191km | 4500m Climbing
At the FNB W2W, we pride ourselves that the route is king and should always deliver maximum gees and smiles for miles. This is why we introduced the Switchback edition in 2021 and why race founder Johann Kriegler and the Cape Trails route team have been working tirelessly to improve and innovate on the inaugural events’ route.
The Switchback is more than just a simple route reversal; it is a completely different experience, and having taken on board the 2021 riders' feedback, this route will no doubt be a smash hit.
More dramatic scenery, easier climbs, SeriousGEES!
Lourensford to Lourensford
Climbing: 1 800m
The best Plan B you will ever see. Stage 1 of the FNB Wines2Whales is a Lourensford adventure, packed with singletracks. Never before has the race had the opportunity to explore the vast estate, visiting the far northern reaches high on the slopes of the mountain separating the farm from the famed Jonkershoek Valley beyond.
The stage starts with a familiar climb, cranking uphill along the old forestry roads to Saaltjie. After 20 kiliometres of steady climbing a quick descent provides the frist taste of the fun to come brfore the climbing recommences to the hightest point of the stage near the 24 kilometre mark. The then trails begin in earnest. Dropping into Endless 1 and Wolf teams descend to Lourens Crossing before climbing once more past Sneeukop to Uitkyk.
A long singletrack leads thrillingly downhill to Water Point 2, at 29 kilometres, where the route turns west and heads into more familiar territory – but only for the real experienced FNB Wines2Whales campaigners. Looping above and around Blue Gum Dam the course takes in the Trout, Blue Gum, Old Graveyard and Magic Forest trails as well as the Toyota Cruise sections, Eagle’s View. A final water point, inside 10 kilometres to go, provides the opportunity to refuel for the last kicker and the downhill blast along Witboom and Canarie to the start / finish line.
Stage 1 has mellowed somewhat, with 3 of the 2021 route climbs being changed to offer more scenic and easier climbs. The Hemel-en Aarde Gorge climb, Vd Stel Pass link, and the Paul Cluver trail climb give way to the engaging La Vierge steps, a new enjoyable contour path linking to Kat Pass and the memorable Rondomtalie switchback which adds interest and a whole lot of fun.
Oak Valley Estate
Climbing: 1 450m
Play Day has never been so much fun! Stage 2 of the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales route measures 68 kilometres in length and includes 1 250 metres of climbing with every centimetre of elevation gain earning teams the right to descend, twisting through trails in fynbos, forests, and fields.
The bridge over the Rietvlei Dam, built by the Paul Cluver team with support from Cape Trails and Agrimark, is a show-stopper and one to remember and adorn many Instagram accounts.
The day begins with a loop through the orchards to split the start batches before Vissie’s Magic, followed by JK’s Edge and Raging Baboon, to waterpoint 1 at Cow Trail.
Once refuelled, the climbing recommences across Rietvlei to Protea Alley for the fun of swooping down Rietvlei Magic and across the 300 metre long Agrimark bridge the Toyota Cruise section of the day. Boomslang and Jakkals link to the new Tierkop trails, where fast and flowing singletracks link the forestry roads. A traverse across the eastern reaches of the Paul Cluver estate brings teams to the Amphitheatre where the Swing Bridge leads into the new additions, the Paul Cluver Rollers and the Paul Cluver Play Park. The race to the finish starts the journey back to Oak Valley, featuring Snake Snatcher, Harrier Hawk, and Homerun before a loop through the Oak Valley vinyards takes you into the finish!
Oak Valley Estate to Lourensford Wine Estate
Climbing: 1 250m
Stage 3 of the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback begins with a farm road loop behind the Elgin Railway Market, into the surrounding farms and towards the Eikenhof Dam where singletracks galore await on the northern shores. Once circumnavigated, Grabouw Country Club’s famous A-Z trails lie in wait, not to mention a surprise or two from Cape Trails.
These trails are major league fun, and we’ve done the hard work to get you to the downhill portage of the Gantouw Pass via a shorter, easier climb which will ensure that your GEES levels remain high. No matter your bike portage strategy, be it bike-on-back, side-by-side slide, or a handful of brake shuffle, be sure to soak in the views of False Bay as you make your way down the World Heritage Site and one obstacle closer to your medal.
Once safely down the portage, trails of Idiom, Knorhoek and Wedderville will lead riders across the Helderberg Basin onto the extensive Vergelegen farm. From Vergelegen, it is fun galore with a combination of virgin trails and new approaches to existing singletracks and magic, flowing downhill sections on Lourensford Wine Estate. And for those of you who were not stoked with the final climb of the 2021 FNB W2W Switchback… we’ve taken the sting out of the tail and replaced it with the brand new Channel Trail, the Toyota Cruise section, that encounters bridges, spectacular views and interesting twists and turns that will bring huge smiles to the 2023 FNB W2W Switchback finish line at Lourensford.
Based on rider feedback, we have replaced the three significant climbs on Stage 3; Grabouw Country Club to Gantouw Pass, Journey’s End to Vergelegen, and the Lourensford killer climb towards the finish.
From Grabouw Country Club to Gantouw Pass, we have replaced a long section of the climb with a shorter and more mellow climb to allow a gentle warm up to the day. The route from Journey’s End to Vergelegen is the stage's most dramatic improvement to maximise enjoyment and GEES. With permission from the landowners of Idiom, Wedderwill and Vergelegen Nature Reserves to cycle via their properties, we have eliminated the infamous Journey’s End Climb and route, resulting in a magic new route that is more scenic and offers the possibility of game viewing. In Vergelegen, we have extended the last long gradual climb by 2km to a new Lourens river crossing, which delivers magic flowing downhill singe tracks on the Lourensford side of the river.
The replacement of the Lourensford Killer climb towards the finish is the most smile-inducing route improvement of the 2023 FNB W2W Switchback. With Lourensford Wine Estate’s permission, we have built the 8km Channel Trail, mainly along a downward running water channel, offering a unique and most interesting MTB experience. It’s a fast and exciting singletrack, with intermittent gravel roads offering sufficient passing zones to maximise your singletrack enjoyment. The Channel Trail experience closes off by crossing the 40m Fair Cape floating bridge to wrap up the magic of the 2023 FNB W2W Switchback experience.