The 2018 uBhejane Xtreme Mountain Bike Event took place at the start of December in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This year's event took place just days after the shock news that Paul Sherwen, legendary cycling commentator and Helping Rhinos Patron, had passed away suddenly at the age of 62.
Helping Rhinos is very proud to partner with the event organisers and lead charity partner, Project Rhino, the major event charity partner.
The event is increasing in both stature and size. As well as the ‘extreme’ distance of 340kms in one day (not for the faint-hearted), there is now a 3-day event, a 240kms in one day and a 100km ride added into the mix. The 3-day and the 100km proved hugely successful, as the challenge was slightly less arduous and allowed so many more riders to join in to help the cause.
The ‘traditional’ distance (340kms), started at from Hillcrest, Durban in the dead of night, at 2.00am – a challenge only for the toughest herculean riders. Starting a 100kms nearer to the meet point in Imfolozi/Hluhlue the 230kms riders left, also in darkness, and the 100km group had the pleasure of light for the whole ride. The riders who opted for the 3-day option joined the 100kms riders for the final stage. The plan of all congregating at the Black Rhino statue inside the reserve almost came off – the 100kms and 230kms arrived within 15 minutes of each other, but as has been the case in the past, the weather proved to be a huge factor. Torrential rain, lightening, thunder – typical for the area at this time of year, descended on everyone and the drenched and cold riders just could not wait for the 340km group, who had been delayed by the conditions.
However, all braved the harsh elements yet again, and made their way up the final 35kms inside the reserve to the Hilltop Restaurant, flanked by game ranger vehicles front and back and a string of following vehicles. The visibility deteriorated as the mist dropped and the elevation increased. All made it. Any thoughts of an outside braii were dismissed, and the evening gathering was held inside, under cover, and in the comfort of the reserves’ Hilltop Restaurant. Tired but happy faces that reflected the elements they had to endure made for a wonderful get together and a resolute decision to do it all again next year.
You can help to spread the word even wider by joining these resolute riders in 2019 – a very special event, helping to protect a very special species from possible extinction. Register your interest at ubhejanex.org
2017's instigation of an event specific jersey was repeated, just the base colour having been changed. This is a trend that will continue – new year, new colour jersey. Big thanks to Mike Nash owner of Lassen Sportswear in Durban who designed and manufactured the jersey and donated all jerseys for the second year in succession.
We would like to add a very special thank you to Phil and Trish Liggett, Patron and Trustee of Helping Rhinos respectively, for their commitment to this years event. Phil has been Paul Sherwen's co-commentator for the last 33 years, and his untimely passing has left a huge, enormous gaping hole in their lives. Together they have been the longest running sports commentary duo in history and Phil is now busy co-organising a memorial for Paul that will be held on 6th February 2019 at Manchester Cathedral. All are welcome.
"After that very sad news, which happened only a week before the KZN event, we certainly needed a stimulation of positives. The event, the people behind it, organisers, sponsors and the 80 riders certainly helped enormously"