A feast of Garden Route mountain biking on the Heritage Day long weekend
The Buco Dr Evil Classic 3 Day Stage Race turns 8 years old this year, and has matured into “the best reason to head to the Garden Route on the Heritage day weekend”. 2019’s dates are Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st September, with Heritage Day falling on the Tuesday 24th, so it’s the perfect excuse to take a few days off in September and enjoy a mountain biking long weekend with friends and family.
The Dr Evil Classic is used by many riders as a warm-up for the Buco Lions Karoo to Coast, the one day, 100km race from Uniondale to Knysna over the stunning Prince Alfred’s Pass. This event will take place on Sunday 22 September, so be sure to take Monday off and relax on the Garden Route for a couple of days after your mountain biking adventure.
The Dr Evil Classic’s namesake Leon Evans received this nickname from his days designing some of the gruelling Absa Cape Epic’s routes, but his approach in designing this event in his own backyard, is more focused on fun and adventure than testing riders to their limits.
“The route was designed as an introduction to stage racing, and has developed into a fun, relaxed event with manageable distances each day. It’s a non-intimidating race and the riders had a wonderful time last year.”
This is one of those races where it makes sense to include the whole family – because there is so much to do in the area other than ride a bike. If you are the only rider in the family or amongst your friends, everyone else can do a host of activities while you take the morning to ride. If you are a serious rider but have been looking for a race to encourage your partner to ride with you, this is the one.
There is no tented race village, which means you and your family can stay together, in budget accommodation, or a self-catering cottage on a farm, or a luxury hotel while eating out at amazing restaurants each night. See some suggestions from Dr Evil here.
Nikki Biesheuvel, winner of the 2018 Dr Evil Classic solo women’s race for the second year in a row, says this aspect of the event worked really well for her and her friends. “It’s a lovely way to see Plett; it really feels like you are on holiday, with a bonus of going for a really great ride every day. We hired a cottage at the Crags and had a braai each night and my two friends who were there for the scenery and the vibe got as much out of it as I did.”
With a different start venue for each stage (but all within 20kms of each other), riders experience a very different type of landscape each day. The first stage leaves from Plett Game Reserve with wildlife such as zebras, wildebeest and even elephants on view from the bike, then you head out for a scenic 70km mountain ride.
Day 2 starts at Kurland Hotel and Polo Estate and is mostly made up of indigenous and plantation forest covering a distance of around 45km. A 15km trail of single track is currently under construction on the estate, which will add significantly to the 2019 experience.
Oli Munnik, ex-pro mountain biker, enjoyed the event with his wife Alana last year and says the three different environments you ride really make this a special experience: “Despite being relatively close geographically, the riding of the three areas is distinctly different. It allows you to enjoy a new route each day without having to ride a certain distance before you get to the new section,” he says.
He continues: “The last day’s single track where you pop out on the coast is remarkable, with breathtaking sea views and the sound of crashing waves, it is really worth experiencing.”
Leon Evans’ partner in organising the event is Zandile Meneses and she says: “We are building a sustainable event; we want this to remain a small successful event where riders feel they have been well looked after and receive a great value experience. We kept the entry fees very similar to 2017 last year, but increased the spend on goodie bags by at least 35%, because we have seen how our riders appreciate these extra touches, including an amazing meal after a long ride.”
A three course meal is provided each day by Knysna Hollow Country Estate’s chef – Grant Ludski, and riders rave about the treats in store each day. As Oli Munnik says: “The food was absolutely world class, something I actually started looking forward to when we got to about 10kms to go on day 2 and 3. The organisation was seamless – you never noticed The Dr Evil team or needed to ask for assistance, and this results in a very relaxed vibe in the race villages.”
Enter here for the Buco Lions Karoo to Coast or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a manual entry. Remember that Buco Lions Karoo to Coast riders with a Dr Evil entry receive an automatic second batch seeding amongst seven batches, just another reason to combine these first class events for an incredible long weekend of riding.
Dr Evil riders who enter the Karoo to Coast before the end of May will receive their Karoo to Coast race numbers in their Dr Evil race packs. They will need to collect their Karoo to Coast goody bag and any purchased merchandise in Uniondale – registration is open on Sunday 22nd from 05:30 onwards.
So what will you be doing on the Heritage Day long weekend?
Follow the events on social media:
Buco Dr Evil Classic
Buco Lions Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge