The eleventh Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, is set to showcase the best riding of the Garden Route and Klein Karoo in 2023. Dubbed the Race with Soul the seven-day stage race will feature serpentine singletracks, big mountain passes and traverses across arid plains. Starting in George the longer event will take in race villages at Louvain and Oudtshoorn; while the four-day Adventure joins the action in the Langkloof.
Taking place from 3 to 9 September 2023 the race will feature a 472 kilometre long route, taking in 10 850 meters of climbing. Headlines will be written about the iconic Swartberg Pass mountain top finish, but for the riders taking part each stage features a significant highlight as well as a number of thrilling features which are sure to make the racing interesting. Designing a course which plays to the strengths of professional and amateur riders alike was Dryland Event Management’s goal.
“Balance is hard to achieve,” Henco Rademeyer, of Dryland Event Management, noted. “To make a really difficult route is easy, but to blend challenges and rewards in equal measure takes some doing. The 2022 course was really well received by the riders, so we are using that as a template. But we will be adding more singletrack kilometres and replacing smooth district roads with rugged Karoo jeep track whenever possible.”
“For the racers, both professional and amateur alike, this means a route which provides ample opportunity to attack and counter attack,” Rademeyer promised. “The lead could conceivably change hands on the final stage, as we’ve increased the difficulty of Stage 6. Every stage has something special about it. Overall, the race will reward the teams and riders who can not only manage their energy levels but who can look after their bikes best too.”
The Race with Soul maintains its UCI Stage Class 1 status and will add an amateur category, to entice competitive but working mountain bikers to race the event. “We believe the event offers exceptional value to international riders,” Rademeyer said. “The famous South African platteland (rural) hospitality provides a warm welcome and the food is of course one of the big things riders rave about. It also takes European, Asian and American visitors through parts of the country they would otherwise never see. In fact, it takes South African into places they probably never knew existed either. Dryland are also happy to help with additional planning and recommendations, should anyone wish to extend their stay in the country; be it to see the Cango Caves or the other Klein Karoo attractions or explore beyond the regions our route covers.”
Alongside the seven-day Race the Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, also has a four-day Adventure. Designed to accommodate riders who cannot quite take a full week off work, or who are not ready for such a long stage race, the Adventure joins at Louvain. Taking in the final four stages it is also ideally suited to eBikers. “After the singletrack packed stages in George the route features more dual track in the Langkloof and the Klein Karoo,” Rademeyer advised. “This makes it easier to add an eBike category as they will be able to more readily pass other riders on the trails.”
2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, Route
Sunday, 3 September 2023
Glenwood House School, George
Elevation Gain: 450m
Packed with singletrack the opening stage of the Race with Soul sets the scene for the week to come. Stingingly steep, but mercifully short climbs, allow for the fittest riders to make their mark; while sweeping singletracks through the Saasveld forests ensure that those with technical skills are amply rewarded too. Returning riders will be pleased to note that the asphalt liaisons will be limited significantly in 2023, providing more time on the trails!
Monday, 4 September 2023
Glenwood House School, George
Elevation Gain: 1 850m
The first marathon stage of the race is not to be underestimated, despite its short distance. It features a sapping 1 850 meters of climbing in just 55 kilometres and it packed with singletracks. Taking in the trails and jeep tacks which criss-cross the Jonkersberg Nature Reserve as well as the greater George Trails network of mountain bike routes. The ascents of Tierkop and the Horse Shoe Bend will stretch and strain the field, while the plethora of singletracks will reward those with the fitness and skill to exploit them. On the homebound leg of the stage the rooty forest trails are shunned for flowing tracks to speed up the race to the stage finish.
Tuesday, 5 September 2023
Glenwood House School to Louvain
Elevation Gain: 1 950m
Stage 2 takes the riders from George, in the Garden Route, to Louvain, in the Langkloof. The 81 kilometre course is highlighted by the climb of the Montagu Pass. Getting to the foot of the pass requires completing a final section of singletracks in the forests before leaving the lush green coastal woodlands for the orchards and fynbos of the northern slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains. Having conquered Montagu the route then heads east through Herold tracing the mountainside along rugged singletracks initially and then jeep tracks towards the second race village at Louvain.
Wednesday, 6 September 2023 (Adventure begins)
Elevation Gain: 1 400m
The Adventure begins with the Langkloof Liaison, both for the four-day riders and those taking on the main race. After three stages on the urban edge Stage 3 takes riders into the wild on a proper mountain biking expedition. At 63 kilometres long, with 1 400 meters of climbing, the toughest challenge comes early in the day. From the summit of Duiwelskop the views are spectacular, with the Outeniqua stretching away to the east, west and south; while the Klein Karoo rolls out to the north. The day eventually loops out of the Langkloof and into the fringes of the Karoo, but not before traversing bountiful orchards and tracing a precipitous ravine. Brushing the arid region which the race delves into from Stage 4 onwards the route follows rocky jeep tracks in a wide arch back to Louvain, where a final singletrack leads riders home for the day.
Thursday, 7 September 2023
Louvain to Langenhoven Gimnasium, Oudtshoorn
Elevation Gain: 1 650m
Stage 4 is the second transition stage of the race, taking riders from the Langkloof into the heart of the Klein Karoo. It flirts with the famous Kammanassie, summiting a searching tentacle of the range’s imposing main body before dropping into the Kammanassie Valley. There, not geographically far from civilisation the riders will feel as remote as it is possible to feel in the Western Cape. The route takes a curving path towards its destination, providing jaunts through the Madi Madi, Landrani and Buffelsdrift game reserves. Giraffe and antelope sightings will provide respite from the rugged terrain, which takes in more jeep track than the corresponding stage did in 2022. After 90 kilometres riders will roll onto the fields of Langenhoven Gymnasium, the final race village of the event.
Friday, 8 September 2023
Langenhoven Gimnasium, Oudtshoorn to Die Top
Elevation Gain: 2 300m
The Queen Stage of the 2023 Race with Soul features the only mountain top finish in South African mountain biking. With 2 300 meters of climbing in 90 kilometres the stage is the hardest on paper and in reality. Especially with the inclusion of more climbs through the Red Stone Hills in the lead in to the foot of the Swartberg Pass. Wildehondekloof Game Reserve provides more wildlife close encounters before the ascent into the clouds begins. Upon reaching Kobus se Gat the riders will be able to see exactly what lies ahead; an 8.5 kilometre climb, rising 655 meters at an average gradient of 7.6%. In previous years the showdown on the Swartberg Pass often determined the Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, winners. This time out a tricky final stage offers the opportunity for redemption.
Saturday, 9 September 2023
Langenhoven Gimnasium to The Queens Hotel, Oudtshoorn
Elevation Gain: 1 650m
The final stage of the race takes riders into the famous Chandelier Game Reserve. It presents one last chance to make up or lose time, to change the general classification standings. More steep climbs lead into the reserve where the terrain becomes truly rocky. Punctures as well as fatigue could play a role in determining who pulls the final First Ascent leaders’ jerseys on, in front of the Queens Hotel. Especially given the new run into Oudtshoorn, will follow the Grobbelaars River rather than the road to the final finish line on Baron van Reede Street.
For visual clues as to what to expect at the 2023 Race with Soul like the Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, Facebook page or follow @CapePioneerTrek on Twitter and @capepioneer on Instagram. For more information or to enter the eleventh edition visit www.capepioneer.co.za.
|2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen|
|Race Dates:||3 – 9 September 2023|
|Adventure Dates:||6 – 9 September 2023|
|Standard Entry (Non-Accommodation):||Team: R52 500 | Solo: R27 500|
|Standard Entry (Red Tent Accommodation):||Team: R 54 000 | Solo: R29 000|
|Silver Upgrade (Luxury Tent) *||Sleeps 1: R 5 500 | Sleeps 2: R 8 500|
|Gold Upgrades *||Sleeps 1: R 13 500 | Sleeps 2: R 21 500|
|Platinum Upgrades *||Sleeps 1: R 24 500 | Sleeps 2: R 40 500|
|Platinum Plus Upgrades *||Sleeps 1: R 41 500 | Sleeps 2: R 69 500|
*Note: All upgrades are calculated in addition to a Standard Non-Accommodation Entry
Photo: Loamy and rooty forest singletracks will get the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, underway in George. Photo by Sage Lee Voges