The PEPlett 4 day stage race is an event that we’ve become quite fond of, mostly because we’ve always come away from the event with a pleasant experience regardless of the end result or the weather conditions which have been quite challenging in recent years. The 5th edition of the PEPlett proved no different especially as the organizers, Red Cherry Adventures, moved the race from September to February allowing for MUCH better weather in which to enjoy the event.
As the name suggest the event takes place between Port Elizabeth and Plettenberg Bay. Every year the event changes direction with the 2017 route leading us away from Woodridge Primary School just outside of Port Elizabeth to finish 4 days later at de Vasselot Rest Camp, east of Plettenberg Bay.
The 314km in-between was all but smooth ‘pedalling’ with the stages presenting a variety of challenges. We had sandy patches, rocky sections, singletrack, mountains, forests and farmland to negotiate, but no matter how sweet or sour the riding got, the ever changing scenery, rider camaraderie and race village atmosphere made the effort worthwhile.
Between start and finish we stayed over at Zuurbron Village for some warm local farmer’s hospitality before moving on to the magical setting of the Assegaaibosch Country Lodge on the outskirts of Kareedouw. This was a particularly tough day as the testing route was exacerbated by a howling wind which seemed to do it’s best to blow us back to where we came from. From there we raced to the Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure Village which was our final race village.
Ben Melt and I had a consistent race placing 2nd on each stage to finish 2nd overall in the mixed category. A week prior to the event we were still unsure about our participation due to an injury that I sustained at Tankwa Trek, so finishing on the podium was truly a bonus as completing the race was our main priority.
With the field limited to 200 riders PEPlett creates a comfortable and friendly race village experience and with the organisers being so passionate and personal the event makes you feel like more than just a number. All this is sure to translate into success and we look forward to PEPlett becoming a firm fixture on the SA mountain biking calendar.