Event Focus: Dirty South – SA’s first 3-day gravel bike stage race

Entries open for Dirty South Gravel Race 

South Africa’s first three-day gravel-bike stage race, The Dirty South Gravel Race, is taking place from 1 – 3 October 2021.

Event Focus: Dirty South - SA's first 3-day gravel bike stage race
On route near Swellendam.

Dubbed as ‘The Race for the Explorers’, cyclists will navigate their way from Stilbaai to Stanford along 250 kilometres of some of the Garden Route and Overberg’s most rugged, remote and picturesque terrain that criss-crosses hills, mountains and rivers while running parallel to the Indian Ocean. With only 100 spots available riders can look forward to exclusive accommodation in hotels and guesthouses, handpicked by the organisers for their luxury facilities, exquisite views, and delicious cuisine, transfers, free bike washes and more. The water points will be bountiful packed with goodies to surprise and delight. All riders must do is rock up and ride.

Gravel biking first exploded onto the South African cycling scene a few years ago and has quickly grown in popularity because it is a sport for everyone. It’s the perfect combination of road biking and mountain biking and requires a bike that is somewhere between a road bike and a fat tyre mountain bike. And there’s more than a little bit of the cyclo-cross influence in there too.  While speed and endurance are key for those wanting to challenge themselves on the long stretches, if it’s just getting to the end while having fun along the way, the ethos of the sport caters for that too.

Event Focus: Dirty South - SA's first 3-day gravel bike stage race
Jos le Roux in a casual stomp.

Race director Adriaan Theron says, “South Africa’s extensive grid of gravel roads offers hundreds of kilometres of gravel biking possibilities. It’s just an incredible way to see the countryside while feeling safe on your bike. You get to explore places you wouldn’t usually see on a road bike or have the pleasure of enjoying if you were navigating a tricky single track on your mountain bike. With gravel biking you get the best of both worlds which is why we thought why not launch a stage race that allowed riders to cover even more territory, taking in the unique beauty of a region while testing their own strength and endurance.”

Race format and route

The race is divided into three stages and each stage has three timed legs. Riders can earn points for coming first, second and third on each leg (3,2,1). The rider with the most points after the tour wins. While endurance and fitness are essential you don’t need to be a technical pro to make it to the end. The route is primarily along district roads with a few ‘in and outs’ through private farmers’ land with rolling hills. The track is mainly hardpack with some loose stony sections, potholes, and corrugations and if it should rain one can expect a lot of mud. As with all races, medical staff and backup vehicles are on standby and an optional Rotary Car Shuttle Service from Stilbaai to Arniston is available on request.  Entries cost R7500 per person including accommodation and all meals. Enter here

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