Rather late than never; which I feel like is becoming a common opening line when it comes to my blog posts, I had the amazing pleasure of covering the 2023 edition of the UMKO Adventure.
The UMKO Adventure is a 2 day MTB stage "race", that starts in the small town of Richmond and takes riders in and out of the mighty Umkomaas Valley.
The reason why I call it a "race", is because I found out that its more of an adventure and riders are encouraged to take it easy and enjoy it at their own pace so they can soak up every single experience that they may encounter in the event. The atmosphere is a lot more relaxed than I'm use to experiencing at events which made for a nice change.
The event actually started on the Friday before stage one, where the majority of the riders and runners registered and camped over night. Everyone was treated to an amazing assortment of foods for supper which I guess was the organisers way of making sure everyone was a bit slower the next day after all the food they had consumed.
The majority of the athletes camped on the field, with the selected few bringing their own luxury to sleep in.
Stage 1 started off in the cost over cast skies. It was planned to be the harder of the 2 days as it took riders deep into the Umkomaas Valley, with everyone finishing by needing to cross the mighty Umkomaas River. I can give first hand experience by telling you the river was pretty cold! As the bridge was a bit to unsteady for a motor bike to cross, or to even cross by foot, I eventually ended up wading through the river with all my gear.
Stage 1 had multiple dam wall crossings for the riders as some lovely decent that took them down to the river. Everyone liked like they enjoyed it, which I guess is the main thing. Everyone loved a stop at a water table, taking their time to enjoy the experience and even grab a cup of coffee!
Take nothing away from the riders, race or not it was a tough day out! But, all riders were once again treated to a feast as well as some live music when they arrived back at their tents.
Unlike the start of day 1, day 2 brought a magical sunrise! The sunrise put everyone into a good mood and made everyone excited for what was in store. Day 2 was also unique in the way that a water slide was introduced for the riders to take part in. This along with the many water crossings made it super enjoyable for everyone who took part. The night before however we had a small down pour, which did result in the majority of the trails been pretty slick and a bit to muddy for a motor bike, which sadly resulted in a restriction of where we could get to, but none the less we had lots of fun.
What an amazing event to be part of, and I hope to be back for many years in the future!