The quiet Karoo town of Ladismith relies on cheese, agriculture and tourism for its subsistence and the Ladismith Cheese 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge incorporates all three of the region’s keystones. For title sponsors Ladismith Cheese the event is a source of tremendous pride, there is even a race within the race among employees. As Ronaldo Groenewald, CEO Ladismith Cheese, explains: “Ladismith Cheese employees, and their families, eagerly look forward to the race every year. In the weeks leading up to the race more and more workers are seen sweating it out on the dirt roads around town on their bicycles in preparation of the big day. On behalf of Ladismith Cheese I would like to extend a warm welcome to the more than 1 000 mountain bikers who will take part in the event and celebrate the day with us.” Groenewald also reminded mountain bikers to bring cooler bags along to the event so that they can safely take home all the delicious Ladismith Cheese they are going to purchase.
The tourism boost which the Ladismith Cheese 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge provides cannot be underestimated. Not only does accommodation in and around Ladismith sell out over the weekend of the race but the event also showcases some of the region’s premier attractions to visitors who would otherwise race past on Route 62 without stopping to view Ladismith’s Victorian architecture, or cruise up the magnificent Seweweekspoort. The more adventurous will also note the hiking around the town, with routes up to the famous Towerkop – which was, legend has it, split by a witch – or to the highest peak in the Western Cape, the Seweweekspoort Peak – which stands 2 325 meters above sea level.
The 82 kilometre and 40 kilometre routes take in the spectacular Seweweekspoort before exploring the orchards of the Hoeko Valley, which the 26 kilometre route races directly towards. Agriculture is one of the main employers in the region and first time visitors are often surprised at how lush the vegetation in the valleys is when contrasted to the dusty Karoo shrubs and thorn trees which populate the foothills of the Klein Swartberg mountain range.
The Ladismith Cheese 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge offers a distance for every mountain biker in the family, with the 82 kilometre main race taking in a challenging 1 750 metres of vertical ascent as it climbs the Seweweekspoort, loops into the rugged Great Karoo and traverses the Hoeko Valley to sneak back into Ladismith along a little used back road. The 40 kilometre distance is perfect for the older children in the family or less fit riders as it gains a very manageable 690 metres in elevation and consists largely of easily ridable district gravel road. The shortest distance of the event is the 26km route, which heads directly from the start in Amalienstein towards Ladismith, via the Hoeko Valley. Without the magnificent Seweweekspoort the short route is not as diversely scenic as the longer options, but it is still a treat for the youngest members of the family or those very new to mountain biking.
As entries to the Ladismith Cheese 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge are as much limited by accommodation in the area as they are by the event logistics so Dryland Event Management recommends that you book accommodation when you enter the Ladismith Cheese 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge. A comprehensive list of suggested accommodation options is available on the event website at www.7weekspoortmtb.co.za, or you can contact Annemarie on (028) 5511 225 to book accommodation in the Ladismith High School hostel. The school will also be offering a three course pasta meal and bread table on Friday night and a full breakfast with cereal and bread on Saturday morning, which can also be booked by contacting Annemarie. As an added reward to the early bird entrants the first 150 entries to the 82 kilometre route will receive a complimentary Ladismith Cheese 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge cap & a special hamper from Dryland Event Management’s nutrition partners Biogen.
Date 30 September 2017
Venue: Amalienstein | Finish: Ladismith High School
82km Entry Fee: R395 | Altitude Gained: 1 750m
40km Entry Fee: R230 | Altitude Gained: 690m
26km Entry Fee: R105 | Altitude Gained: 480m
Facebook: @7Weekspoort MTB