Big 5 Challenge: MTB

Knysna Big 5 Challenge
Knysna Big 5 Challenge

Knysna - After arriving safely in the town on Knysna, playing host to the 31st Knysna Oyster Festival, we checked in at our destination for the next 10 days... The Premier Hotel, Knysna.

Registration took place at the Festival Pavilion, buzzing with fit and extremely serious looking people. After a quick struggle with registration, Matty from Magnetic South quickly sorted everything out and I was set to start in yet another extremely exciting journey, the Big 5 Challenge.

Race Morning

With a all night rain fall and being very windy we were set for a thrilling prospect in the morning, but it was the total opposite as the sky opened up for us. I left home still pitch dark, freezing cold and windy making my way to the starting shoot. The short cycle warmed me up but it was to no reward as we had to wait in the starting shoot as per normal, losing all the body heat and quickly starting to freeze again.

Next to me was a man with a bottle of OBS, I was so tempted!

The Race

The start was manageable as we tried to find our rhythm and slowly getting the feeling back into the body. I told myself to go slow up Simola Hill and the Gouna Pass but if I look at my Strava Analysis I realised that I totally over cooked it and obviously also the reason why my legs came off at around the 26km mark. I have not struggled so much on a mountain bike, just peddling itself was the hardest thing on earth for me. I remember at one stage I wasn’t able to cycle faster than 10km/h. The water points was at all the right locations today which made me survive this personal battle. Around 56km I got to a standstill, there was this tiny climb and I had no willpower to approach it, remembering another cyclist asking me if I was also “walling”!

Walling, that I did 20km back my friend. This was the end of the end, the point of no return!

While hallucinating I remembered that I actually had my 32Gi nutrition with me, as they have just launched their new 32Gi Gel I decided this would be the perfect time to test this little bomb. It took around 5km to kick start my finish sprint, I even managed to climb the “toughest” climb of the day… nominated by a very friendly marshal. If the race consisted of only the 1st 25km and the final 25km I suppose I would have had a much better day but unfortunately that was not the story today as I crossed the line in around 4h30min ending a tough day and solid ride in the saddle, after all I’m here to a degree, to kick start training again in preparation for the triathlon season and Cape Pioneer.

The Route

The Momentum Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour (MTB) route caters for all abilities with very little technical sections, no real massive climbs or scary descents. 77.5km with a total climb of 1 750m, a perfect combination.

If only I was much stronger at this stage of the battle it would have been a fantastic cycle route to give horns. The Garden Route and especially Knysna offers us some of the best riding in South Africa with so many different terrains in one race. I’m absolutely in love with the damp routes and tree covered tracks, it makes for such smooth riding and also hides you from all aspects of nature like sun, rain and wind.

I would encourage all cyclists that did the 56km race to upgrade next year and make it a must do on your list of events.

Well done to all and to those doing the Big 5 Challenge, have a super cycle, paddle or swim in the morning.

Current Big 5 Challenge Leaders:


Stuart Marais

Brendon Willcocks

Leon Erasmus


Carla Van Huyssteen

Tamika Claire Haw

Esther Lategan

Please follow me while I’m attempting to complete the Knysna Big 5 as editor of EnduroHub:

Twitter: @tiaanp10

Instagram: tiaanp10

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