The Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, is one of South Africa’s best loved stage races. This is partly due to the diverse and challenging routes and the highly competitive field it attracts. Primarily though, it is due to its soul. A stage race where warm, platteland hospitality greets the field of like-minded mountain bikers to ensure seven spectacular days in the Garden Route and Klein Karoo.
After a two-year COVID-19-enforced hiatus, the Race with Soul is back, starting on 4 September 2022; ready to croon through the hits like Otis Redding and introduce new features, like any good blues virtuoso. Ever popular destinations, like the Saasveld and Witfontein singletracks, remain, as does the rugged riding across the Chandelier private game reserve. Arguably one of the most race-defining features, the Swartberg Pass summit finish, also returns to provide a decisive finale to the Queen Stage.
A trek into the fabled Kammanassie provides a throwback to the early editions of the race, though with a more benign route through its passes and ports. Anyone who knows that infamous free-standing mountain, will know just how arduous the stage from Louvain to Oudtshoorn can be. This year the Kammanassie will be approached differently; riders cross the upper inlets of the dam, by the same name, and traverse the foothills of Mannetjiesberg. There will be no enforced portages, simply rugged - but all ridable - mountain biking. While wise old heads will preach caution ahead of Stage 4, nobody but the route team knows what to expect on Stage 3. The 75-kilometre loop, which starts and finishes at Louvain, takes the race into virgin territory.
“Stage 3 is one I’m particularly excited about,” Henco Rademeyer, of Dryland Event Management, enthused. “It includes sections of track which have rarely been used at all this century and have never been included in a mountain bike race! The climb to Duiwelskop is arduous, to say the least, but from the top, there are views across the Outeniqua ridgelines all the way to the Indian Ocean, far to the south. The pass dominates the stage profile; but riders shouldn’t be fooled, there’s still lots of amazing and challenging riding to come after that, including some of Louvain’s incredible new trails.”
“Every day of the race offers something special and different, I’m sure the riders are going to thoroughly enjoy the route,” Rademeyer promised. “Off the bike, we have lots of treats in store too. We’ve spent the last two years planning how we can improve the race village experience and can’t wait to welcome mountain bikers back to the Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen!”
That sentiment was echoed by Damian McHugh; Executive Head: Marketing, Momentum Health Solutions. “We are excited to welcome everyone back to the race,” McHugh smiled. “We have missed hosting you as much as you have missed riding this amazing terrain. We trust every rider will enjoy their time racing their bikes through this region of our beautiful country.”
With the race just under a month away, those already entered are in the key phases of their preparation. “Have fun and stay safe out on the trails,” McHugh concluded. “It’s going to be great to have you all at the Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen.”
“It’s arguably one of the most beautiful events in the MTB calendar and offers a truly African experience for mountain bikers,” Brandon Fairweather, Brand Manager of Biogen, added. “Biogen is so proud to associate with events of this calibre, and true to own ethos of #BeYourBest, we know that the Dryland team will once again pull out all the stops to ensure each and every participant receives a world-class experience. Good luck to all of you doing the 2022 event!”
Among those taking part in the 2022 race are a number for whom being their best means contesting for victory. In the women’s race Efficient Insure Infiniti Racing’s Kim le Court and Theresa Ralph are likely to be in a class of their own. However, there is a fascinating battle brewing between the next three teams. “It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper stage race and I’m really looking forward to it!” Robyn Williams, who will be racing with Ila Stow, smiled. “Ila is most relaxed one among the four of us. Kylie [Hanekom], Tarryn [Povey] and I are too competitive for our own good.”
Clickatell and Echotel Communications teams will face off against the Action Cycles squad, of Nicola Freitas and Juanita Mackenzie, in what is sure to be a hotly contested race within a race. “It’s great to know we’ll be racing two other teams of committed but not professional mountain bikers,” Freitas laughed. “Let the battle of the fun riders begin.”
Le Court and Ralph may be the favourites then, but just how much attention they get once the friendly competition between the other teams hots up. For riders looking to join in the battle at the last minute, there are a limited number of entries still available. Though taking part to experience the classics and new additions to the Race with Soul, rather than just the racing is also a perfectly acceptable option. To secure a spot visit www.capepioneer.co.za. For those already entered be sure to take a closer look at the exhilarating and challenging route, by clicking here.