The Liberty Waterberg MTB Encounter offered more than just three days of racing in the bushveld - it provided a valuable lifestyle experience, said prominent Johannesburg businessman Tjaart Kruger.
 
The mountain-bike event, presented by STANLIB, took place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo and ended at the Sondela Nature Reserve yesterday.
 
Kruger, chief executive officer of Premier Foods, was just one of a number of corporate personalities who took the chance to test themselves in the weekend's challenge.
 
"We are always looking for good mountain-bike stage races to do and we thought the Waterberg was the perfect fit," said Kruger, who participated in the event for the first time this year.
 
"It was very nice and social. We were able to mingle with many people during the weekend, especially in the evenings after each stage.
 
"Then there was some great riding. I am not trying to be a professional mountain-biker, but we enjoyed the technical rides through the mountains, as well as some endurance effort throughout.
 
"It was something new to experience and I got to enjoy it all with my colleagues and friends."
 
The race comprised a total 172km with 2 774 metres of ascent over the three days. The popular Sondela reserve, as well as the Elements Private Golf Estate, helped to revive riders' spirits after each stage.
 
"It was a wonderful experience," Kruger said. "It was not too long, but it was technical and difficult enough to make it a rewarding race.
 
"The organisation was excellent, the routes were very well marked and the water points were great. Before and after each stage we always knew what was going on."
 
As a corporate based in Midrand, Johannesburg - the business hub of South Africa - Kruger said he would recommend the race as a liberating escape from the pressures of work.
 
"It is only an hour-and-a-half away from Johannesburg, which makes it very convenient.
 
"At Premier we try to drive a sense of culture by adopting a very healthy lifestyle, while also socialising and having fun.
 
"It is not about just being formal at work, but also about becoming friends with one another and participating together in outdoor sport.
 
"Stage races such as the Waterberg are ideal for the culture we are trying to implement in the work place.
 
"There are probably about 15 to 20 of us at work who are actually good friends from cycling together so often.
 
"We will definitely return for the Waterberg," he added.
 
Caption: The Liberty Waterberg MTB Encounter, presented by STANLIB, offers wide and open sections where riders can enjoy the experience of a bushveld mountain-biking challenge. Photo: Gerrie Kriel/Twin Productions SA