With just about every inch of the Garden Route marked out with mountain bike trails, it is refreshing to know that a new route has recently been tested in the Garden Route Fat Bike Challenge. At 28km, the route seems to be a deceptively easy race, something most racing snakes would expect to wrap up in just over an hour.
With the bulk of the route along jeep track and beach in the Goukamma Nature Reserve, the challenge of this race is contending with sand. While touted as a Fat Bike race, all but one of the competitors on the day rode mountain bikes which for those riders that didn’t adjust their tire pressure correctly, soon became a Herculean effort along the 9km of jeep tracks through the reserve.
‘I took a gamble and deflated my tires lower than I have ever done before’ said race leader, Tertius Franszen, ‘ but it worked on the tracks and I managed to pull away from the bunch’. Fred Lingerfelder was ecstatic to finally get the chance to ride his Fat Bike in the reserve. ‘I have ridden along all the beaches of the Garden Route, but have never been able to ride over these dunes. The views were magnificent and I never had to walk any of the sections” he enthused. Fred even had the thrill of belting all the way down the steep dune track to the beach in one long dash.
After the demanding jeep track section, the beach stage was the next challenge with a strong head wind that had most riders working hard to maintain a speed of 9km/h. Despite the workout to finish the course, most of the riders were already planning the race for next year. Kyle Symons, who rode socially with Bryce Conlon is adamant that next time he is coming back to race.
‘After this year’s event we look forward to growing the race and introducing a 50km option in the future and have riders prepare to test themselves on a very different substrate’ said race organiser Mark Dixon of AMD Odyssey.
1st – Tertius Franszen : 1h50.28
2nd – Johan Coetzee : 2h04.29
3rd – Pascal Dobrautz : 2h06.55
1st – Layla Bouwer : 3h25.49
2nd – Samantha Crous : 3h25.50