South Africa has no shortage of incredible mountain bike stage races and road races. Most of these races are run in fairly populated areas for the simple reason that you need a high number of entrants to make staging the event worthwhile.
Infrastructure, safety and logistics at these events are the major challenges facing the race organiser. The costs are prohibitive and running the event successfully requires a large team of dedicated personnel.
These phenomena tend to exclude remote inaccessible places where many of us would love to ride our bikes, unhindered by vehicles and crowds of other riders. Riding with a selected group of your friends and colleagues where there is a “crowd” but not so many that it becomes impersonal.
And yes, you sometimes want to be a little competitive, after all, that’s part of the fun, it’s why we train and try to improve our fitness, it’s what motivates us to ride. What if we could race each other in a virtual sense? What if we could decide what time of year we do it and who you will experience it with?
What if we could explore wide open spaces and different terrain each day fully supported by a dedicated team? Racing each other on a stage race, yet overnighting in a central place in luxury accommodation with great local cuisine and wines.
The Karoo GravelGrinder is your answer, an adventure stage race which runs on a regular basis throughout the year and has an annual leaderboard logged on Strava. It’s not just a race, it’s a social, cycling and culinary experience you can share with a group of colleagues or friends. The routes are designed to accommodate gravel and cyclocross bikes as well, so you can choose to ride it on anything from a full-suspension mountain bike to a hardcore endurance road bike.
We’ve settled on around 80km per day for the adventure race, it’s long enough to be a challenge but short enough to race really hard each day if you so choose. In addition, we have 40km options for social riders on the same routes. E-Bikes are welcome for social riders as long as Strava segments are not logged on them.