Westvaal Isuzu 3 Towers stage race presented by Mankele bike park, 4-6 October

The Isuzu 3 Towers has grown into a very popular event over the past few years and it was great to be part of it again this year, especially as they celebrated their 5th year of existence. The event takes place in the heart of Mpumalanga at Mankele Bike Park situated 30km from Nelspruit.

After my crash at the York Enduro Rally in Sabie last month, I put all my effort into recovering and received weekly treatment from an excellent Chiropractor and friend (Dr Paul Birdsey) to get me back on my bike as soon as possible. Despite my right thigh and hip showing good progress, by the time the event rolled around I wasn’t ready to take part in the RACE edition.

Fortunately the Izusu 3 Towers also offers a CHALLENGE edition that covers 105 km with 3673 m of ascent over the 3 consecutive days compared to the race editions 208 km and 4763 m of ascent.  Eager no to miss out, there I was with a big smile on the start line of the Isuzu 3 Towers Challenge together with my partner from the Lowveld Quest, Francois Lourens. Francois and I first entered for the Race but he was very understanding and supportive of my injury and agreed to join me for the Challenge.

At first the Challenge might seem like a breeze, but it isn’t a walk in the park by any means. The amount of climbing one has to do truly tests your fitness, while the downhills test your skill.  If you conquer the Challenge at 3 Towers, you can be very proud of yourself.

The organisers put a lot of effort into the race route as they feel the race must be about the trails and as a result the course is simply fantastic. On every long climb you are motivated by the beautiful scenery and once you crest a climb you are rewarded with ‘lekker’ (only Afrikaans can describe the fun feeling of true enjoyment – lekker ) downhill singletrack and bush tunnels.

The route isn’t the only element that makes the event special. The organisers, or more precisely, the passionate mountain bikers who organise super fun events, really go out of their way to give every rider a wonderful experience of their weekend. The homemade food is delicious, the tents are clean and there is a communal kitchen next to the tented area in case you feel like a midnight snack :).  The ablutions are constantly being cleaned and you have nice warm water to shower in after a hard day out on the bike.  On top of all this, the race has a great vibe that can only be created by people that are truly passionate about the sport. So thanks so much to everyone from Mankele who were involved in making the event happen.

Sadly my injury got the better of me and forced me to pull out on the second day.  But at least it gave me perspective on the remainder of my cycling season which means no Crater Cruise and no Cape Pioneer (a seven day Mountain Bike Stage Race). I’ll take a break now and slowly work my way back to racing fitness. So this time around no news from me is good news 🙂