Student teams in the Varsity MTB Challenge in Paarl this month will face some interesting challenges, with new elements being introduced into the two stages.
The two-day mountain bike race, sponsored by First National Bank, takes place on September 30 and October 1 and provides an opportunity for alumni, students and the public to enjoy the trails in the Drakenstein mountains.
While it catered for all cyclists, Darren Herbst of ASG Events said this was a chance for former students to ride for their chosen institution with a partner of their choice.
He added that official student teams from the top eight tertiary institutions would compete in a separate event within the main race.
Route director Pieter van Wyk said one of the intricacies they faced with the start at Nederburg was that there was climbing to be done irrespective of which way they went.
The opening day takes riders over a distance of 50km with 1 500m of vertical ascent, while the last day covers 58km with 1 600m of climbing.
“We are aiming to find the right balance, but it is still going to be quite hard because there is a lot of climbing relative to the kilometres they are riding,” he said.
“We want to cater for the weekend rider, while also making sure that we have something that will test the student teams.”
Van Wyk said stage one started with a “really long climb” that should spread the field from the outset.
He said participants climbed Du Toitskloof Pass on both days, but would head into the Drakenstein mountains on day one and towards Wellington on stage two.
“There are some tough sections on the first day, but you get amazing views from the top of the pass,” he said, pointing out that day two would feature “a lot” of single-track sections.