Why you have to ride the Croc2Croc
30 September 2016
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Hello and thanks for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast, I’m Gerald de Kock. It’s great to have you with us as we chat mountain biking. You’re no doubt a passionate mountain biker or maybe you’re just interested to know what it’s all about. It’s about so much; be it the trails, the events, the riding, the people who take part and the people who make the sport great.
The underlying theme of it all is that I’m always chatting to people who are passionate, who are interested in mountain biking. Have a passion for the flavour that mountain biking brings to sport. Events are crucial because it attracts people to the sport. There are many springing up week in and week out around the country.
One that made its official debut this year was the Croc2Croc three-day mountain bike event. The man whose idea the Croc2Croc was, is sitting alongside me. In fact, opposite me now, is Luther Erasmus. Luther, it’s an event that has taken a while in germination and finally coming to fruition. You had your first event this year, looking back that first event, was it what you were hoping it would be?
Luther Erasmus: Hi Gerald, yes, surely we are quite pleased with the outcome. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. We had enormous responses from all the riders and supporters, especially on the route. We envisaged a specific route and we probably, we reckon we’re 50% there. Most people said it’s the best single track they’ve ever done in South Africa. The diversity of the route is the best they’ve ever done. Very good compliments.
We have a couple of surprises for next year and we’re working on that. We’re going right up to two waterfalls. Single track on day one will be completely different from this year. I think once we’re at the Crocodile River we’re going to have 12.5km of single tracks downhill, down water, so it’s going to be amazing.
What and where the Croc2Croc takes place
GDK: You’re right. Let’s go back to the origins of it and where it is exactly. Because it says Croc2Croc, are we going from one river to another? Just give us exactly where the ride takes place.
LE: The event is in Kwena Basin, it’s between Machadodorp and Lydenburg. Just as you go down the escarpment from Machadodorp you go down into the basin. It’s a very unknown area because nobody really travels through that. But Crocodile River originates upstream at Dullstroom area in Verloren Vallei.
Then it flows through this valley and that’s where the name came from. Atarting and finishing at the Croc. I think in the event we probably cross the Croc 7-8 times. It’s just below the Midlands and just above the Highlands.
GDK: About 2.5 hours’ drive from Pretoria/Johannesburg area, which is very reasonable. The format of the ride, this year you had a prologue on the first day. Then two bigger days, but lots of options for any type of fitness.
LE: Yes, after this year’s event we had the unique opportunity to literally wipe everything and look at the tracks that we build. We built about 50-60km of single track and will probably do another 20-25km for next year’s event.
But we redesigned it, especially the first day which will just be a normal stage mass start, no congestion, the route caters for that. The second day will follow the same route, but it’s just completely optimised in terms of what we have on offer. The third day will also be pretty much the same as it was this year.
This year we had three categories, a Cruise Croc, which is limited to 35km a day. Then we had a Mild Croc, which was ranging from 60-70 even 90km on day two. Then we had the Wild Croc which was 90km+ on the third day. Next year we will have an Extreme Croc, which is pushing the limits a little bit. Going to well in excess of 2 000m of climbing and it will be about 107-110km, but it’s an awesome ride.
The total distances for next year, the Cruise Croc will be about 105. Then the Mild Croc will be 150. The Wild Croc will be 180. Then the big one will be 210. So it’s a good balance, about 30km difference between the two of them.
Catering for literally everybody; from juniors, this year we had 13-year-olds showing the old people how to ride a bike! The oldest guy was probably about 67, and ladies and everybody, but they shouldn’t underestimate it. Some of them did, but overall you can have just about anybody doing it.
Recover in comfort
GDK: It’s in a valley and either side of the valley are mountains, so get the idea, it is mountain biking people! If you are going to take it on, you are going to go up and down the mountains. But the accommodation and the setup there is also quite unique in many respects as well? It offers a good deal of comfort once you’ve had the suffering?
LE: Yes, we had very positive feedback on the accommodation. Comparing to all the other events, there might be one event in the country that’s got better accommodation. But overall I think we’re definitely up there, number one or two or three at least.
We thought for next year that we might use the other lodges, but we decided against it. The Croc, the number of riders will definitely be limited to 200 max. All the accommodation for all the riders and supporters will be at Verlorenkloof, we’re not going to go outside of that. We decided, based on the feedback, that we’d rather keep it intimate and close to everybody’s heart and really have that special touch to it.
GDK: It has got a special touch to it and the overriding thing that came through from this year, really was the route. The work that you’ve gone to to create and find those routes and it’s something that clearly you’re passionate about.
LE: Yes, I must say, I have a very good route partner, route director, one of the big farmers, local commercial farmers, also a passionate mountain biker. It actually worked like that. I told him we’re going to go over that mountain and we’re going to go up there and he said I’m crazy.
A month later when I get there, he showed me a route that we’re going to go up there. I told him, you’re crazy, we can’t go up there! In the end he literally said, it’s not good enough to ride on a district road. It’s got to be a little farm road, it’s got to be a single track, that’s the way it is.
Extreme riders will need to be fit
GDK: I suppose in a way it targets everyone because you’ve got so many different options available to any type of rider. If I’m going to come out there for the weekend and I want to do the Extreme, how fit am I going to have to be?
LE: The Extreme, if you’re not good to do an ultra marathon, if you haven’t done an ultra marathon, don’t even think about it! If you have done Epic, it’s great, if you haven’t done Epic, I don’t think you should think about it. Unless you do the type of Trans Baviaans 24-hour races or you’re comfortable with an Epic stage.
Because it will be well in excess of 2 000m of climbing, it will be 110km. But it’s a purpose built, literally single track, a lot of additional single tracks, almost cross country style, so it will be tough. That third day is a jol, but that second day is going to take you off your bicycle if you’re not really, really fit.
GDK: If I’m doing that second day and I thought I was fit, but I’m not that fit. Is there an option for me to say hang on, I want to opt away from the Extreme?
LE: Yes, what we say is, everybody can scale down. Because the Crazy Croc is the big one, the Wild Croc cuts down probably the better of 600-700m of climbing. It’s not doing the cement Jeep track and some of these technical cross country single tracks.
The Wild Croc on that second day will in fact be the equivalent of a normal marathon, mountain bike marathon, about 78km, not above 80km. At the moment it looks about 78km, and again, the third day is just a jol for everybody.
GDK: If I’m on the course, are there alternatives to deviate to the shorter course?
LE: Yes, that’s the way we designed it. That you can actually ride with your wife or your buddy and they do an earlier route and you’re going to get together at some of the checkpoints or water points. Even while you ride you can decide not to, there are splits and the routes always converge.
So we really optimised it from this year that you’ll not even know on which track you are unless you choose that one. You can always go down or you can go up. Even if you’re on an easy route and you decide you want to take on this challenge because you feel good this morning, or today, then just crank it up.
2017 Dates and costs
GDK: Dates for 2017 Luther?
LE: The date is 12,13,14th of May. We moved it earlier by two weeks and the reason for that is the basin is a very unique, diverse landscape. Late May, the autumn is getting a little bit later, the absolute ideal time for us is that mid-May spot.
Because the trees, the vegetation, the water, the river, the risk of rain, the risk of wind and cold, everything is almost minimised. So it’s the perfect date for that and we decided we’re going to stick with that one and we’ll see people mid-May.
GDK: Where can we find out more and enter?
LE: The easiest is Verlorenkloof website, www.verlorenkloof.co.za, the entries are on Cycle Events, they do most of the entries. So it’s actually through Cycle Events, but there are links on Verlorenkloof or on the Facebook Croc2Croc page as well.
GDK: I’m assuming that the entry fee, does that include the accommodation?
LE: Yes, I think that’s what makes us unique. The accommodation is literally four or five star, en-suite, luxury, bathrooms, the food, everything is included. The price ranges from about R4900 up to just over R6000 for the different events. The Extreme Croc will be, the Crazy Croc is R6500 per rider, we also offer the option for supporters, sponsors, partners, a lot of people that entered already are bringing kids with. The supporter package is just under R3000 per supporter, that includes all meals and three days of accommodation as well.
GDK: Luther Erasmus, that sounds a really good deal.
LE: Yes, one of our principles was, it’s got to be the best value for money, the value for kilometre, or the value for experience. I think we definitely, if we were not there this year, we will definitely be there next year.
GDK: Well on the way. Luther Erasmus who is the brains, the body and the mind behind the Croc2Croc, with a big team as well. It took place first time this year in May, you heard the dates for next year. Go to that website, www.verlorenkloof.co.za and have a look and decide which one you want to ride.
You want to be there, it is the most stunning part of the world and you won’t go up into those mountains any other way than on a mountain bike. Check it out for next year, put it in your diary. You heard it all here on our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast. Please download once more and you’ll hear more about this great sport of mountain biking. Until then, cheers.