The Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen from 15-21 October 2017, is an incredible South African mountain biking experience, definitely worth putting on a cyclists’ bucket-list. The race offers riders the chance to explore the diverse scenery of the Southern Cape and experience the famous Klein Karoo hospitality, while participating in a sport they love.
Founded in 2009, the event caters for single and team riders, and while the routes have changed significantly over the years, the camaraderie that makes it the race with soul has remained. Despite its Union Cycliste Internationale status, which ensures significant prize money and world-ranking points for the elite riders, the atmosphere is very relaxed in the race village. Riders taking part in their first week-long stage race rub shoulders in the dinner queue with the who’s who of South African mountain biking, like Erik Kleinhans and Robyn de Groot.
The route for the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen follows a similar trend to the 2016 route, which introduced the concept of journey and exploration days. In the first seven events, each stage was a point-to-point journey which allowed for limited opportunity to explore the countryside.
The race will spend at least two nights in each race village, allowing for an out-and-back stage that explores the best mountain biking on offer around that town. The 2017 venues are Mossel Bay, George and Oudtshoorn, which requires just two journey stages to transport riders from Mossel Bay to George and then on again from George to Oudtshoorn.
Limiting the journey stages also makes the event easier on the riders as there’s no need to find new tents daily, reacquaint oneself with the layout of the race village, or stress about packing gear every morning. Also, the exploration stages can now take in more amazing singletrack, with the most eagerly anticipated sections surely being the Saasveld trails, which the riders will flow through on Stage Four.
Stage Four is also the first mid-race time trial in South African mountain biking since the 2011 Absa Cape Epic. For the elite riders the time trial will surely provide a general classification shake-up while for the less competitive riders the stage will provide a welcome opportunity to have fun in the flowing singletracks on a short stage.
Returning to the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, after a year’s absence is the only mountain top finish in international mountain biking. The Swartberg Pass has become synonymous with the race over the years and the eight-and-a-half kilometre long climb is certainly one of the most iconic in the country. For 2017 the summit finish will once again feature a King and Queen of the Mountain hot-spot prize for the first men’s and first women’s teams over the line.
Off-the-bike riders are also treated like kings and queens at the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek. The top-class catering ensures that everyone’s energy levels are kept topped up, while the chill zones provide the perfect place to relax and swap war stories from the trails each afternoon.