It won’t be long until hundreds of mountain bikers will be enjoying the Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience, the unofficial MTB Party of the Year and the official celebration of the mountain bike trails gem that is Stellenbosch. Here’s a look at the route and why your entry is so valuable to this trails network.
Paid partnership with Stillwater Sports
“We’re excited to mark a decade of mountain biking excellence at the 2023 Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports and Event Founder. “This 10th-anniversary celebration will be one for the history books. Stellenbosch’s extensive network of world-class and exclusive trails have and always will be the event’s foundation, however this year we plan to really shake up the vibrant city of Stellenbosch by bringing the ‘MTB Party’ home.”
Most mountain bike events use trails on private land or land owned by a forestry or agricultural company. For this privilege, the event pays the landowner. Most of the trails used for the annual Savanna Origin of Trails two-day mountain bike event are on public or municipal land in and around the town of Stellenbosch. These trails are built and maintained by the Stellenbosch Trail Fund (STF). Your entry to the race later this month helps ensure this trails network maintains its high standard, not only for the race, but throughout the year.
“We greatly appreciate Stillwater Sport’s financial contribution, which all goes to help fund our trail team,” says Ernst Gouws, a Director at STF. “We employ a full-time seven-member team. Yes, they build trails, but their most essential is trail maintenance, which has an ongoing cost. They also build (or rebuild) bridges and erect or repair signage, all of which helps make this a safe and stimulating place to ride mountain bikes.”
“The trails in Stellenbosch are open to the public and free to use. As a NGO, STF is totally dependent on donations from the publish to fund our efforts. Although there are voluntary payment boards on our network, very few donations are made by regular users of these trails. Fortunately, our recent integration into the Winelands Regional Permit programme as well as donations from some local companies and events like Savanna Origins of Trails, helps sustain the STF,” adds Gouws.
“The Marathon is ideal for everyday riders that possess good technical skills. To get the most out of this route, you do need to be fit,” advises Meyer.
Stage 1 of the Marathon will consist of a +-50km route that boasts a total ascent of 1250m. The terrain will consist of hard-pack open climbs, manicured and flowing trails with a fair number of technical sections to keep riders honest. Iconic sections will include the magnificent views at Lanzerac, the Eerste River trails and G-Spot. New exciting sections include a short singletrack at Lanzerac and local route builder, Kim Lord’s bridges in Dornier.
According to Course Designer, Corrie Muller, the stage isn’t too technical, but it does hold many surprises. “Riders must trust the trail builder and go with the flow. Don’t forget November can be hot, so stop at the water points and hydrate well.”
Stage 2 of the Marathon will feature a +-48km route that has a total ascent of 750 meters. The trails start off technical, but soon evolve into miles of smooth singletrack.
“This stage has many highlights to look forward to including airplanes at the Stellenbosch airfield, brandy tasting at the Van Ryn Distillery and pizza at The Wine Pod to mention just a few,” confirms Meyer. “Traversing Vredenheim for the first time and getting close to the farm’s lions and other wildlife on your mountain bike is guaranteed to be at the top of the highlights list.”
“Apart from the first descent into the Paradyskloof Plantation, Stage 2 is less technical than Stage 1,” says Muller. “Look forward to experiencing the ‘lesser ridden paths’ of Stellenbosch. You will get to enjoy a lot of beautiful scenery that under normal circumstances is not accessible to the public. Enjoy every minute.”
Stage 1 of the Half Marathon will feature a +-31km route with a total ascent of 680m.
“The Half Marathon is ideal for weekend warriors that don’t prefer technical riding,” confirms Meyer. “You don’t necessarily need to be very fit, but again to get the most out of the event training is recommended. Stage 1 will boast mostly farm roads but with very little flat sections. Iconic sections will include the much-loved floating bridge at Mont Marie and Dornier’s trails.”
“We tried our best to steer clear of the technical stuff, but this is Stellenbosch, so always be on the lookout,” warns Muller. “Kim Lord`s beautifully designed arch bridges in Dornier are sure to be a hit on this stage. My advice to riders is to start within yourself, you will need your climbing legs.”
Stage 2 of the Half Marathon will treat riders to a +-36km route that features a total ascent of 500m. After one early climb and technical descent, look forward to an open flat road and easy singletrack.
“Half Marathon riders will also be treated to glimpses of airplanes and wildlife, brandy tastings and pizza,” says Meyer.
“You’ll get close to Vredenheim’s wildlife just after the brandy tasting at the Van Ryn’s Distillery. So don’t be brave here,” laughs Muller. “Enjoy the water points on this stage, but don’t underestimate the ride back after Vredenheim. The road is flat but there are sections that are washed out and sandy. You might lose your sense of humoor a bit but keep your eyes on the prize as an ice-cold Savanna awaits you on the finish line.”
EVENT INFORMATION: 2023 Savanna Origin of Trails MTB Experience
Affectionately dubbed ‘SA’s MTB Party of the Year’, the Savanna Origin of Trails is an individual 2-Day MTB Stage Race that highlights the beauty and splendour of Stellenbosch. Mountain bikers will be treated to a vast network of world-class and exclusive trails while celebrating the origin of SA mountain biking.
|Date:||Saturday 18 November 2023 – Sunday 19 November 2023|
|Start and Finish Venue:||Coetzenburg Stellenbosch University|
|Event Format:||Two-Day Stage Race for individual riders|
|Categories, Distances & Entry Fee:||Full Marathon
|Distance Day 1: +-50km|
|Distance Day 2: +-48km|
Additional Tented Accommodation: R1500.00
|Distance Day 1: +-31km|
|Distance Day 2: +-36km|
Additional Tented Accommodation: R1500.00
|Entries Close:||Monday 06 November 2023 or once full capacity has been reached|
The entry fee includes:
- Exclusive First Ascent Rider Jersey
- Finisher Cotton Tee
- Finisher Medal
- Spectacular on route experience
- Access to world class routes that are usually not open to the public.
- A light breakfast with coffee on both days.
- A scrumptious lunch on both days.
- Complimentary drinks and refreshments.
- Well stocked water points (on route and in the race village)
- Entertainment (on route and in the race village)