Boschendal Farm Estate between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek played host to the Fedheatlh MTB Challenge recently. With the main distances of 30km (half marathon) and 60km (full marathon) on offer, Team Full Sus went all out and entered the full marathon race.
WORDS by Frans le Roux / IMAGES by Tobias Ginsberg & Jetline Action Photo
If you are lucky enough to live anywhere in the Cape Winelands, you are sure to be spoilt with some of the very best trails our country has on offer. One such spot on your list to tick off is the trails at Boschendal (and the surrounding farms). With this in mind, three of us bit the bullet and decided to tackle the tough but rewarding 60km distance.
The Sunday morning on race day, Boschendal was a hive of activity. Hundreds of riders donned their winter kit and braved the icy morning conditions to line up for what would be a near perfect day on the mountain bike. Myself and partners Erik and Francois Knoetze started in C batch and set off a leisurely pace because we knew what lay ahead. After an easy leg warmer around the bottom of the farm, we quickly headed in the direction of the mountain. A long steady climb brought us to the first super singletrack sections. Fast, flowy and technical in places. With rain falling a few days prior, the trails were slippery and loads of focus was needed.
After traversing the trails at Boschendal we headed in the direction of Tokara. The first waterpoint was situated at the top of the old Helshoogte Pass. Tummies filled, we went flying down the tar road section to the bottom. An eerie waterpipe crossing saw us arrive at the bottom of the revered Botmaskop climb. What felt like hours and probably a million switchbacks we arrived at the fast and flowy Skyfall. This piece of singletrack carves its way to the picturesque Delaire Graff farm. A waterpoint awaited at the bottom before we turned away into the Banhoek valley.
The following section would be trickier than expected with wet roads, mud and plenty of streams to cross. We crossed the Banhoek River and made our way back in the direction of Boschendal. Rocky singletracks made the stretch to last waterpoint interesting. At least the views were amazing, and we had some opportunities to up the speed.
The last nine kilos were easy going as we snaked over farms and smooth jeeptracks towards the final paved climb at Boschendal. Roughly four hours later we rolled over the finish line and could not wait to grab a burger and some coffee.
This was a proper mountain bike event. Don’t be fooled by the distance, the 1200m of climbing is enough to make you work hard to get to the finish. The views, singletracks and organizers were all top notch. Can’t wait to be back in 2019.