1. The tick box at the bottom of the entry page

It reads: “I acknowledge that this is a ‘real mountain bike’ event, which needs a good deal of fitness and skills to master…” Right?! We like that. “I just got tired of riders telling me how tough it is when they haven’t fully prepared,” says Michele Starke, who heads up the organising team. “Now, I’ll be able to say: ‘You accepted the challenge!’” If that doesn’t tell you enough about how ‘proper’ the riding is, we’re not sure what will.

2. The trails

Tough and challenging they are, to be sure. As Michele pointed out above. But, it is also some of the finest trail riding in the land. This hand-crafted 100-plus kilometre web of trails on the Mouton’s Valley and Bugler’s Post farms are usually the private playground of the landowners. The rest of us get to ride it on only two weekends a year: the one-day Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge and the three-day stage race, The U.

So magically flowey are the sections that in places it’s almost impossible to comprehend how the trails were imagined, let alone crafted. Criss-crossing the hills above the race village, the trails weave audaciously over, through, between, and under rocks to create a near perfect land-surf on terrain which quite often shouldn’t be rideable.

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3. Leave your wallet at home

Say what?! Indeed, the event is all-inclusive (regardless of what accommodation you choose), that means everything is already covered in your entry fee. Now, this is not like one of those ‘all you can eat buffets’ where you get short changed, but a full-service, premium-quality offering. Thanks to the event’s amazing partners, every aspect, from morning coffee through race nutrition, bike care, post-ride beers, meals and night cap, is the best of the best.

4. Beverages, hot and cold

Part of the all-inclusive premium offering includes: Baristas serving any hot beverage of your choice; complimentary La Chouffe beers on the Friday & Saturday evenings; Belgian Beer Tastings, Hope Distillery & Fitch and Leedes sunset cocktails on both evenings (including a Hope Distillery and Liefmans Fruitesse beer and gin cocktail). We could go on…

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5. Hydration and nutrition

Cadence Nutrition provide for your nutrition needs at the Total Pit Stops (water tables / food stations) during Episodes 1 & 2. Then there is a powerful protein punch from Protein 2 Go to help you recover after each Episode. Also, your hydration is looked after by DAY Water, who will be supplying their sustainable canned water.

6. The Total Pit Stops

Aside from the Cadence Nutrition, you’ll want to linger at these and turn them into a ‘picnic stop’ with the strawberries and biltong (among other local specialities) on offer. Maybe even share a beer with your riding mate.

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7. Recovery

The EPT Recovery Team will be looking after riders’ post ride recovery needs. Riders can try the latest gadgets in Sports Recovery on the Friday & Saturday .

8. Bike care

Yes, your steed will be getting the same luxury treatment as you. Each rider will get three Namgear bike washes on the weekend and have access to the Tech Zone staffed by highly skilled wrenchmen.

9. Free swag

What is a bike race without a goodie bag? But then, with goodies from Enjoy, Cadence, Namgear and the Belgian Beer Company to name a few, packed in a Thule Achiever backpack you could hardly class this as ‘just’ a goodie bag.

10. Personalised Number board and medal

Check your ego at the door, this is a first-name basis, baggies and big-grins event. The personalised number boards are a keepsake not only return riders cherish.

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11. The dam

The race village is set under the trees on the banks of a beautiful dam. The dam provides both a geographical landmark for when you’re suffering high up on the hills and offers the ideal cool down dip once you’ve crossed the finish line. Makes for some great photos too. And, the odd bass has been known to fall to those intrepid enough to pack their fishing rods. (Catch and release only, of course).

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12. Queen and King of the Mountain. Mountain. Mountain…

For the racing snakes, there is some coin up for grabs in the Venturescapes Segment Challenge: With R5000 for both the K&QOM on the Venturescapes Segment Challenge on both Episodes 1 & 2 (R20K in total over the weekend).

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13. The final touch

Ahh and what a great parting gift it is. When you leave, you’ll be handed (with a smile) a care package which includes: 200ml Custom Distilled Hope Gin (using organic Buchu from the farm); Fitch & Leedes Bespoke Mixer; a bunch of fresh flowers from the farm, local potatoes and preserves.

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Entries open on Friday 13 March. Entries are limited and bound to sell out fast. There are various entry and accommodation options available. To enter, click here, for more info on the routes and accommodation options, click here.