Adventure-seekers are lacing up for the annual Ladismith Cheese 7WeeksPoort Mountain Bike Challenge.
For the first time in the 16 years, the iconic event will kick off a day early with an exciting night time trail run. The main 85km mountain bike event will take place on Saturday, and will welcome close to a thousand riders to the classic trails of the Klein Karoo.
For the local Ladismith community, the excitement of the event comes from far more than the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking Seweweekspoort scenery.
In an effort to develop sport in this area, Dryland Event Management has sponsored 150 entries to school children for either the trail run or mountain biking event. Young and aspiring cyclists have also been given the opportunity to compete in age-specific races to win prize money that will be given to their school.
Joining in on the cause is Rhodes Food Group, who will be donating cycling kit to the local school riders.
With the severe drought that the Klein Karoo region has been experiencing, the economic impact of this event comes at a crucial time.
A majority of the Ladismith community depends on an agricultural income, and the drought has severely affected ostrich and fruit farming in particular – the main economic drivers.
“Bringing close to a thousand riders and their families to Ladismith for the weekend is huge for the economy at this stage. We are very grateful for the opportunity to invest in this community,” said Carel Heroldt, financial-director of Dryland.
With just hours to the start of the Klein Karoo festivities, founder of the event Pieter Blignaut gives a parting shot:
“When I started this event my aim was to promote sport in our area, especially amongst the community of Zoar and Amalienstein. I wanted to see school children take part and started the practise of letting them enter for free. I’m very proud to see the way the community of Ladismith has benefited tremendously from this race over the years!”