What better way to explore the remoteness of the Karoo than from your mountain bike? That’s exactly what awaits participants of the inaugural two-day Roof de Karoo Mountain Bike Traverse, happening on 24 and 25 March.
What’s more is that the start and end of the event takes place in national parks – starting at a picnic site in the Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) outside Cradock and ending the following day at the historical Winterhoek homestead at Camdeboo National Park (CNP), which surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet. This is but one of the unique aspect of the traverse – riding through sections of two national parks, including a big game park like MZNP, which is not otherwise permitted.
The 175km route traverses parts of the 268 000 hectares of the newly proclaimed Mountain Zebra-Camdeboo Protected Environment (MZCPE), established to protect the biodiversity of the land which lies between the two South African National Parks (SANParks) locations. The race’s name, the Roof de Karoo, stems from the fact that participants will be riding mostly along the roof (mountains) of the Karoo, from where, on a clear day, one can see into the distance for miles.
Chairperson of the MZCPE’s Landowners Association and avid mountain biker, Ed Kingwill, says, “Participating teams of two will depart from the MZNP camp site early on the Friday morning in the crisp Karoo air and end under the shadow of the imposing 2 430m high Nardou mountain peak. After 85 kilometres and an elevation gain of 1 260m, the cyclists will be able to relax under the shade of the poplar trees and cool off in the stream at the source of the Great Fish River.”
Day 2 starts with a climb and descent over Nardou on an old ox-wagon track. Cyclists are rewarded with a downhill gradient criss-crossing the Sundays River through private game farms, finishing at the Winterhoek homestead about 90km later in view of the Valley of Desolation. No less than 20 different properties will be crossed over the two days.
The purpose of the traverse is multi-fold: to celebrate the first anniversary of the declaration of the protected environment, open up the area to those who may otherwise never get the opportunity so they may enjoy its uniqueness and remoteness and create jobs in the form of trail maintenance and in the tourism sector.
Only 50 team slots are available for this very special event. A team entry fee of R4 200 includes three nights of tented accommodation and all meals – breakfast, supper, water and feeding stations along the route. With stunning views to marvel at while on the bike, an opportunity to camp out under the Karoo’s star-studded skies and experience true Karoo hospitality and cuisine prepared by the local farmers, this event is set to become as special as the area where it takes place.
For more info and to enter, visit: http://www.mzcpe.co.za/Rdk.html