Mountain bikers riding through the Cape Winelands at the Rudy Project Val de Vie MTB Challenge. Photo: Paul Nielsen

After attracting almost 1 000 riders to the inaugural event last year, the race is well on its way to becoming a must-do item on the Cape Winelands racing calendar.

The route, which starts on the elegant Val de Vie estate, boasts various improvements and added features this year – including a trip past the house where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated at the Drakenstein prison.

Participants will ride through the prison to the Mandela statue at the entrance, where they can have their photo taken. From there they will cycle past the house where Mandela was held and out the back entrance of the prison.

In another coup, Cape Nature has opened large sections of its land to the race. This spectacular terrain includes a tricky three-kilometre descent from a scenic viewpoint.

Cape Nature’s approval, as well as access rights granted by Pearl Valley Estate, means that riders will not have to double back past other riders en route to the finish at Val de Vie.

In addition, all participants will receive a free Rudy Project t-shirt and a R200 discount voucher on their next purchase of Rudy Project Eyewear, Rudy Project helmet, Sidi shoes, Scicon bike bag or Ftech ASG kit.

The waterpoints at last year’s event left a lasting impression on riders and organisers say this year will be no different.

Premium waterpoint partners include Cipla Nutrition, Vrede Foundation, Freedom Hill Farm, Durr Farm, Raw Nutrition, Val De Vie Estate, Organic Energy, Virgin Active, Drakenstein Prison and Ion Camera.