Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 158 May 2023 | Page 55

all questions were answered in the four days . Can one use this as a re-introduction to the stresses and routine of a big multi-day stage race ? Absolutely . Are the organisation , route marking and ( most importantly ) route on par with other big events on the calendar ? Most definitely ! Is the scenery varied and spectacular ? In many places , I just wanted to stop and take in the view . We forget how blessed we actually are up here in Gauteng to have the Cradle area and surrounds right on our doorstep .
Most importantly for riders like me , is it ridiculously tough , and thus out of reach of anyone other than an elite-level athlete ? No way . Sure , it ’ s a tough event , and good preparation is key , but one can also pace yourself , and the course won ’ t bury you . In short , it was a tough but doable rollercoaster through a beautiful area of the world , with flawless organisation , and I will definitely sign up for it again . Well done , Luxliner Route 66 MTB Experience , you ’ re on to a winner here !
The next edition of the Luxliner Route 66 MTB Experience takes place from 29 February ro 3 March 2024 . More info at https :// route66mtb . co . za . the event , but a great way to start and get one ’ s mind into the frame . Everything a prologue needs to be !
The second and third days ( Stages 1 and 2 ) are hard to describe … Intimidating when one looks at the profile , but surprisingly doable , and consisting of every possible terrain one can encounter on a mountain bike , including dirt roads , jeep single track , grass-track climbs and rocky climbs and descents , as well as a little tar . Winding from Valverde Eco Hotel through the Cradle of Humankind to the Mount Grace Hotel and the Cog and Sprocket , with the second stage a loop from the Mount Grace , much of the route will be familiar to Gauteng cyclists , so it ’ s great to see how one fares under race conditions on these tracks . Still , the surprises were plenty , and not all were pleasant . Depending on one ’ s fitness , said surprises were met with varying responses , and this is a good thing – it means the routes are challenging , and anything but boring !
I finished these stages gutted and spent , then quickly settled into the post-stage admin and recovery routine , in preparation for the next day . Meanwhile , I could see every rider was on their own personal journey during the event , and it was great that while I was trundling along , the Belgian Marathon Champ Frans Claes was duking it out on the same racecourse with one of SA ’ s top marathon specialists , Shaun-Nick Bester ! It was humbling , to say the least , to see the speeds these gents are capable of , and the battle continued into the last day , which was a shorter ( 60km ) loop around the Mount Grace surrounds . Needless to say , the last stage is definitely a sting in the tail , with tired bodies tackling an undulating course featuring many shortsteep climbs , as well as technical singletrack sections and descents .
Asked and Answered
In general , I found that this event has all of the big stage race ‘ feels ,’ and I can definitely say that yes ,
Images : Courtesy Luxliner Route 66 MTB Experience
About the Author
Jason Martin is a former professional rider , having competed on the European Circuit in his younger days , including riding in the Junior Giro d ’ Italia and holding the White Jersey for three days in the Tour de ’ Livigno . Upon his return to South Africa , he took up mountain biking as a sponsored rider and competed in events such as the Cape Epic , Sani2C and Joburg2C , won several 24-hour races ( both team and solo ), and raced on a provincial and national level . Since then he has remained active in the cycling industry on various levels , and still rides for fun and to maintain fitness .