Team White-Hill dominate the top places as Berg and Bush adventure unravels.
222km, 4100m climbing 9hr19min
Pictures by: Berg and bush
The Berg and Bush has been a popular stage race on the calendar for a number of years and it continues to impress every year I head back. The upfront laid back farmer style spirit is quieting masking the “farmer efficiency” as the organising crew work tirelessly to put on an amazing event year after year. The 2014 event was another feather in the proverbial farmer’s staw hat as the crew had to battle some heavy “welcomed” rain on the Saturday evening on the track, even to point of placing hay bails on a sticky bike breaking section of black clay mud.
The 3 days of racing started at the boarder post between KZN and Freestate and then clover leafed around the Enseleni camp for the next 2 days. This meant for some exciting and diverse racing as we dropped off the highland grasslands of the Freestate into the harsh thornveld surrounding Spioenkop Mountain.
Tyronne White and I teamed up for the 2014 event in search of a top step podium finish after my 3 podium finishes in as many years at berg and bush. Our biggest competition was going to come from Tyron Bird and Brad Stoberg who both have stage racing experience including the Cape Epic. Our plan from day one was to set a high pace in the early stages and then consolidate our lead during the remainder of the 95km. The plan worked well and we gained a small gap over the chasing team but unfortunately I punctured on a sharp rock and we battled to seal the tyre loosing our hard earned lead and having to chase back onto Tyron and Brad. The fun and games weren’t all over at that point as I took a hard tumble after we caught up with the leaders around the 30km mark. The long section in the middle of the stage was fairly rolling and we didn’t have an opportunity to break away from the other team. It then came down to the last 10km where my partner put in a big effort on the long single track descent off Everest. This worked well and we managed to open up a small 30 seconds gap over Tyron and Brad by the finish line.
Day 2 was going to be tough with such a small lead especially with the big climb up Spioenkop at 45km in. The pace was fairly slow up until that point and but as we neared the base of the climb myself and Tyronne ramped it up, Brad Stroberg followed us but his partner couldn’t respond and was hindered by a slowly leaking rear tyre. This gave us a small gap which we held all the way to the finish line.
Day 3 would be the fastest day of the race with just over 1000 meter of vertical ascent over the 65kms. We knew it would also be the final chance for the 2nd place team to make a move and try put pressure on our leading margin. We on the other hand would need to maintain our lead but not risk anything along the way. We hit the first real climb of the day and I pushed the pace to see if the other team would respond, my plan worked and we gained a gap of just over a minute. We kept the pace high at this point as we didn’t want them to ride back onto us and risk the chance of us loosing the race due to a puncture. All was going to plan and we extended our lead to 5 minutes until in the final 15km Tyronne had his chance at some bad luck and flatted his rear tyre on a sharp piece of metal on the track. We kept calm, plugged the wheel and re-inflated his tyre and within a minute or two we were on our bikes again racing towards the finish line to take the stage win by 3 minutes.
1. Andrew Hill and Tyron White (TIB Insurance Thule)
2. Tyron Bird and Brad Stroberg (Midlands Men)
3. Nick White and Sean Henderson (Team Europe Car )