Victoria Falls Mountian Bike Challenge Zimbabwe July 2011

by Vanessa Bell
(Wild Frontiers)

On 29 June, a field of over 70 cyclists, with about 30 supporters, from around Southern Africa started the second Vic Falls MTB Challenge in Zimbabwe. This three day event, at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, is set to become an iconic event for Adventure Cyclists the world over .

The field is limited, logistically and safety wise, to 100 teams.

Bookings for next years’ events will open soon.

Unique amongst three day events, for many reasons – see below – the organisers (Wild Frontiers, Adventure Zone and Wild Horizons) have taken the good and bad points of other events and designed this one to REALLY look after their riders (and their supporters !!)

Note – the organisers are the same people who operate the Victoria Falls Marathon, Zambezi Man Challenge, Kilimanjaro Marathon, as well as hosting numerous corporate incentives.

Some of the areas where this event differs from others :
1. Accommodation is in a top quality hotel over the entire event – proper showers, beds, swimming pools, meals etc. No crawling into pup tents!
2. Spectators and partners packages, to view the event and support their partners.
3. Some of the most spectacular riding areas, in National Parks and private reserves (Big Five areas), most of which are not open to MTB at any other time of the year.
4. Fantastic rural and cultural areas.
5. Riding in a UNESCO World Heritage Area.
6. Variety or other adventure activities and safari activities in the region, making for a good holiday after your event, such as Rafting, elephant-back safaris, walking, canoeing to name a few!
7. Excellent race logistics and security en route provided by National Parks and Vic Falls Anti-poaching unit qualified guides.

Currently a non sponsored event, this is run by MTB addicts, for MTB addicts – but is achievable by many non competitive riders too. Reports from the competitors are overwhelmingly positive, so suggest you plan your next years MTB travel calendar NOW and get to the Falls.

Dates and packages for 2102 to be announced shortly.

Below is a précis trip report from Vanessa Bell of Wild Frontiers, as well as the results.

Images and results can viewed on the website: www.vicfallsmtbchallenge.com

Day 1: 69 KM
We were dropped off at the Matetsi safari area before the Kazungula border post, ready and eager we started at 07h30. It was so cold our fingertips felt numb, but soon we were melting under the Zimbabwe sun. This was the hardest day for me, we spent about 20km running through thick Kalahari Sand. My legs were not prepared for the sand. We made our way down through the Matetsi area and into the Zambezi National Park, a truly wild and beautiful area riding along the Zambezi River. Some people saw elephant, all I could see was the tyre in front of me, I was focused not to lose my bunch and be on my own as I did not have a team. The route was relatively flat with a few little small hard bumps towards the end to test our endurance. I was ready for the finish!!

Day 2: 89 KM
This was the easiest day for me somehow. The route was flat and fast with some nice single track. We headed through the forest of the Victoria Falls towards the Vic Falls Hotel and down some steep drops before making our way through some secondary roads and into a private safari area. We had the pleasure of riding through some communal land, although due to winter there was no farming activity going on but the locals were great, shouting and waving. Heading back through the private safari areas we spotted some waterbuck and Zebra. Others spotted elephant, rhinos and giraffe. Again I was too busy trying to stay on my bike. The last few kilometres were quite rocky but once Elephant Hills Resort was in sight it felt like we were in auto pilot and the finish came quickly.

Day 3: 78 KM
A very interesting day. We headed up through the back of the Vic Falls Safari Lodge at a very slow pace, it was a neutral zone for the first 10KM due to a lot of Elephant sighted in the area we were to ride through. Once we were given the go ahead to race, it was all systems go! You could just see dust. The route started out quite flat and then we were hit with a few small nasty hills until we got to the Batoka gorge, it was all single track from here. Some sections of carrying bicycles up some very steep areas with loose sand made it worth it once you saw the gorge. We cycled along the gorge for more than 20KM back and forth winding our way around until cycling through Wild Horizons property and back towards the Victoria Falls Forestry area and back up along the Elephant Hills Golf course into the finish.

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