Affectionately known as the mountain bike party of the year, event organizers openly encourage riders to take their time out on route, savor the moment and enjoy the magnificent trails and scenery.

(from left to right): Mariannne Bergli, Joanna Dobinson, Ariane Lüthi, Ann Harrison and Marleen Lourens take on Stage One of the Pennypinchers Origin Of Trails dressed as super heroes. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg

Mountain biking elites such as Christoph Sauser, Erik Kleinhans, Robyn de Groot and Ariane Lüthi were seen letting down their hair, enjoying the spectacular trails and even supporting a wine tasting or two before crossing the finish line at the picturesque Blaauwklippen Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

“The stage was really nice,” says Sauser. “There’s enough racing to be done in January, so taking part in a relaxing event such as the Pennypinchers Origin Of Trails is a welcomed change. Erik Kleinhans and I rode at a steady pace. It was like going for a big ride with friends. There were a lot of new sections that I’ve never ridden before including Mont Marie and Dornier. If I’m in South Africa next year this time, I’ll definitely take part again.”

According to De Groot, Stage One was great. “A big thank you and well done to the route builders, the trails were awesome. Changing from a racing mentality to just having fun is vital. The timing of the event is perfect. I loved riding the trails, feeling no pressure, stopping at the water points and even going for a swim. My plan for tomorrow is to do the exact same.”

Signing up for the 30km event, up and coming mountain biker Jamie Penfold from Paul Roos High School and well-known SA triathlete Vicky Van Der Merwe both celebrated their Pennypinchers Origin Of Trails debut on the day.

“I wanted to take part in a stage race,” says Penfold. “I’m familiar with a lot of the trails in Stellenbosch. Today’s stage was very nice. There was a lot of single track. I just wanted to have fun and will do pretty much the same tomorrow.”

According to Van Der Merwe, she’s fairly new to the sport of mountain biking. “I’ve only had my mountain bike for 11 months. Everything that I do is in preparation for the 2017 XTERRA SA Series. I’m really blessed to live in Stellenbosch. The stage one route was absolutely beautiful. ”

An individual two day MTB stage race, the Pennypinchers Origin Of Trails combines a vast network of world class trails with beauty and exclusivity. Entrants are given a “once a year” opportunity to experience a spectacular combination of single-tracks in the pristine setting of the Stellenbosch Winelands. Stage One saw riders having to complete either a 60km or 35km route that featured a 1620m and 830m elevation respectively.