Riders gear up for world’s toughest MTB race

RIDERS from across South Africa are gearing up for the toughest single stage mountain bike event in the world - the Trans Baviaans 24-hour Mountain Bike Marathon.

Riders will descend on this gruelling and unmarked 230km route from the main street Willomore on August 13 and cross the finish line at Fountains Mall in Jeffreys Bay on the Sunday.

Owing to its popularity, the event takes place over two weekends to afford more riders the opportunity to compete. The second race, following the exact same route, will take place on August 20 and finish on the Sunday.

As one of South Africa’s premier mountain biking events, this mountain bike marathon creates the perfect combination of extremely challenging cycling amongst spectacular sce-nery through exquisite mountain ranges, right into the heart of the magnificent Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area - all in a team format.

Being a team event, consisting of 2, 3 or 4 cyclists per team, the concept is very different from that of an ordinary MTB race.

The event is also unique as the entire route is unmarked and tests the orientation skills of each rider. This ensures team work amongst everyone and brings out a camaraderie, making it an unforgettable experience. Teams have to check in and out at the checkpoints strategically placed en route, so their whereabouts can be traced.

The late start at 10:00 forces all the riders to use lights for night time riding.

The route

The Trans Baviaans 24-hour Mountain Bike Marathon route starts in Willowmore in the main street and then follows a farm road through Poortjies to link up with the Baviaanskloof turn-off ± 4km out of town.

The route then ascends over a distance of ± 26km to the top of the spectacular Nuwekloofpas. For the next ± 80km the route drops down into the Baviaanskloof, passing through a number of farms such as Rietrivier and the Baviaanskloof Police Station at Studtis, after which it enters the Baviaanskloof wilderness area under the control of Eastern Cape Parks Board.

This long descent ends at Geelhoutbos, a distance of ± 110km from Willowmore. From here the route becomes more strenuous, narrower and more difficult to negotiate, reaching a high point at Bergplaas, at ± 147km from Willowmore. From here it drops suddenly into the Cambria Valley past some citrus farms and the Komdomo Camp site in the banks of the Groot River at ± 175km mark.

From Komdomo the route follows the road to Patensie, but before reaching it, turns off to Humansdorp on an undulating gravel road to cross the Humansdorp-Patensie tar road at ± 210km mark.

The route then follows a farm road to Jeffreys Bay where it finishes at the Fountains Mall in Jeffreys Bay, 230 km from Willowmore.

The total accumulated climbs for this route is 2 540m.

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