‘The Rock’ mountain bike and trail festival

PAARL SCENIC MTB IMAGE

When I moved from Johannesburg to Paarl I was in absolute and instant awe of the mountain-biking terrain which the beautiful Boland town offered. Six years on, Paarl has turned into a city, but thankfully the natural trails have remained and 180km of additional trails have been built on the Paarl Mountain since our arrival.

We organised many well-known mountain-bike races in Gauteng, such as the Walkerville Classic, Silverstar Classic, Emperors Classic and the Krugersdorp Classic. They were great races, but my eyes really opened when I arrived here. The trails in Gauteng can’t rival what’s on offer in Paarl.

Paarl has all the natural elements required for great trails. It’s surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides and the views are inspirational. The mountains – Drakenstein, Simonsberg and the Paarl Mountain – offer climbs in excess of 10km and, of course, long downhill rewards which can reach up to 20km.

Gauteng doesn’t have these mountains, hence we simply couldn’t offer the same riding experience in “Gangster’s Paradise”.

You can imagine my excitement when I arrived here!

I immediately set about creating what eventually became the three-stage Liberty Winelands Encounter as well as the two-stage Sanlam Invitational, which sadly doesn’t exist anymore following Sanlam’s withdrawal.

Myself and my extremely talented and hard-working sidekick, Darren Herbst, who built the 180km trail network on the Paarl Mountain, left these events in the care of a local cycling distributor.

We swiftly went on to a new creation, which we believed would encompass the best of both the Encounter as well as the Invitational, but at a fraction of the price.

The result was The Rock Mountain Bike and Trail Run Festival!

The first participants in ‘The Rock’ last year were astonished at the remarkable value offering linked to the trails and venues – it led in a new chapter for mountain-bike and trail run events.

With an affordable price tag and array of options to suit all levels of mountain-bikers and trail runners, Paarl’s biggest mountain-bike and trail run bash was here to stay. It was staged very successfully and attracted more than 1000 participants in its inaugural edition.

This year the festival comes to Spice Route Destination and Rhebokskloof Estate from 27-29 September and again presents lots of entertainment and fun activities to cater for all levels of mountain-bikers and trail runners as well as their families.

The off-road festival presents a 3-day mountain-bike stage race and a 2-day trail-run as well as seven other individual fun rides and runs for mountain-bikers and trail runners.

The 3-day mountain-bike stage race carries a price tag of just R1350 and entry fee for the 2-day trail-run is an affordable R900.

We simply don’t need to charge more, and the event doesn’t lack in any department as a result of the affordable price tag.  With the economy taking its toll, we needed to get bums back on seats and tackies on the trails, and The Rock succeeded in this.

We firmly believed that we could come up with a business model which meant that we didn’t have to charge a lot, but we also didn’t have to dish up something sub-standard.

We wanted to create the opportunity for as many cyclists and runners to get in on the act over a single weekend.

The Rock attracted incredible feedback from participants last year with many riders commenting that it was the best three-stage race in which they had ever taken part. The noteworthy comment from everyone was the quality of the venues which linked the stages.

It’s a quintessential true mountain-bikers’ experience and Darren, our route director, has been hard at work throughout the past three years creating more trails and refining existing trails on the mountain as part of Paarl Adventure Trails.

We both live in Paarl, so the The Rock represents a continuous labour of love. I look forward to experiencing Darren’s completed route puzzle from 27-29 September,  especially the new trails at Spice Route, Fairview and Diamant on the 2nd and 3rd stages!

Besides the meticulous planning and service delivery around the route, the major distinguishing factor of The Rock is the off-the bike elements, which are exceptional and excellent value for money.

Picture caption: Paarl is surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides and the views trails are inspirational.

Picture: Supplied

 

ABOUT THE ROCK 3-DAY MTB RACE

  1. Sept: Day 1 Malmesbury – Rhebokskloof: 54km – 1300m elevation
  2. Sept: Day 2 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route: 43km – 950m elevation
  3. Sept: Day 3 Spice route – Rhebokskloof: 48km – 1300m elevation

Riders can enter any one of the days individually.

 

ABOUT THE ROCK 2-DAY TRAIL RUN

28 Sept: Day 1 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route: 21km – 568 elevation

29 Sept: Day 2 Spice Route – Rhebokskloof: 18.5km – 720m elevation

Runners can enter any one of the days individually.

The MTB and Trail Run multi-day stage races are limited to 500 riders/runners on a first come first served basis – riders can enter solo or as two-rider teams while runners enter solo.

 

Saturday 28 September 2019 is the big hosting day at Spice Route Destination. The destination artisan village hosts the finish of “The Rock” stage races with live bands and lots of entertainment while the following fun rider events will also start and finish at Spice Route as part of the Trail Fest:

08h45: 25km MTB Traverse – start and finish at Spice Route

09h15: 10km MTB Family Traverse – start and finish at Spice Route

10h30: 5km kiddies MTB – start and finish at Spice Route

 

The Rock moves to Rhebokskloof Estate on Sunday 29 September with the following fun run events starting and finishing at Rhebokskloof:

07h15: 10km Trail Run – start and finish at Rhebokskloof

07h30: 5km Trail Run – start and finish at Rhebokskloof

09h00: 2km Kiddies Obstacle Trail Run – start and finish at Rhebokskloof

For more information and to enter go to www.therockrace.co.za.

 

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

 

FRIDAY

07h00: MTB Stage Race Day 1: Malmesbury – Rhebokskloof: 54km – 1300m elevation

SATURDAY

07h00: MTB Stage Race Day 2 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route: 48km – 1000m elevation
07h10: Trail Run Stage Race Day 1 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route 21km – 568m elevation
08h45: 25km MTB Traverse – start and finish at Spice Route
09h15: 10km MTB Family Traverse – start and finish at Spice Route
10h30: 5km kiddies MTB – start and finish at Spice Route

SUNDAY

07h00: MTB Stage Race Day 3 Spice Route – Rhebokskloof: 48km – 1300m elevation
07h10: Trail Run Stage Race Day 2 Spice Route – Rhebokskloof 18.5km – 720m elevation
07h15: 10km Trail Run – start and finish at Rhebokskloof
07h30: 5km Trail Run – start and finish at Rhebokskloof
09h00: 2km Kiddies Obstacle Trail Run – start and finish at Rhebokskloof

 

To view the 2018 Race Highlights video, go to https://vimeo.com/294167493

For more info go to www.therockrace.co.za or email info@therockrace.co.za