More than 300 mountain bike enthusiasts were seen in action on Saturday, 24 April and Sunday, 25 April at the 2010 Wines2Whales Pre-Ride in preparation for the second Contego Wines2Whales 3-day mountain bike stage race in November.

The Wines2Whales Pre-Ride was a non-competitive two-day stage event and participants could enter in three categories – fast (3.5 to 4.5 hours per stage), average (4 to 5.5 hours per stage) and slow (5 to 7 hours per stage). All categories cycled the same route, under the guidance of between two and five guides.

2010 Wines2Whales Pre-Ride MTB fanatic Laetitia Basson makes her way through some of the woods that form a part of the fantastic scenes along the way of the two-day stage race. Picture: Peridot Communications

According to Laetitia Basson, she would definitely enter this event every year if it was possible. “I love endurance races, and try to enter as many as I possibly can. I took part in the 2009 Wines2Whales ride after hearing about it from Johan Kriegler. I enjoyed it so much and just had to be part of this amazing race again.

“The route was absolutely beautiful and very well organized with lots of single track. My most memorable moment will have to be the view over Walker Bay close to the finish – we truly live in a stunning part of the world,” continued Basson.

Stage one of the ride started on Saturday at 08h00 at the Tri-Active Centre in Elgin, and the 73km route swept across jeep, single tracks and gravel roads runs through the forests of Oak Valley, Grabouw, Lebanon and Houwhoek, to finish at the same venue.

The second stage started a half-hour earlier on Sunday, to follow an awe-inspiring 82km scenic route through the Elgin pass, Lebanon, Houwhoek, along the wineries in the Botriver Valley, Karwyderskraal, passing the wineries of Hemel-en-Aarde and will finish at the Hermanuspietersfontein Cellar at the Hermanus-Sandbaai intersection.

The event allows riders to participate at their own pace. If the pace is too fast, a rider can wait at a water point for the following category or start the next day in a different category. Support vehicles will be available at water points to offer a lift to tired MTB riders and sweepers will check that no one is left behind.

“The toughest part of the ride was riding uphill at Hamilton and Russell,” said Basson. “My boyfriend actually had to push me up the hill. We had to laugh when one of the other riders commented that this had to be true love.

“The atmosphere is amazing with riders competing for the love of the sport. I will definitely recommend this event to all riders, who love single tracks and stunning scenery. My advice is to enter as soon as entries open otherwise you will miss out,” says Basson.

According to event organiser Michael Meyer of Stillwater Sports and Entertainment, the objective of the W2W Ride is two-fold. “We want to offer participants the opportunity to test their skills and endurance levels in anticipation of the Contego Wines2Whales three-day mountain bike stage race in November, but also allow other riders a chance to experience the scenic splendour of the route in a non-competitive environment.

“This is the perfect chance to experience this amazing race, which I believe will grow into one of the most spectacular races in South Africa,” says Meyer. The event is already fully subscribed with a waiting list of more than 400 riders.

“The Contego W2W events offer a good balance of fun, endurance, scenery and comradeship,” concludes Meyer. “We will re-invest in route development and are committed to building long-term relationships with landowners and wineries in an effort to establish mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships with the product owners en-route. To ensure effective destination and product marketing of the wineries, some venues are utilised as water stops and spectator vantage points.”

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