Pioneering spirit the drive behind the DCM Cape Pioneer

Ever mountain biker who ever wondered what it would be like to be a true pioneer should not miss out competing DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.

It is a six-day mountain bike tour that will take place in and around the Little Karoo from 17 to 22 October.

According to Henco Rademeyer from Dryland Events, there is a very good reason why the word ‘pioneer’ features in the name of this tour.  About two centuries ago, when ox wagons and horses were the only modes of transport, the pioneers of the time used to explore the country by trying out different routes when they travelled from town to town.

“It is important for us to continue with this tradition when we plan the annual DCM Cape Pioneer Trek. The tour is a celebration of what it takes to be a true pioneer. This is the reason why we keep on changing the route,” he explained.

Brandon Stewart nearly crashed into a flock of sheep

According to Rademeyer, the fact that the route is changed every year is also a certain way of ensuring that the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek stays an interesting challenge for every mountain biker.

“It is our goal to ensure that the riders experience something totally different every year, especially because the Little Karoo, with its surrounding areas, is one of the true jewels of nature in South Africa.  We hope that the riders who have had the opportunity to explore the area on their mountain bikes, will consider coming back for their holidays.

“It is also important for the Dryland Events Team to give back something to the community. There is much poverty in some of the smaller towns. By taking the tour to different towns, we aim to help the schools and charity organizations to generate an income, even if it is just for a day or two.”

Riversdale and Albertinia are the two new towns on this year’s route.

According to Rademeyer the schools in both these towns have proud histories.

Louis Oosthuizen, winner of the British Open Golf Tournament last year, matriculated at the Hoërskool Albertinia, as did Elana Meyer who won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

The Oakdale Landbouskool has acquired a reputation over the years of being one of South Africa’s top rugby schools. Pedrie Wannenburg and Johan Muller are examples of former pupils of this school who were capped as Springboks.

The important question that is asked by every mountain biker is what the consequences of the annual changes in the route will be for him. Will it be a tougher or an easier racing experience?

“It is important for us to maintain the same standard.  Admittedly the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek is a tough challenge, but I can guarantee that it will be an unforgettable experience for everyone who finishes.

“Because there are fewer riders who participate in the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, it is easier for us to obtain access to really unique trails in ecologically sensitive areas. The riders will be able to claim that they rode where no bike had gone before.”

Rademeyer warns that riders should take care to pace themselves during every stage and not go out too hard or too fast, because the hard climbs and tough technical sections are towards the end of every stage.

The lead group close to the summit of the Swartberg pass

“The route promises to be very exciting because some of the single-track sections will be right on the edge of steep cliffs, “Rademeyer said.

“As far as I am concerned, another highlight will be the 10km non-stop single-track section where I know for a fact that no mountain biker has ever ridden before.

“To summarize – during six days the riders will ride through semi-desert sections, through forests, through thick sandy sections as well as on beaches.  While they are doing this, scenes that can normally only be seen on postcards will become  real to each of them.”

STAGE 1 – Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp

Start: Oudtshoorn High School, Oudtshoorn.

Finish: Calitzdorp High School, Calitzdorp.

Distance: 99 km

Total vertical ascent: 2 150 m

The capital of the Klein Karoo, and ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn, was the obvious venue to start this journey. Flanked by the Outeniqua and Swartberg mountains, this town on the banks of the Grobbelaars River, will also host the riders on their last stage.

Head Westwards, through Lategansvlei, towards the Red Stone formations of Kruisrivier, onto Buffelskloof, and Rietfontein, which is the oldest working ostrich farm in the world.

Jeep track flows westwards through the Besemkop wildlife reserve onto Smitsrivier where there might be a surprise waiting with a sting in the tail. But the best is saved for last as the world’s famous Port producing vines of this quaint town and its people await you.

STAGE 2 – Calitzdorp to Riversdale

Start: Calitzdorp High School, Calitzdorp.

Finish: Oakdale Agricultural High School, Riversdale.

Distance: 127 km

Total vertical ascent: 2 595 m

The journey to the South takes us over an old favourite, the Rooiberg mountain pass, and onto and old set of tracks that lead us to Assegaay Bosch Game Lodge, where water point 1 awaits.

More beautiful Karoo jeep track through Assegaay Bosch reserve passing Vanwyksdorp to the south. The majestic Langeberg, an imposing sight to the south, is our last obstacle for the day, where 12 km of single track caps a very hard day in the saddle – do not underestimate this one!

STAGE 3 – Riversdale to Albertinia

Start: Oakdale Agricultural High School, Riversdale.

Finish: High School Albertinia, Albertinia.

Distance: 104 km

Total vertical ascent: 1 850 m

Today’s stage brings a new journey to the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek with a never before visited stage location. From the friendly farming community of Riversdale, the route traverses the southerly foothills of the Langeberg mountain range.

With Proteas in bloom, and the most scenic tracks around, the views from here is absolutely breathtaking. In an attempt to help those weary legs, riders finish the day on undulating roads into Albertinia.

STAGE 4 – Albertinia to Mossel Bay

Start: High School Albertinia, Albertinia

Finish: Milkwood Primary School, Mossel Bay.

Distance: 86 km

Total vertical ascent: 1 585 m

Our plan to take the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek to the South is paying dividends with less strenuous climbs and more fabulous scenery. Today riders cross the mighty Gouritz river near Herbertsdale, and then the route takes a sharp turn towards the coast where riders head to Danabaai.

Riders hug the rugged coastline, riding through small villages, travelling past famous golf courses until Mossel Bay appears in the east. With the lighthouse at the point to their right, riders descent into the most scenic of stage locations at Milkwood primary school, only 100 metres from the waters’ edge.

STAGE 5 – Mossel Bay to George

Start: Milkwood Primary School, Mossel Bay.

Finish: Van Kervel High School, George.

Distance: 119 km

Total vertical ascent: 2 620 m

Nothing makes you enjoy a nights’ rest like the sound of waves breaking nearby and that is why everyone will wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. A neutral zone takes you onto the first of many climbs for the day.

Riders find their way through undulating farmlands, towards the imposing Outeniqua mountain range where water point 2 marks the entry into probably the most scenic jeep track so far. These contour roads flow into a never-ending single track section which marks the end of the stage. This one should not be taken lightly.

STAGE 6 – George to Oudtshoorn

Start: Van Kervel High School, George.

Finish: Oudtshoorn High School, Oudtshoorn.

Distance: 74 km

Total vertical ascent: 1 870 m

A neutral zone out of George gives riders the chance to loosen those legs and look forward to the entry into the Klein Karoo. The climb up the Montagu pass is rewarded with breathtaking views of both the Karoo and the coast – a glimpse to the north, shows the Kamanassie mountains, looming large, fortunately this year, we are not going there!

A complete new section through Miskraal and then with the familiar Karoo landscape passing by brings us to the famous tracks of Chandelier Game and Ostrich Show farm.

This easier last stage is a celebration of the amazing achievement of the last week – family and friends await riders to share in their glory.