After heavy rain forced the postponement of the inaugural Val de Vie MTB Expedition on 14-16 May, the new date has been finalised by organisers to 24-26 September 2021. Mountain bikers can look forward to an exceptionally well crafted 3-day stage race in Paarl during Spring on a route that incorporates some of the country’s finest mountain bike trails.
Coupled with a world-class race village, which serves all three days, the new event, based at the Pearl Valley Clubhouse at Val de Vie Estate, delivers a new dimension in South African mountain biking.
If you mention Welvanpas and Banhoek, you immediately grab the attention of discerning mountain bikers throughout South Africa. If you include these two famous trail networks in a three-stage race based at an exceptional venue, it adds up to an experience that has been crafted to satisfy the most demanding mountain biker.
The Expedition, designed for two-rider teams as well as single riders, constitutes an incredibly beautiful stage race during Spring with mild temperatures.
The event presents an upmarket, relaxed and dynamic weekend getaway environment in which riders can get to know each other on the trails and off the bike at the Val de Vie MTB Expedition 5-star Race Village at the luxurious Pearl Valley Clubhouse.
“We have put a lot of thought and research into the format, venue, hospitality and routes for the Expedition and we feel that we have created an incredibly user friendly and comfortable off-the-bike experience, coupled with unequalled trails over a solidly challenging and rewarding three-day racing format,” says Event Director, Wynand de Villiers.
“The key to the off-the-bike experience is staying, starting, finishing and eating at the same place every day, and we couldn’t ask for a better venue than the Pearl Valley Hotel by Mantis inside the award-winning Val de Vie Estate.
“It saves costs, time and logistical hassles. Many riders don’t realise that tented accommodation, mobile kitchens etc provide similar logistical costs compared to staying at an upmarket venue with good food,” he says.
According to De Villiers the carefully crafted event format eases logistics for riders, and it’s a conduit for a more relaxing, non-rushed environment, enabling riders to explore the tourism-rich area in the afternoons or to simply relax and recover for the next day’s racing.
“For us in the organisation it’s also easier to spoil riders with small gestures, such as washing and lubing bikes after every stage, and storing them in a secure facility overnight ready, to tackle the trails the next day,” he says.
The event truly presents a relaxed and dynamic race weekend getaway environment in which riders can get to know each other on the bike on the challenging and rewarding trails of the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley, and off the bike at the 5-star Race Village at the luxurious Pearl Valley Hotel by Mantis.
According to De Villiers the central location of Paarl means riders who live in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington or Franschhoek can drive in daily if they don’t want to book accommodation and meals at the hotel.
“The daily starts on stages 2 and 3 at 07h30 on Saturday and Sunday are conducive to this, while the afternoon 1ststage time trial on Friday has been included instead of a full stage so that riders don’t necessarily have to take a full day off work. It also provides out-of-town riders the opportunity to fly in on the Friday morning.”
De Villiers has managed a variety of cycling events over the past 19 years, including TransCape, the Cape Winelands Encounter, Waterberg Encounter, Sanlam Invitational, the Tour of Good Hope, Jock Tour, Tshwane Classic and the Emperors Palace Classic.
Since moving from Johannesburg to Paarl eight years ago, he was introduced to a new “world” of mountain-biking. “There is no better geographical area for mountain-biking in South Africa, and it’s no surprise that the Absa Cape Epic sets up camp in the valley most years and finishes at Val de Vie every year.
“The race village is surrounded by mountains on all sides within a 10km radius – Paarl Mountain to the North, the Drakenstein Mountains to the East and South, and the Simonsberg to the West. These mountain ranges boast an abundance of incredible trails, some of which have been naturally shaped while others have been built over the past ten years.
“It’s the perfect location for a true European-styled mountain-bike stage race.
De Villiers advises that the Expedition is by no means an easy event. “After a mild start to get the legs going in the 20km first stage time trial, the two signature stages provide a true mountain-biker’s challenge.
“They have been shaped to be challenging and rewarding. The distances and ascent are substantial with both stages longer than 70km and offering more than 1600 metres of vertical ascent each.
“The routes have, however, been crafted to provide flowing riding and rewards that speak for themselves. They include Hawequas ,Welvanpas, Banhoek, Boschendal, Plasir de Merle, Idas Valley Dam, Skyfall, Camissa, Klipwerf, Afterburner, Inferno and Sugarbowl.”
To view the complete event info go to http://www.cycleevents.co.za/mtb-events/val-de-vie-mtb-expedition-2021/
Paid partnership with Val de Vie Expedition