The Buco Dr Evil Classic 3 Day Stage Race will be 8 years old in 2019, and has become the best reason to head to the Garden Route on the Heritage day weekend. Next year’s dates are Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st September, with Heritage Day falling on the Tuesday 24th, so it’s the perfect excuse to take a fews days off and enjoy a biking holiday.
Deciding which stage race to enter can be daunting as there are so many to choose from, so we have isolated some of the key characteristics of the Dr Evil Classic to help you decide, with comments from a few of this year’s participants and the organisers.
1.Bring family and friends
This is one of those races where it makes sense to include the whole family for a fun long weekend. If you are a racing snake and are trying to get your partner to do a stage race with you, this is the one, or if you are the only rider in the family, there is so much for families and friends to do while you take the morning to ride.
There is no tented race village, which means you and family can stay together, in budget accommodation, or a self-catering cottage on a farm, or a luxury hotel with eating out at amazing restaurants each night.
Nikki Biesheuvel, winner of the solo women’s race for the second year in a row, says this aspect of the event worked really well for her and her friends. “It’s a lovely way to see Plett; it really feels like you are on holiday, with a bonus of going for a really nice ride every day. We hired a cottage at the Crags and had a braai each night and my two friends who were there for the scenery and the vibe got as much out of it as I did.”
- Three different start venues, three different experiences in one race
With a different start venue for each stage (but all within 20kms of each other), riders experience a very different type of landscape each day. The first stage leaves from Plett Game Reserve with wildlife such as zebras, wildebeest and even elephants on view from the bike, then you head out for a scenic 70km mountain ride. Day 2 starts at Kurland Hotel and Polo Estate and is mostly made up of indigenous and plantation forest covering a distance of around 45km. A 15km trail of single track is currently under construction on the estate, which will add significantly to the 2019 experience. Day 3 is roughly 50kms, starting at Cairnbrogie Dairy Farm with its renowned network of single track along a coastline which forms part of the Robberg Coastal Corridor.
Oli Munnik, ex-pro mountain biker, enjoyed the event with his wife Alana and says the three different environments you ride really make this a special experience: “Despite being relatively close geographically, the riding of the three areas is distinctly different. It allows you to enjoy a new route each day without having to ride a certain distance before you get to the new section,” he says.
- Nothing evil about “Dr Evil”
The race’s namesake Leon Evans received this nickname from his days designing some of the gruelling Absa Cape Epic’s routes, but his approach in designing this event in his own backyard, is more focused on fun and adventure than testing riders to their limits.
“The route was designed as an introduction to stage racing, and has developed into a fun, relaxed event with manageable distances each day. It’s a non-intimidating race and the riders this year had a wonderful time.”
“I’ve taken a lot out of mountain biking, enjoying stage races from the earliest days
of it, working on route design for the Epic for ten years, and I wanted to give back. I love to see others discovering the joy of a great MTB stage race,” says Leon.
Nikki’s experience mirrors Leon’s sentiments: “It’s an easy route with incredible
scenery, quite spectacular, not too intense or intimidating for someone who is quite new to the game like I am.”
- Good value, great vibe, awesome food
Leon Evans’ partner in organising the event is Zandile Meneses and she says: “We are creating a sustainable event; we want this to remain a small successful event where riders feel they have been well looked after and receive a great value experience. We kept the entry fees very similar to last year, but increased the spend on goodie bags by at least 35%, because we have seen how our riders appreciate these extra touches, including an amazing meal after a long ride.”
A three course meal is provided each day by Knysna Hollow’s chef Grant Ludski, and riders rave about the treats in store each day. As Oli Munnik says: “The food was absolutely world class, something I actually started looking forward to when we got to about 10kms to go on day 2 and 3. The organisation was seamless – you never noticed The Dr Evil team or needed to ask for assistance, and this results in a very relaxed vibe in the race villages.”
Says Nikki: “It’s always nice to get a bag of treats at registration, and having the lunch and a cold beer waiting is amazing. You get beer credits in your goodie bag!.”
- Mind-blowing coastal single track of Day 3
This element of the race just pushes the experience over the edge to bucket-list status. Says Oli Munnik: “The last day’s single track where you pop out on the coast is remarkable, with breathtaking sea views and the sound of crashing waves, it is really worth experiencing.”
And remember, this can be your warm-up ride for the the Buco Lions Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge which will take place on the Sunday 22 September. Entries for the 100km one day race from Uniondale to Knysna via the Prince Alfred’s Pass usually sell out fast, but Dr Evil entries completed by 20 December will be added to a waiting list to get first preference for an entry when they open on 20 January 2019 and this includes automatic second batch seeding amongst seven batches.
That’s a whole lot of reasons to set your sights on the Garden Route in 2019. Entries are now open at www.drevilclassic.co.za.