Fresh tweaks give TransCape better balance

    Several changes have been made to the opening stages of the 2017 TransCape mountain bike race to give the race better balance. Photo: Jacques Marais
    Several changes have been made to the opening stages of the 2017 TransCape mountain bike race to give the race better balance. Photo: Jacques Marais

    Riders in next year’s TransCape mountain bike event will find a better balance across the board as the organisers continue pushing the boundaries in one of South Africa’s premium multistage races.

    The third edition, which takes riders from the coastal hamlet of Knysna to Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands, will take place from February 5 to 11.

    Route director Wayne Collett, who said they had been hard at work in recent weeks to tweak the route, assured riders the journey would remain a challenge.

    “The idea is to make sure the premium status of the race is not compromised and that features such as accommodation, food and evening functions can be fully enjoyed by a wider pool of riders,” he explained.

    The result, said Collett, was to try and ensure that the nature of the route still provided a challenge, while maintaining a profile that did not “kill most of your riders” in the first three to four stages.

    “That makes them unable to enjoy all the great ‘off the bike’ aspects that make TransCape such a unique and enjoyable event. So it is all about the balance of the different stages.”

    Collett said the first four days had all been tough in the past, which upset the balance of the event for too many of the participants.

    “Although truly spectacular as individual stages, they were simply too tough as a combination and therefore needed some significant changes to ensure the maximum enjoyment for all our riders.”

    He said the conundrum faced by all route designers was that there was a direct correlation between “increasing beauty and decreasing enjoyment”.

    “The more spectacular you try to make your route, the more unobtainable you make it for more and more riders because the most beautiful sections are invariably also the toughest.

    “So no matter how beautiful a section is, if you are completely stuffed, you will not enjoy it.”

    The first stage, which last year covered 102km and 2 600m of vertical ascent, has been tweaked to offer an 80km ride from Knysna to Wilderness with an elevation of 1 700m.

    The second day is still the queen stage and remains a monster challenge at 135km, but the climbing has been reduced from 2 400m to 2 000m. It’s also now sandwiched in-between two 80km stages.

    Collett said the total distance had been reduced from 675km to 650km, but cautioned that competitors should not mistake “shorter” and “easier” for being “easy”.

    “You only have to look at stage two to see that the TransCape still presents a great endurance challenge. It’s simply the balance of the stages that now affords more recovery opportunity and therefore more forgiveness.”

    He felt the changes to the race, which was recently acquired by ASG Events, would add value in several ways.

    “Generally riders will be finishing more days earlier than in the past and will have more time to enjoy their accommodation, as well as the catering and entertainment on offer.

    “We also believe the more balanced stages will give riders a better overall riding experience as they will generally be fresher and more able to appreciate the truly stunning landscapes they will be traversing.”

    Although the amount of climbing had been reduced, Collett said there would be enough ascent to test the competitors.

    “There is no flat ground between Knysna and Franschhoek so although the 2017 course is flatter, it is definitely not flat.”

    Entries close on November 23.

    Visit www.transcapemtb.co.za for more information.