Savanna Origin of Trails puts the “Fun” back into mountain biking

Stage One of the Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience got underway at the Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University on Saturday 19 November 2022. Cementing itself as SA’s MTB Party of the Year, mountain bikers were reminded why they ride.

“The Savanna Origin of Trails is marketed as a fun event. Stage One definitely lived up to its reputation,” says Robyn Wijnbeek (Stellenbosch). “I live in Stellenbosch. It’s fun to race in your backyard. I know the trails quite well. Botmaskop is always a hard start, but the trails there are super fun. I really enjoyed the stage. The vibe was amazing, and the water points were really cool. Going into Stage Two, I’ve never ridden at Spier, so it’s going to be something new for me. I’m looking forward to doing something different.”

Ryal de Waal (Stellenbosch) crossed the finish line first in the Half Marathon. “It’s the afterparty that attracts me to the Savanna Origin of Trails,” laughs de Waal. “The route was great. The little bit of rain that fell this morning ensured that it wasn’t dusty. I know it’s the ‘MTB Party of the year’, but it’s just in my genes to race. I always ride as hard as I can. Tomorrow I will do the same.”

Starting and finishing at Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University, Stage One of the Marathon included five moderate climbs with very little flat sections. Iconic farms traversed on the day included Lanzerac, Coetzenburg, Stellekaya, Mont Marie, Chaloner Estate, Dornier and Vriesenhof. This stage boasted exciting new trails in Botmaskop, large sections of single track that aren’t accessible during the year, the well-known floating bridge at Mont Marie as well as the iconic G-Spot.

Stage One of the Half Marathon consisted of open roads and fun single track. Mountain bikers got to experience trails at Coetzenburg, Stellekaya, Mont Marie, Dornier and Vriesenhof. The trails at Dornier and the floating bridge at Mont Marie were definite route highlights. This stage was not very technical but did include quite a bit of climbing.

PUB RIDE and Rider Party: The Stage One fun is not yet over. At 17:30 riders will go on a Pub Ride, which will start at Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University. Three of Stellenbosch’s favorite pubs; De Akker, Casa Cerveza and Gino’s, will be visited. Riders will enjoy complimentary dinks, with live music at De Akker and Casa Cerveza before heading to Gino’s for the official rider party where award winning South African Stand-Up Comedian Dalin Oliver will be ready to entertain the crowds.

Stage Two

The 2022 Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience closed off on a high note at Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University on Sunday 20 November. Not only did the Stage treat mountain bikers to a vast network of world-class and exclusive trails, but it also boasted an unheard-of on-route experience that included ice cold Savanna at the water points, a Van Ryn’s Brandy Tasting, live entertainment and even ice cream to mention just a few offerings.

“Our goal was to take the rider experience to the next level in 2022 and thanks to our fantastic sponsors and partners we were able to include fantastic on route offerings that are unheard of at MTB events,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports and Founder of the event. “We are thankful to each and every participant for bringing the ‘gees’ and adding to the experience. We can’t wait to welcome you back in 2023.”

“The Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience highlights the ‘fun side’ of mountain biking – there is no pressure, only exciting routes and spectacular views,” says Kavir Gangiah, Media, Sponsorship and Events Manager Distell Southern Africa. “This is something that our brand stands for, being able to compete and have fun at the same time. This year we were excited to incorporate comedy into the festivities by having Dalin Oliver perform live over the weekend. We also loved the idea of the Pub Ride as it introduced entrants to some of Stellenbosch’s many hidden gems. The Savanna Origin of Trails has truly been the perfect end of year celebration, the ‘MTB Party’ of the Year.”

“The Savanna Origin of Trails lived up to its reputation of being SA’s ‘MTB Party’ of the year,” says Riaan Oosthuizen, General Manager of First Ascent. “Each stage featured an incredible route that boasted views that are out of this world, while the vibe was indescribable. Riders looked fantastic in their First Ascent Rider Jerseys and First Ascent Finisher Tees. We can’t wait to be part of the experience again in 2023.”

Marathon riders were treated to a +-48km route that featured open roads and easier single track. Farms forming part of this stage included Blaauwklippen, Stellenrust, Annandale, Alto, Ernie Els, Guardian Peak, Audacia and Spier.

Luyanda Thobigunya (Idas Valley, Stellenbosch) achieved his goal of claiming two consecutive stage victories in the Marathon. “My goal was to keep the overall first position,” admits Thobigunya. “The stage was easy for me, because I know the Stellenbosch trails. I lead from the start, and I had fun. Of course, I’ll come back next year.”

The Half Marathon featured a +-31km route that consisted predominantly of open flat trails through Blaauwklippen, Stellenrust, Audacia, Annandale and Spier.

Jackie Lochner (Stellenbosch) absolutely loved the Half Marathon. “The Origin of Trails is my favorite race,” says Lochner. “The organization is fantastic, and the trails are always amazing. The water stops are festive and lekker. There’s always some funny challenge, like a climb when you least expect it, but it’s just brilliant. Stage Two wasn’t as tough as yesterday’s stage and most of the climbing was at the beginning of the race. It was very nice; you could put your head down and go for it until the end.”

Stage Two doubled up as Dress Up Day. Chelsea Frost (Vredehoek) and Benno van der Merwe (Stellenbosch) proved to be the most creative riders on the day with their interpretation of the theme “when life gives you lemons”.

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