ePIC INSIGHTS - PRE-RIDE
like trail knowledge
Preparing for the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race requires a dedicated and scientific approach to your training. It does not, however, mean that it has to be boring and formulaic. The opportunity exists to ride some of the trails you will be racing over or to explore South African trail networks which can help you prepare for the technical challenges of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic.
Thanks to the ever-growing networks of mountain bike trails across South Africa in general and the Western Cape in particular there are always new singletracks to ride. These will help you prepare for the rigors of the Absa Cape Epic in terrain similar to that which you will encounter out on the route. While intervals and endurance training will get you physically prepared, being ready for the technical trails will greatly add to your speed and efficiency.
2023 Absa Cape Epic Trails
Meerendal/Tygerberg MTB Trails
With over 185 kilometres of marked tracks, the Tygerberg MTB Trail network is one of the largest in the country. The Absa Cape Epic Prologue hardly scratches the surface, venturing briefly out of Meerendal into the Fair Cape and Hoogekraal trails. For those pressed for time a day permit to ride Meerendal (R50 for adults and R20 for students, pensioners and under 18s) will provide a good overview of what to expect during the Prologue of the 2023 race. If that only whets the appetite the Tygerberg MTB Trails offer a holiday pass (R315 for adults and R110 for under 18s) which provides access to the full network, including the corridors which link the farms (day permits are only valid for individual farm, or their direct neighbours).
Hermanus/Hemel en Aarde Trails
The Hemel en Aarde trail network will be utilised to a greater extent in 2023 than in the race’s previous visits to the region, so spending time pre-riding the trails will certainly pay off. The 62 kilometre black route is the ideal preparation if you can only squeeze in one day’s riding in Hermanus. Day permits can be purchased from Hermanus Adventures with Zapper or SnapScan, or at Hermanus Village Cycles, at the start of the trails, as well as at Get Cycling on Main Road in the Hermanus CBD. In addition to the valley’s trails there are also great gravel road miles to ride as well, especially if you link long rides up with the Wildekrans trails. Day permits for the Hemel en Aarde trails are R70 per person and R30 for under 18s, but there is also a 20 day holiday permit available for R450.
Oak Valley Estate
One of the Absa Cape Epic’s most frequently visited race villages also boasts a mountain bike trail network which is accessible year-round. Catering for all skill and fitness levels – plus with showers, a bike wash and a restaurant on site – it is the perfect place to bring the family for a ride. There is a short blue route and longer red route, which features several black loops to provide an extended ride for those preparing for the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. Permits are R60 per person or R550 for an annual pass, which runs from the day of purchase rather than January to December. All the information can be found on the estate’s MTB Trails page on their website while other adventure activities around Elgin can be browsed on the Elgin/Grabouw Tourism website.
Lourensford Wine Estate
Host to the entirety of Stage, 6 of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic, Lourensford is one of the most exclusive mountain biking destinations around. Even for members of the estate’s mountain bike club the trails are only open four days a week and for limited hours. This is due to the extensive agricultural activities taking place on the farm, as well as to ensure the privacy of international film shoots which take place there. Non-members pay a R145 day rate at the trail head, which is at Clay Pigeon Adventures. Visitors are allowed to ride the trails on Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings and afternoons, Sunday mornings and on public holidays. Permits can be bought at the trail head, where you will also find a bike wash and a coffee shop. Lourensford Wine Estate itself also boasts wine tasting, a number of restaurants and a market on weekends.
Though the race only makes a brief visit to one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms, as the Grand Finale traverses the Winelands on the trail to Val de Vie, it is worth a longer visit pre-race. The farm’s trails are on the Simonsberg side of the estate, across the R310 road from the restaurant and Trail Centre. Like Lourensford, the trails are all strictly access controlled, thanks to a security gate, making them among the safest to ride alone in South Africa. The longest course on the farm is the Black Route, which is 23 kilometres in length, and can be expanded to the Black XL with four additional singletrack segments, taking the total distance to 30 kilometres. Permits are R60 per person, while the Boschendal Pump Track can be ridden for free by all visitors to the farm.
Previous Absa Cape Epic Trails
Host to Stage 1 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic Eselfontein is one of the oldest trail networks in South Africa. The singletracks near Ceres are also famously rocky and technical. If you need a place to stay and sharpen up your singletrack skills there is nowhere better.
Wild Boar Trails
Wellington’s Wild Boar Trails have featured in the Absa Cape Epic on five previous occasions, including most recently in 2021. The longest route is 45 kilometres in length and starts at Val du Charron Wine and Leisure Estate. Permits can be purchased from the trails’ website via SnapScan and cost R100 for adults and R80 for under 18s.
Details: Wild Boar Trails
Van Loveren Trails
On the Breede River, near Robertson, Van Loveren Wine Estate’s Java MTB Trails offer a taste of the riding the Absa Cape Epic last showcased from Arabella Wine Estate in 2018. It is a great place to practice heat adaptation, especially in December. The longest, 31 kilometre route, can be expanded through the addition of near endless gravel road miles towards McGregor and even into the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. Permits are R60 per person for the Java MTB Trails and the farm is open to riders taking to the trails before the heat of the day, but you will need to clear it with them by emailing in advance.
There are plenty of other places to train your skills and reflexes for the Absa Cape Epic. Find more of them on www.fullsus.co.za
Alternatively, you can join the conversation on the event’s social media handles for more tips and advice. Like Cape Epic on Facebook and follow @capeepic on Instagram.