Our 12-day bike training tour will toughen you up for the ultimate 36One MTB Challenge. This ultra-distance race is a must for anybody wanting to go the extra mile. You too will experience true South African hospitality as you cycle the Cape wine lands and explore the Little Karoo with wide-open spaces and mountainous backdrops.
Cycle Africa Tours Owner, Steve, recently tackled and completed his second ultimate challenge. He had so much fun, decided to design a “training package” for the 36One Challenge. The secret being saddle time AND distance, but more importantly, experiencing as close to the same road conditions as possible. We believe this training tour will help you get into shape for the 36One and showcase the natural beauty the Western Cape has to offer, meet friendly people along the way and sample the hospitality of the Little Karoo. We too have added some single track riding to keep you on your toes...
For more info on the 36One Extreme MTB Challenge, check out Day 13 below
Your Itinerary and abbreviations:
KM = distance cycled by bike, AM = altitude climbed by bike, B/S/D/W = meals included (Breakfast/Trail snacks/Dinner/ Wine tasting)
Meet your guide and driver at Cape Town International or get collected from your accommodation. After introductions we drive to the start of our venture, but also the mountain biking Mecca of Cape Town - Stellenbosch. Here you have time to set your bikes up and time permitting, get those legs moving, and experience the first single trail in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Stellenbosch. We spend two nights in a comfortable guest house.
Today we venture out and cycle one of the many specially built single track venues. Simonsberg is well known for the flowing nature of the trails and breathtaking views of the wine valley below and Table Mountain in the distance. Here we find trails designed to suit all levels of rider, with well-planned contours making the ascent relatively easy. You can chat with your guide on the day. (B/S) KM (depending on the route chosen)
Today is the start of our back road cycling. We leave Stellenbosch by bike and hit the first of two passes, Helshoogte which connects Stellenbosch to Franschoek, and the iconic Franschoek Pass. We also cycle around the largest freshwater dam supplying Cape Town, Theewaterskloof. The wind can sometimes blow off the water making things a bit more interesting. But as the saying goes “where there is no mountain to climb, there is wind” We finish our first day in the village of Greyton, tucked away in the Riviersonderend Mountains. (B/S) ± 110km/1450m
After a good breakfast, we head out from our accommodation by bike and follow the base of the Reviersonderend Mountains with undulating gravel roads and lovely views of the surrounding grain growing farms. As we get closer to Swellendam, we start to roughly follow the Breede River. Tonight's accommodation is a comfortable guest house and one which is used by cyclists moving through the area. We spend two nights here. (B/S) ± 112km/1300m
Today we take a rest from our long-distance cycling and hit the trails. We do a short transfer with our vehicle, the area we will be cycling in is a conservancy and dedicated to community upliftment and conservation. There are several trails available to ride, this we can discuss at the start. No matter which trail we do, we will be cycling through some of the countries most productive dairy farms and offers spectacular views of the Langeberg Mountains. There are a few interesting fences crossing to negotiate. Once we are all powered out, we load our bikes and drive to a nearby farm stall for a deserved lunch. (B/S) ± 25-39km/75m–900m
This morning the first 30km is tarmac. We then get into the backcountry and the rolling hills. “Heartbreak Hill” will get your pump working but then the downhill is a blast as we enter the Duiwenhoks valley as it follows a fairly flat terrain and the flow of the river. Our day ends in Riversdale and tonight's accommodation is a very comfortable guest house. (B/S) ± 90km/1500m
We depart by bike after a hearty breakfast. The first 20 odd kilometres is tarmac taking us up and over the Garcia Pass. We then hit the gravel and follow undulating country roads through the baron landscape of the Little Karoo. This succulent based landscape turns into a kaleidoscope of colour shortly after the first rains have fallen. There is a chance of spotting the different antelope that live here: kudu, oryx, baboon and klipspringer to name a few. After a short stop in Van Wyksdorp, we continue our cycle to our lodge which is hidden from the outside world and an oasis in the true form. We spend two nights here... (B/S)± 75km/1120m
Today we rest and relax our bones. You can go for a hike on the property or just relax. During the late afternoon and early morning hours, there is a good chance of spotting giraffe, zebra, baboon, and bushbuck when they come to drink or attack the flowerbed. (B)
Unfortunately, we need to leave our oasis. Today’s cycle is short and sweet (most of today's cycle is on the 36One route) and starts by cycling a gentle hill of about 5km following the less used farm roads as they wind down and over the Gouritz River. The view of both the Swartberg and the Langeberg Mountains will keep you fascinated. This desolate area will keep you wondering how anybody can live out here. We load our bikes after another long but gentle climb and do a transfer to the start of the Garden Route - George. We spend the night in a comfortable guest house. (B/S) ± 50km/915m
After a delicious breakfast, we head up and over the Outeniqua Mountain via the Montagu Pass, dating back to 1844. This pass still has parts of the original stone walls, an old Tollhouse, and spectacular views. Our route then continues through the dusty Perdekloof as we wind our way back into the Little Karoo with the majestic Swartberg Mountain as a backdrop. Our cycling route ( part of today's cycle is on the 36One route) ends at our comfortable lodge on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn, we spend two nights in this stylish lodge. (B/S/D) +-57km/930m
With the 36One MTB challenge around the corner, we need to rest and recover. Today is the perfect place. You can use the pool, sauna, and or Jacuzzi. (B/D)
We have a late start to the day and a relaxing day. After breakfast we do a short transfer into the ostrich capital Oudtshoorn and visit some of the highlights (optional) There are several wildlife orientated options which you can discuss with your guide at the time. Today we use to prep our equipment and clean the bikes, not to mention the taming of those nerves. We take up our base and spend the next three nights in our comfortable guest house. (B) (Those interested in a short spin on the bike are most welcome)
With the race only a few hours away we take things very easy. Leisurely breakfast then head off to the race village to complete the registration and soak up the electric atmosphere. We then head into town for lunch should somebody wish to eat, then back to our accommodation for the last bike preparations and sleep. At around one hour to start, we head over and LET THE GAMES BEGIN...
You can find more information regarding the race by clicking the tabs below. (B)
Registration/ Race Rules – After breakfast, we take a drive to the race village. Riders must register in person. Photo ID (Driver's license / ID document / Passport) is compulsory and must be presented at registration. All riders competing in The Challenge (riders who ride the full 361 km) must fill out the medical questionnaire and have it signed off by their GP.
At registration, you get the normal goodies (bike board, goodie bag, etc). Each rider doing The Challenge will be issued with 3 race boxes at registration and these will be transported to the three Checkpoints. Riders doing The Half will be issued with only 1 box that will be transported to Checkpoint 3. You then pack clothing, personal snacks etc, the equipment you may need during the event. Boxes are not accessible outside of the checkpoints and riders are responsible to ensure that the boxes are correctly marked. All boxes can then be collected from the race village at the end of the event.
This is a full-service event, so riders participating in the race will not need any back-up. Riders are however welcome to have a back-up team available at the checkpoints. No support outside of the designated checkpoint area will be allowed and any transgression in this regard will lead to disqualification. Support vehicles are allowed at the checkpoints but have to move according to the back-up vehicle route. Any support vehicle found on the route will result in disqualification.
We do not have road closure. Riders must adhere to the rules of the road. Marshals are there to warn traffic, but the responsibility lies with the rider to look out for traffic, ride on the left-hand side of the road, stop at all stop signs and intersections, and only proceed when it is safe to do so.
Solo Woman R2300.00 (Registration now OPEN)
Solo Men. R2300.00
Solo Woman R1250.00
Solo Men R1250.00
Over the last few days, you have gotten to know our friendly and efficient support vehicle driver. Our same driver will be following us around the route and to be found at the different checkpoints. When Steve cycled this challenge, he found having somebody he knew to greet him at the checkpoints was great motivation but also a goal to look forward to at the next checkpoint.
Your well on your way and been riding into the late afternoon, come early evening. Your first checkpoint, CP1 at Louvain (99km) you should reach around 19:00, here you can get a warm meal and hot drink. Change your clothes don those leg warmers and warm gloves (the next leg will get cold) The next section to Volmoed (CP2) at 180.5km, will get lonely. The night is long so either take some tunes along or sing/scream into the night to stay not only motivated but awake. You will probably reach CP2 between 02:00 and 04:00. Our friendly support driver will be here to welcome you and tend to your every need. Grab a warm meal and drink, get some rest then hit the road. Remember not to hang around too long but dress warmly as it gets VERY COLD here.
Those of you who opted for the Half Challenge, you start here at Highgate (CP2) at 06:00. You will be brought here with the Cycle Africa support vehicle. As above, dress warmly for the first section to Calitzdorp (CP3) Those doing the challenge, you should get there sometime around lunchtime or even earlier. You can then leave all that warm clothing here (in your box or give to your support driver) It’s then advised to calculate the distance/time to the finish and the possible drop in temperature and coming darkness. B/L/D (Race support)
Crossing that finish line will be an emotional event. All your hard work has paid off. Stand proud and smile for that finishes picture as you take possession of your deserved medal. Once your bike is loaded you get driven back to our comfortable guest house and fall into that warm bed.
Unfortunately, all good things have to end. We arrived as strangers but left as friends. This 36One MTB Challenge will change the way you see things. The friendships made, camaraderie gained, impressions en-route and the hospitality from the local farming communities will stay with you forever. Oh, and the pain… We depart after breakfast and transfer you to the George airport for your flights. (B)
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