One of South Africa’s oldest and largest cycling festivals, the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour celebrates its 30th anniversary this July with some innovations, most of which will benefit mountain bikers.
A rite of passage as a South African mountain biker is to experience the beautiful forest riding around the Garden Route town of Knysna. Knysna is one of the original towns where mountain biking first rose to prominence in late 1980s. Backed by an ambitious, proactive tourism drive, Knysna has been on a mission for the past couple of years to regain its status as THE mountain biking destination in South Africa.
Competition over the past couple of decades has become fierce, but Knysna has some ammunition that’s difficult to defend against, one being the annual Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour. This weekend cycling festival celebrates its 30th edition this year and takes place on 8 and 9 July.
The focus on Saturday 8 July is on the mountain bike events, while the road cycling events dominate on Sunday 9 July. The Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour is one event that’s managed to successfully blur the lines somewhat between the mountain biking and road cycling sub-cultures. Because most of the participants are from out of town, they make the most of the trip and try to complete events on both days. Or make a short holiday of the experience, enjoying the culinary festival of which oysters are the big attraction…
With four distances – 80km, 50km, 30km and 15km, there isn’t a mountain biker that’s not catered for. Each of the routes has been designed to give participants a memorable Knysna forest riding experience. With impeccable organisation (the Rotary Club members take immense pride in their work), you can be sure of a mountain biking experience that will feature high up in your memory bank.
The 80km is one of the oldest mountain bike marathons in the country with a list of former winners that reads like a South African mountain biking hall of fame. It’s not considered to be too technical, which is attractive to those new to mountain biking, or even road cyclists that are looking for a fresh challenge without too much risk.
The 50km is the most popular of the four events. It’s long enough to be a challenge, but not too formidable and appropriate for most mountain bikers, while the 30km and 15km distances will give even the moderately fit a lovely sample of what mountain biking in Knysna is all about.
The 15km route has been redesigned to make it a little easier than that used last year, while the 30km will also have a category for Electric-assist Mountain Bikes (e-Bikes), an innovation the organisers are hoping will be well received by the growing e-Bike market.
“We understand that this will be the first electric bike race in the country,” says Race Director Elwin Thompson, “and we are hoping to attract e-bikers from all over South Africa.”
The challenging 115km road race on Sunday 9 July will follow the route introduced last year, which was designed for enthusiastic, competitive roadies. It takes cyclists from Knysna to Sedgefield and Kleinkranz, then back to Knysna via Sedgefield and Karatara. The 50km road race route is from Knysna to Sedgefield and back along the N2.
This year, for the first time, both these races will include a category for mountain bikes with knobbly tyres.
“We are doing this in response to many requests that we’ve received over the years from cyclists who want to enter both a MTB event on the first day of the tour and a road race the next day, but can only transport one bike to Knysna,” says Thompson. “We are confident that this is going to grow cyclist numbers in both events.”
The SPUR Rotary Knysna Children’s Cycle Tour on Sunday 9 July is a fun, safe event for children aged 2 to 10. There are three events for different age groups, all starting and finishing at the Knysna Oyster Festival Grounds in Waterfront Drive.
Another innovation this year will see the popular Forest Family Dam Ride on Sunday 9 July split into two events: a 20km and a 30km ride. Both rides are scenic MTB routes through the Knysna forest and past some of the town’s dams. The 30km event is for more experienced riders, while the 20km ride is for MTB riders of all ages and competency, including children aged 12 years and older. They are guided fun rides and will not be timed.
Says Thompson: “We would like to see as many cyclists as possible participating in events on both days of the cycle tour, and our new events and categories will make this much more feasible. There will also be overall prizes for cyclists who enter events on both days.”
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