Move over golf... Competitive mountain biking is the new way South Africans are getting their kicks. The more challenging, the better. We've handpicked the most gruelling races to put on your to-do list...
8 days. 700km. R59 600 per two-person team
13-20 March 2016
This is the big daddy. It is the most widely televised mountain bike stage race in the world, attracting the top riders in the sport, including Olympic medalists and world champs. Although the Cape Epic has also seen amateurs from all walks of life compete alongside professional mountain bikers, so the race doesn’t exclude you if you’ve only begun training this year. But this is serious stuff; you'll need to provide a medical certificate before you'll be accepted. The Absa Cape Epic must be completed by both members of a two-person team. The route changes every year, taking riders through roughly 800km of unspoilt scenery and 15 000m of accumulated climbing, over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in South Africa. Check out this year's route here and who can enter here.
3 days. 265km. R12 680 per two-person team.
10-12 May 2016
Considered as South Africa’s must-do stage, it features nature’s plethora, flowing trails, stunning scenery and a strong community development aspect. The race strives towards creating more awareness for all of the natural elements in the area as it is so critical to its preservation. San2C says that through associated sponsorship and media interest, they aim to promote tourism and conservation of this area to the benefit of its people. They also aim to bring the challenge of this multi-disciplined event within reasonable reach of all levels of athlete, so once again, you can do it.
Follow their training guide here.
9 days. 900km. R34 800 per two-person team / R19 900 per solo entry
Kicking off in Gauteng and ending in coastal KZN, the race has an ‘odyssey’ appeal to it as it is one of the longer races taking cyclists through vastly contrasting terrains and sublime natural elements such as yawning beaches, mountainous passes and plush green fields. This race is in celebration of our very own diverse country and its people, who are encouraged to adventure alongside each other from start to finish. Using a community-driven formula along the way, the race will also uplift communities and give them a fool-proof way to raise money for their schools, churches and charities. This community driven adventure is incredibly challenging and rewarding, for everyone! Check out the route here
3 days. 235km. R12 000 per two-person team
7-9 November 2016
It started after avid mountain biker Johan Kriegler completed his first Sani2C in 2006, from where he conceptualized the idea of a similar multi-stage race in the Western Cape. Spoilt for choice, the race follows the finest trails in the Western Cape, from Elgin to Hermanus, situating you among various vistas such as wine farms and extensive beach fronts. The FNB Wines2Whales is a 2-person team mountain bike stage race and team members have to race together for the entire distance of the race, looking after each other and their equipment. This is a great opportunity for you and a friend to bond over how much you’re challenging yourselves, because why not? Race organisers have some exciting new trail tweaks up their sleeves this year. Check out the route here.