The Tour of Legends mountain bike stage race took place in the Waterberg in South Africa’s Limpopo province this past weekend and the winners were, well, everyone that entered. The unique event heralded a new era in mountain bike events that’s expected to grow as the sport continues to mature. An event that’s more about rider pleasure than podium pressure.
Yes, there were daily results and overall positions at the Tour of Legends, but that’s where the competition ended. The rest of the time riders and their families soaked up the experience of luxury accommodation, five-star food and a range of leisture activities at the multi award-winning resort, a far cry from the tented villages that have become an accepted part of stage races, which are so popular in South Africa.
That’s right, riders are able to take non-riding spouses, partners (or friends) with them to the Tour of Legends. This is also quite unusual, but a great way to include non-riding loved ones in a mountain biking themed three-day getaway.
A big drawcard at the Tour of Legends is the rare opportunity to ride your mountain bike among Africa’s Big Five at the Entabeni Private Game Reserve. This requires the close cooperation of the local game rangers (who may, at any time, adjust the race route for rider safety reasons), which certainly increases the thrill factor!
Game sighting isn’t a bonus at the Tour of Legends, it’s a given. Such is the volume of game in the Entabeni Reserve that virtually all the riders during the event encountered wildebeest, giraffe, and a wide range of antelope. Riders also spotted elephant, crocodile and hippo during the stages. Rangers have to carefully monitor the less predictable lion and buffalo interaction between the race and the reserve, but they’re right there, not separated by fences as is the case in other game reserve events.
Split over three stages with two distance options each day makes the riding accessible to the fit and fast as well as the less fit, but equally keen riders. Riding in a Big Five reserve comes with uniquely African tales of adventure like delaying the start to allow a massive male lion to move off the route or divert the route to miss a lion kill and stopping the race just before the finish to allow elephants to graze further from the course.
The start times are also later to allow riders to ease into each day with a solid buffet breakfast allowing riders to enjoy the warm South African winter days after the cold pinch of the early mornings. The later start time also allows riders to soak up the experience and evening entertainment without worrying about early-morning fatigue. Off the bike, there are game drives, spa treatments, live entertainment and activities with like minded individuals at the prestigious Legends Golf and Safari Resort that make the Tour of Legends a unique mountain biking experience.
Comments on Facebook by some participants after the 2015 Tour of Legends are testament to the appeal of the event:
“Had an incredible 3 days of MTB – had a good mix of trails. Great vibe, incredible views on Day 2, great venue, great organisation. We were all so well looked after. Thanks to the Game Rangers that kept us all safe. Thanks to the great sponsors and to all involved.” – Sulveigh Ford
“Thank you to the crew, sponsors and organizers of one of the most incredible weekends! I had the time of my life!” – Lesa Claesson-Burger
“Thanks for the most amazing event. I can recommend it with all my heart. Time flies to fast if you are having fun. See you next year!” – Rian Engelbrecht
The 2015 edition of Tour of Legends heralded the start of a three-year partnership with MoreCycle, the company that owns Cycle Lab.
“We have come on board with Tour of Legends because we see the potential of this kind of event in mountain biking. There are a lot of elements to it that make it quite unique, but not entirely exclusive. We’ve got experience with similar events in golf and believe it’s a great low-pressure networking opportunity for businessmen and women at a beautiful venue,” said Darryl Egdes of Cycle Lab.
“With Cycle Lab getting on board as a sponsor, we have a great platform for our own partners such as Toyota, Lexus, PWC and Momentum Multiply to really build the event into an annual highlight for clients, staff and members of the Toyota Supercycling Club. It’s really the next phase of our commitment, as the MoreCycle group, to the cycling industry” added Egdes.
“Advendurance are the experts in mountain bike events. They’ve created an incredible event in the Tour of Legends and we will now use our experience and expertise to leverage existing relationships with corporate partners as well as provide a platform to develop new partnerships. Essentially, the Tour of Legends is the ultimate networking platform in the mountain biking market,” said Anton Jankowitz, Executive Director of MoreGolf, partner-company to MoreCycle.
The 2016 Tour of Legends will take place from 17-19 June. Entries are limited and will open in September 2015. To find out more, visit www.touroflegends.co.za