The call of the bugle heralded one of the success stories of the burgeoning gravel scene in 2022; the Old Hermon Gravel Ride attracted more than 800 riders to the heart of the Swartland for a choice of three distances, ticking the box for gravel and mountain bike riders of all abilities and making the most of the glorious Cape spring.
The 2023 Old Hermon Gravel Ride will take place on Saturday, 26 August, with a choice of 22km, 45km routes and an all-new 85km adventure on the cards. All three start and finish at the Welbedacht Wine Estate, just outside Wellington and home to the world-famous Schalk Burgers Senior and Junior, father and son rugby legends.
The two shorter options follow district and farm roads nearby, gaining 227m on the 22km, but a more testing 433m on the 45km. Both routes are tests of fitness, rather than skills, ideal for an introduction to gravel if you are crossing over from the road.
SEEDING EVENT STATUS
The 85km option is a Premier Seeding Event for the 2024 Cape Town Cycle Tour and will offer a sterner test. It has been laid out to challenge the speedsters, and the adventurers; with a smidgen under 1100m of ascent (similar to the Cycle Tour, but with 30km less to find the vert), it will be a physical event, also on glorious backroads and farm tracks and with a Tour-de-France-esqueroad climb, but with a little bit of washboard and some sandy stretches thrown in to wake up thetech skills, especially at gravel-bike speeds.
This longest option takes riders south from Wellington before climbing one of the most spectacular road passes in the Western Cape, the newly-resurfaced Bainskloof. The long tar climb is followed by quite a technical downhill (bring your skills A-game, or take it easy, or both!) and then heads north towards Hermon on a series of gravel district roads, fast and flowing, before returning and hitting the slight slight drag up to the finish. Bainskloof apart, quality gravel is the name of the game, with views across the Wellington valley, which will still be verdant after our great winter, keeping the motivation high.
Entries for the Old Hermon Gravel Ride are now open, and range from R250 to R450, with all entrants standing a chance of winning prizes from Garmin, Oakley and Thule. Expect quiet roads, world class organisation from the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, refreshment stations you might not want to leave, and a great day out.
The field will be limited in size, so riders must enter without delay and guarantee their day in the spring sun, as Old Man Hermon opens his arms in welcome once more with the call of the bugle.
Event Date: Saturday, 26 August 2023
Distances: 22km, 45km routes and 85km
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IMAGE: Chris Hitchcock