Mountain bikers taking part in one of South Africa’s toughest stage races will be true pioneers when they take on a brand new, never-before-seen route.
The organisers of the Cape Pioneer Trek have pulled out all the stops to bring riders a beautiful yet challenging experience that will traverse diverse landscapes over the seven days and 541km.
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“In the early days we tried to make the Cape Pioneer Trek stages as long and hard as possible. Then we realised that wasn’t what the mountain bike racers wanted,” said co-founder Henco Rademeyer.
“The riders want proper mountain bike trails and varied, challenging terrain with distances that make for an exciting daily contest. It’s not a survival test, it’s a race.”
A 13km prologue to the race, dubbed the #PointPursuit, will take riders through the streets of Mossel Bay, along the coastline and past landmarks like Point High School, St Blaise Lighthouse and Santos Beach.
The short ride will however climb 320 metres, giving competitors the opportunity of scoping out the competition.
The event starts in earnest with the #DiazDash that begins in Mossel Bay and ends in George, after taking riders through the lush indigenous forests of the Outeniqua Mountains.
From George the second day, called the #MontaguMettle, will trek through the Montagu Pass and the Chandelier Game Reserve to end in Oudtshoorn.
There is much excitement around #KammanassieKanon, stage three of the race that leads through uncharted trails between Oudtshoorn and De Rust.
The route through the unspoiled Kapteinkloof and Madi-Madi Game Reserve provides some of the most challenging and relentless mountain biking terrain.
Days four and five will start with the #SwartbergShowdown, taking riders from De Rust to Prince Albert, and continue with the #SwartbergSequel, from Prince Albert to Calitzdorp. A total climb of 4 450 metres, over 174km awaits those brave enough to take on the challenge.
The final stage brings mountain bikers back to Oudtshoorn via the #RedstoneReward, a relatively short 68km trail bringing the Cape Pioneer Trek to a close.
“We’re very excited about this new route, which is undoubtedly the most varied mountain bike stage race route you will find anywhere.
“From the beaches, through both indigenous and planted forests, over big mountains, through lush valleys and across deserts. Variety is the Cape Pioneer Trek’s greatest treasure.
“The support of the local government and communities has been incredible and it’s truly a privilege to be able to host a mountain bike event in this region,” added Rademeyer.