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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. Check out our race report from the 2019 The U MTB Stage Race. Both stages are around 50 km long with approximately 1600m and 1400m of climbing on stages one and two respectively. Don’t let the distances fool you, though. There are few restful kilometres in those figures, but that’s a good thing. The U talks proudly of its single track density and so it should. Over the two (and a half) days riders are treated to absolute single track delight. Episode 1 (Stage 1) is 49.8 kilometres long with 1567 meters of ascending. It features the 5 kilometre “let the brakes go” descent down “Livingstone & Stanley” followed immediately by the long climb back up the “Ossewa Pas”. That morning we emerged from our battered tents to an uncharacteristic gale force wind pummelling the race village. With parts of the route placing riders precariously on the mountainside, safety was the key concern. After a slight start time delay, some route checks and calls for additional medical support, it was announced that the “race” would go on as a neutral, untimed stage. For the large majority of the field that didn’t change much. We were there to enjoy the trails and challenge ourselves. And so we did! “Hello Kitty”, “Dammit”, “Fairy Meadows”, “River Run” - just a handful of the single tracks of the day, all meticulously date stamped and marked by sturdy engraved wooden panels. Craig Kolesky sporting the official The U trail shirt provided to all participants courtesy of good folks at Enjoy Fitness. A good spread at the water points. And even a little something to numb the pain. Prologue and Episode 1 Video Highlightshttps://www.facebook.com/pbbtrails/videos/663239447409666/ After a great day out on bikes, it was all about the beanbags and beers beside the dam. Sharing stories of stoke with fellow riders and high-fiving the trail builders. When it eventually came time to call it a night riders moseyed off to one of three accommodation options available at The U: standard tents, luxury tents, and deluxe tented cabins. The wind aside, each offered its own comforts and even at the entry-level it was comfortable with always clean ablution facilities and minimal shower queues. An idyllic race village beside the dam. Perhaps the only criticism to be had was that there just wasn’t enough food on the dinner tables to fully satisfy hungry bike riders. The restaurant-chef prepared food was delicious... most people just wanted a little bit more. For a young, growing event it’s no doubt a pain point that will be swiftly addressed, especially considering the sharp attention to detail paid to all aspects of the event. The CBC beer station watched over by Ewie, the official unofficial race mascot often (or not) found hiding out on route. Truth Coffee helped to kickstart the day. Each rider received a complementary The U / Truth takeaway mug along with two coffee vouchers.Episode 2 (Stage 2) took riders on a 51 km route across the opposite side of the valley with 1418 meters of climbing. Thankfully on Sunday morning, we awoke to less wind and clear skies signalling a hot day ahead. After some dusty and loose trails on Episode 1, the day’s stage provided some contrast with its natural rocky trails threaded between giant boulders and dense fynbos. Despite having experienced the magic of these trails at the same event in 2016, it’s almost impossible to comprehend how many of 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. One of the defining features of this event is the trails. For most riders, they are physically and technically challenging, but generous in their rewards. Between the frequent rushes of stoke and fragrances of Buchu, you can’t help but think “Who on earth was bold enough to build out here?”. Episode 2 Video highlightshttps://www.facebook.com/pbbtrails/videos/1970895899876406/ Wait! Is that an E-bike? Participants could book a slot to test out a Specialized Turbo Levo on the 7.9km prologue course on a separately timed lap. No e-assistance for your race seeding, but it was a great opportunity to test out an E-bike in the wild with some prizes on offer for those atop the leaderboard. Adrienne Moolman was the leading Turbo Levo in the Women's category. Renowned mountain biker Fritz Pienaar claimed the Men's Turbo Levo win. Even the race number boards each had a personal touch. A nice take on a race "medal". Custom plates and all. A creative take on a seeding board. Find your photo to see your start batch. It's (mostly) a family affair! Moutons Valley farm owners Eric and Michelle Starke, along with their daughters & partners were instrumental in keeping the wheels turning behind the scenes and providing warm hospitality to all. Some parting gifts from members of the local community who benefit from the race. If you’ve not had the privilege of experiencing the Piket-Bo-Berg trails be sure to keep a lookout for entries to next year’s The U. And don’t forget the one-day Piket-Bo-Berg Challenge to ensure your single track soul is well fed.Find out more on the Piket-Bo-Berg website or their Facebook Page.
  6. The recce will cover parts of The U MTB Stage Race route, including a brand new, never-ridden-before trail: a technical climb known as the Crow’s Nest - part of the events Friday prologue. The Prize The Piket-Bo-Berg Trail network is not usually open to the public, so the Recce ride is a rare opportunity to enjoy this unique singletrack experience. The prize includes a delicious breakfast and lunch, ensuring you’ll be well fuelled before and after hitting the trails. The cherry on the top is that the winner and their partner will each receive a Specialized voucher worth R3500. How to Win Head to the Piket-bo-berg Trails Facebook page, comment on the competition post, tag your riding buddy and let us know why you want to do the Recce ride.Closing date for entries is 3 August 2018, and the winner will be announced on the 6th of August 2018.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. It is truly something “U”nique - and recently, the ALL RIDE team took a trip up the N7 out of Cape Town to the Piketberg to explore the exclusive Piket-Bo-Berg trail network. Here, local farmers have developed a network of trails that run a total length of 106km in what has to be one of the most geographically unique riding locations we have experienced to date. A number of elements combine to make this riding experience so special. Firstly, the trails are only accessible during the event or by personal invite; secondly - the race village location is simply awesome and, the route traverses indigenous Cape vegetation which is home to an abundance of wildlife from your common Dassie to secretive Cape Leopard. But this is not what differentiates The U from its event peers. Of course, many other events offer a similar riding environment and hospitality. What truly sets this experience apart is the trails! The U offers the experienced rider a real challenge. Not just from a fitness point of view, but in technical riding skills too. Now, don’t get us wrong, there is ‘scary’ technical (enter the crazy enduro and downhill people) and there is controlled technical. The U falls squarely into this latter category. When riding these trails, you need to be constantly alert, riding not too fast but not too slow. It’s all in the flow, really. There is a saying that you can only go as fast as the trail allows and, in this case, the trail manages your speed for you. One simply needs to focus on getting the bike into the right place and staying off the brakes. Once you find the rhythm of the trail, you begin to realise just how rewarding it is. The cherry on top is that the trails have been built with rider safety in mind. That is all great, but you still need to get to link to these glory pockets via district roads and jeep tracks. Not so at The U! There are no tar roads, district roads and precious little dual track. The U is quite possibly South Africa’s first singletrack stage race. While looking at the route details, one would think that the riding distance (+-50km per day) makes for an easy stage race option. Don’t be fooled - to get the most out of this ride you need to arrive fit and have done some technical trail-riding training. If you do that, you will have an incredible time. With only 200 rider spots available, the event has a great intimate feel to it - one gets to enjoy the tranquillity of the area and all that it offers. To get a real taste of what you can expect, check out of ALL RIDE. Enter today https://www.piketbobergtrails.com/
  10. Craig Kolesky. “It was a very big privilege to have been invited out there,” said Nils Hansen from Woodstock Cycle Works, of The U recce ride out on the Piket-Bo-Berg trails, which took place this past weekend. “If I had the energy I would’ve ridden 120kms!”. According to Nils, the location is just amazing. “It’s like travelling back in time through all those rock formations,” he said. The much-needed rain and mist in the area over the weekend added another dimension to the ride. “It was a bit like being on a rollercoaster, because all you could see was the trail and not much else, so you were 100% focused just on the trails,” he said. “But even in the damp the trails held up very well,” Hansen said. “It’s amazing how naturally-inspired the trails are and how much work has gone into the construction of that trail network,” he added. “Surely there aren’t other trails that good anywhere in Southern Africa.” Ashley Haigh-Smith. Professional rally driver and two-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, Ashley Haigh-Smith, echoed Nils’ sentiments. “It was the epitome of riding,” he said. “I mean, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from riding it, but it is aimed at those who are fit and technically sharp and I love that! You must be able to flow and keep the rhythm and all that - you can’t just be a racing snake who sits on his brakes down the Umkomaas. But my goodness, the features on those trails are amazing. We only rode like 15% of the trails and everyone who has ridden the entire network said the whole way was like that.” Craig Kolesky. Ash added that the vibe among the riders and the hospitality of the Starke family was just something else. One person who can attest to that, is Oli ‘The Pinner’ Munnik, who has ridden the trails more than most. “We had a fantastic energy among the riders on the recce, everyone was in the same frame of mind and they just got the ethos of the event. There are many, many good events in South Africa but The U is certainly up there, on and off the bike,” he said, explaining that to him the event is all about the vibe, but also the riding is very much in line with where mountain bike technology is going. Oli ‘The Pinner’ Munnik. “Modern mountain bike geometry and technology is all kind of going toward more capability and more technical riding,” he said. “It’s all built to allow the rider to improve, and, with this in mind the trails of Piket-Bo-Berg that The U utilises really embraces this development. It’s a departure away from very manicured stuff toward stuff that actually makes you think,” he said. “Of course, there is certainly a place for trails that are manicured and there is a point to events on trails like that, but on the other side of the coin there are mountain bikers who are developing skills sets who want to use their equipment for what it is made.” Details Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge The PBBCC takes place on 8 September and features something for all skill and fitness levels over four route options: 63km with 1 600m ascent (of which 62% is singletrack); a 37km; 27km and the 10km is for fun riders - complete with a pump track and introductory singletrack. There is also a trail run over two challenging routes, 18km or 8km. Both feature stunning rock features and views. The U MTB Stage Race The U is scheduled for 19-21 October and is open to 200 riders only. It features +-107km over the 2.5 days with some 3154m of total ascent. Riders get to enjoy every piece of singletrack on the mountain, with the Friday, being a 7km XCO-course style prologue. Saturday is Episode One: 49.82 km, 1 567m ascent, extremely challenging. Sunday is Episode Two: 51km, 1 418m ascent, fast and technical.Enter today: https://www.piketbobergtrails.com/
  11. This spectacular 100-kilometre web of hand-built 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 benefit of the The Piket-Bo-Berg Resident’s Association (PBBRA), a non-profit organisation heavily involved in community development in the area. “The association wanted to host a sustainable fundraiser to help finance the NPO,” Delanie Jooste, one of the event organisers, explains the birth of the Cycle Challenge back in 2009. The highly exclusive The U MTB Stage Race was added a few years later and the funds will be used to help fund the Mouton’s Valley Community Learning Centre. This year the Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge will take place on 8 September and once again offer various route options for all skill and fitness levels, as well as two trail-running options. The U MTB Stage Race is happening from 19-21 October and takes in all of the 101-kilometres of what is arguably the finest continuous network of trails in the land. Fruit Farm. Photo Credit: Chris Hitchcock Those who have had the privilege of tackling the trails on either the one-day Cycle Challenge or the weekend-long stage race know that it’s no simple roll through the fruit orchards. The riding is tough and technical, but ever-so-rewarding, each section of singletrack being unique, taking in all the special natural features on the two farms. “The farms are situated in a mountainous area very similar to the Cederberg,” Jooste says. “The area is characterised by natural fynbos and beautiful rock features, and there are pine forests as well as indigenous riverine forest along the Bushman’s River which originates in a valley between Mouton’s Valley and Bugler’s Post,” she says. “This variety provides an ever-changing landscape when riding these trails.” Rock Feature. Photo Credit: Chris Hitchcock If the riding is not enough of a pull, the vibe of The U is a huge drawcard too… Chilled weekend away with mates in nature with good food and cold beer. Tick. “The U is exclusive and relaxed in a boutique sort of way,” Jooste explains. “With only 200 riders present it enables us to put on gourmet meals, mid meal snacks, CBC beer, freshly squeezed orange juice (with oranges from the farm),” she says, adding that they also cater for vegan and vegetarian requirements. Added to this is a haven of chill zone (you’re going to need it after the punishing climbs) dotted with bean bags and fires to keep the riders warm in the evenings. “One year the riders even requested we turn off the background music so they could enjoy the silence,” Jooste says. The dam can be used for swimming, bass fishing and canoeing. There are also tech and recovery zones. Rider on Cliff. Photo Credit: Chris Hitchcock Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge The PBBCC takes place on 8 September and features something for all skill and fitness levels over four route options: 63km with 1 600m ascent (of which 62% is singletrack); a 37km; 27km and the 10km fun ride - complete with a pump track and introductory singletrack. There is also a trail run over two challenging routes, 18km or 8km. Both feature stunning rock features and views. Online Entries Only. The U MTB Stage Race The U is scheduled for 19-21 October and is open to 200 riders only. It features +-107.9km over the 2.5 days with some 3 154m of total ascent. Riders get to enjoy every piece of singletrack on the mountain, with the Friday, being a 7km, 169m ascent XCO-course style prologue. Saturday is Episode One: 49.82km, 1 567m ascent, extremely challenging. Sunday is Episode Two: 51.08km, 1 418m ascent, fast and technical. Enter today https://www.piketbobergtrails.com/ Video by Craig Kolesky.
  12. UPDATE: Take a look at our ride report from the 2018 The U Mountain Bike Stage Race here. After having utterly confused Google Maps along the valley roads, we turned to instinct (and the unmissable sign posts) to find our way to the race village for the inaugural “The U” MTB Stage Race. Arriving at the Moutons Valley Farm in Piket-Bo-Berg we were taken aback by the setting. Surrounded by rocky, fynbos-clad koppies and blossoming apple trees and set alongside a dam our race village was nothing short of idyllic. After a painless registration, we unpacked the car and contemplated what could be a very lazy afternoon beside the dam. Beanbags, stand up paddleboards and kayaks were among the many distractions on offer (not to mention the beer). The Prologue Before we got too comfortable, we decided that we best have our turn on the 6 km Prologue course. It was an optional part of the event, only influencing seeding batches for the following day.After a short briefing from Rickus we set off to experience some of the Piket-Bo-Berg trails. The short course took us through some fast, winding pine trails in between the apple orchards and up onto the rocky hills behind camp. Some sharp inclines woke up the legs and lungs before we descended back towards the village. A little taster of what was to come, the tight switchbacks, rocky drops and punchy climbs had us excited. Episode 1 The first stage of The U took us on a 47 km ride with around 1300m of climbing. Having been warned by those who had done the test ride in 2015, I knew that the relatively short distance was not to be taken lightly. With 95% single track on the day and a long climb up the old Ossewa (Ox Wagon) pass, there were few “free” kilometers on offer.Leaving camp we soon found ourselves winding up the hillside along rocky trails. Gentle climbs and the occasional downhill, with a good helping of switchbacks brought us to a not-so-floaty floating bridge. We had been warned not to dawdle across this and as we arrived we saw two victims clambering out the other side of the dam. Realising my make-shift cellphone pouch was not up for swimming, once the bridge was clear, I opened up the gas to scamper across with my dryness, and dignity intact. More fun, twisty rocky trails took us to the start of the Livingstone descent. Dropping down over 4 km we encountered just about every type of trail imaginable: steep, sandy, and rocky sections which made way for firm and fast grass lined tracks and finally into a dense and damp forest trail. As “punishment” for our indulgence on the downhill, the Ossewa pass found us grinding our way back up the close on 500m we had just dropped. At this point, my 1x10 (34/40) caused some hurt on what would otherwise be a comfortably manageable climb. At the top, we guzzled down something cold at the waterpoint and set off. The now tired legs laboured up the punchy climbs as we continued to slowly ascend through the farms and quickly into more remote valleys and more single track. There was so much great riding it’s tempting to describe the whole route. The selection of technical rocky climbs, fast and flowy descents, and tight switchbacks seemed endless until finally we popped out among familiar orchards in sight of our camp. The "Caveman" Conrad Stoltz taking some time out for a bit of fly fishing Episode 2 The second stage was just short of 50km with 1100m of climbing. Said to be an easier, faster day we were excited to explore more of the single track sanctuary that is Piket-Bo-Berg. After some light rain overnight and cool conditions on the day, this episode was all about hard packed rocky trails. We traversed over rocky slabs, through outcrops of rocks, over bridges and all over the surrounding peaks. A look at the Strava map from the day and you’ll see just how much of the mountain we covered.Again there was so much to enjoy it’s difficult to describe the day without producing a mini-thesis. The imagination of the trail builders is truly remarkable. Sections which to most would look impassable by bike have been transformed into the most incredibly intricate nest of mountain bike goodness with a few well-placed rocks, gravel and the occasional bridge. Although the stage did not include any big climbs the general trend for the first half of the day was definitely an upward one. After traversing the koppies of Sonop, Moses and Gryskop we finally began to descend, starting with a fast and loose section aptly named “Suicide Run”. With close on 100km of Piket-Bo-Berg trails under the belt we were attuned to the terrain. It was a bittersweet moment as the final sections through The Canyon and Porcupine Avenue went by bringing a close to a weekend of rewarding mountain biking surrounded by great people with great food in a postcard worthy setting. In short The U is a new must-do event on the stage race calendar. The riding is world class, at an incredible venue with great facilities and warm hospitality. Don’t let the distances fool you though, although highly rewarding the riding is challenging and the route requires your constant attention to navigate the tricky terrain.Find out more about the event at www.piketbobergtrails.com and view all the event photos on www.photosport.co.za.
  13. About two hours north of Cape Town the winding Versveld Pass takes you up into the hidden town of Piket-Bo-Berg. Nestled atop the mountain the beautiful Moutons Valley Farm provided the venue for The U, a two-day mountain bike stage race which took place from 14 - 16 October 2016. Photos by Chris Hitchcock Click here to view the article
  14. We had limited knowledge of riding, not to mention trail building. Looking back now we are very grateful and humbled by the fact that riders kept coming back, year after year, to support our cause and in doing so, unwittingly became witnesses to our mountain biking evolution. Since then, we have embraced mountain biking in all its painful glory. We have done our research in earnest by taking part in other events throughout our beloved country (note the hint please). We have also made a lot of new friends, who among them represent the various partitions of South African cycling – all of which have influenced our events and, more importantly, our trail building styles. Some have enlightened us to what it means to call yourself “fit” and what “technical riding” really implies. Others have helped us with the personification of “Steaze”: Style with Ease! The evolution of our trails and its character is revealed to the keen observer whilst riding in our omnipotent mountain: every trail has a wooden board bearing its name and the date of its completion. Viewing these trails in chronological order, the evolution becomes crystal clear. From the very first berms that is so hilarious in its uselessness to the most recent series of perfect downhill switchback berms called “Snakes and Ladders”. To hanging bridges over seemingly nothing, flyovers, drop offs and rock gardens more befitting a Cross Country course. Our focus has now also evolved to provide a superior single-track experience showcasing the beautiful environment by emphasising all its breath-taking features. Over the course of four years we have built 90 kilometres of single-track that feature 2600 metres of vertical ascent. Due to the challenging nature of our trails we decided to host a two day stage race to provide riders with the opportunity to enjoy every piece of single-track on the mountain. The Stage Race is hosted on Mouton’s Valley Farm, owned by Eric & Michele Starke, with the race village is next to a large dam under century old Oak Trees. Other activities will include hiking, fly fishing, canoeing or even swimming in the dam - provided that you bring the equipment needed for the above and still have some energy left after racing our trails. In 2015 we invited our mountain biking friends for a weekend to try out what we hoped would be a very unique stage race. Having no name at the time we called the event The Unnamed Stage Race – a name that stuck and then after much deliberation was shortened to The U. Friends and family camped along the beautiful dam and enjoyed a relaxing chill zone under the tall oak trees which formed a perfectly natural start/finish chute for each day. This exercise provided valuable feedback and everyone was unanimous in their opinion that this could become a proper stage race. Read some ride reports from our friends Renay Groustra and Craig McKune who joined us for that weekend. You can expect a real treat for the first official event taking place on the 15th and 16th of October. Included in the package is accommodation and supper from Friday evening in order to settle in and get a good night’s rest before we kick off with Day 1 on the 15th. Although we are starting small, with only 100 team entries available, you will not miss out on any of the perks of the main stream Stage Race events. Our menus have been specifically developed by our local gourmet restauranteur Steve Oldroyd from the famous Hebron in Citrusdal to cater for the event with special care taken to include mouth-watering vegetarian and Halaal meal options. The Tech Zone will be run by Team Telkom’s pro racer Johann Rabie and his team from Bike Addict, Malmesbury. Professional sports message services will be provided by the well-known EPT Recovery, owned by Francois Retief. On Day 1 of The U we take off to explore the farm Bugler’s Post, owned by John & Marika Ince - a mountain biking power couple who have completed races like the Sani2Sea & Wines2Whales together. The highlights of Day 1 include an exhilarating section through a pine forest that features drop offs, suspension bridges and a proper Pirates of the Caribbean Ride the Plank. But arguably the trail of the day is a 5km descent down the Piketberg mountain. Literally down the entire side of the Moutnain – right down to the bottom. Seriously. No Jokes. This trail is called ‘Livingstone & Stanley’ as it resembles their serendipitous meeting in Africa. John Ince started building the trail from the top and Le Roux Rossouw started building from bottom – with the two teams meeting up somewhere in the middle. Livingstone & Stanley has steep technical and high speed sections together with tight bermed corners. Many a well-known mountain biker has been heard going down this trail shouting with joy, like a 7 year old girl it has to be said (in order to adhere to the journalistic code of conduct). And inevitably what goes down, must go back up again. No downhill goes unpunished on our mountain. Riders have to take on the Old Ox Wagon Pass which was the first pass built up the mountain in 1889. The pass has recently been converted into a magnificent piece of single-track with the three original loops (basically lollipop turns for ox wagons) restored to its full glory. The story goes that John Versveld got the inspiration to include these loops from a golden necklace glistening in the moonlight on his wife’s bedside table. Day 2 continues the relentless attack on your fitness and skill with the seemingly endless single-track in the mountains of Mouton’s Valley Farm. The trails deliver spectacular views of Table Mountain and the West Coast coastline. The race village is almost always visible – helping you with orientation and to realize the criss-cross nature of the trails. There are some challenging trails like “Gryskop” – a trail that runs along the side of the mountain. The height is staggering but the views are spectacular if you have the confidence to look around or down. The highlight of Day 2 is climbing to the highest point of the entire stage race. The view from here is panoramic in every sense of the word – but rest assured it is not all uphill on day 2! We have some of the best downhill trails on this part of the mountain – trails called “Suicide Run”, “Greystone Express” and “Porcupine Avenue”. The trails of Piket-bo-berg are truly unlike anything you have ridden before and The U combines these trails, camping and awesome cuisine into one complete and proper South African Stage Race. For more information on The U, visit the event website here.
  15. Driving past Piketberg on your way to some other adventure will never be the same after you’ve experienced our single-track sanctuary on Piket-bo-berg. The mountain biking bug bit our community seven years ago when we ambitiously wanted to get on the ‘band wagon’ with hosting a MTB fundraising event. Our first focus was to raise funds for our local community by showcasing our Bo-Berg environment that features some pristine fynbos. Click here to view the article
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