The inaugural De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience, which takes place from the 22nd to the 24th of September 2018, has revealed the routes for the three day mountain biking extravaganza. Freebody-Sports and the De Hoop Collection have worked tirelessly over the autumn months to bring together a mix of established, virgin and usually off-limits trails to create a compact, yet challenging and rewarding route.
The De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience spends two of its three days skirting the wetland from which it derives its name. Photo by Oakpics.com.
“We believe that we have put together a route which showcases the De Hoop and Rûens regions of the Overberg like never before” said Race Director Anneke Viljoen. “The local land owners have been incredibly accommodating and have gone out of their way to help us create this amazing route. From our route guru, Neil Neethling, who ensured the route passed by all the most beautiful sights of the area; to Adam Albertyn, who has built a brand new section of singletrack on his farm especially for Stage 2 of the De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience – we could not have produced this route without the local farmers. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the World Wildlife Fund and Peter Krcmar, owner of the Fynbos Trust, for allowing the race to traverse their beautiful and ecologically sensitive land” Viljoen concluded.
The race will start with a fifty one kilometre long opening stage, which sets the scene for the long weekend’s riding. The stage kicks off with opportunities for game viewing by skirting the great plains of the reserve – which provides grazing for herds of cape mountain zebra, bontebok and eland – before heading north towards the limestone hills which separate the reserve from the surrounding farmlands. Once in the linestone hills the challenging but rewarding nature of riding in the area will become apparent; with the highlight of the day, a technical singletrack descent dubbed “Pebble Dash” leading riders into the farmlands and onto the trails alongside the Potberg River. The route crosses the stream a number of times as it winds its way to the headwaters of the De Hoop Vlei; traversing fields of ripening wheat, barley and canola. After crossing the vlei riders face the day’s most significant challenge, the three kilometre long “Fynbos Climb”. From the summit of the climb it is largely downhill to the finish though, where a delicious lunch awaits at the De Hoop Collection.
The rocky limestone jeep tracks and trails of the area provide challenging but rewarding riding. Photo by Oakpics.com.
The second stage of the race departs from De Hoop Nature Reserve and the farms immediately surrounding it for the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve. Funded by the World Wildlife Fund, Haarwegskloof is the largest and most contiguous extant lowland Renosterveld remaining in the world. The sixty two kilometre stage, to and from this unique reserve, takes in trails never before used in a mountain bike race and a four kilometre stretch of virgin, downhill, singletrack which has been built specifically to link Haarwegskloof with the existing De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience trail network.
The third and final stage of the event also takes in a new, unexplored, region to mountain bikers. Unlike the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve though the Fynbos Trust land, to the north west of the De Hoop Vlei, is closed to the public outside of the event; so being able to ride there is a unique treat reserved for entrants to the race. Stage three is a fifty kilometre circumnavigation of the De Hoop Vlei, utilising some familiar trails in the first twenty kilometres before entering the Fynbos Trust property and ascending the daunting “Fynbos Licker”. When taking on this climb it is important to remember that the views back down towards the vlei are truly spectacular, so treating oneself to a breather to admire them is highly recommended. The stage also takes in another highlight of the event, the day’s final water point at the historic Melkkamer manor house.
The northern reaches of the vlei, near its headwaters, offers amazing views of limestone cliffs – pockmarked with caves. Photo by Oakpics.com.
With the conclusion of the three days’ riding, which totals a manageable one hundred and sixty three kilometres, riders will be treated to a final lunch of Overberg country cuisine while the category winners are rewarded with prizes for their efforts. Riders with a less competitive nature need not be dissuaded however, as the De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience route holds more charms when undertaken at a slower speed and with an eye to absorb the beauty of the route.
For more information on the event, including further route details and stage profiles, visit www.dehoopvleimtb.co.za.