RouteMap

THE ROUTE IS KING

The 2017 edition of the Old Mutual joBerg2c is done and dusted. We will be adding in more sections of single track happiness for 2018 and we will continue to strive for a balance across this monumental mountain biking journey.

The 2017 route guide below will serve as a guideline as we will not change the route drastically for 2018.

The Route is King – 99.5% off-road, Subaru track (actually, Jeep track but we cannot say Jeep), tons of single-track, rural secondary roads and some k munching district road… There’s only about 10km of tar along the entire 900km.

The Old Mutual joBerg2c is ride where the destination is less important than the journey. It is about the variation and beauty of this incredible country. You will ride trails never ridden and you will meet communities you would never have never known.

Make no mistake the Old Mutual joBerg2c is a tough but extremely rewarding ride if you have prepared your backside for 9 days.

The following detailed descriptions of each day’s route is a guide as to what to expect.

Day 1 – Karan Beef (Heidelberg) to Frankfort Sports Grounds

Day 1 joBerg2c

Nothing has changed for this “warm-up” day except to say you will pedal every k which makes it deceptively tough. Life is all about percentages – on a 900km journey we need to make sure you have a large percentage of happiness to override a small percentage of “afkak”.

Distance: 116km
Descent: 867m
Ascent: 855m

Water Point 1 at 26.5km, run by Life Ministries
Water Point 2 at 58.2km, run by Life Ministries
Water Point 3 at 89.0km, run by Bambi Nursery School

Description:

A crisp early morning start at Karan Beef. A nice rolling, chilled first few kilometres before your legs get their morning wake-up call Karan Koppie. This is the highest point of day 1 and, on a clear day, if you look south you can almost see Scottburgh 900km away.
A really sweet section of single-track around 4km sets the tone for the journey ahead: long stretches mixed with sections of happiness.
Then it’s into private farmlands starting at the picturesque De Hoek guesthouse, through to the Zingela game farm, across the Suikerbos River on to some flowing single-track through Carel Kriek’s farmyard and then onto long straights surrounded by mielies for Africa. After exiting Lucas Groenewald’s farm, it is on to some fast district road.

Water Point 1, run by Life Ministries, is situated just past the 26km mark. From Water Point 1 to the Vaal Dam is fast along quiet district and farm roads. Remember there are no road closures so watch out for farmers in a hurry – stay left.

You will move through 30km quickly until you get to the famous Vaal River crossing on John Devonport’s farm.

Stock up at the festive Water Point 2, also run by Life Ministries, as there is still 60km to go once you cross the Vaal – into Nic Adams private land and onto some beautiful country back roads that seem to stick next to the Wilge River forever until Frankfort. You will meander along the Wilge, which feeds into the Vaal for a fair distance, until Water Point 3 on Andre Viljoen’s awesome retreat.

This vibrant Water Point is hosted by Bambi Nursery School and some really chilled farmers. From Water Point 3 until town, we pass through farms and more farms. You will never get to this part of the world unless you ride bikes and without these farmers allowing us to ride through their remote lands.

There is not much climbing on day 1, it is a neutral day to warm up for the week but remember you pedal every kilometre, so pace yourself.
The entry into Frankfort is a welcoming sight. You will work your way through the town on the only bit of tar for the day. A hot shower, great Karan Beef rump streaks and lots of banter await.

For the racers, day 2 looms. For the riders the journey will continue.

Day 2 – Frankfort School to Reitz Showgrounds

Day 2 joBerg2c

This is when the racing begins. Keep your legs fresh for the 10km of flowing single-track at the end. Enjoy the best of the eastern Free State.

Distance: 93km
Ascent: 1001m
Descent: 916m

Water Point 1 at 35km, run by Skurwekop Boere Vereeniging/Farmers Association
Water Point 2 at 65km, run by Hoërskool Reitz

Description:

Day 2 is when the racing begins for some and the journey continues for most. Your legs will be warm, your protein levels (thanks to the Karan Beef steaks) will be high and you will be ready for some remote Free State riding.
After leaving the warm hospitality of Frankfort town, a massive Massey Ferguson will lead the 800-strong bunch of riders on a rolling start until hitting the dirt, an early morning meander along the Wilge River then over the bridge and onto a main farm road. Watch out for farmers late for their town meetings in big white bakkies.
At about the 13km mark you will leave the dirt road for your first piece of single-track on Andre and Liezl’s land. This is what the Old Mutual joBerg2c is about. Sections of happiness mixed with some kilometre-munching rural roads to make the journey interesting.
Enough talking, you are now in the heart of Free State farms, as you work your way to another breath-taking section of riding called Hou Duim Vas (Hold Thumbs) at the 25km mark. This land owned by Johan Du Plessis and Adrie Venter is perfect for a sensational single-track wave down the ridge line of their koppie.

Willie Venter and his sister, Adrie, have supported the event since it began. Adrie’s sons, Frans and Bart, help us mow trails, Willie helps us plan trails and together they represent the incredible community support we get for this inspirational ride.
It is almost certain now that you are close to the middle of nowhere. Passing through a few more farms, you will make your way to Johan Du Plessis’s Glen Walton farm for the first Water Point at the 35km mark. This Water Point is hosted by the “tough as nails” Skurwekop Boere Vereeniging/Farmers Association. Every year they go out of their way to feed riders to their hearts’ content.

From Johan’s it is through Page Makhalemel until we hit some rough rural roads. The next 27km will be great to shoot the breeze if you are just riding, but if you’re racing this is where you can really put the hammer down. You will reach Water Point 2 at 65km (a little earlier this year) – this also signals the start of Aubrey’s Starck Contrast – one of our favourite pieces of single-track that is certain to put a smile on your dial. Hoërskool Reitz knows you will need sustenance and they provide at the second and last Water Point of the day.

Out of Aubrey’s and Sakkie Hill and then we are into a new landowner courtesy of the Prinsloo Brothers. This new farm will take the sting out of the normally tough climb to Boerbull Descent where you will first see Reitz. Have a look at the state of the Prinsloo farm to understand what an incredible farming operation they have. What follows is 10km of flowing single-track – it is hard to believe that the straightest path to Reitz will be along this hand-cut trail – that will leave you tired but inspired.
The top of Boerbull Descent at 82km is designed for pure single track fun. Ride within your abilities and enjoy the drop towards Reitz.
Remember to look out for Larry’s wolves as you pass through Husky Romi Wolf Sanctuary. Ice-cold beer, live Rugby and gourmet food will be served by the Hoërskool Reitz where Berna and her fantastic Free State Masterchefs have been preparing for months.
Enjoy the afternoon, day 3 is where you realise that South Africa’s longest stage race is not a ride in the park.

Day 3 – Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam

Day 3 joBerg2c

Towards the edge of the world – the new section up Mt Paul comes late in the day, so make sure you have enough gas saved for one of the new legendary sections of single-track.

Distance: 122km
Ascent: 1118m
Descent: 1082m

Water Point 1 at 32km, run by Hoërskool Reitz
Water Point 2 at 60km, run by Reitz East Farmers Association/Reitz Oos Boere Vereeniging
Water Point 3 at 96km, run by Kestell Retirement Village

Description:

Day 3 is a long day.  Save your legs for the last 40k’s. You will leave Reitz, and your last Afrikaans town, with bellies full and legs in machine mode. You will probably still be thinking about the Reitz race village hospitality for the first 7km through and out of the quaint town.

We warm up with a rolling start behind a giant Valtrac Tractor. The top riders are always chomping at the bit to get going, but after the day is over they always thank us for this relaxed start.

As soon as we turn off the tar, after 7km, it is straight into some seriously back country farm lands. We hope it is relatively dry for your sake as it can get a little swampy as you work your way through Hansie’s “back yards”. 18km of farm riding proves once again that the Old Mutual joBerg2c is a special route that you cannot ride any other time.

From Hansie we are onto a long stretch of kilometre-munching rural roads. A festive Water Point 1, hosted by Hoërskool Reitz to raise funds for their hostel, will break up the stretch a bit at the 32km mark. For overseas riders from mountainous areas you will appreciate the vast open spaces.

Since 2015  have managed to shave 7km off the total distance of Day 3 by making the ride more direct. Enjoy it as you get the opportunity to enter farms very seldom frequented by the outside world – breaking up the monotony of the district ride.

Water Point 2 at the 60km mark is hosted by the Reitz East Farmers Association/Reitz Oos Boere Vereeniging. Nartjie Venter will be there with his ice-cold water pouring out his Clover truck.

James “Jabu” Leslie and Oupa Tshabala are Old Mutual joBerg2c riders but more importantly they are potato farmers of note. In fact, if you eat potatoes there is a very good chance, even overseas, that you have eaten a Jabu potato. Anyway, they have helped us create some special riding from Water Point 2 all the way through to the end.

Save your legs, pace yourself and relax because from around the 75km mark there is a wonderful single-track called Jabulani (happiness in Zulu) along the river, more single-track through farm lands and then another great Water Point 3 hosted by the Kestell Retirement Village at the 96km mark.

From Water Point 3 you will ride toward Mt Paul on tribal lands with special permission from the local chiefs. This is where the view really starts to hit you in the face.

It is around the back of Mount Paul that you encounter one of our top 5 sections. The trail on the edge of Mount Paul is 7km and is breathtaking and Sollie Prinsloo and his crew have been hard at work making sure the trail is in great nick. The gentle climb around Mt Paul to the start of this special timed section is well worth every metre as you will get to see the Drakensberg and Sterkfontein Dam in full view before you free wheel hub hums down a tune and the legs start dancing.

For 4km you will not need to touch your brakes. If you are a great rider you can go very fast and if you are a cautious rider you can free wheel down with heavenly views.

Sollie Prinsloo (you will get to know him well over the 9 days) has also built the underpass that leads up to the mighty Sterkfontein Dam wall. We are privileged to ride over the dam wall as it is normally closed to public. It is a damn long damn wall (3.2 km) as you will find out. You will see the race village soon and you will either be aiming for your compression socks and recovery drinks or an ice cold lager depending on what your agenda is. Harriston School are exceptional in their planning considering they have to drive 50km just to get to their village. Their special Karan Beef Potjie would have been brewing and stewing all day.

As you contemplate life on the banks of the sea-like dam you will now know there is no turning back. KwaZulu-Natal here you come.

Day 4 – Sterkfontein Dam to Emseni 

Day 4 joBerg2c

From the Free State to KwaZulu-Natal in one massive drop on NEW trail called the Great Traverse 

Distance: 93km
Ascent: 1100km
Descent: 1706m

Water Point 1 at 43km, run by Harrismith Rotary Club
Water Point 2 at 65km, run by Bergville Primary School
Water Point 3 at 76km run by Bergville Rugby Club

Description:

After riding this day on the dry run we really think you will be blown away by the new trail on top of the world now known as the Great Traverse. Thank you Solly Prinsloo!

Sterkfontein Dam is massive. As you leave this vast expanse of water you should have a little excitement running loose in your veins – day 4 is known to produce a few endorphins. You may have heard about the big drop into KwaZulu-Natal off the escarpment. But first you will have to get there. The early morning chill will soon disappear as you feel the heat in your legs on your way to the edge of the world. On your left is Retief’s Klip where the Vootrekkers hung out for their single-track horse rides and scouting missions. There is a very distinct possibility that you will be riding over the same trail that Piet Retief’s horse chewed up on an out-ride.

The first 25km is beautiful but tough, and then the riding is just magnificent. You will literally feel like you are on the edge of the world. For 8km, including the top of Great Wall My China, on to the Great Traverse and down Bezuidenhout’s pass you will understand why you own a mountain bike and why you ride. Keep your shoulders relaxed, don’t tense up and let the bike do the work. You will see the best views of Kwazulu Natal while riding on the edge of the Free State.

Bezuidenhout’s Pass is another iconic Voortrekker pass that can be treacherous at incredible speeds. Take it easy. Ox-wagon once took hours, if not days, to get down. You will take about 10 minutes to reach Water Point 1 at the bottom of this spectacular pass after a 4km adrenalin rush.

Water Point 1 hosted by Harrismith Rotary Club is at the 43km mark. Due to the nature of the terrain, we decided to make this Water Point at the bottom of the mountain rather than re-enact the Voortrekker movement to set it up the top of the mountain.

Once you are at the bottom of Bezzie’s Pass you will have some fast sections of dirt road until you enter farms again. The trails through the farmlands on cattle paths are fast and fun. The next 30km until Water Point 2 will fly by. At the 73km mark, Water Point 2, you will meet the people of the Bergville Primary School – they will feed you properly. Make sure you take lots in because the proper riding is still to come.

After your refuel stop you will ride on some proper bush single track all the way to Bone Rattler – a gnarly little descent that works suspension and then into more bush trails that are breathtaking. This is Berg and Bush territory and Farmer Gary’s event is not a sell-out for nothing.

After bone rattler we have a bonus water point just to give you enough voomer to get you home. Another major highlight will be the trail from Long Drop to base camp. Rob Dormehl from the Garden Route Trail Park was hired to create a little section that should blow your mind.

The last 20kms is single track heaven as you decent into Emseni at pace in time for a cold beer.
Day 4 has everything any passionate mountain biker could want. Farmer Gary and his team have put on a feast of riding. We hope you savour every kilometre.

The Winterton Primary School will be your hosts at Emseni. They know how to put on a good spread.

Day 5 – Emseni to Clifton Nottingham Road

Day 5 joBerg2c

Possibly the hardest day of your 9 day adventure!

Distance: 122 km
Ascent: 2241m
Descent: 1757m

Water Point 1  at 32km
Water Point 2 at 61km
Water Point 3 at 92km
Water Point 4 at 110km

Description:

After an early morning start at Emseni we will climb to the top of Spionkop lodge before blasting down some incredible Berg and Bush trails towards Winterton. The 23km new trail to Winterton is awesome but unfortunately it won’t last forever. The best part of day 5 is the changing scenery . From the bushveld to the lush green of the Drakensberg region, you will now start feel the mountain air. We have added a fourth water point to this day at around the 32km mark.

Some “lekker” single-track up towards Hangman’s Tree and then more farms and a special new section of single track before are onto rural dirt roads that take you to Water Point 2 at the 61km mark hosted by “Ze Germans”.

Day 5 is about the journey towards the mountains. You will pass rural communities and Wagondrift Dam, you will climb out of the Bushman’s River Valley as you cross Dalton’s bridge, and you will ride passed a private game reserve called Zulu Waters. You will climb and you will climb, and while the Old Mutual joBerg2c does not boast about how tough our ride is, you will realise getting to Scottburgh requires some mettle. As you climb the “Big Rise” you slog your way towards Water Point 3 at the 92km mark. You will feel the high altitude air and see the central Drakensberg soaring into the sky. Water Point 3 is a welcome break from the climbs. The passionate folk from the Endangered Wildlife Trust will top your energy levels up for the relatively easier off-roads ahead.

There is a super fast descent not far after WP 3 – be very careful. You will kill off many k’s but don’t lose control.

The rest of the 25km journey to Clifton School takes you past dairy farms, over dam walls and through back country roads to your place of rest.  There is a bonus water point 4 on the ugly sister rolling hills to keep spirits high at the 11okm mark hosted by Treverton School. You will need to top up energy levels for the little sting in the long day 5 trail.

Clifton School uses the Old Mutual joBerg2c for more than just fundraising, they use it to raise fun as a team-building exercise among parents, teachers and pupils. The result is another passionate race village .

Day 6 – Clifton – Nottingham Rd to Glencairn Farm – Sani Pass Road

Day 6 joBerg2c

Distance: 98km
Ascent: 2022m
Descent: 1997m

Water Point 1 at 32km
Water Point 2 at 71km

Description:

Day 6 is brand new – It is an easier day overall than the previous day 6 but there are one or two steep surprises, which are seriously steep but more importantly there are some sections of single track happiness to seriously put a smile on the dial.

Our aim is was to add variation which is always the spice of a mountain bikers life.

There will be a controlled start through the village of Nottingham Rd as we get onto the Fort Nottingham road we head for the mountains. You will appreciate some free k’s on tar that turns into district road before turning off into serious back country tracks and trails never before been ridden.

The first climb of the day is the steepest climb on joBerg2c. It is only 2km long but has sections where the handle bar will touch your nose.  It is called Gumtree climb: not only are you surrounded by gumtrees but after this climb you will want to sell your bike so Gumtree is a fitting name.

After the climb you will plateau onto some truly special farm lands. You will feel the remoteness and peacefulness of Ivanhoe Farm, one of the biggest farming operations in the land. You will also find water point 1 conveniently placed after your mammoth climb.

As you pass through William Bryant’s farm on the edge-of-the-world it will be time to experience Harrison’s pass – a piece of trail created by the Harrison brothers literally on the edge of the mountain that will make you very happy to be alive.

Whizzing down through the tribal land you will come into Chief Zuma territory. It will be Heritage day so expect lots of people around. Please don’t offer the kids sweets this causes problems. Through the tribal village we cross the Nzinga River as we climb to our next section of special riding Rock and Roll: a 6km section of free wheeling trail with more than one rock to contend with. You will rock and roll down to the Umkomaas. Not the last time you will cross this mighty river.

From the Umkomaas it is a bit of a toil to the Sappi Forest section where Water Point 2 will fuel you up for the last part of the day.

You will enter Slow Poison a proper gradual climb in the forest that goes on and on and on but the reward at the end of the tunnel of trees is a super fast descent on the brand new So Sappi trail carved by Glenn Harrison. This 3km trail will be one of the highlights of your journey. It was even a blast unfinished on the dry run. When it settles you will be in single track heaven.

You will go through the picturesque Vendoon farm and Jack Lund’s as you work your way to one of the most restful stops at Glencairn farm. You will relaxing on green pastures with full view of the Drakensberg (if there is no mist). You will have made day 6 – three days to go.

Day 6 is tough but it is different all the way and should keep you interested from start to finish. Your hosts from Underberg school will feed you up for the sani2c route which awaits.

Day 7 – Glencairn Farm – Sani Pass Road to Mackenzie Club

Day 7 joBerg2c

An easier flowing rest day at MacKenzie Club, Masanini School, Moth Club

Distance: 82km
Ascent: 914m
Descent: 1356m

Water Point 1 at 39km, run by the Pevensey Place Association
Water Point 2 at 66km, run by Birdlife Sisonke

Description:

Wake up to the smell of Seattle Coffee and the fresh Underberg air. Day 7, by comparison to what you have ridden will be a rest day. It is the start of the last three days which most of you know is also the same route as the 3-day Sani2c. This is also the first day we will be batching the start. The reason is to avoid congestion on the single-track sections of happiness.

As you enter the Oak single-track, flying over the floating bridge and descending to Water Point 1 – you will know what fast, flowing single-track is about.

View climb at the 27km mark, ends after the curved floating bridge. We will have a prize for the most spectacular bomb into the dam for sure.

The Pevensey Water Point at the 39km mark is run by a group of really special people. They love serving riders Coke and doughnuts. There is a good chance they may pour the Coke on your head and eat the doughnuts before you get one, but all in all they are great value and they certainly remind us to not take anything too seriously.

Leaving Water Point 1 you will head for some SAPPI plantations before entering the famous Xumeni Indigenous forest. This is home to the Cape Parrot. This endangered species is a special bird that, if spotted, will make your day. They often call out to riders calling them names.

You exit the forests crossing over the railway line at Donnybrook and then you are in for a refreshing Water Point 2 hosted by tBirdlife Sisonke before you tackle Bowman’s climb. By now you will be so strong this climb will feel like a bump.

More single-track through plantations in New Wappo and Muffin Top and more fast dirt road before your final tester of the day – Tiny’s climb into MacKenzie Club. The folk at MacKenzie are seasoned pros, they have been doing this for years. Buzz Hauff and his crew will be waiting with great food and one or ten Clover vanilla milks. The collective effort between MacKenzie Club, Masanini School and the Moth Club always ensure a great race village with years of experience.

Day 8 – MacKenzie Club (Ixopo) to Jolivet (Highflats)

Day 8 joBerg2c

No Valley too steep, no Mountain too high, no river too deep.

Distance: 99km
Ascent: 1705m
Descent: 2163m

Water Point 1 at 38km, run by Maritzburg College
Water Point 2 at 65km, run by Highflats Farmers Association
Water Point 3 at 83Km, run by Two River Tourism Association

Description:

Soon after the 5.30am awakening, the reality of what lies ahead will jolt the senses into nervous anticipation. Day 8 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c is another one of those extra special days on a bike. At 7am A-batch will begin hurtling down 7km of district road before Ant’s Entrance and the start of the keep-left-pass-right double single-track.

From Ant’s, we enter Wow single-track – if you have time, stop and take in the view of the mighty Umko valley. Wow is followed by Yankee Doodle, a fast fun piece of single-track that really get the adrenalin going.

A short heart-pumping climb will lead you into Murray’s meander. This new section has to be some of the most dramatically positioned single-track imaginable. At first glance it would seem that a route is not possible above the towering cliffs that drop down to the Mighty Umkomaas. After some breath-taking single-track along old cattle paths, you will find yourself being lead straight into Nick’s Pass overlooking the Umkomaas River Valley. Dropping into the valley, these fast, switchback descents will have your brake pads sending hot whiffs of warning to those behind. After 8 switchbacks, you will enter Sosiba’s section which catapults you towards the school.

After passing the cheering children of our adopted Msayana School, you will then literally fly down toward the Umko River. Here you will find the pride of our route builders – a 3km bench-cut mountain bike pass, built for your riding pleasure. Thereafter, you will experience some of the most enjoyable single-tracks to be found, including School single-track with some technical rocky patches and a short, steep decent that leads you through to Mchunu’s Highway.

These fast-flowing sweeping curves will allow you a quick glance at the Umkomaas River, which slowly grows ever closer as you continue your descent. A sharp right bend takes you into MamTholo’s Pride – a smooth, fast, bush-lined footpath leading you past the remote homesteads of Mchunu’s two wives, many children and grandchildren. Leaving the dancing Mchunus behind, you enter the real African bush where the flowing single-track of Heaven Or Hell races through the thorn trees for 3km before the final climax of Tamika’s Detour, which bottoms out on the banks of the Umkomaas River.

The pace and adrenalin rush now changes. After some 20-odd kilometres of mountain biking euphoria, the reality of the day sets in. You will warm your legs on the tracks that lead along the river before opening up into a game farm that teams with Kudu, Bush Pig and Nyala. The recent single-track cut next to the river is a welcome change from years gone by. The ride along the Umko flats will lead you to our floating bridge across the river.

Thereafter, it is Giraffe Alley and on through the farm of Dave Aardensgard. On William Mapstone’s farm you will be slapped by the first sugar cane on the route. It is here at the 39km mark, that you will find the Maritzburg College Water Point and realise that there is still a long way to go. Be concerned that you have done a lot of descending until this point.

Your heart rate, the altitude and temperature soar steadily as you climb out of the valley. This is a long hot climb that is challenging under the best of conditions. Be inspired by the fact that there is some great single-track along Steve’s Spruit along the banks of the Inhlavini River. Here you are as far as one can get from civilisation.

Many of you might have done sani2c in the past and will remember names like Songololo and Haaibo 1 and 2 – well these climbs, they are back! The new climb to get there is going to be one of those climbs you will remember forever but that you will want to forget. Farmer Glen has picked a new route out of the valley and let’s not say too much now. We will talk to you at Jolivet about it. He reckons it is going to hurt.

Once at the top, it’s onto fast downhill timber roads towards Highflats Church where you will find the third Water Point at the 82km mark – it is expertly manned by Two River Tourism. From Highflats Church seconding table it is a further 15km of undulating forest roads before we enter Charlie’s Cat Walk, a safe section that has been purpose built next to the road for kids to walk and mountain bikers to ride.
This day will be remembered as one of your most challenging ever on a mountain bike.

Once in the Rosevere’s farm at Jolivet the beers will start to flow, the Karan Beef steaks will be devoured and there will be a general level of excitement. One day to go in this mammoth journey. The Highflats Farmers Association are also seasoned experts and host a great race village, they will not disappoint.

Day 9 – Jolivet (Highflats) to Scottburgh – The Old Mutual Wealth “Champagne Stage” 

Day 9 joBerg2c

Last but not least! A neutral day to celebrate the spirit of mountain biking. Dress in something green!!!

Distance: 84km
Ascent: 854m
Descent: 1551m

Water Point 1 at 23km, run by Dumisa Farmers Association
Water Point 2 at 58km, run by Scottburgh Lions

Description:

After the tender steaks and one or two beers with the Highflats farmers, it is time to head for the coast on the last day of this incredible journey. In years gone by it was considered a rest day but with an incredible new single-track through lush sub-tropical vegetation, day 9 is no longer a gentle pedal to the coast. It is not a hard day by comparison to what you would have endured over the 8 days, but it now has more mountain biking and less off-road riding.

For 2017 we have decided to make day 9 a neutral day. It is still a timed day and compulsory if you want to get your finishers medal. However we have decided that after 7 days of racing and a long ride we should take the edge off and just enjoy the last day without the rush.

The day starts by passing through one of the country’s most manicured sugar cane farms whose roads will afford you the opportunity to appreciate its beauty. A long, quick descent through Whitley’s farm will split the field, as will the first hard climb – Clint’s climb. Soon after the climb the single-track “rollercoasters” into new surroundings experienced at every turn.

Sweeping cane roads will move the tour along at a surprisingly brisk pace from farm to farm on its journey to the coast. A few short steep climbs will remind your legs why they needed the training, as will the steep technical climb fondly known as Work To Be Done. This climb will feature as a little test of how far you have come. If you are strong you should try climb it without dabbing your feet.

An interesting change in terrain will lead you into the tracks of Vernon Crooke’s Nature Reserve and on to some spectacular single-track through Mtagati coastal bush. Look out for the wildlife and appreciate the herd of cheeky Zebra that often escort cyclists through their plains. Shortly after Vernon Crooke’s, prepare for two surprises that will punish those who start too ambitiously and who are now scratching in the bunch.

There was a change in the route for 2013. Instead of turning up towards Heart Rate Hill one continues down the valley and under the R56 tar road. This route adds a further 8km to the previous route but takes away Heart Rate and adds some amazing new sections.

After crossing under the R56, riders flow down the river valley for 12km towards Esparanza. There a specially constructed underpass takes you on to a spectacular section named Ricky’s Rail. This old railway route winds down the banks of the Kelso River and onto Dave Toil which is a purpose-dug track taking you out of the valley up onto an old golavaan track fondly known as Lost and Found. It is on this single-track that mountain bikers will experience up and close pristine south coast bush.

A gentle climb known as Dump Hill will join you into the spectacular trails of Ellingham Estate. Andre’s Underpass leads you back under the R56 and into Andre’s Ambush. This is another great initiative which not only serves the race but offers year-round off-road safe passage for local mountain bikers wanting to ride the Ellingham trails. An exhilarating finish through Moodie Lane leads to the sea at Scottburgh main beach where the finish line awaits together with family and supporters.

Feel justifiably proud and thankful that you have achieved a feat that many would never consider. Be grateful that you are strong and healthy as you celebrate the successful completion of a life experience. You are on your way to becoming a legend. Well done!

We may change routes at the last minute without warning in case of safety (surprise timber felling) or weather issues.

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