If you’re looking to graduate from a 3-day to 7-day mountain bike stage race, the Cape Pioneer Trek is the perfect transition for the job. Chilled, friendly and full of fun it provides a racing environment for all levels of skill and fitness. Here are 7 reasons why you need to ride it next year. – By Tandi Kitching and Jenna Borrill
1. It’s All About the Riders
Dryland and their staff are the soul of this event and have constructed a race that revolves solely around the rider. The warmth and hospitality exuded by all staff members is world-class and arguably the best of all the stage races in the country.
2. It’s Niche
Unlike the majority of events which cater for 1000+ riders, the Cape Pioneer Trek is a far more intimate experience with less than half the numbers of other races. No egos here – it’s what you make of the race that matters.
3. A Home Away From Home
The Cape Pioneer Trek spends two nights at each location. The race villages are compact and well laid-out with everything you could possibly need. The communal areas are equipped with a constant supply of food and drinks, and a chill zone where you get to relax and share war stories from each day’s riding.
4. It Gives Back
There is a huge buy-in to the Cape Pioneer Trek by local communities and organisations. Schools are used for race villages and in return for the financial support it gives them, the children, staff and parents treat participants like royalty. Host towns such as Mosselbay, George and Oudtshoorn also benefit from the cash injection some of the spin-offs provide.
5. It’s Not Intimidating
While it might be a 7-stage UCI-sanctioned MTB race, the general vibe is neither intimidating nor overwhelming. Instead it provides the ideal litmus test for those wanting to step up from 3-day races in preparation for a more race-focused event such as the Absa Cape Epic.
6. An Amazing Route
The race traverses ever-changing terrain so expect coastal cliffs, district dirt roads, fynbos, rain forest, Karoo shale and towering mountains. Trails and tracks are often rugged, locations isolated and the environment untouched. Riders also pass through numerous game reserves, which means an abundance of wildlife and sometimes close encounters with startled animals.
7. Everybody is King (or Queen)
Racing snakes are celebrated just as much as the heroes at the back of the field. All stages, bar the time trial, start with a neutral zone which calms the nerves, warms up the legs and showcases the Pioneer peloton to the host town. There’s no special treatment or pecking order either meaning pros and amateurs sit, eat and mingle together. As a UCI event, rules are strictly enforced but there is no ceremonial stripping of bike boards and the like – cut-off times are very generous.