Strike gold at Krugersdorp mountain bike race

Riders like defending champion Pierre Smith will be on the hunt for gold when the Pennypinchers Silverstar MTB Challenge takes place in Krugersdorp on Saturday. Photo: Jetline Action Photo

Riders like defending champion Pierre Smith will be on the hunt for gold when the Pennypinchers Silverstar MTB Challenge takes place in Krugersdorp on Saturday. Photo: Jetline Action Photo

Pennypinchers Silverstar MTB Challenge participants could strike gold when they cover a historical mining route during Saturday’s feature race in Krugersdorp.

Mountain bikers will follow a revamped 40km route from Silverstar Casino up onto the Krugersdorp Ridge and then down the old Pretoria-Krugersdorp road through the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens en route back to the casino.

According to local historian Rod Kruger, the area is famous for being right in the middle of the early hunt for gold, with old mines and prospecting cuts found all over.

“We found one right below the botanical gardens waterfall.”

Krugersdorp was established as the main town on the West Rand in 1887 after the discovery of the main gold reef on the Witwatersrand the previous year.

Over the next few decades the entire area changed dramatically from a scene of peaceful farms to tented mining camps and then the bustling City of Gold, Johannesburg, and its satellite towns.

Kruger said the old Pretoria-Krugersdorp road was built around a century ago to accommodate the first motorcars in the area but that, while it shortened the distance from Krugersdorp to Muldersdrift, it proved too steep and difficult for those early vehicles.

“Later they changed it by building the existing Krugersdorp road from Silverstar, which includes the famous Hill Snacks climb.”

According to route director Darren Herbst, the well-known ascent will be the only part of the race route remaining from previous editions of the event.

“This year, we’ve decided to change everything and take riders up Hill Snacks and then through the new Hero Adventure Hobby Park.”

Herbst said riders could look forward to good technical riding up on the ridge, featuring floating bridges over the dams, little drop-offs and jumps, forested sections and rocky trails.

“Those who aren’t racing for gold can stop and enjoy the views over the West Rand.”

The race, which is presented by ASG Events, finishes inside the spectacular Super Dome adjacent to the piazza at the casino resort.

Finishers will be able to get their medal, use the bike wash, leave their bike in the secure bike park and enjoy a well-deserved meal at one of the restaurants lining the piazza.

“The event also offers a 20km racing option for those looking for a more manageable but still exciting day on the bike,” said Herbst.

Entries for the event close at midnight on August 31.

Enter at www.asgevents.co.za or go to Silverstar MTB Challenge on Facebook or @silverstarMTB.