Training for the up and coming Swiss Epic, Marc Van Veen rode the 59km Lourensford Classic big boy as the perfect test for his race legs.
The Western Cape has a great selection of mountain bike trails with some of the most breath-taking trails situated in the Helderberg area. The Lourensford Classic, organised by MTB Adventures, offered one of these great opportunities to ride either a 20km, 40km or 59 km race on the Lourensford estate.
The 59km ride (known as the “Classic”) offered both prospective W2Whalers as well as 2023 Epic participants to test out these trails once again; although for the latter grouping in much better weather conditions (this year’s Absa Cape Epic Stage 6 held on the estate wrote itself in the history books as “one of those never to be forgotten” due to the waterlogged, muddy, and slippery conditions). Hence there was some trepidation from participants about the state of the trails: if they had been able to repair them in this short time span and if so, what condition would they be in? But we need not have worried; not only was the sun out and it eventually became a balmy 24C, but also the trails had been repaired above expectations by the various teams resulting in a fun day out!
The “Classic” ride itself consisted of two distinct parts within the ride; split by the first waterpoint at 25kms.
The first part, after a brief meander around the grape vines, consisted of roughly 15km continuous climbing on sometimes corrugated jeep track. This included a section named the “Buzzard Street” with brief gradients of up to 16%. Along this part of the route, the most stunning views of the Kogelberg mountains and False Bay were visible and kept the mind focused on the scenery instead of the “granny gear” grind. At 15km, a sudden uphill switchback section appeared were unfortunately a bit of a bottleneck with other riders resulted as the field was still quite close together. However, due to the intensity required, the field split straight afterwards, and a free ride was enjoyed for the remaining ride. To get to the 25km mark and the 1st waterpoint, some more jeep track contour paths were conquered. The water point was situated at the highest point of the ride at roughly 650m above sea level with commanding views of the valleys below. By this stage half of the climbing of approximately 1400m elevation had been completed.
The watering point was well supplied with the necessary goodies to continue the journey onward. Having ridden on some more contour tracks for another couple of kms and traversing some mountain river streams, the first flowing single tracks arrived with a combination of switchbacks and fast rolling single tracks. These were intermittently interrupted by a jeep track to connect to the next “chicane” of single tracks. Part two- “the fun” part, had started!
Known as the Uitkijk flow trails, with names like “Hypersurge, Hyperautomation, Ransom Way, DRS and Hyperclear” to name but a few, a great reward was had with the trails being in perfect condition and just technical enough to keep you on the edge. After the 2nd water point at 50kms, a section of trail next to an irrigation canal made one relive the vivid picture memories of the Stage 6 Absa Cape Epic; were man and machine battled through torrid floods. This time round, we were luckier and had a perfectly repaired firm underground next to a little stream. This carried on until the last single track was reached, which was again smooth flowing and a joy to ride.
The final kms had been completed and at the finish a welcome burger and chips awaited with a couple of pints- overall a good day in the saddle- Well done MTB Adventures and Lourensford Estate!
Marc originally hails from Holland and cycling is in his blood. When not criss-crossing the trails of Table Mountain, Marc is happiest riding and sharing the trails with his mates of the prestigious and elite Cranks MTB cycling group. Besides traversing Africa on a bicycle, Marc has completed many MTB events and is currently tapering for the SWISS EPIC. Look out for his ride report in the next issue of FS..