ccs-62657-0-39842600-1458632439.jpg
The undulating 7 Passes road is perfect for mountain biking; tough if ridden hard, fun if ridden at a comfortable pace and scenic for every kilometre. Photo by: Julie Anne Hoffman.

The road cuts through indigenous Knysna forest and plantations, and offers views over the Garden Route’s Lake District and the lush Eastern slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains when the forest clears to dairy farms. It’s an idyllic route perfect for riding as hard or as socially as you like. For the race snakes the rolling gravel roads make for high tempo group riding where team tactics come into play. For the more relaxed riders, meanwhile, the route is tough enough to be a challenge but not so tough as to detract from the views.

The 7 Passes MTB is ideally a two day stage ride but if you’re pressed for time you can join in the fun for day one only. The first day is the race, with prize money on offer for the podium finishers. It starts on the 30th of April at 08:00 at NMMU’s Saasveld campus and races the rolling 7 Passes road towards Knysna. For the less fit riders there’s a very manageable 36km option, which is perfect for riders who are usually nervous of entering races because of the worries of technical terrain. The short route, affectionately known as Karatara2Knysna or K2K, starts at the main race’s water point two at the Highland Home Store in Karatara.

ccs-62657-0-82996200-1458632414.jpg
There might not be any singletrack but there are a few gravel road descents enroute which will have you bombing wide eyed into Garden Route gorges. Photo by: Julie Anne Hoffman.

Both the race and the K2K follow the same route along the 7 Passes road, down the spectacular Phantom Pass and into Knysna along the scenic lagoon side road. Once in Knysna the festivities truly begin with prize giving at the Knysna Waterfront and with so many riders congregated to swap war stories from the day on the 7 Passes road, share photos and catch up over an ice cold beer or a glass of red wine – depending of course on your preference and the weather on the day – it’s sure to be as much fun as the ride itself.

ccs-62657-0-77292500-1458632450.jpg
Well stocked water points manned by friendly Garden Route Events crew can add some significant time to your ride, but if you’re riding for fun that’s perfect. Photo by: Julie Anne Hoffman

Day two, on the 1st of May, is a relaxed, fully supported tour back to George with Garden Route Events providing both the stoke and fully stocked water points to nurse you home. Once you’re up the fabled Phantom Pass the route undulates back to George, maybe in the days of ox wagons the climbs felt like 7 Passes but on your mountain bike they’re nowhere near as intimidating.

To make your life easier Leeuwenbosch Dairies have organised a complimentary bag shuttle. So you can park your car at NMMU’s Saasveld campus on Saturday morning, mountain bike to Knysna, grab your bag and check into your accommodation close to the Knysna Waterfront and then just drop your bag off at the start of day two again. Plus Garden Route Events are hosting a registration dinner on Friday and a finisher braai on the Sunday at NMMU/Saasveld so remember to select those options when you enter online.

ccs-62657-0-23679900-1458632428.jpg
The 7 Passes MTB is a fantastic way to experience the Knysna Forest. Photo by: Julie Anne Hoffman

Entries are open at www.7passesmtb.co.za or you can entre online by clicking here. If you are one of the first 200 riders to entre before the 12:00 on the 28th of March 2016 you’ll also receive a complimentary race t-shirt.

7 Passes MTB Stats
Dates: 30 April & 1 May 2016
Distances: 78km both days, 78km on 30 April or 36km K2K on 30 April
Format: Race to Knysna, tour back to George.
Start/Finish: NMMU Campus George/Knysna Waterfront
Pre-Entry Fees:
2 Day R560 per rider
1 Day pre-entries R330
K2K pre-entries R150
On The Day Entry Fees:
2 Day R660 per rider
1 Day R400
No on the day entries for the K2K
Website: www.7passesmtb.co.za
Facebook: Garden Route Events
Twitter: @gardenroute300
Instagram: gardenrouteevents