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25/03/2022

TransCape Multi-Day MTB Experience

One thing I can guarantee: the TransCape MTB Experience is unlike any other multi-day, mountain bike tour. Imagine a 500km-plus pedal journey, traversing iconic landscapes – from the indigenous forests of the Garden Route, the extra-terrestrial plains of the Klein Karoo, and the verdant Cape Winelands – over a solid six days. This is one journey sure to change your life …                                                                                – Copy and images : Jacques Marais


Local Buzz:

The Cape. What a glorious province … Here you will experience it all, from ancient forest giants, primeval mountain ranges and meandering river courses, to extensive farm lands and immensely diverse stands of fynbos. Now chuck in around a dozen nature reserves, national parks, private game reserves and conservancies, and you’ll start to get an idea why the TransCape journey is so special.

This was very much Lenore Collet’s vision when she first conceptualised this unique event: a human-powered bicycle journey linking together the intrinsic beauty of an ever-changing landscape. Gruelling gravel passes, high-speed descents, hide-away single-track circuits and endless dirt roads bisecting hazy plains … this is Pedal Paradise.All you need is your bike, a week or two of down-time, and a huge dollop of vasbyt, and boom: it is ‘Good Bye Rat Race’! And best of all, at TransCape you furthermore get to share this life-changing journey with a group of vibrant and like-minded individuals.

This means you don’t have to plan anything beyond getting on your bike in the morning and saddling up for the day’s testing journey. Meals, accommodation in boutique hotels, B&Bs or luxury guesthouses (yup, no tents!) and gourmet food stops en route ensure you get the best of both worlds on what is unarguably a world-class event.

“In a nutshell, you will pedal for 503km across the bulk of the Western Cape”, explains the diminutive Collet. “The route has not been designed to make this just another hard-core race”, she continues, “but don’t come here thinking it is all about caviar, crackers and good red wine, either … we’ll make you work for your little pleasures”.

Along the way, riders need to bomb the wide-sky Karoo plains, suffer up gnarly mountain passes, and survive the full onslaught of the no-holds-barred summer heat along what promises to be a gut-thumping 6-day journey, brimming with dust, sweat, tears and – more often than not – the odd spatter of blood.

 

The Routes

The annual TransCapeMTB Stage Race – truly a ‘Bicycle Journey across the Cape’ – arguably rates as one of South Africa’s most scenic and exhilarating mountain-biking events. Riders from around the globe saddle up every year to crank from the Garden Route, across the Karoo, Hessequa and Overberg Regions, all the way to the Cape Winelands, on their quest for headspace and cycling satisfaction. Awesome food, exceptional accommodation, a diverse route and lekker people is what you can expect along the way – and really, what more could you ask for?

The Stages

Stage 1: Montagu. The journey starts in the Garden Route town of George at the foot of the Outeniqua mountains. The first 81km stage has a bit of everything from tar, gravel, mountain fynbos and indigenous forest and then the fun, main feature – the Old Montagu Pass. From there it is down to the heart of the Klein Karoo and the finish line at La Plume Boutique Guesthouse in Oudtshoorn.

Stage 2: Rooiberg. This stage is all about one of the legends in Klein Karoo mountain biking, the Rooiberg Pass. The first 45km are predominantly fast flowing gravel along the foothills of the Gamka and Rooiberg mountains. The second half is the climb up Rooiberg Pass and the views are spectacular. The descent is very fast and although the surface is good, the speed can make it treacherous. Finish the 77km stage at Rooiberg Lodge.

Stage 3: Kanga. This 90km leg is the first of 3 long stages. A very scenic route heading out from Rooiberg Lodge with a lot of riding through private game farms to the main Van Wyksdorp Road for a short section of gravel before entering the by now legendary Kanga section. The 35km section trails through private game farms teeming with wildlife and spectacular scenery and then there is the KangaKrusher; a short sharp double stinging beast. Make it up this one without pushing and you have bragging rights for the night. A few challenges along jeep track to end the day at Kweekkraal Guest Farm.

Stage 4: Milk & Honey. The 94.3km day starts with a series of short sharp climbs on dirt track, linking onto the gravel road and into the Milk and Honey climb to the high point of the day. Superb, ever changing mountain views, river crossings and tranquil farm settings. The second big climb is around the halfway mark with the Graveyard Climb. It is long and steep, but the rewards are a fast flowing single track down. A few sharp climbs through private nature reserves and a ride along the Buffelsjag dam wall. The day ends at Gaikou Lodge in Swellendam. This is considered the toughest stage of the TransCape.

Stage 5: Never-ending River. This 96km section passes through open farmland, orchards, wheat and canola fields with spectacular views on the way to the Riviersonderend mountains. A fast-rolling back road between the mountain and the river leads to the town of Riviersonderend, then hugs the foothills along jeep track through orchards, fields and fynbos. The last section is a gravel dash to The Oaks Estate in Greyton.

Stage 6: Bakenkop. The 65km home stretch – the main feature of the day is the Bakenkop singletracks, arguably one of the coolest single-track sections in the country. Take in the views when you reach the top before tacking the mildly technical descent. A lengthy gravel section leads up to the 40km mark followed by a fast run to Boontjieskraal. There are still a couple of very short, very steep climbs on the winding jeep track up the valley and a fast descent on the other side. Gabrielskloof Wine Estate sits on a hill the so last 1.5km is the last climb of the race.

A Look Around

Squirt Top Tip!

Expert Advice

Three #TopTips from Candice Lill on what to remember when riding your first stage race:

  1. Firstly, Number #1 is to pace yourself. If you had gone completely wild up Montagu Pass today, you weren’t going to make it to the end. So approach it with caution and then – if you’re feeling strong towards the end of the stage – that’s where you make up your time when other people start fading.
  2. Then, Number #2: I would stress how important it is to get your nutrition right. Start eating from the beginning of the ride and not suddenly after two or 3 hours when you think “Oh okay, maybe I should eat something” and it’s already way too late. Fuel regularly throughout, and this goes for hydration as well). Plus, when you’re doing a stage race, it is super important to fuel up for the next day.
  1. Number #3 – because it’s a stage race, don’t give up when the going gets tough! You could be struggling right now, but tomorrow is a new day and anything can happen, so just keep going!

Map, Elevation Profile & Flyover(s)

03/03/2022 05:49

TransCape MTB 2022 (Day 1)

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  • Distance Instructions
Label
  • Distance 76.13 km
  • Time 12 h 49 min
  • Speed 4.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 217 m
  • Peak 734 m
  • Climb 1322 m
  • Descent 1281 m

Shot on Location

FAST FACTS BLOCK – TRANSCAPE MULTI-DAY MTB EXPERIENCE
GRADING: Intermediate to Technical
DURATION: 503km (over 6 days_
CONFIGURATION: One-ride, George to Botrivier
START POINT: Redberrty Farm, George
GPS COORDS:  33°57’30.4″S 22°22’56.2″E
TERRAIN Dirt roads, gravel passes, tar, single track, farm roads
MAP: All information on www.transcapemtb.co.za
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: For information on entering go to www.transcapemtb.co.za
FACILITIES:
Each stage has luxury accommodation
CELL RECEPTION: Coverage along most of the route
BEWARE OF:
Extreme heat in the Karoo

Getting There

And where to stay

From George take PW Botha Blvd and then York Street to the R102 in Bos en Dal. Continue on the R102 for 9.7km to Charles Street. Turn left and continue 800m to the start at Redberry Farm.

Accommodation

La Plume Boutique Guest House – situated in the middle of lush green grassed terraces with beautiful gardens and spectacular views over the Swartberg Mountains and the Olifants River valley, La Plume welcomes guests to a tranquil oasis that offers an escape from the busy pace of everyday life on a working ostrich, lucerne and cattle farm. Experience luxurious accommodation, mouth-watering food and a variety of activities – www.laplume.co.za

Rooiberg Lodge – situated in the Assegaay Nature Reserve just outside the town of VanWyksdorp, Rooiberg Lodge features an outdoor swimming pool and on-site restaurant all surrounded by the Rooiberg Mountain Range. An astonishing variety of flowers, birds and wildlife can be seen, and many routes to explore on your bike. Excellent traditional South African food and top local wines are offered in the restaurant. Accommodation is in cottages as well as the Manor House – www.rooiberglodge.co.za

Kweekkraal Guest Farm – situated 8.2km west of Riversdal, the farm forms part of a conservation area. The main house is of historical significance and was built in 1880. It is a working farm; cattle and sheep are grazed on planted oat and lucerne pastures. Other cereals farmed are canola, wheat and barley. Accommodation consists of nine units that have been lovingly renovated and equipped by the farm owners. For guests’ convenience, braai packs (home-grown quality meat), sandwiches, fresh green salads and cold drinks are for sale. Liquor is also available – www.kweekkraal.co.za

Gaikou Lodge – This 4-star lodge is located in the Marloth Nature Reserve and offers breathtaking views of the mountains, river and forest. Fishing is possible in the two dams (you don’t even need to take gear along). Fly fishing can be practiced along the river route. Refresh your ornithology knowledge as you seek out the many stunning bright brds to be seen around here. Two family villas and eight double rooms offer luxury accommodation. Breakfast is served on the veranda or in the reception area – www.gaikoulodge.co.za

The Oaks – Greyton undoubtedly remains one of the Cape’s most special towns, and breathtaking mountains and valleys help to transform it into a mountain bike paradise. ‘The Oaks’ is one of the region’s most historic farms, with stylish Cape Dutch buildings unfolding at the foot of the Sonderend mountains. Guests can relax here under the giant oak trees, or else they can saddle up their bikes to explore the excellent single-track routes in the surrounding hills. There are also great hiking trails, fishing, bird watching, horseback riding, wine tasting and 4×4 rides all the way to the top of the mountain reserve. Rooms in Zonderend Farm House can accommodate up to 6 people and there are also two self-catering cottages available – www.theoaksestate.co.za

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