Mega-distance Mountain Bike Challenge gaining in popularity

    The 36ONE Extreme MTB Challenge route takes riders over a distance of 361 kilometres. Photo: Release Centre

    After the success of the inaugural event last year, the 36ONE Extreme Mountain Bike Challenge has seen an increase of 40% in pre-race entries as South Africans embrace the country’s next big thing in endurance sport challenges.

    The 361-kilometre non-stop mountain bike race, which takes place from 19-21 April 2013, starts and finishes in Oudtshoorn in South Africa’s Western Cape province, taking participants in a circular route of 361 degrees.

    Because of the distance and the fact that the race starts at night, the route has been purposefully set to follow mostly gravel roads and uncomplicated jeep track. Riders are given 36.1 hours to complete the event, but most finished within 22 hours in 2012.

    The rising sun greets participants after 10 hours of night-time riding at the 36ONE Extreme MTB Challenge. Photo: Release Centre

    “It’s the ideal event for endurance sport specialists or those that just want to try something different. Because it’s got no technical sections, even road cyclists and long distance triathletes will find it very doable. The race calendar has many marathons and half marathons, but mega-distance races like this are rare,” said Henco Rademeyer of Dryland Events, the organisers.

    Getting underway with a mass-start at 19h00 on Friday night, the participants will compete either solo or in two-rider or four-rider relay teams. They pedal through the night, with most likely to complete the course by sunset on the Saturday.

    “The night-riding element adds further character to the 36ONE Extreme MTB Challenge,” said Rademeyer. “By having night and day riding it’s a truly comprehensive challenge.

    “It’s a great preparation event for riders doing the Freedom Challenge. Many of our pre-race entrants so far are Freedom Challenge 2013 riders who are keen to test their gear. It’s not easy to get in a 361km training ride in a supported environment, but the 36One Challenge offers that,” added Rademeyer.

    There are nine fully catered refreshment points along the route, including two hot meal stations, which allows riders to compete in the event without any kind of back-up. There is also full medical support.