The Safire Berg 100
KwaZulu-Natal is a mountain biker’s dream with a dizzying number of ecosystems offering a variety of challenging and fun terrain to take on but there is one place that stands out head and shoulders above the rest, the Berg. In the foothills of the picturesque Southern Drakensberg a mountain bike race has been taking place for the last eight years giving weekend warriors to the pro’s the opportunity to take on the Berg without the challenging technical elements. The Safire Berg 100 has to be one of my favorite races, it offers a unique experience on the bike that can only be found between Himeville and Nottingham Road.
On Saturday, 23 March 2019, come find yourself amongst the cows and endless mountains of the Berg as you push through the gears to get to the treat-filled waterpoints! Boasting with 2000m of climbing over 100km this race is an endurance rider’s playground and those “dadel-koekies” provided by local community volunteers at the waterpoints will sure give you energy to get over those hills. The race starts at the beautiful setting of Kenko Lake in Himeville and finishes at Bellwood cottages just outside Notties, shuttle options will be available to make the rider’s experience hassle-free. The Safire Berg 100 supports local communities and charities by involving them through the rider / bike shuttle options – ensuring all proceeds go to them. Each year the direction of the race changes, Himeville to Notties / Notties to Himeville, making each following year a different challenge filled with different views.
The first Berg 100 race was held in 2012 and has grown from strength to strength. The seeds of the race begun whilst race organiser Katie Fogg was driving through this majestic Drakensberg area – she thought “how much more awesome would it be to ride on your bike through the foothills of the Mighty uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, a proclaimed World Heritage Site?!” And thus started the Berg 100!
The race takes places between two iconic villages – Nottingham Road and Himeville. What makes this race unique to any other in South Africa is that due to the nature of the route organisers are able to change directions every year, allowing the rider to ride a completely “new” race every year! In 2019 the race will start in Himeville and finish in Notties.
I have ridden both routes now, from Himeville to Notties in 2015 and Notties to Himeville in 2016. Between the two routes I can definitely agree with the race organisers and many of the other riders whose heads were hanging over their handlebars that riding from Notties to Himeville was tougher in terms of climbing!
Himeville to Notties route: Riders will leave the beautiful farmlands of Himeville and will immediately face some long climbs up to Highland Nook, don’t be fooled here by pushing it too much on the short little climbs. A fast descent awaits into the Lotheni Valley before riders get hit with the soul crusher of the day in my experience, the 13km slow but BIG climb up to Snowtop (1851m). Here you will be refreshed and catered for by the friendly Noah’s Ark School with phenomenal views back over the terrain you have come through.
Thereafter you only have 50km left! I would like to say it gets easier from here but there are a couple of climbs that will take its sweet time in burning your legs. This isn’t a flat race, you either go up or down. Riders get treated with many gentle meanders and the most awesome and fast downhills where you can show off some of your aero roadie skills. Finally, the race brings you into the picturesque green farmlands of the Midlands and finally to Bellwood cottages where an ice cold beverage and delicious food will be waiting for you. Here you can sit back and enjoy the dam, music and spend time with your friends and family with your feet firmly up.
The terrain is mostly gravel roads with some tar sections leading into Notties.
March is a great time of year for this race with a rather chilly start but then generally dry warm days.
Fortunately being in the middle of the Midlands Meander there are a host of galleries, coffee shops, craft shops and more to keep everyone entertained and there is plenty of accommodation in both Notties and Himeville/ Underburg, to make a great weekend out of it. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy while the brave take on the Berg on two wheels.
Nottingham Road boasts with some of the best craft beer and food, the perfect way to recover for the rest of the weekend.
Why should you enter?
A great race in it’s own right, the Safire Berg100 is also the perfect preparation for Sani2C, to make sure the training is paying off.
“Over the years we have learnt that our riders want the distance but without technical riding. Thus our race is now primarily on district gravel roads. However, the exclusion of single track does not mean you can slack off – the sheer distance and terrain of this race will challenge most riders – with 2100m of climbing, this race calls for endurance!” says Katie
E-bike and Gravel bike welcome!
For the first time the Safire Berg 100 will be welcoming gravel and E-bikes to enjoy the gravel roads. So bring the family and friends along to enjoy the Himeville and Notties food, beer and coffee (we know what makes a cyclist tick) and make it a super long weekend as the Thursday prior to the race is also a public holiday!
Take on the challenge, enter the Safire Berg 100, get the t-shirt and one unforgettable “gravel grinding” experience!
23 March 2019
Himeville – Notties
1 day 100kms
Entry Fee: R400
Pre-entries will close on TUESDAY 19th March 7pm
Late entry is available @ Registration (R450)
Start Details: 7:00am, Kenmo Lake, Himeville
Finish Details: Bellwood Cottages, Nottingham Road
Race day shuttle options available – as well as bike transport from Johannesburg