Words and Images by: Marc van Veen
60 Km – If you like “Snakes and Ladders” this is your route!
To open up the lungs and warm those legs up, we carved our way up through vineyards and the natural bush to rise 500 m using gravel roads and singletrack in the first 10km. During this heart-pounding experience, you get to participate in the King/Queen of the Mountain competition, get to the highest point
of the ride and get to view (if you take the time) some awesome scenery – the Jonkershoek Mountains, False Bay and even Table Mountain.
From here the real fun begins: you wind up and down the valley through some awesome well-manicured singletrack and switchbacks – all in the most splendid forest and fynbos surrounds. One thing which became apparent during this part of the ride is that skillsets vary dramatically going through the “snake and ladder” labyrinth and a bit of pre-switchback training is recommended before starting this ride! However, regardless of a few bumps and stoppages, the generally amicable atmosphere in the field was fantastic, and showed that either the racing snakes were too far ahead or that the general purpose of the riders was to have a challenging but fun day out!
The first water point arrived at the perfect time, well-stocked with great goodies and drinks and a great place to catch your breath before soldiering on. Here the route changed its profile quite dramatically with awesome fast flowing singletrack and gravel roads through the vineyards and plantations.
After the fun you came to another well stocked oasis which was also the juncture where you start questioning your route selection with the 45 km route heading along a meandering gravel road and the 60 km route taking a sharp right turn into the steepest switchbacks of the race. With 40 km in the legs at this point, and the hurt starting, the temptation is to head off and follow the 45 km route – however, this is what we are here for and digging deep you are rewarded with the next major highlight of the ride: the enchanted forest of the Kingfisher. Here the singletrack meanders next to a dam and through a cool forest slowly turning toward home.
Exiting the forest you hit the final gravel road and it’s homeward bound, through the well-manicured vineyards, while you are imagining (with a parched mouth) the consumption of the decomposed and fermented product at the finish line. Then as the legs start doing the funky chicken you can see and hear the finish village and all important chill zone but with one major challenge in the way: the 80 m long floating bridge (although the option for sissies does exist to go round it) – head up and pedal your mealie off and think BEER! Then it’s back to the festive STBB village and the final major decision of the day: should I get that bottle of fermented grapes or the luscious craft draft beer? Frankly the perfect dilemma to what is close to a perfect one day race! Either way I had a huge grin on my face and thought: “Now that was lekker!”
RAISING FUNDS FOR THE MILES FOR SMILES FOUNDATION.
Miles for Smiles was established to assist Operation Smile in creating awareness for the plight of children born with cleft lips and palates and to raise funds to perform corrective surgery on them. The initiative has a fundamental aim: to inspire and challenge individuals to go out and make a difference in the lives of those around them, by challenging themselves to achieve the impossible. One in 10 children born with a cleft palate and lip will die before their first birthday. The annual STBB MTB Race has been supporting the foundation since the beginning.