“THE ROCK” MTB Stage Race encompasses some of the best features in the area and includes the wonderful riding terrain offered by the Hero Adventure Parks in Malmesbury and Paarl as well as the terrain that links Malmesbury and Paarl.
3-Day stage race
The event offers a first stage which links the sublime Hero trails in Malmesbury to Rhebokskloof Estate in Paarl via the Paardeberg on the Northern slopes of Paarl Mountain, followed by the second stage which links Rhebokskloof to the famous Spice Route Artisan Village on the Southern slope of Paarl Mountain.
The third stage circumvents the entire Paarl Mountain on the way back to Rhebokskloof and includes the brilliant Hero trails at Rhebokskloof and Spice Route.
“The Rock” traverses vast vineyards, orchards, pine plantations and some beautifully sculpted single track, notably through Fairview and Spice Route farms as well as Rhebokskloof.
The route boasts a host of wonderful features and Cape Nature has given the race permission to use vast sections of their land, and this has opened some wonderful terrain.
Riders can expect wide open plains, strong climbing challenges, majestic mountains, deep ravines, indigenous forests, and spectacular views.
The route is characterised by riveting jeep tracks, challenging rocky outcrops, fast flowing downhills, meandering river crossings and stunning single-track.
The race becomes progressively tougher as the event goes along, staying true to its name as “The Rock”, finishing with a trip literally around the Paarl Rock to finish at Rhebokskloof on day 3.
Stage 1 Malmesbury – Rhebokskloof: 54km - 1200m elevation
“The Rock” starts at the Rugby Club in the picturesque town of Malmesbury in the Swartland.
Malmesbury is the largest town in the Swartland and just 30 minutes’ drive from Paarl
Riders head out from the Rugby Club (across the road from MacDonald’s) on a 4km gravel road to get the legs warmed up before entering the first part of the Malmesbury single-track at 4km.
This 8km flowing single-track section is the perfect welcome to this exciting event and gives cyclists a taste of what’s to come over the next 3 days. There are great views, ample flowing sections and mind-blowing terrain that you will remember for a very long time.
At 12km the route takes a left down into the valley where the first waterpoint welcomes riders at 15km.
It’s the perfect time to take a break and stock up. Over the next 15km the elevation really kicks in and the two big climbs of the stage must be conquered.
This section is certainly the tester for the day, but it is not without rewards with sweeping single-track through some of the most spectacular private properties in the Swartland. It’s a veritable journey through history right up to the back of the Perdeberg Mountain to the second waterpoint at 30km.
Once through the waterpoint the terrain opens as the route winds through open fields and riders get the first views of the majestic Paarl Mountain on their way to Paarl.
The third waterpoint is set up at Boland Agricultural School and the school goes out of their way to welcome riders. Boland Landbou, as the school is commonly known, is renowned as one of the country’s best educational and sporting institutions and riders can expect amazing hospitality.
From Boland Landbou, Rhebokskloof is almost in sight as the last stretch takes riders across the R44 (Stellenbosch/Wellington) and past Ridgeback Wine Farm.
Riders will notice the perfectly manicured vineyards of Ridgeback as they make their way into Rhebokskloof where a short ride around the dam brings the stage to a close in front of the main restaurant at Rhebokskloof.
Perfectly chilled beers, amazing wine, lots of food and an afternoon of great entertainment await at Rhebokskloof as the first day winds down.
Stage 2 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route: 55km - 1000m elevation
Day 2 is the Adventure Day!
Starting from Rhebokskloof where the previous day’s stage finished, riders have a 1.2km section to stretch the legs and find their place in the bunch before heading into the first pocket of single-track.
Make sure you are prepared - once riders are in the Pinotage single-track it’s a gradual elevating climb around the Western side of Paarl mountain into Ridgeback farm where the 1st waterpoint welcomes you nice and early.
From there an entertaining single-track climb will take you through the famous orchards of Olyvenbosch Olives and down 5km of flowing fun to the 2nd waterpoint at the famous Bistro 44 Farm Stall at 14km.
From Bistro 44, it’s a short tar section to warm the legs up for the Stinger. She is short at only 2km, but she bites. This single-track climb is loose and steep so take it in your stride because it is not without reward.
Once over the Bridge at the top, the views are nothing short of amazing over Paarl Diamant Equestrian Farm and vast open farmlands all the way to Table Mountain.
Once you catch your breath back it’s back to the adventure as you continue to wind your way down and around the Paarl Mountain through a variety of vineyards, orchards, cattle farms and into the Renosterveld Reserve.
The Renosterveld reserve is truly something special. It’s a protected area where you ride along the upper contour among natural Fynbos and Renosterveld into the famous Black Pearl Vineyards and over to Ruitersvlei Wine Estate.
Ruitersvlei Wine Estate is the next waterpoint stop at 20km and it’s a special one with great food, friendly people and just a great vibe.
Then it’s onto some gravel roads where the Alpacas from Alpaca Loom await your arrival. They’re always a great sight before you head into the popular Landskroon Wine Estate.
Once around the dams At Landskroon the Trail Runners will head straight over into the finish line at Spice Route while the mountain-bikers continue to wind through the Landskroon vineyards, across dams and through forests before entering the Spice Route single track.
After the 4th waterpoint at 37km it’s flat and fast. The final 16km is a lot of fun - berms, forests, bridges, dams and oodles of flowing single track. The trails at Hero – Spice route are the perfect ending to a great 2nd day.
This year we’ve thrown in a further 2 “waterpoints” in the last 20km which won’t disappoint! Our only advice is not to take too many “shots” at the waterpoints as the last 2kmclimb up to the finish is a leg burner.
The trails are filled with great features and are bound to lift the spirits as you make your way to the finish line of day 2 at Spice Route Destination.
Spice Route Destination has pulled out all the stops to provide entertainment and the afternoon will be filled with music, great food and a true festival of fun for the entire family.
Stage 3 Spice Route – Rhebokskloof: 40km - 1200m elevation
The last day of “The Rock” starts from Spice Route Destination and is a journey on the Eastern slopes of Paarl Mountain.
The variety of terrain is second to none with trails starting off through Spice Route where you’ll experience a flat and fast 8km to start off with before heading into the new XCO Trail on Diamant Estate.
Better known as Tomb Raider, the XCO Trail at Diamant is something to behold. It’s an almost ghostly section where rock formations, fast berms and flowing forest sections will put a smile on the face before the 1st waterpoint at 13km.
Once through Diamant it’s down to Knus Karoos Kombuis before the left turn and the climb up to the Taal Monument - the first bit of hard work on the stage.
This left turn onto the tar signals the start of a 10km climb up Jan Phillips to the top of Paarl Mountain.
Most of the climbing for the day takes place in this 10km and it’s firstly on tar and then on gravel road. It’s open and eases its way up to the radio tower at the top of the mountain.
The 2nd waterpoint is at 23km. It’s perfectly placed for a much-needed break.
At 26km riders take a right turn out of the reserve and drop down into the Hero Adventure Trails at Rhebokskloof. This section is better known as “Superbowl” and riders can get ready for the Grand Finale - the following 14km is pure awesomeness!
The next waterpoint is at 30km and overlooks Paarl on top of the mountain. The views are amazing and it’s the perfect time to stop and enjoy a chat with the friendly crew before heading down, around, in and out of the Shiraz single-track to the finish at the main restaurant at Rhebokskloof.
The last 20km truly tops off a great three days of cycling and it’s just reward for completing the 2nd edition of “The Rock”.
The afternoon at Rhebokskloof will again not disappoint with lots to eat and drink while enjoying the entertainment with family and friends.
“The Rock” 25km and 10km MTB Trail Traverse
The 25km MTB route start and finish is at Spice Route Destination on Saturday 28 September 2019.
All too often the short distance routes at MTB events are after-thoughts - something to humour the newbies while most of the effort is put into the long-distance trails.
Not at The Rock!
Our focus for The Rock is to make the day truly special for everyone. Although the 25km is perfect for all riders with no major technical sections, the route is most definitely not just open roads and jeep track.
The 25km uses a lot of the custom-built trails at Spice Route which are packed with features. It features a total ascent of 300m.
After starting in the Hero Adventure Parking lot there is a short climb that leads to the top dam on the farm where, after 1km, riders head into the CBC Single Track Descent.
All the single track is built at least 1 meter wide and compacted, so it’s easy flowing riding with no technical sections.
The CBC Descent is a 2.5km gradual downhill through the forest that includes 35 berms and fast flowing trails through vineyards. It all adds up to a fun start to the route.
Once down the decent, riders head across the Suid-Agter Paarl Road into “Die Vlaktes” Trail. A jeep track section takes the route over the dam wall with views over the valley to Table Mountain in the distance.
Another gradual descent takes riders into the first two single track pockets called the Graveyard. It’s fast and fun with wide turns, flat bridges and flowing single track.
Once through the Graveyard the race heads down through another forest that pops out close to the N1.
Waterpoint 2 greets riders on the second dam wall at 13.5km where you can take a break and enjoy the view back towards Spice Route and Paarl Mountain.
Heading out again the route traverses another great single-track pocket called the Fairview Olives and then climbs up to the Citrus Plantation.
From there it’s a winding jeep track section through the cattle and sheep camps before the last waterpoint at the culvert under Suid-Agter Paarl Road.
A final gradual 3km climb takes riders back to the finish at Spice Route.
The 10km Trail will showcase much of the same with 150m less elevation, but with just as much flowing single-track. It is the perfect junior trail for the family to enjoy.