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A Unique and Intimate Journey Through Eastern Cape Wilderness - PE to Plett race report



The Eastern Cape wilderness that lies between Plettenberg Bay and Gqeberha is seldom traversed by bicycle. From the wild and lush Nature’s Valley to the wide open fynbos plains of the Langkloof, the M&G PE PLETT is a journey through picturesque jeep tracks and trails purpose-built for this boutique mountain biking experience. 

 

M&G PE PLETT starts at Kurland Polo field and covers a spectacular 249,3 kilometers over four days, traversing the famous Garden Route. Riders cover 74,5 km (1100m elevation) on stage 1, 59 km (800 m elevation) on stage 2, 58,3 km (1200 m elevation) on Stage 3, and 60 km (1050 m elevation) on the final stage, with the finish at Zwartenbosch Golf & Lifestyle Estate.

 

There are two ways to experience the M&G PE PLETT. The first event is The Ride, where the racing happens at the front end. Each event  is limited to 250 riders, keeping the rider village experiences intimate and low-key, so you can reconnect with yourself and close friends. The Tour follows a day after The Ride finishes, a leisurely journey on the same route, with an even more intimate group and without timing chips. On the Tour you will enjoy casual lunch stops and luxury accommodation in lodges and hotels. 

 

The Ride, which took place from 21-24 February, saw tight racing upfront and a fun adventure for those further back in the field. Stages 1 to 3 take place on the coastal side of the Tsitsikamma mountains. Highlights included crossing the majestic Bloukrans bridge, riding atop towering cliffs overlooking the Indian ocean, and cresting the magnificent Tsitsikamma mountains into the serene Langkloof region. 

 

These opening stages interweave easy kilometres with bouts of more testing terrain, always rewarded with a beautiful view and satisfying descent. 

 

Racing 

 

In the racing, a small but competitive group of elite riders challenged for the podium. Full race reports from each stage can be found on the M&G PE PLETT website news pages.

 

Mandi Augustyn and Juanita Mackenzie (team Elements) had the women’s category pretty wrapped up from Stage 1, with just over an hour on Team Vered’s Sally Andrews and Wendy Long on the first day. All the other ladies who entered The Ride, opted to ride solo, in the mixed category or on EBikes. 

 

There was some competition in the Mixed category, led by Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius and Alexander Lawrence (eFort Foodlovers), with Kelsey van Schoor and Sidney Strydom (Ultimate Quest) doing their best to challenge the pair, with some exciting developments over the four days of racing. 

 

The 4th and final stage on Saturday 24 February introduced a dramatic change of scenery from the first 3 stages. Leaving Assegaaibosch Country Lodge and heading further East, the route opens up into vast fynbos covered plains hidden in the Langkloof Valley. The soils here are much more rocky than the sandy forest roads and trails of the previous stages. With less tree cover, wide open vistas replace the dense indigenous forests and vast pine plantations the riders enjoyed between Kurland and Assegaaibosch Country Lodge.

 

It was a fast stage this year with a generous tailwind taking the edge off what can be a tough route in lesser conditions. The climbs and descents come in early on stage 4, and after Churchill Dam greets riders, the M&G KOM / QOM climb begins. The gradient here makes for some hard work but the views from atop the ridge-line, and the free miles down, are well worth the effort. 

 

In the Mixed Race, the eFort Foodlovers crew lost some ground initially, dealing with derailleur issues, which allowed Sidney Strydom and Kelsey van Schoor, the Ultimate Dream team, to take an early lead in the stage. Harmzen and Lawrence turned up the pace to chase down the early gap, catching and then surpassing the 2nd placed GC crew. Harmzen and Lawrence emptied their tanks all the way to Zwartenbosch Golf Club to take their 3rd stage win of The Ride, and the overall Mixed Team title for 2024, 8 minutes and 8 seconds ahead of their rivals. 

 

“We just played the long game and when we saw them suffering on one of the kickers we went and made it stick.” said Harmzen, her teammate Lawrence buzzing after a great stage; “That was awesome. Thanks to everyone, thanks to PE PLETT, to M&G, the media team, route planners, and well done to everyone that rode, it was awesome. The legs were tired after yesterday’s effort so we started with a steady pace and when we knew it was time, we just went full gas to the end!”

 

Wrapping up the Elite Women’s category was Juanita Mackenzie and Mandi Augustyn of team Elements. This duo were powering through every stage, gunning for top 20 GC results and putting down a phenomenal ride over the 4 days. They landed in 19th on GC after 4 stages of all out riding, a feat that they can be proud of. 

 

‘The Tour’ edition runs from Sunday 25 Feb. You can keep up with the experience on the PE PLETT YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@mginvestmentspeplett4591

 

Entries open in mid-march for the 2025 editions of The Ride and The Tour.  It is a bucket list journey for any South African mountain biker keen to experience the best of this beautiful region; its coastline and mountains, the fauna and flora, and a congenial group of fellow mountain bikers. With space limited to 250 riders per event, be sure to book your spot for the next grand adventure.

 

Find out more about the M&G PE PLETT  here: peplett.co.za/

 

2024 M&G PE PLETT - Stage 4 Results + GC

 

 

Female Teams - Stage and GC 

1. Elements (Mandi Augustyn and Juanita Mackenzie) | Stage - 02:55:31 | GC - 11:42:16

2. Team Vered (Sally Andrews and Wendy Long) | Stage - 03:41:15 | GC - 16:43:14

3. GoGirls (Marika Ince and Sanet du Toit) | Stage - 04:25:41 | GC - 18:49:34

 

Mixed Teams - Stage and GC 

1. eFort Foodlovers (Alex Lawrence and Elrika Harmzen) | Stage - 02:34:04 | GC - 10:29:54

2. Ultimate Quest (Kelsey van Schoor and Sidney Strydom) | Stage - 02:36:32 | GC - 10:38:46

3. ⁠Invicta (Arnou Oberholzer and Marisca Steyn) | Stage - 03:01:49 | GC - 12:13:04


 

Solo Female - Stage

1. Marni Sumbal | Stage - 02:52:33

2. Marisca Steyn | Stage - 03:01:48 

3. Annamarie Jacobsz | Stage - 03:06:03

 

Solo Female - GC

1. Marni Sumbal | GC - 11:36:56

2. Annamarie Jacobsz | GC - 12:35:50

3. Andrea van Blommestein | GC - 12:48:41

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