Each year the small town of Napier hosts the Napier Wine & Patatfees. The festival has grown in popularity and includes mountain biking, trail running and a half marathon.
WORDS: FRANS LE ROUX
IMAGES: HERMAN VAN BON & FRANS LE ROUX
Small towns tend to have the friendliest people and the best vibe, especially if you do decide to make a trip and spend a weekend. Such an opportunity came across my desk when I saw that the Napier Wine and Patatfees would be celebrating their 25th anniversary. The event caters for the whole family and is focused around an active weekend spent with Mother Nature.
Napier is roughly two hours from Cape Town and it is situated in the Overberg area. Being such a small town, we could not secure accommodation but the neighbouring Bredasdorp sorted that out. The week leading up to the event was one of the wettest of the season but according to my trusty weather app, the sun would be shining the whole of Saturday. With this in mind, we left super early from our cottage in Bredasdorp and made our way towards the venue in Napier.
A dark, cold and gloomy scene welcomed the hundreds of riders. After I managed to find another cup of coffee I made my way to the start chute where 55km of the best Overberg mountain biking lay ahead of me. I was planning on doing the ride solo but quickly met some lovely people from Swellendam who rode the entire race with me. The race started off easily enough with a short steady climb as we rode away from the Agulhas Skills School. Some open gravel roads and rolling hills saw us enter the first singletracks on the Manyana and Magdala farms. With the rain pouring down (thx trusty weather app!), we took things easier and made our way towards the big climb up to the top of Soetmuisberg.
On our route map the section from 18-26km seemed near vertical and when we reached the climb it felt almost impossible. I saw plenty of riders walk the tricky uphill switchbacks. With the rain still bucketing down, the going was slow and tough. We reached a water point after the singletrack climb and grabbed
the opportunity to refill and refocus before we soldiered on. We continued climbing until we reached a freshly made track which followed the contour of the mountain. The views from here were incredible but if you lost concentration, I’m pretty sure the organisers would still be looking for you. Some fast, open jeep tracks took us back down to the bottom of the valley. The old adage was unfortunately true once more, as we needed to ride back to the top of the mountain again. Here the route split and the 55km riders enjoyed some fast and very long downhills.
We soon merged onto sections of the half-marathon which was held on the same day. Gently saving the legs along a riverbank we turned left on a district road before we flew towards the finish line. After four hours my two Swellendam mates and I were all back safely. Despite being only 55km, this event made me dig deep. I was forced to ride outside my comfort zone but survived the cold, wind and rain.
I want to thank Susan and Naas for the opportunity to participate in their event, and I’ll definitely be back in 2019.
For more info log onto www.napierpatatmtb.co.za