The race starts off at the entrance to Umngazi and after 1km, we turn off onto a dirt road, which then takes a steep turn up “Heartbreak Hill”. Not to be sniffed at, Heartbreak Hill is 2km in length, with an average gradient of 10%. It is much steeper at the bottom however, so you’ll need to pace yourselves. At the top of the escarpment, the route leaves the road and follows a single track all the way to Silaka Nature Reserve, where you will pass through a gate and enter the reserve. The road follows a jeep track all the way down to Third Beach and a short, sharp climb, back out of the Reserve. We then head down to Second Beach (Port St. Johns), where we begin the second big climb of the day. This climb makes use of a section of tar road and it takes us up to our water-table at the Forestry department checkpoint. The route then passes through a tree plantation and on through some indigenous forest, where you will come to a small ravine at the bottom. You will cross the ravine and continue along single track until you join a dirt district road. The route makes its way back through natural forest, past small villages and two schools after which, we leave the road and head towards Sugarloaf. The ocean views from here are hard to beat- you will ride along a footpath for the last few kilometres, right along a ridgeline, running parallel to the sea; destination: Umngazi.
The second day is for the racing-snakes! There is a 10km flat section of road, which winds its way back to the Port St. Johns-Mthatha road, following the Umngazi River. We then bear left and cross the Umngazi River, after which we gradually climb for 8km towards Tombo store. There will be a water table at the top of the hill, after which we make use of a combination of single track and bits of jeep track through kraals and undulating terrain. We then come to a fairly steep, but short section of downward sloping track and enter a valley. Here, the route follows the valley floor, crossing numerous sand-river beds for a couple of kilometres, before finally joining another track for the last short, sharp climb of the day. It is steep, so only the stronger riders will be able to ride the whole way up-some might need to push…depending on fitness. You have now reached Cwebeni School (one of the schools in our race charity). The route now takes on some fast single track, back down into the Umngazi valley, where you race along the final kilometre, along the southern river back of the resort, to the finish. The ferry will be waiting to take you back across the river, to the resort.
The third and final day of racing starts off with a challenging sandy path for approximately 1km. This path gives way to some great single-track, which winds its way through floodplains and along the edge of the Umngazana mangrove swamps. The track then leads to a newly opened path (which has been overgrown since the 1980’s) which climbs out of the floodplain to the top of the escarpment, where it joins a district road heading towards Umngazana. We use a combination of great singletrack and district road, which crosses the Umngazana river and heads back up over “tower hill” and on towards Mpande. Before reaching the main Mpande road, the route switches back and goes through some forest, before joining up with the Brazen Head district road. From here, its undulating (but predominantly downhill) single-track and jeep track, along the coast- all the way back to Umngazana estuary. At this point there will be a couple of ferries to “ship” you and your bikes across the river and onto the beach. There is a 3km beach ride to the finish line- interrupted only by a small section of rock which participants will need to carry their bikes over. The tide should be low at the time of racing, so the sand should be pretty firm. You will then see the finish at the Umngazi River Mouth, where you can rest your weary legs. The race is over, time to go and relax in style!