Fast and Furious
Day 2 was a quick 48km half marathon. It was over much faster, open roads where speed made otherwise straightforward obstacles quickly become more testing. In a way it completed the weekend perfectly by testing other facets of your riding. The weekend delivered worthy champions in Nicol Carstens (Team Imbuko Giant) and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk).
Results and Up next?
Team Garmin MTB had a good weekend. We finished 2nd in the Elite ladies and 3rd in the Elite Men’s field to keep Team Garmin MTB on the podium. Next up for us is the Panorama Tour. We will roll out our sexy Merida Reacto Northern Lights edition bikes for some skinny tire action.