Road Cycle Events and MTB Races

Everything you need to know about the Western Cape’s cycling challenges and how to get seeded for the Cape Argus Cycle Tour

When you think of cycle events in Cape Town, the Argus inevitably pops into mind. Aside from this epic competition though, there is a host of annual races and MTB challenges that take place in the Western Cape throughout the year. Major calendar highlights include the ABSA Cape Epic (a hard-core mountain biking trek) and the Die Burger cycle races, which attracts the leg-shaving, lycra-wearing die-hards year after year.

Regular pedal pushers can sign up to become members of Cycling SA, which entitles them to race, be seeded and participate in Cycling SA sanctioned events; otherwise, more amateur roadies can also get a day license for individual events. There are also plenty of fun cycles and informal competitions that give youngsters and beginners a chance to ride, minus the pressure.

We’ve compiled an overview of ride-worthy cycle tours and mountain bike races to keep an eye out for if you’ve got Lance Armstrong (without the ‘roids) aspirations. 

CYCLE ROAD RACE EVENTS  
As local boy Daryl Impey proved at the 2013 Tour De France, South Africans are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with on the international road cycling scene, and there are plenty of opportunities in the Western Cape to get pedaling on a competitive level. Whether you’re just starting out and looking for a few easy routes to ride or you’re fixing to be number one at the next Argus Cycle Tour, there are enough cycling events throughout the year to get your glutes going.    

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour
The Argus cycle tour is the world’s largest individually timed cycle race and several events throughout the year help determine the seeding for this event.
When: March
Where: Cape Town
Distance: 109km
Level:
Beginner to expert (minimum age 13 years, 11 years if riding on the back of a tandem with an adult)
Entry info:
 Applications can be lodged online at Cycletour.co.za in September. Race capacity is set at 35 000 cyclists. 

PPA One Tonner
This scenic ride through farmland and vineyard country is an official seeding event for the Cape Argus and a great training event for November’s Coronation Double Century.
When: October
Where: Stellenbosch
Distance: 163km
Level: Intermediate to expert
Entry info:  Register online at Pedalpower.org.za. Entries are open from August.

Bidvest Steiner Pennypinchers GOK Cycle Tour
The 104-km leg of this Klein Karoo competition is an official seeding event for the Cape Argus. The other two routes are great for novice cyclers working on improving their endurance.
When: October
Where: Oudtshoorn
Distance: 104km, 57km and 30km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries are done via Cycleevents.co.za and are open from June.

Coronation Double Century
This challenging team cycle race winds its way from Swellendam through the charming towns along the R62 and back again. Not for the faint-hearted, the challenge is the equivalent of an ultra marathon.
When:
November
Where: Swellendam
Distance: 202km
Level: Challenging (riders must be 18 years or older)
Entry info: This is a team race, and the captain or manager can register online at Coronationdc.co.za. Entry is limited to 200 teams. Teams competing for prize money must be between 6 and 12 cyclists in size. Entries open from late July.

Langebaan Lagoon Cycle Challenge
This highly rated fun ride’s two routes hug the banks of the Langebaan Lagoon and traverse the West Coast National Park’s gorgeous terrain.
When:
November
Where: Langebaan
Distance: 80km and R35km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry Info: Entries can be lodged online at Lagoonchallenge.co.za from September. Late entries are also accepted just prior to race day at the West Coast National Park office.

Engen Cycle Challenge Paarl
Perfect for cyclists of all ages and levels, this annual road challenge comprises three routes that take riders through the Winelands and Swartland regions.
When:
November
Where: Paarl
Distance: 109km, 42km and 18km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Enter online at Cycleevents.co.za from July.

Die Burger Cycle Tour
One of the more famous official seeding events for the Cape Argus, the 97-km leg of this race takes competitors up over the Old Helshoogte Pass and alongside regiments of Cape Winelands vineyards. A shorter route is also available.  
When: December
When: Stellenbosch
Distance: 97km  and 44km
Level: Beginner to expert (minimum age 12 years or 10 years if riding in tandem with an adult)
Entry info:  Enter online at Dieburgercycletour.co.za; entries open in October.

Ninety Niner Cycle Race
Around since 1998, the Ninety Niner Cycle comprises a 108-km course that’s an official seeding event for the Cape Argus and a shorter, 64-km route. It’s billed as the third largest road race in the Western Province.
When: February
Where: Durbanville Race Course
Distance: 108km and 64km
Level: All ages (cyclists 10 years old or younger must be accompanied by an adult)
Entry info: Entries can be lodged online at Cycleevents.co.za andare open from December. 

Cape Rouleur
Started in 2012, this pro-level multi-stage endurance event challenges cyclists to conquer 600km of terrain over the course of one week. Cyclists have the opportunity to gain seeded entry to the Cape Argus with one of the three early-stage legs of the tour, and they can also participate in the Argus itself as part of the challenge.
When:
7 days inMarch
Where: Franschhoek
Distance: Stage 1 – 128km; Stage 2 – 146km; Stage 3 – 208km; Franschhoek to Cape Town relaxed ride – 112km; Unescorted Twitter ride (optional); Cape Argus (optional)
Level: Challenging
Entry info: Early bird entries are available from May in the preceding year and must be paid for in full. Standard entries are done by ballot, and the highest ranked entries are drawn first. Unsuccessful ballot entrants will be placed on the reserve list. Enter online at Caperouleur.com.

Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour
This scenic Garden Route course’s 100-km leg is an official seeding event for the Cape Argus. There is also a shorter course.
When: June
Where: Knysna
Distance: 100km and 50km
Level: Beginner to expert (riders must be at least 12 years to participate in the 50-km race and 15 years to participate in the 100-km competition)
Entry info:  Online entries at Knysnacycle.co.za open on 1 March each year; riders can also call +27 (0) 76 274 8958 to request an entry form. Minimum age for the 100km race is 15 years and for the 50km race it’s 12 years.  

MOUNTAIN BIKE RACES
With its scenic routes and collection of valleys and hills, the Western Cape is more than perfect for mountain bike racing, and the number of MTB challenges available is as diverse as the trails on which they take place. Most of the events on the calendar are cross country races, and cyclists have the opportunity to start out with shorter routes before venturing onto the long, multi-day epics.

Leopard Crawl MTB Challenge
Conducted in the Infantry Training area in the ostrich capital of South Africa, this mountain biking race comprises of three courses made up of gravel and mostly jeep track.
When:
February
Where: Oudtshoorn
Distance: 20km, 35km and 62km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries are available online via Dryland.co.za or at Ton’s Sport in Oudtshoorn and are open from January.

ABSA Cape Epic
When:
Around the last week of March and the first week of April
Where: various places in the Western Cape
Distance: The route varies each year, but covers approximately 800km
Level: Intermediate to expert (minimum age is 19 years)
Entry info: All riders must enter and compete as a two-rider team (there are five categories of competition). A limited number of early guaranteed slots for the following year’s event are sold the day after the race and must be paid for in full. Standard entries work on a lottery system, open the day after the previous year’s race and each member of the team can register to qualify. Wildcard entries are available for top riders only. All unsuccessful entrants will be put on a waiting list. Entry is done online at Cape-epic.com.

Cape Argus Mountain Bike Challenge
With its 52-km and 75-km courses qualifying as official seeding events for the Cape Argus road race, this two-day challenge features various routes and also offers a great day of family-friendly adventure for riders across a range of levels.
When: March
Where: Boschendal Wine Estate, Franschhoek
Distance: 13km, 29km, 35km, 52km and 75km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries can be lodged online at Mtbchallenge.co.za; they open in January

Die Burger MTB Challenge
Traverse routes that run alongside several of the Winelands region’s spectacular wine farms and gorgeous natural scenery. Comprised of five courses, the challenge is perfect for riders of any level.
When:
August
Where: Eikestad Primary School, Stellenbosch
Distance: 15km (minimum age 10 years with adult), 30km (minimum age 12 years), 42km (minimum age 15 years), 60km (minimum age 17 years) and 75km (minimum age 18 years by invitation only)
Level: Novice to expert
Entry info: Entries can be made online via Dieburgermtbchallenge.co.za or entry forms can be faxed or emailed to Dirtopia (theteam@dirtopia.co.za) with proof of payment.  Racers for the 75-km invitational must be able to make the cut-off time, and cyclers who haven’t been invited can send a motivation to qualify for the race. Entries open in June.

Tru Cape MTB
This forest MTB race offers both a simple course for beginners and a challenging ride for endurance cyclers looking to overcome fine, single track, jeep track climbs and exhilarating descents.
When:
May
Where: Grabouw Forest
Distance: 10km, 25km and 50km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries are available online via Pedalpower.org.za from January.

Robertson Winery MTB Challenge
A yearly highlight on the annual Wacky Wine Weekend festival calendar, this mountain biking challenge is a rewarding event for both advanced riders and those just starting out. The shortest route consists of purely jeep track, while the two longer courses are a combination of a jeep and single track.
When:
June
Where: Paru Farm, Robertson
Distance: 12km, 29km and 42km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries are available online via Pedalpower.org or at Cyclelab.com from May.

Bastille Mountain Bike Classic
Coinciding with the annual Franschhoek Bastille Day food and wine festival, this athletic event invites participants to earn their right to eat, drink and be merry.
When:
July
Where: Franschhoek
Distance: 10km, 32km and 45km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries are open from May and registration is done via Entrytime.com. Racers under the age of 10 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Ride2Nowhere 3 Day MTB
This triple stage competition challenges racing snakes to traverse roughly 60km each day in the McGregor area. Kiddies races are also scheduled, and the whole town takes on a festival atmosphere for the weekend.
When:
September
Where: McGregor
Distance: 58km + 65km + 57km
Level: Advanced to expert (riders must be at least 18 years)
Entry info: Entries are online at Ride2nowhere.co.za and can be lodged from July. Cyclists can enter in teams (men, ladies, mixed or masters) or as solo riders (men and ladies).

Helderberg MTB Classic
This intimate race – it’s limited to 1000 entrants – is a short but difficult competition that challenges riders to conquer gravel and mountain in scenic Somerset West.
When:
September
Where: Lourensford Estate, Somerset West
Distance: 20km and 40km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries are available online at Helderbergsport.co.za or at Rematch sport in Somerset West from June. Late entrants pay an additional fee.

Botrivier Van Der Stel Pass Challenge
This scenic competition treats riders to a relatively comfortable meander through farmland areas of the region. The routes are made up of mostly gravel and jeep tracks.
When:
October
Where: Botrivier
Distance: 15km, 40km and 60km
Level: Beginner to expert
Entry info: Entries can be lodged online via Entrytime.com and open from July.  

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Didn't get a chance to enter? Entries are still open for the Cape Town Cycle Tour

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