Wines2Whales riders can win an incredible heli-ride MTB experience this year

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You’d be smiling too, knowing you are about to get a massive singletrack descent for ‘free’. (Photo: Wines2Whales/Cape Town Helicopters
You’d be smiling too, knowing you are about to get a massive singletrack descent for ‘free’. (Photo: Wines2Whales/Cape Town Helicopters
  • Want another big descent in Elgin after a day of great stage racing? Wines2Whales could provide exactly that.
  • Wines2Whales and Cape Town Helicopters will offer some lucky competitors a heli-ride experience.
  • The concept of heli-ride mountain biking has enormous potential in South Africa, where many of the best descents can be a notorious pedal to access.

In mountain biking, the shuttle vehicle is revered.

On those rare occasions when somebody secures a bakkie with the correct racks and padding, there's nothing to rival the secret thrill of getting a free ride uphill. And then revelling in the reward of 'fresh legs' on the descent.

South Africa lacks chairlift trail access and gondolas, unlike Europe and North America, where mountain bikers benefit from snowsport infrastructure in summer.

mountain bike
This could be you, on the afternoon of Wines2Whales day two. (Photo: Wines2Whales/Cape Town Helicopters)

Helicopters go where bakkies can’t

The shuttle bakkie is an occasional reality for local riders. But some of the best South African trails, especially those categorised as raw mountain biking, aren't always accessible with a vehicle.

That's where the helicopter becomes a mountain biker’s fantasy shuttle of choice. Helicopter-assisted mountain biking is a proven concept, with European and North American riders often using helicopters to ride otherwise inaccessible descents.

mountain bike
Wave your helicopter pilot off, press that dropper-post remote, unlock your suspension and descend. (Photo: Wines2Whales/Cape Town Helicopters)

Taking your W2W experience to the next-level (literally)

South Africa has a treasure of helicopter-friendly trails, and Cape Town Helicopters will provide an amazing shuttle service to some lucky Wines2Whales riders.

All Wines2Whales entrants will be eligible for the lucky draw, which sees two teams per event getting to experience the heli-ride mountain bike flight. Scheduled for 28 October to 6 November, there are three rotations for Wines2Whales: Chardonnay, Pinotage and Shiraz, correlating to a weekend, mid-week and another weekend event.

mountain bike
This image shows the potential of heli-biking, spot the riders on that rock arch. (Photo: Wines2Whales/Cape Town Helicopters)

The descent of a lifetime

Where will Cape Town Helicopters be taking those twelve Wines2Whales riders? Their exact descent destination remains a secret, but it will be in the terrain surrounding Oak Valley’s Wines2Whales base camp. Think Elgin. And think big mountain peaks.

Riders familiar with the Elgin basin and its treasure of surrounding trails won’t require any marketing to realise the potential of a heli-ride mountain bike experience. Whichever drop-in point the Cape Town Helicopters crew choose to deliver their Wines2Whales passengers onto, it will make for an amazing descent.

An unavoidable part of mountain biking is sacrifice. 'You need to earn your turns,' is the old mountain biking adage. But at Wines2Whales, it will be different for those heli-ride winners.

mountain bike
A big upgrade from trying the mountain bike shuttle thing, with a double-cab bakkie. (Photo: Wines2Whales/Cape Town Helicopters)

Rotor wing MTB riding in style

The helicopter in question is ideally configured to its task, being an Airbus Squirrel with three bike racks on each side.

Dependable, agile and powerful, the Airbus Squirrel can easily lift and transport six mountain bikes and riders. Ironically, the same handlebar issues you experience when loading three bikes on your car rack, apply to heli-biking.

With modern mountain bikes having standardised much wider handlebars, racking many bikes can become a real-world game of Tetris. The Cape Town Helicopters crew have found that flying with four mountain bikes on the Airbus Squirrel's six-bike racking capacity works best, to prevent handlebar rub.

If you haven't entered one of the three Wines2Whales rotations and like the idea of a huge 'free' descent on day two of the event, you know what to do.

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