Anyone who has loaded a mountain bike onto their car and headed out to Sabie in Mpumalanga has more than likely aimed their tyres down a trail built by Dennis Lawrie. From the mid 90’s national cross-country scene to the emergence of marathon racing, Dennis was the guy out with his team burning brush cutter petrol and nailing up bridges.
Those of us old enough, fondly remember the Klein Spitzkop downhill course, complete with the Mineshaft and the ski-run finish, Heart Break Hill. Clinton’s Cutting and Slippery Snake highlighted his old-school cross-country track at Castle Rock, and how many recall that the first couple of Sabie Classics that included 60% of tar riding back into town?
Dennis Lawrie after the 2010 Sabie Classic. A pioneer of mountain biking in all its facets in the province of Mpumalanga.
Dennis lived and breathed mountain biking, he spent his nights staring at Google Earth, planning routes, calculating start times and water point positions, his weekends out with anyone who would join him, scouting new routes, re-exploring old terrain and finishing it off with a milk shake and burger.
Few of us will ever leave a lasting legacy like Dennis. Like many of us that have been in this sport for so many years, he did what he did because he loved it. He loved sharing his ideas, his trails and his experience and he will not easily be forgotten.
The Sabie Classic, the Sabie Experience, the Sabie Shenanigan and Noon to Moon are iconic races that Dennis initiated and along the way a few of us got caught up in and became part of. Dennis lost his short battle with cancer, but in his memory we’ll keep burning the petrol, building bridges and scouting trails. A great family man, best mate and a role model of passion and commitment to our beloved sport. There are many trees in the forests of Sabie, but the tallest has fallen, RIP my friend ‘Uncle D’. – Brett Coates