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Contego Wines2Whales MTB
Adventure powered by Maserati, 2-4 November, Somerset West to Hermanus, Western
Cape

 Respect to the Capetonians: They are pretty tough people
– and they use this race as a perfect reminder of that! The 8km climb from the
start line of day one instantly spread the field out and reminded the out-of-towners
that Capetonians have real mountain biking country, and that the out-of-towners
were in for a treat… and lots of sweating!

 

NEVER-ENDING FUN

I had the privilege of taking part in the Adventure,
the first fo the two race weekends, with one of my three brothers. It was my fifth
mountain bike stage race, Ian’s first, and our first together, but this was by
no means our first bicycle ride together! Our biking history extends back many
years with four boys who grew up ‘wild’ on a farm in Natal. Biking was an
integral part of the never-ending adventures provided by our parents to keep us
busy and to stop us breaking farming implements that had a greater value.
Farming in the thorn veld and not having the modern tubeless tyres and swift
puncture repair kits meant we repaired endless punctures and had the tubes looking
like patch work in no time.

 

Soon our dad replaced the bicycle tyres with hose pipe
wired onto the rim. In the process, he achieved a double whammy, as he now had
us out of his hair and in bed a lot earlier, too, as we had to work a lot
harder in pedalling our bikes! All too soon life moved on to motorbikes, then our
first VW Beetles, and on to where we are in our lives today. So getting to the
start line of the Wines2Whales Adventure, kitted out on our modern mountain
bikes with real tyres and gears, was a special time for my brother and I. It
was time to escape our modern lives and have a few days together to remind us
of our childhood of seemingly never-ending fun. We could not have chosen a
better mountain bike stage race to share together.

 

3, 2, 1, LET’S GO!

We headed off from the lovely Lourensford Wine Estate
in Somerset West and up the 8km climb that saw me stop a few times to confirm
that someone hadn’t sneaked those hose pipe tyres back onto my bike. While I
was sucking in great breaths and sweating it all out in the mid-morning heat,
my brother, now a local farmer boy, was watching me with great amusement from
his bike and reminding me this was his regular training terrain.

 

While suffering up the climb with a few Capetonians
looking like they were out on a Sunday cruise, I had to concede, these
Capetonians are tough people. Like so many things in life, as long as you keep
moving forward, you will get to your destination, so after what felt like half
the day, we finally got to the top of one of the toughest climbs of the event.
From there on, the ride for the rest of the three days is truly a mountain
biker’s dream.

 

THREE INCREDIBLE DAYS

Day one took us approximately 75km to Oak Valley in
Grabouw and included roughly 1900m of climbing. As part of the course, the
Wines2Whales team had arranged with Cape Nature for the riders to be allowed to
cross over Sir Lowry’s Pass. The compulsory portage was hard work, but worth
every effort when we got to see the wagon tracks cut into the rock by the early
Cape settlers and the Voortrekkers. With midday temperatures of up to 42 degrees,
the frequent, well-manned and well-stocked watering tables were a welcome
relief!

 

The second day was a round trip that started and ended
at Oak Valley. The 65km and 1100m of climbing for this stage can be compared to
riding through a purpose-built mountain biking park with awesome obstacles,
stunning views, and technical single track that could have come right out of a
mountain bike text book. The only way I can describe it is fantastic!

 

Day three and our adventure was about to come to an
end as we headed off to Hermanus on a 76km journey. The day included 1300m of
climbing and was a mixture of the more difficult day one and the mountain biker’s
dream route of day two. We crossed the final finish line in Hermanus with
massive smiles on our faces, but sad to get to the end of the fun and
adventure.

 

THANK YOU!

The Wines2Whales is a fantastic event and we hope we
will be allowed to line up at the foot of the humbling Capetonian mountains
again next year. For my brother and I, our reason for taking part in the event
was to share a much-needed adventure together while doing something we both
love. Thank you to the Wines2Whales team, you gave us so much more than we
expected. Just as the handbook says, the Wines2Whales offers “three perfect
days with a stunning amount of diversity and fun with many magic moments.”

SUPERBLY ORGANISED

Start to finish, we found the event organised with
outstanding professionalism by a team that made it all work like Swiss clockwork
and allowed for a relaxing and enjoyable adventure. Clearly it is an event
organised by passionate mountain bikers who understand what mountain bikers
need and want on a stage race, and then excel at providing it.

 

The route finders and
builders need special mention. They have achieved a remarkable result that I
believe will draw many mountain bikers to the event and the area. The Wines2Whales
has allowed a team from Cape Trails to be offered much-needed fulltime
employment and they work tirelessly to provide a route with fun and challenging
obstacles. It was heart-warming to see how the sponsors of the event contribute
to this Cape Trails team, who shone with pride in their new cycling gear, along
with accessories they had only dreamt of before.

 

This is just one way that the Wines2Whales provides
many less advantaged people with a means to improve their lives, as the event continually
provides community upliftment by supporting a number of charities that benefit directly
from the two Contego Wine2Whales events, including Songo.Info, Hermanus Rotary
Club, Helderberg Sunrise Club, Elgin Round Table, De Rust Futura School,
Botriver School, Cape Leopard Trust, Cape Trails and the Botriver Educational
Foundation.

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