The gruelling Karoo to Coast MTB race takes place on Sunday September 25th, 2011 between Uniondale and Knysna. This popular challenge is not for the fainthearted and, although the route is an overall descent, includes a total ascent of over 1800 metres. Riders set off from the quaint Karoo village of Uniondale and soon encounter the most taxing section of the race – Die Ou Wapad! This 25km circular trail takes in the dramatic Uniondale Poort and on to Avontuur linking up with old wagon route to Uniondale. The climb is steep and the weather can be extremely hot! Riders are bunched up at this early stage of the race, making conditions that much more challenging.
After the rigours of Die Ou Wapad riders enjoy a muscle-relieving descent on the Prince Alfred’s Pass, which links the Klein Karoo to the coast. This scenic and spectacular pass was completed by Thomas Bains in 1867, six years after construction commenced. Bains had a labour force of convicts at his disposal and the pass was opened by Prince Alfred himself, Queen Victoria’s son. The pass takes riders through 4 different biomes, a transition from the Karoo to the coastal belt.
The race then enters the magnificent indigenous forests at Gouna via the lengthy Kom se Pad which includes a deceptive number of slight inclines which some riders have described as ‘demoralising’ and a bit like ‘Chinese water torture’! The last major climb of the day is the stretch up to the magnificent Simola Golf Estate, after which an easy few kilometres of descent on tar take riders to the finish line at Knysna Primary School.
The Lions Clubs of Knysna and Uniondale initiated the Karoo to Coast MTB Challenge some 14 years ago as a means of raising funds for the SightFirst initiative, a global campaign to provide high quality eye care services to underprivileged communities. The goal of this commendable global initiative is to prevent the occurrence of avoidable vision loss. In excess of US$415 million has been raised globally thus far to save sight around the world. All proceeds of the Karoo to coast Challenge go towards the SightFirst project in the Southern Cape which concentrates on cataract removal surgery. To date over 1200 eye-related operations have been performed on folk from various local communities. The gift of sight is one of the life’s most precious assets and the SightFirst initiative deserves all the support it can get.
So all MTB enthusiasts, don’t miss out on the tough but fun 2011 Karoo to Coast Challenge – why not spend a few extra days in Knysna after the race relaxing at the unique and welcoming Bamboo, the Knysna Guest House?
Visit Karoo to Coast for further details.