George backs the Karoo to Coast

George Municipality has partnered with the 100km Karoo to Coast mountain bike challenge due to take place on 26 September 2021.

A rider negotiates the majestic descent to Diep Rivier – showcasing the rock formations that make Prince Alfred’s pass so unique

The 100km challenge is an extreme endurance off-road race from Uniondale over the Prince Alfred’s Pass and ends at the Knysna High School sports field. This will be the 22nd race which jointly belongs to the Uniondale and Knysna Lions Clubs with all proceeds going to charity and is formally titled the CCPP Lions Karoo to Coast. The 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19 and the 2021 event will be held with all Covid-19 protocols in place.

Knysna local, Martin Hanson, leads a pack during the 2019 Karoo to Coast, as they approach the mid mark at Buffelsnek, where the Karoo merges in to the Knysna Forest

The small town of Uniondale is flooded every year with 4500 riders all ready and eager to take on the hard challenge ahead of them. The event organisers have indicated that the 2021 event is fully subscribed, this year at 2500 riders, making the already coveted race in even greater demand (taking into account Covid-related protocols required).

The race is focused on the safety of athletes and crew while not forgetting about the exceptional experience riders come back for, year after year.  Not for the faint of heart, the sinewy Prince Alfred’s Pass dirt road is a masterpiece to ride, and the race’s quirky shotgun start makes it all the more memorable.

When asked why the municipality is partnering with the event, Joan Shaw, George Municipality’s Tourism Manager  highlighted the need for events as drivers of Tourism.

“George Municipality has consistently supported a mixture of events to stimulate travel to the destination.  The Karoo to Coast has been voted as the ‘Top MTB Ultra-Marathon in South Africa’ and is an official seeding event of the 2021 Cape Town Cycle Tour.  While it is one of the premier events on the Garden Route calendar, as with all events this past year, the Karoo to Coast was hit hard by not being able to take place in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

This event is critical to tourism in the Uniondale area, as it has created a keen interest in mountain biking through Uniondale’s open plains and passes.  Karoo to Coast entrants often book trips to Uniondale throughout the year to get a lay of the land and ride the area pre-event, thereby supporting tourism in an otherwise very quiet area. 

This is evidenced through our own Tourism Office insights and again highlighted in the Wesgro Cape Garden Route and Klein Karoo Visitor Trends report for 2019, which indicates that the main reason for visiting Uniondale is Sport (34%).  Uniondale is the only town in the Garden Route where sport is a top driver of Tourism, according to the same Wesgro data.  George Municipality is committed to doing all we can to help events, like the Karoo to Coast, survive our current climate”, says Shaw.

To maximise enjoyment of the event, Race Director Zandile Meneses encourages riders to train sufficiently for the scenic but challenging route.  “The George and Uniondale area are rich in mountain biking trails and have a variety of terrains which offer the perfect training ground leading up to the race” says Meneses.

Riders looking for accommodation can get great deals in the George and Wilderness area.  With Uniondale selling out yearly, establishments in George and Wilderness have come on board to offer participants discounted deals for their stay.  Activity providers have also chimed in, to allow  riders and their supporters extending their stay, to enjoy the area’s offerings. 

Find exclusive deals for Karoo to Coast riders and their supporters here www.visitgeorge.co.za/Blog/BlogItem/?id=33 and check out the 2019 Super Sport video to see just how special the Karoo to Coast route really is: https://vimeo.com/369267319

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