These days the race calendar is jam-packed with events, making it physically impossible to participate in all of them. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up for debate, but it does make for selective racing and sometimes you end up missing out on some good events.
This was the case with last year’s Cape Pioneer Trek where I ended up as spect ator rather than participant. This year I was excited to make amends as I toed the start line in Mossel Bay alongside good friend (and racer) Aurelie Lincoln.
Aurelie and I have done a few stage races together including the 2015 Cape Pioneer and it was reassuring to know that at the very least we had experience counting in our favour.
The Cape Pioneer Trek starts with a 13 km urban prologue on the coast of Mossel Bay and finishes 7 days later in Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of South Africa. In between lay 503 kilometres which included some 9720m of climbing as riders set out to traverse the beautiful landscapes of the Garden Route and Klein Karoo.
Two days were spent racing in Mossel Bay with the prologue and stage 1 utilising Milkwood Primary school as the venue before the whole show moved on to George during stage two.
Stage three was spent racing on the local trails of George whereas stage four took riders from George over the Montagu Pass to finish in Oudtshoorn. Stage 5 and 6 was laid out on the surrounding trails of Oudtshoorn making for some proper Klein Karoo riding to finish the race off.
No (ad) venture is without its challenges and unfortunately Aurelie pulled out of the race during stage 3 due to illness. It was a disappointing day for both of us, especially because we were up to 2nd place overall at the time but we also understand that illness and injury are part of the sport.
I continued racing the Cape Pioneer Trek albeit as an unofficial finisher while Aurelie flew back home to rest and recover. Obviously it wasn’t the same riding without Aurelie by my side, but if you aren’t having fun at the Cape Pioneer Trek it’s really your own fault as the event itself has so much to offer.
The hospitality of the Klein Karoo & Garden Route is outstanding and the Dryland Team manages to put a challenging yet fun route together to make it enjoyable for everyone. The ever changing landscape of the route also makes for spectacular views with endemic game such as giraffe, antelope, ostrich and even the odd tortoise often spotted along the way.
The Cape Pioneer Trek’s slogan is pretty accurate as it is a #RaceWithSoul and this makes it a pure pleasure to be part of the event!