The Evolution of the mountain bike stage race

The past five years have seen a flood of new events hit the stage-racing calendar. This boom has resulted in a spread in the target rider for which many events cater. It has necessitated a shift from pure ‘racing’ focus to a more lifestyle-oriented approach. This evolution has given birth to the boutique stage race and few are as special as The U.

It is truly something “U”nique - and recently, the ALL RIDE team took a trip up the N7 out of Cape Town to the Piketberg to explore the exclusive Piket-Bo-Berg trail network.



Here, local farmers have developed a network of trails that run a total length of 106km in what has to be one of the most geographically unique riding locations we have experienced to date. A number of elements combine to make this riding experience so special. Firstly, the trails are only accessible during the event or by personal invite; secondly - the race village location is simply awesome and, the route traverses indigenous Cape vegetation which is home to an abundance of wildlife from your common Dassie to secretive Cape Leopard.


But this is not what differentiates The U from its event peers. Of course, many other events offer a similar riding environment and hospitality. What truly sets this experience apart is the trails!


The U offers the experienced rider a real challenge. Not just from a fitness point of view, but in technical riding skills too. Now, don’t get us wrong, there is ‘scary’ technical (enter the crazy enduro and downhill people) and there is controlled technical. The U falls squarely into this latter category. When riding these trails, you need to be constantly alert, riding not too fast but not too slow. It’s all in the flow, really. There is a saying that you can only go as fast as the trail allows and, in this case, the trail manages your speed for you. One simply needs to focus on getting the bike into the right place and staying off the brakes. Once you find the rhythm of the trail, you begin to realise just how rewarding it is.


The cherry on top is that the trails have been built with rider safety in mind.


That is all great, but you still need to get to link to these glory pockets via district roads and jeep tracks. Not so at The U! There are no tar roads, district roads and precious little dual track. The U is quite possibly South Africa’s first singletrack stage race.


While looking at the route details, one would think that the riding distance (+-50km per day) makes for an easy stage race option. Don’t be fooled - to get the most out of this ride you need to arrive fit and have done some technical trail-riding training. If you do that, you will have an incredible time.


With only 200 rider spots available, the event has a great intimate feel to it - one gets to enjoy the tranquillity of the area and all that it offers.


To get a real taste of what you can expect, check out Episode 22 of ALL RIDE.



Piston ZA, Jul 13 2018 09:21

Those trails look frikkin' amazing

Meezo, Jul 13 2018 11:00

still a pity not open for public

Headshot, Jul 13 2018 01:20

The evolution also includes some hefty price tags for this event. Ah well - there is always Esels. 

hansolo, Jul 15 2018 07:47

I would love to do this race but R6500 for the cheapest option is way too expensive for me. I’ve done the one day race and hopefully this event becomes more suited to the average joe (or I win the lottery)...