Over the last 4 years the Trans-Karoo MTB has built a solid reputation for a ‘bucket list’ event; a tough one-day endurance mountain biking challenge that tests both physical and mental fitness. To pedal 247 km off-road within 17 hours is not an easy task in anyone’s books, and the popularity of the race is increased by the fact that entries are limited to 500 due to the sensitive eco-systems that the race traverses.
The Trans-Karoo MTB alternates annually between a ‘down’ (Sutherland to Kaleo outside Ceres) and an ‘up’ ride (Ceres to Sutherland). In 2017, participants can therefore once again expect to tackle the daunting drop down the escarpment via the 10 km descent down Ouberg Pass, finishing many hours later on the Ceres side with the 14 km climb up the Skittery Pass.
The quaint Karoo town of Sutherland is home to the South African Astronomical Observatory, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and the best stargazing in the country. It is also one of the coldest places in South Africa. Wikipedia tells us to expect average daytime temperatures in September of 16 degrees, while the temperature can still drop to zero at night. Head lamps, an emergency blanket (“space blanket’), enough water, basic tools and puncture repair kit and medical supplies are therefore compulsory items to carry along, with support being allowed only at two designated points.
In 2013 Timothy Hammond finished the first ‘down’ ride in 9:27, with Hannele Steyn winning the women’s solo section in 10:41 to finish 7th overall, the highest a female rider has finished to date.
In 2014 Johan Kruger completed the ‘up’ ride in a staggering 9:30, treating the notorious Ouberg Pass as though it was flat. Liesbet Kristafor was the first female in 2014, finishing in 11:58.
In 2015 Charles McFall set a new ‘down’ record to finish in 8:35, while Amanda Brookes was the first female rider in 10:58. No new course records were set in 2016’s ‘up’ ride, with Chris Wolhuter and Elna Fourie finishing in respectively 9:50 and 13:35.
Get your entry in soonest and start training so that you can be on the start line on 2 September 2017. Pre-entries (until 30 June) cost R1500 per person for PPA members and R1800 per person for non-members, with all entries from 1 July-15 August costing R2 000. Various additional options are available around accommodation and meals, or using the event bus to get you from Cape Town to Sutherland and back from Ceres.