Better known for wine farms and the Goudini Spa hot springs, the Breedekloof Wine Valley is about to make a mark as the next great Western Cape mountain-biking destination.
The Gravel & Grape MTB events are now in their fourth year, with riders revelling in the fun, friendly and challenging rides. The three-day and two-day events each pass through various wine farms - in one instance actually passing through a cellar - and take riders on a tour of the best routes in the Breedekloof Wine Valley.
The terrain, hand-cut trails and incredible scenery make the Gravel & Grape MTB one of the most compelling new rides on the packed MTB calendar.
"We've tried to achieve a healthy balance between fun and challenging," says Melody Botha of Breedekloof Wine & Tourism. "People can come out to our event and relax on the weekend, but the trails also test riders. The terrain is rocky, sandy in parts, and the climbs really do make you sweat. But at the end of the day, we want to provide a unique riding experience that our participants will talk about over a nice chilled glass of chenin."
The events start and finish at ATKV Goudini Spa, with participants having the option of staying at the resort or travelling the short distance from the major towns surrounding the area each day. The clover leaf format takes away the hassle of the many moving parts that bedevil other MTB events, while also allowing participants to unwind in a central area each day.
"The Gravel & Grape MTB events are ideal windows into the world of the Breedekloof Wine Valley. Stunning views, bountiful wine farms, green valleys and abundant nature are the rewards for riding the Gravel & Grape," says Botha. "After riding, take the time to explore this stunning region and its award-winning chenin wines."
The wine farmers of the area have embraced the event, with some like Du Toit's Kloof Cellar carving their own, permanent trails. This year a section of the Du Toit's Kloof trail is being used by the Cape Epic, while Gravel & Grape riders will also get the chance to experience the fast-single track sections. A standout feature on their trail is the 100m long hand-built bridge. The bridge was constructed after last year's Gravel & Grape and is made up of old Eskom electricity poles.
Former Cape Epic winner, and 2017 Gravel & Grape ladies' winner Catherine Williamson says: "This is quite a special three days of riding. Gravel & Grape has great trails; it's just a fun three days on the bike in a beautiful setting."
For mountain bike purists, the Gravel & Grape also offers the challenge of trails at their most raw. The manicured lines from many events are missing, while trails will offer riders with good technical abilities a true mountain biking experience.
That said, the Gravel & Grape is also family friendly. The Gravel & Grape Adventure is a two-day ride covering approximately 30km per day. There is a junior category for both team members between the ages of 16 and 18 years, while the open category can be a parent/child, husband/wife team or any two adults who would like to experience their first stage race.
The Gravel & Grape MTB Events:
May 4-6: The Gravel & Grape Extreme 3-dayDistances range from 55km to 70km.
May 5-6: The Gravel & Grape Extreme 2-dayA new addition, featuring the same riding, but omitting the Friday ride for the time-pressed mountain biker.
May 5-6: The Gravel & Grape Adventure 2-dayDistances cover approximately 30km per day
Riders can enter at gravelandgrape.com