York Timbers is a South African forest products enterprise, incorporated in 1916 listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) since 1946. The company owns about 98 000 hectares of property, of which two thirds are planted, and employs roughly 5 000 people (directly and indirectly). Many of the company’s employees work shifts and walk to the four York mills, Sabie, Driekop (in Graskop), Nicholson & Mullin (in Whiteriver) and Jessievale. The company also employs workers in its forests and nurseries.
To help employees get to work faster and more safely, York Timbers offered 100 workers the chance to purchase a Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle. The company will pay 50% of the purchase price for these bicycles, while interested employees will contribute the other 50%.
York Timbers raised the funds to pay for half the price of each bicycle through entry fees for the annual York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally. The York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally is held every year in Sabie, in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, and took place this year from 24 to 27 September.
“York Timbers created the York Adventure Club whose aim it is to provide the community with an exposure to the York culture as well as the passionate York people in terms of their work, involvement in the community and the environment,” explains York’s Marketing Liaison Officer, Odette van Staden. “The aim is to bring people to Sabie and the surrounding Lowveld area in order to showcase what we have on offer and to encourage them to explore the tourism potential of the region. This should also serve as a dynamo for investment and growth in the area and expose people to the hospitality of the region.”
The York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally is not a standard stage race, but a test of various disciplines within mountain biking. Corporate teams partner with a leading South African professional cyclist who rides with their team. Professional cyclists socialise with corporate teams and riding together provides an opportunity for skills transfer throughout the duration of the event.
The York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally includes:
- Half Marathon
- Downhill race
- 8-stage Enduro race
- Figure of 8 race
- Dual Eliminator
- Cross Country race
On the opening day of the 2015 event, the public had the chance to join the professional riders and corporate teams to ride the 35km York Adventure Challenge race on one of York’s best mountain bike trails. Little wonder that the event was rated in 2014 as one of the top 10 mountain bike events by Bicycling Magazine.
This year’s event saw Christoph Sauser joining other well-known professional riders for the York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally. Christoph is a former UCI Marathon World Champion, a former World Cup overall winner, four times World Champion and Olympic medalist. This was the first time that Christoph has visited Sabie and ridden the York trails.
York initiated the York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally three years ago. “By investing in this unique mountain bike event York aims to provide a platform for a comprehensive “York experience” open to its customers, suppliers, employees and the community,” says Odette.
Each stage of the race formats is meticulously planned to test the riders’ skills rather than fitness. The different race formats also provide a distinctive challenging edge that defines the York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally. It takes an estimated 8500 manpower hours for the York team to scout, hand-build, maintain and mark the routes to provide an elevation gain of 3450m, close to 32km of sublime single track scenery and perfectly shaped berms with the spectacular views of the Sabie Valley as the backdrop.
Once the dust settles after the end of the York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally, the facilities created for the event become a training ground for professional athletes and other amateur adrenaline-seekers to enhance and test their skills.
As part of the 2015 York Enduro York partnered with Qhubeka by introducing the Employee Purchase Programme to offer 100 employees the opportunity to purchase a Buffalo Bike. ” This initiative aims at improving our employees’ lives through simple sustainable transportation,” Odette says. “It is through this event that York Timbers can promote its brand equity internally and externally while building a reputation as a responsible corporate citizen that supports the community in becoming vibrant and developing sustainably.”
Below are some photos from the distribution of the Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles to York employees: