Paarl reserve opens trails to mountain bikers

Participants in the inaugural Bestmed Paarl MTB Classic will have a rare opportunity to ride the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve on Sunday, November 16.

The event, which is presented by the City of Drakenstein and consists of 60km and 30km races, has been granted a once-off concession to traverse the huge granite rock and fynbos-shrouded hiking trails that are out of bounds at any other time.

With participants crossing picturesque vineyards, riding the renowned Rhebokskloof Estate single-track and powering up to the iconic Taal Monument, the mountain bike event promised an unrivalled experience, said race director Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events.

“It’s certainly worth the trip. This route is without equal anywhere in South Africa and guys who miss it will miss out on an exceptional experience.”

De Villiers said the race was the start of a brand-new partnership between the municipality and the organisers and that both parties were determined to make it a successful signature event for the town.

“Paarl residents will also be able to share in the action as riders dice through town en route to and from the Paarl Arboretum race village.”

De Villiers said the feature race, with its 1 750m vertical ascent, was especially designed to give skilled mountain bikers a good challenge.

“It’s a tough ride but absolutely stunning and guaranteed to leave any serious mountain biker with a real sense of accomplishment.”

He said the field would split early on as riders started with a 12km climb up to the radio tower on top of Paarl Mountain before descending over the same distance through the scintillating Rhebokskloof single-track.

“This means participants will be able to play comfortably, without bottlenecks or slow-moving traffic, on what has been described as some of the best single-track in the Western Cape.”

De Villiers said another feature riders could look forward to would be ascending through the grounds of the Taal Monument before plunging down the mountainside on flowing single-track and popping out back into the streets of Paarl.

“The 30km race is a much more manageable option but riders still have to get themselves up to the top of the mountain before they can enjoy the descents in the second half of the route.”

He said vehicle sponsor NTT Volkswagen Paarl would provide sweep vehicles on the routes to ensure rider safety.

The event starts at 7am to avoid the heat of the day, with CBC Brewery and Rhodes Foods offering a beer tent and food village respectively to refresh thirsty finishers.

All participants will receive goodie bags and medals, with a total prize purse of R10 000 up for grabs.

Registration takes place from 10am to 4pm on the Friday at Chris Willemse Cycles in Tyger Valley and from 9am to 1pm on the Saturday at the Paarl Arboretum’s southern entrance.

Late registration is from 6am on the morning of the race.

Enter at before November 11. The Cancer Association of South Africa will receive R10 from every entry fee.

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