The De Hoop XCM
In September 2019 the South African cycling community will be treated to a mountain biking marathon though one of the most beautiful regions of the country. After the winter rains and before the veld starts to dry in the summer sun the De Hoop XCM is perfectly timed to showcase the Overberg at its best, on the 28th of September 2019. The 102 kilometre long route compliments the choice of season, leading riders through the diverse landscapes which make De Hoop Nature Reserve one of Cape Nature’s most visited reserves.
The marathon route includes 1 600 meters of climbing in the 102 kilometre distance, and entrants should prepare for a challenging day in the saddle. Starting at the De Hoop Collection, alongside the participants in the De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience – a relaxed three day stage ride – the De Hoop XCM riders will have to conquer a number of significant obstacles. The route weaves its way along the white stone gravel roads of the reserve towards the asphalt surfaced climb up on the road to the main entrance of the park. From there smooth gravel roads cross the undulating limestone hills, which separate De Hoop Nature Reserve from the wheat and canola fields of Die Rûens.
Once in the undulating farmlands the route diverts onto a jeep track, which cuts through private property and follows the bubbling Potberg River upstream towards the day’s first water point. From Potberg and water point 1, at the 24 kilometre mark, the race heads across the foothills of the mountain towards the Breede River. Following the river the route becomes rocky, with farmlands giving way to fynbos and aloes. 50 kilometres into the day the De Hoop XCM’s major climb starts, ascending from the banks of the river over the Potberg Mountain into the valley hidden between the mountain and the coast. The descent – to one of the historic Overberg Farms, Elandpass – along an exhilarating singletrack caps a fantastic section of true mountain riding. Then gravel road kilometres lead riders from Elandspass, past Cupidoskraal and water point 3 at 72 kilometres, to the Vaalkrans road.
As entrants to the inaugural De Hoop Vlei MTB Challenge know the Vaalkrans climb is anything but easy. Brutally steep but mercifully short the climb takes riders into the coastal section of the route. Here unspoilt fynbos and ocean views jostle for attention while the riding remains challenging, despite trending downhill towards the sea. Near the final overnight stop of the famous Whale Trail, Vaalkrans, the final water point awaits. Then it is homeward bound, towards the De Hoop Collection, via a sandy in patches jeep track that becomes ever firmer as the shifting dunes give way to limestone hills and eventually plains. The final two kilometres are a fast placed blast along the white gravel roads of De Hoop Nature Reserve, with bontebok, zebra and eland cantering alongside.
Crossing the finish line will be a significant accomplishment. For the De Hoop XCM it is no easy marathon. But a delicious lunch, fine local wine and craft beer will take edge off the fatigue. As will booking accommodation at the De Hoop Collection to ensure no post-race driving is required.
Riders can in fact enter the full De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience and simply upgrade Stage 2 to the De Hoop XCM, rather than ride the 62 kilometre ‘Experience’ route on Saturday the 28th of September. Entries for the single day event are however also available; with the options of accommodation, meals and spectator packages. To find out more please visit www.dehoopvleimtb.co.za.