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  1. 1. The tick box at the bottom of the entry pageIt 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 trailsTough 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. 3. Leave your wallet at homeSay 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 coldPart 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… 5. Hydration and nutritionCadence 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 StopsAside 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. 7. RecoveryThe 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 careYes, 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 swagWhat 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 medalCheck 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. 11. The damThe 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). 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). 13. The final touchAhh 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. 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.
  2. The Prologue The U kicked off on Friday afternoon with a 9 km Prologue which although optional, is a great way to get a feel for the terrain and hook up a seeding for the next stage. Episode 1 Stage 1 or “Episode 1” is a 50 km route with 1500 metres of climbing. On paper, it might look like a gentle day out, don’t be fooled. A thrilling descent down Livingstone drops you around 400 metres to the Piketberg Valley floor, where after a short breather you head straight back up the Ossewa Pas, a 3.5 km climb with an average gradient close on 12%, bouncing into the 20% range now and then to test the legs.And just when you think the climbing is done for the day the second half of the route winds you up and over just about every koppie in the valley in search of single track. And there is plenty of single track at The U, but you need to measure your efforts to ensure you can enjoy it. Video: Highlights from the Prologue and Episode 1 The U Experience With temperatures spiking in the upper thirties many had a tough day out on the first stage, but with a race village setting like this and the incredible hospitality, the efforts of the day were well rewarded. Venturescape Events, a new partner to The U, put together a race village experience like none I've encountered. A full bar set up, outdoor lounges, bean bags and plenty room to relax. For afternoon entertainment, among other activations, a pop-up Fitch and Leedes gin bar serving a special batch of Hope on Hopkins Gin made from Citrus on the Farm. Topped off with an abundance of food, barista made coffee on the house and snacks pocketed around the venue. We didn't want to leave. While riders relaxed, the Specialized Tech Support team were on hand to help keep bikes in order.... and many needed some TLC after the Prologue and Episode 1. Episode 2 The second stage follows a 55 km route with around 1400 metres of climbing. Cooler weather and an earlier start were welcomed by the riders as we set off to the west of the race village. Where the previous day was characterised by heat, dry dusty trails and endless climbs, Episode 2 is all about the winding rocky trails on terrain were trails seemingly shouldn't exist. Ricky Lawrence of Enjoy sporting the custom branded Enjoy Reptilia shorts which all riders received in their race packs. Land Rover Constantiaberg were on hand to welcome riders home.When the Starke Family and their team at the Mouton’s Valley Farm are not farming, they’re building trails up in the hills above the farm. Much like all aspects of the event, the trails are unique, routing you across every inch of the mountain and requiring constant focus to avoid the array of rocks and fynbos ready to “welcome” you. Video: Experience Episode 2 I joked with my riding partner that for most stage races single tracks are a feature, but at The U they’re pretty much the route. And that’s no joke: some rough maths guesses point to well over 90% of the route being some kind of single track. Having attended three of the four editions of The U MTB Stage Race, each year has been an improvement on the last. The attention to detail in all aspects, from the route to the incredible hospitality and events within the event - all make it a truly unique and special race. This year the bar was set high for future editions of The U and every other event you’ll attend or consider after....
  3. It’s super easy, all you need to do is stay tuned to our social media platforms (Facebook & Instagram) over the race weekend and beyond and a goodie bag filled with some amazing stuff from our generous sponsors could be yours. Including: Enjoy Reptilia Shorts & T-Shirt THE U pOcpac Duvel Beer & THE U Beer Glass Specialized Water Bottle THE U Versus Socks EPT Recovery Experience Bike Hub T-shirt & Socks Vondeling Wine Hope on Hopkins Gin Fitch & Leedes Tonic Thule Gift Pura Soda Cadence Gift Pack Ass Magic Chamois Cream MiWater Land Rover Gift Truth Coffee Namgear Travel Pack So here’s what you have to do: Comment on your favourite social media post (video or photo) with ‘#TheUmoments’ and you will go into the draw. Told you it was easy.Entries close on 25 October 2019 and the winner will be announced on Monday, 28 October. Prologue Preview Not sure exactly what you are missing out on, or what sort of amazing posts to look forward to, check out the Wild Air Prologue Preview here: And if you are riding Of course, if you are riding, there are great prizes up for grabs too, for the racing snakes, and for those less pace inclined:For the racing snakes: The Venturescapes Segment Challenge will have a Strava Segment on both Episode 1 and Episode 2. There are equal prizes (R2500ea) on offer each day for the winning man and woman. Episode 1 will feature the Ossewa Pass climb, while Episode 2 will give the white-knuckle gang something to gun for on the Suicide Run. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more info. If you are not about to climb the 3.55km Ossewa Pass with its 422m ascent and whopping 30% gradient in some sections in under 23 minutes, or fly down Suicide Run in under 3:30, then stick to the beer. Oh, and good beer it is too. Belgian! We’re super stoked to announce The Belgian Beer Company as our sponsor this year. As part of their involvement, you can win with La Chouffe. All you have to do is ‘find Uee’… Uee is Marcel - the most fearless of all dwarfs - equally fearless South African cousin. The mountain biking cousin. Marcel couldn’t make it to this year’s instalment because he’s too busy in the brewery riding his unicycle. But if you spot Uee out there post a photo on any of your social media channels and tag #foundUee. Some super tasty La Chouffe products could be yours. T-minus four days. Hope you’re as psyched as we are.
  4. Indeed, The U is just one of those events. This year the fourth instalment takes place from 18 to 20 October. We’ve put in leave for the Friday (thanks boss) and are once again making a long weekend of it. Taken leave and entered already? You know it - with only 200 entries (now open here), entries fly. The big reason that the three-day event on those most hallowed private trails in the Piket-Bo-Berg sells out so fast, is the riding: In some sections 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 flow on terrain which quite often shouldn’t be rideable. ‘Who on earth was bold enough to build out here?’ Make no mistake - it’s no manicured bike park (or walk-in-the-park, for that matter) the trails are physically and technically challenging, but generous in their rewards. On last year’s event we often found ourselves – between the frequent rushes of stoke and fragrances of Buchu – wondering ‘who on earth was bold enough to build out here?’ (Well, you’ll get to meet the trail builders and their crew at the race. Even share a beer or two). There are very few flats on route. And those are interesting too, here a rider threads a buchu field. This hand-crafted 100-kilometre web of trails on the Mouton’s Valley and Bugler’s Post farms are usually the private playground of the landowners and a few very select friends. The rest of us get to ride it on only two weekends a year, when the farmers open these to the public for the one-day Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge and the three-day The U for the benefit of the local community. https://www.facebook.com/pbbtrails/videos/371199703738562/ And, if that was the only drawcard, it would’ve been more-than-enough reason to enter. Of course it’s not: “The overall package is pretty hard to beat,” says Oli ‘The Pinner’ Munnik, who goes back year after year. “It’s a very well-rounded, family-run offering. And, the setting (of the race village) is quite a magical setting - looking out over the dam,” he says. Not all race villages are created equal “Then, to go off up the hill and into the mountains and test yourself physically, only to come back and be treated so well in the afternoon and evening is pretty special. You know, they (the organisers) just excel in all aspects - even the road to get there is flippen amazing.” According to Pinner, the trails have been built to be challenging but not impossible. “All the obstacles and sections are rideable. You never really have to take your foot out, but correct gearing and having a good following distance is crucial to flow up there.” The Friday Prologue serves as a good shakedown to get the work week out of the legs (and head) Oli also recommends not going out too hard too quickly because they are long days and putting in some time at the seconding tables. “Those are quite phenomenal and it’s worth spending a good few minutes there getting yourself acquainted with the strawberries and biltong and even maybe share a beer with your riding mate.” “And then the fresh, export quality, fruit at the finish line!” The Pinner knows, so he goes. Those biltong, fruit and beer tables will be stocked from 18-20 October. The event will once again kick off on the Friday afternoon with a short 7.9 km prologue to get in tune with the trails and set your seeding for the first true stage on Saturday. But take a long weekend, like us. Then, both Saturday and Sunday (Episodes 1 & 2) are around 50km long with approximately 1300m of climbing each. As Pinner mentioned, don’t let the distances fool you, though. There are few restful kilometres in those figures, but that’s a good thing - did we mention it is nearly all singletrack. Want to know more? Read our race report from 2018, here. And, if last year was amazing, this year promises to be even more spectacular with the support of some premium sponsors: The event is proudly supported by Venturescapes as presenting sponsor, Specialized as our Bike & Tech Zone sponsor, Enjoy as our Kit Sponsor, Land Rover as our Vehicle Sponsor and BikeHub as media partner. The U MTB Stage Race The fourth edition of The U is scheduled for 18-20 October and is open to 200 riders only. It features +-101km over the 2.5 days with some 2 900m of total ascent. Riders get to enjoy every piece of singletrack on the mountain, with the Friday, being a 7.9km XCO-course style prologue. Saturday is Episode One: 46.1km, 1 500m ascent, extremely challenging. Sunday is Episode Two: 46.1km, 1 300m ascent, fast and technical. The event is proudly supported by Venturescapes as presenting sponsor, Specialized as our Bike & Tech Zone sponsor, Enjoy as our Kit Sponsor, Land Rover as our Vehicle Sponsor and Bike Hub as media partner.
  5. In partnership with Bike Hub and Piket-Bo-Berg Trails, Cape Brewing Company (CBC) are giving away a single entry to one of South Africa’s most talked-about singletrack MTB stage races – worth R6500. The U is made up almost entirely of hand-built singletrack and the trails are private - open only for The U and The Piket-Bo-Berg MTB Challenge. Do you need more motivation to enter? We think not: How to enter Follow the link HERE. Tell us about your favourite MTB trail and you’re on your bike, almost. You’ll go in the draw for this amazing prize, brought to you by Bike Hub, Piket-Bo-Berg and your favourite craft beer provider, CBC.Easy, right? Closing date for entry is midnight on Sunday 29 July 2018, after which no further entries to the draw will be accepted. The winner will be announced via direct message on Facebook on 1 August 2018. Terms & Conditions apply, to view the terms and conditions, click here. The prize A Single Entry worth R6500.This includes: All meals from the Friday evening until Sunday lunch, including light snacks on the Friday afternoon Your own two-man tent & mattress. (Bedding excluded). More about The U The U is a unique Mountain Bike Stage Race, held from the 19th to 21st October 2018, with a field of only 200 participants enjoying the best local cuisine, luxurious accommodation and of course, some of the finest mountain bike trails in South Africa.The proceeds of The U go towards staffing and equipping the Mouton’s Valley Community Learning Centre, to provide children and young adults in the local community with educational and sporting programmes.
  6. Enter now to stand a chance to win an entry to The U MTB Stage Race @ Piket-Bo-Berg with CBC and Bike Hub. Click here to view the article
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