The Race2Nowhere gave 2018 Absa Cape Epic riders a chance to sample parts of next year’s route over a tough and testing 112km/2650m course. – By Tandi Kitching
Despite the heatwave surging through the Western Cape last week riders were greeted by much cooler conditions on the morning of the inaugural Race2Nowehere. The ultra-stylish start and finish venue – McGregor Wines – provided a superb setting and kept riders in high-spirits with an entertaining vibe. To warm the legs and get the blood pumping the route took in several kilometres of dirt road that weaved and meandered through the surrounding vineyards before heading towards the Riviersonderend mountains.
Ah yes, the mountains. The biggest challenge of the day loomed – a monolithic bump that would eventually top out at 731m above sea level. The jeep track surface leading to its summit was loose, which made it hard work – even with fresh legs. And the descent was a real eye-opener, too. Earmarked as the Land Rover Technical Terrain for the ABSA Cape Epic it wasn’t so much the negative gradient as it was the surface that made it a challenge – the only real victims on the day were tyres…
The views around here are truly spectacular. The descents are gnarly with some tight and loose turns, and the singletracks incorporate natural features with some negative camber bends, sand patches and exposed rock. On the whole, they have great flow with the occasional tight turn to keep you on your toes.
The two route options (long and short) split at the 52km mark. This is were things got real – well, for the poor souls doing the 112km race. Not only did the remaining 60km account for the bulk of the 2650m of vertical accent, the headwind made things even tougher out there. But again, the views and scenery were simply spectacular. The Karoo terrain comprised exposed shale, sand and loose stone with generous amounts of singletrack thrown in for good measure.
The wind picked up in the tail end of the race and added another dimension to an already-challenging ride. Thankfully after WP4, the route changed direction and the last 20km back to McGregor Wines were made all the more bearable compliments of a tailwind.
As a whole the Race2Nowhere is a proper mountain bike race that can be compared with the likes of other tough one-day events such as Attakwas. The course layout and route marking is faultless, as is the organisation, waterpoints and general vibe. It’s undoubtedly one of the toughest races on the calendar that will test the mettle of even the most hardcore riders.
Do this event if…
1. You like a challenge and are both fit enough and technically proficient enough to handle it.
2. You’re training for the Cape Epic or Attakwas and need to push your limits and test your abilities and mental fortitude.
3. You want to ride in pristine locations and enjoy access to areas which are frequently off limits to mountain bikers.