The 2017 Glacier CradleTraverse celebrated its inaugural race and our famous trail queen, Estie, was there to tell the tale. Estie is the founder of Trail Queen; A group of ladies who enjoy all things wild and was founded to help females of all levels with skills, knowledge and training platforms in all trail type events. The Trail Queen movement has been active in many races both in MTB and trail running and the ladies are all very passionate about the sports they love. Estie shares her thoughts on the Glacier CradleTraverse , brought to you by Dryland Events, whom are famous for excellent and well executed events. It seems the Glacier CradleTraverse was no different and we heard only excellent feedback. Well done Estie on an excellent ride and hopefully you will be back for the next installment.
By ESTIE VAN HEERDEN
So often during a training ride with ladies I hear the same feedback from female riders: "I enjoyed the race, but staying in a tent, in harsh conditions just wasn't for me"; "The routes were way too technical and we simply cannot cycle 80km a day and recover quick enough to enjoy the rest of the stages"; "This was supposed to be a time for me and my husband/partner to have some together but the logistics and long travel to the race kept us so busy, we hardly had time to connect with each other". Well, I can hear the racing queens remarking that they cycle races no matter what, toughen up and roll with whatever conditions mother nature blesses you with during your race. But, to be fair, as ladies, mothers, working women and super humans, we all deserve a bit of five-star treatment. We need time to relax and just ride our bikes in a beautiful environment without praying you make it out the other side in once piece. I recently had the privilege to compete in the inaugural Glacier CradleTraverse MTB race, presented by Dryland Traverse. They are the brains behind SA's acclaimed MTB stage races such as Cape Pioneer Trek and Storms River Traverse.
They are a well-oiled machine when it comes to logistics, but they have also been around long enough not to be blinded by attendance numbers and the grade of technical riding they offer. Their recipe for this race was simple: come and enjoy some decent riding, within manageable daily distances, among friends, whilst we treat you to the luxury surroundings and food of Avianto Lifestyle Estate. Oh, and biggest plus side, it's a quick 30min drive from Lanseria, nestled in the Cradle of Humankind.
On Friday 5 May, in true Klein Karoo style, the Dryland Team welcomed the 120+ riders who signed up for the first Glacier CradleTraverse MTB 3day stage race. Race garments were unlike anything I've ever received (now my new favourite jacket in winter) and the race briefing was uncomplicated, without bravado and immediately set the tone for a relaxed atmosphere where riders soon became close friends. The three stages offered just enough for riders to test their skill but not be so tired that they could not enjoy the race village 'gees' afterwards. (compliments of hilarious one-liner race MC #Raasbekkie) Day 1 tested us with some heavy technical climbs which everyone underestimated, offered us almost 80% of singletrack routes in the Cradle none of us had ever ridden on before.
Day 2 allowed riders to ease into tired legs and showed us a glimpse of the dream to have a connected riding route from Glenburn Lodge all the way to Cradle Moon and back. Day 3 gave riders an opportunity to test their speed and it was flat out racing home through very rocky and technical sections on cattle path and the respected rocky routes of Kingskloof Nature Reserve. Even the most experienced female riders like Yolandi de Villiers confirmed: "The routes offered decent technical riding. At some places, I had to concentrate on finding the best line in the rocky terrain. But I'm also glad that they've kept the average rider in mind and the overall mix of the routes complimented every type of rider". We were treated to 3 days of the best views the Cradleand surrounds has to offer. Game viewing through unspoilt game farms, rare sightings such as bullfrogs and butterflies, and a spread of treats at every water station on the route (with the best ostrich meat I've ever tasted!).
It was true luxury compared to some of the races I've done to date. 5star food for lunch and dinner by the Avianto chefs, bonfires, red wine and craft beer. Warm breakfasts and strong coffee in front of the giant fireplace at Avianto main hall, cushioned chairs (this becomes important on day 2!) and no plastic cups or plastic cutlery in sight. Long tables where friends could sit and catch up on life, and not just cycling. The Karoo came to Gauteng, even if it was just for a fleeting 3 days.
If you feel you need to test yourself over a stage race without roughing it, then this is the one. It won't break the bank, it's close and will actually give you a little 'holiday' after the first quarter rush of the year. Next year I'll be back, accompanied by a tribe of TrailQueens by my side, cause every female rider deserves to be treated like royalty.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE GLACIER CRADLE TRAVERSE CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE WWW.CRADLETRAVERSE.CO.ZA