While day two stands out as the queen stage, PwC Great Zuurberg Trek route director Rob Hayter feels riders will face a strong variety of challenges in one of the Eastern Cape’s premier mountain bike events next month.
Hayter and his team have been hard at work in the last three months preparing the trails for the race from May 26 to 28 and he said they had created a route that had a bit of everything.
Starting at the Zuurberg Mountain Village near Port Elizabeth, the stages will take in parts of the Addo National Elephant Park, while also exposing riders to the rugged Karoo terrain.
He added that although there were some testing sections, the overall effect was that the course would be manageable for riders of all levels.
“We have not changed much from last year and have just tinkered with a few things here and there,” said Hayter.
Reflecting on the stages, he added that competitors would need to ride smartly on the second day when the 82km stage would test them with three major climbs.
“I feel riders will enjoy the experience, even with the ascents they will encounter,” said Hayter.
“They will have some of the best views from the top of the mountain ridges to the south back towards the Indian Ocean and in the north over the Karoo as far as the eye can see.”
He said a feature of the stage would be the diversity of the trails as the climbs were mixed with long descents and single-track.
The PwC Great Zuurberg Trek will open with a 67km stage dubbed the Valley Track, starting at the Zuurberg Mountain Village. It incorporates a scenic section of single-track.
Hayter said the first 10km along a gravel road would give time for the riders to spread out somewhat before they entered the Addo Elephant National Park.
“The adrenalin and enjoyment of the next 15km down to and through the riverbed and the single-track under yellowwood tree canopies will be some of the best you can experience.”
He added that there would be an ascent to the first water point and the final portion of the first day’s route was marked by the 8km climb back to the Zuurberg hotel.
That ascent will also feature in the closing stretch on day three, which Hayter described as a “single-track haven”.
He added, though, that riders should not underestimate the 50km stage, coming as it did after a challenging second day.
“The start is a bit of a climb just to spread the riders before everyone descends into the valleys below on some of the best single-track you will find.
“But even at a distance of only 50km the amount of single-track will test everyone’s ability and endurance.
“After the first water point there is a tough climb before you can enjoy the roller-coaster back down into the valley.”
He said the riders should make the most of the last water point at Hayterdale before facing the final climb of the weekend back to the Zuurberg Mountain Village.
“I feel we have managed a good balance between some tough and technical sections which will test the best, while also catering for the next tier of riders who want to experience mountain biking through some of the Eastern Cape’s iconic areas,” said Hayter.