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  • Writer's picturedirtyheart

2018 Cape Pioneer Trek - A Race With Soul

IT’S A RACE LIKE NO OTHER, FROM THE HEART OF THE KAROO COMES THE RACE WITH SOUL. Taking place from 4 – 20 Oct or 17 – 20 Oct 2018 in the Western Cape, this race promises to deliver on everything mountain bikers love about their sport.

From the arid desertscapes of the Groot Karoo to the great mountains of the Klein Karoo and the aboriginal forests of the Garden Route, the Cape Pioneer has it all, a truly African mountain biking experience. The magic lies in the unique combination of exciting, diverse trails, passionate people and authentic human connection, brought to you by world class event organisers. The result is a race that has achieved near legendary status.



We’ll be back with a fiery urban element that takes the race to the spectators. Soak up the spray from the Indian Ocean with a spin on the beach, before heading up, up through lush coastal pine forest towards the foot of the Outeniqua, your first big-mountain experience. Soaring passes and white knuckle descents deliver you into the shimmering depths of the Klein Karoo desert. Watch the mercury rise as the racing cranks up a gear, the race heading North, offering fame and fortune for those who dares to take her on. Feel the tingle of excitement, love the burn, embrace the adventure!

The 2018 route is truly a culmination of the best trails and areas we have utilized over the years. The focus is on pure enjoyment, even during the travel stages, which are naturally slighter longer, the emphasis was shifted to more fun and scenic areas to ride through. The addition of many new single-track sections, which is still in the construction phase, will elevate the 2018 edition to something to cherish.

Even the iconic landmarks within the route will have that added twist to enhance overall rider enjoyment even though it will still remain a challenge of note. Above all, we have found that trail sweet spot that will stay with the riders forever. Enjoy.

Prologue: #PointPursuit

Major route changes continue to deepen the allure of the Cape Pioneer Trek, with one of the biggest draw cards this year coming right at the start.

We had to bring this one back – too many requests could not be ignored. The prologue route is the most spectacular in all the years and similar to that of 2015 and 2016 with an added cliff hanging single-track that has never been seen before. The start at Milkwood primary school is followed by a knee-jerking climb to the St Blaise lighthouse and then the single track starts, all along the edge of the drop-off towards the sea, truly exhilarating.

The boardwalks and beachfronts of the Point area will be on the menu as well as a beautiful view of the Bay where Bartholomew Dias set foot in 1488, then known as the Bay of Saint Blaise.

The distance is 15 km with around 500 meters of total vertical ascent – just note that the majority of the ascent happens in the first 4 kilometres!

Stage 1 will showcase the Mossel Bay area, new areas as well as those exquisite former utilized trails are included. Riders head North West towards freshly cut single tracks just commissioned and then head onto Gondwana Private Nature Reserve. This 11 000 hectare reserve offers a truly unique wilderness experience and riders will come face to face with the free roaming Big 5 game of the African continent.

Truly a spectacular area with views of the mighty Outeniqua Mountains and the ocean close by. The route’s approach to the urban areas has changed completely with more new tracks through adjacent beach areas and onto Milkwood School for a well-deserved night on the water’s edge.

Don’t underestimate this stage, still tough but very rewarding.

This stage is the first of the journey stages with 2000m of climbing over 106km. A neutral goodbye ride through the town will see riders heading in Northerly direction for a brand new approach into some of the most pristine indigenous forests on this coastal belt, heading towards the foothills of the great Outeniqua Mountains.

Jeep and single track will traverse the foothills of the mountain, heading straight East towards George. Rewarding single track just after water point 3 will see riders getting a taste of the fun that waits on stage 3. We finish at Van Kervel High School, a Cape Pioneer partner since 2009!

The shortest stage for 2018 but all fun and again in a time trial format – 90% single-track riding in lush forests – we often visit George on this race, and once again we had the chance to properly enjoy their km’s of beautiful flowing tracks.

The Garden Route’s capital is adjacent some of the best kept secrets in mountain biking – tracks so lovingly built and kept by passionate bikers from the area. You will be blown away by this short and rewarding day in the saddle.

A journey which includes Montagu pass is always worthwhile and combined with even more new single track sections in Herold makes this a fabulous day – once we leave the coast behind, this stage takes on a whole new look – the Heimersrivier area has so much to offer, providing those typical Karoo tracks so may riders return for year on year.

The change in climate and terrain is evident as we enter the arid desert like Karoo; riders enter Oudtshoorn from a different angle as we find our way towards Langenhoven Gymnasium, our hosts for the next couple of days.

This stage will have to stay, even though rated as the hardest in 2017 it was also praised as the best one. The mighty Swartberg Mountain is making another return to the 2018 route and to cap it all, she boasts a mountain top finish. The queen stage will again be challenging, but those views make up for the effort. It will elevate riders more than 2500 meters vertically finishing at close to 2000m above the sea.

This stage leaves Oudtshoorn in an Easterly direction negotiating the foothills of this great mountain as riders slowly find their way to the top. The final 8km is straight up to the best finish of any mountain bike race – the World Heritage site of Swartberg Mountain welcomes each and every one to its beauty and splendour.

The overall yellow and pink jersey wearers should be decided here, tomorrow is Champagne day!

After a well-rested night, the final day sees a start at Chandelier Game Reserve, home to another famous Dryland race, the Momentum Health Attakwas presented by Biogen. This day will definitely start with some game viewing as giraffe or eland cross the valleys and plains of this exquisite reserve.

It is all about having fun and celebrating the achievements of the week gone by, 64 km of jeep-track up, single-track down! A fast race to the finish at the Queens Hotel caps a brilliant week in the saddle – until 2019.

Stay up to date with all the race details and results on their website: and follow their social media pages for live updates.

Photos taken from Cape Pioneer Facebook.

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