This weekend I am heading to Oudtshoorn to take part in the eighth edition of the Fairview Attakwas Extreme mountain bike marathon, taking place on Saturday, January 18. I have spent the last three months training for this event, which involved a lot of mountain biking, as well as a lot of falling off my Momsen mountain bike.
When I started to research this race, the organisers sent me the following information, which I’m not sure was indented to scare, or prepare me for what lies ahead on Saturday:
The race starts at Chandelier Game Lodge and Ostrich Show Farm, and follows their legendary jeep track for the first 10 km, with a new section taking riders onto the Mount Hope Road – heading towards Zebrasfontein. It tracks through farmlands, undulating and fast, taking riders onto the unforgiving rise up to water point 1, where Doringrivier Nature Reserve awaits.
Proteas, waboom and other fynbos await riders on probably the most scenic section of the trail, which continues through Doringvier and approaches the first spectator point at the R328 that links Oudtshoorn to Mossel Bay. A steep steady climb takes riders into the awe inspiring Attakwas Kloof.
Wishes of good luck come from the ever helpful water point crew as the toughest part of the race looms large. Take care and take in the beauty of your surroundings – it is truly a privilege to be able to ride on these unspoilt tracks. The highest point marks the halfway mark. Down the valley in Bonniedale a welcome Spur burger awaits at water point 3.
The steep and technical descent into Bonniedale must be negotiated with care – beware, because this section could cost you the race, so be careful. Leaving this rural dwelling refreshed and revived, riders take the gravel roads through the pine forests on their way to water point 4 – take care at this, the hottest time of the day, and keep hydrating properly.
Quite a few riders find this last part of the race the toughest, because of the heat and unrelenting climbs, which inevitably take their toll. Fortunately water point 4 provides an ever refreshing oasis. Spectator point 2 is just below Eight Bells Country Inn, just of the R328 – don’t be fooled, the two tough climbs just before and after water point 5 will make sure you cherish the finisher’s medal forever. The first sight of the sea signals a hero’s welcome and finish right at the water’s edge – so enjoy this last descent.
So to everyone who is taking part, best of luck, and see you on the route.