As the Eston community gears up for one of the biggest and best supported mountain bike events on the calendar, the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge on Sunday 3 August, the hugely popular 18km fun ride through the Tala Game Reserve will be raced in memory of popular Tala employee George Manke.
Manke was instrumental in setting up the unique Tala/aQuellé Family Ride through the Three Cities Tala Game Reserve, and died under tragic circumstances taking part in the Amashova road race last year, while riding with his sons Olaf and Felix.
“His wife, Carola, is the Eston Club Manageress, and is the “pedal” in our community’s drive-train, always busy and organizing function after function at the club, as well as being a super-mom to her two boys,” said race committee head and course designer Ant Foster.
Foster said the event has snowballed in popularity since its inception, to the point that it attracts over 40% of entries on the weekend, more than the well-established 60km and 40km races.
While it offers the riders the novel opportunity to enjoy the safe ride through the game reserve, it is also an important “stepping stone” event for newcomers to the sport, as it is a very manageable route without many technical demands or lots of climbing.
“It therefore appeals to first timers, weekend warriors, juniors, grandmasters, men, ladies, boys and girls, as well as the ex-fit-MTB’er-turned-couch-
He added that the route had been enhanced once again for 2014, following the breakthrough introduction of the tar road underpass that avoided the crossing of the R603.
“This year, we follow a slightly easier route to get to the underpass, which still involves climbing to this point, but on a much better gradient,” said Foster. “At least this “climb” occurs in the beginning of the race and is over and done with early!”
“The route through the reserve has also changed to allow for more flow and less congestion than last year, also eliminating the route crossing over itself which was a minor issue last year. It generally keeps to jeep and open track, but still winds its way through the fantastic Tala bush, so keep a lookout for a wandering giraffe or wildebeest!
“We must just tell the hartebeest to behave themselves!” he added light-heartedly.
The Illovo Eston MTB Challenge’s 60km Illovo Eston Marathon, 40km aQuellé Half Marathon, 18km Tala/aQuellé Family Ride and the 10km STIHL Kids Ride take place at the Eston Country Club on Sunday 3 August. More info can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media