The weekend of 9th to the 11th of September 2016, saw 52 brave riders head to Ceres, to take on the 2nd edition of the brutal and challenging, invite-only, EzelEnduro.
With more than 40km of trails, 1660 meters of vertical climbing, and the addition of another stage, the event was designed to be even tougher than last year’s. Stages 5 and 6, like last year, required riders to hike-a-bike for about 1.5 hours each, before dropping into a 10 minute, arm destroying descent. Riders spent between 7 and 8 hours battling against the unforgiving Ceres terrain, with 15 DNF’s at the end of the day, and plenty of mechanicals in the mix. With riders from KZN and Joburg travelling down specifically for the event, racing was set to be tight, and in the end, Hayden Brown (PYGA) took the win over Oli Munnik by 5 seconds, with last year’s champion Matt Lombardi (GIANT) rounding off the podium in 3rd.
A standalone event this year (previously piggybacking on the Eselfontein Festival), riders and supporters had full access to the entire campsite and eco-huts, and were free to roam the entire farm. A post event chill-zone was setup on Saturday, treating everybody to some delicious potjiekos, with beers and energy supplied by CBC and Redbull. The after-party ensued, and the unbroken ones took things into the early hours of Sunday morning...
The idea behind the EzelEnduro is a simple one. Super tough riding with a small group of people looking for the same challenge. The fact that it's showing us how many people are keen on this type of riding as well as the fact that it's the youngsters that are most amped about the event gives us massive hope for the riding talent in this country. Well done to all the participants - it was an honour to meet, ride and party with you!
Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica
Friday night saw most of the riders arrive at Ezelfontein to setup camp and get the fires going. Some were better prepared than others to fight the cold...
For most it was an early night as Saturday would be a tough 8 hours in the hills.
Last minute bike preps and the daily caffeine fix in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Frosty morning beats provided by Redbull. No sleep-ins at the party.
The EzelEnduro, far from easy... and definitely a far cry from cruising on Cape Towns beaches... Thanks for a ROCKIN event! - excuse the pun...
Best weekend EVER!
Guy Ian McKechnie
Thank you Daniel! Scared the crap out of me but loved every second!
Nico van Zyl
What a jol it was. High 5's all round!
Proper mountain biking.
I nearly bombed on stage 4, but stage 5 went really well and about 300m before the end of the stage I had a huge crash, went OTB, and had to ride the rest of the stage on a rear flat.
The official EzelEnduro trophy - hand crafted by Dave Mercer.
Rupert trying his best to brief the eager crowd.
Every stage was f*ing gnarly, but everyone tried their best and I got third on the day - so I'm happy with that.
I came out here very scared, I didn't know if I'd be able to ride all these trails - I rode them all and I'm so proud and so happy and I had so much fun.
I'm in charge of making the big decisions.
Rupert von Tutschek
Awesome timing system provided by KZN MTB - worked a charm!
Rider getting ready to take on SS3.
Matt Lombardi, 3rd overall.
Event organizer Daniel Dobinson - 5th overall.
Rika Olivier - 2nd overall in the ladies category.
Gina Nixon - 1st overall in the ladies category.
Winner winner chicken dinner. Hayden Brown, the king of Ezelfontein.
I'd like to say that I wasn't beaten by all the girls, but I was beaten by the first lady.
For the rest of the year, Cliff Beckett is my b***h.
What a legendary event. Respect to the organizers, respect to the sponsors, and I beat Cliff Beckett also.
Richard Dick Goldstein
Keira Duncan, only 15 years old and smashing out 4th overall. The future is bright.
Oli Munnik - 2nd overall.
Thumbs up on liaison 5. Only about an hour's hiking left... on this stage.
Today I had a great day, I beat Cliff Beckett, and I went OTB twice on the last stage.
EzelEnduro 2016 - 6 extremely tough stages, specially the last 2 - It is dubbed the toughest Enduro in South Africa for a reason.
Thanks for the awesome day guys. Final stage saw me hit the deck 3 times but it was worth it!
Hayden Brown charging his way into top spot.
Matt Lombardi showing the signs of an OTB on stage 5, with Dave Mercer apparently moving rocks out the way with his face.
Joanna Dobinson - 3rd overall in the ladies category
The 3 brave ladies taking on EzelEnduro 2016. Legends.
Daniel, you guys did an Awesome job on the Ezelenduro, thanks!
I can't remember the last time I consumed alcohol with no regard for the consequences.... great after-party peoples!
Such an awesome weekend guys, thanks so much to the team for organising.
Flannel for the win!
The podiums from left: Danie du Toit taking the hardtail category. Overall ladies and overall men.
Top 10 overall:
1. Hayden Brown - 26:19
2. Oliver Munnik - 26:24
3. Matt Lombardi - 27:16
4. Keira Duncan - 28:31
5. Daniel Dobinson - 29:18
6. Hilton Frost - 29:19
7. Neil Bradford - 29:26
8. Harry Millar - 29:28
9. Rupert von Tutschek - 29:53
10. Julien Louw - 30:31
Download the full results here.
Shoutouts for making this event possible, goes to Redbull for music, shade, energy and very importantly, accurate timing. To CBC for some well deserved beer afterwards. To SRAM and WPGE for financial support and event insurance. To Deon Malherbe for providing us with this unique playground and building so many top quality trails for us to play on, and providing accommodation and motorbikes for myself and the event organizers to use during the event. To Llama bars for some amazing trail food. Lastly, to all the ladies that helped prepare the delicious potjiekos for all the starving riders Saturday afternoon.
See you all in 2017!
All images by Ewald Sadie | instagram: @ewaldsadie | www.esphotography.co.za