Of quivers and daisies – Namaqua Quest MTB
Written by: Mark Sampson
Jakkalswater in Nababeep won’t mean much to most, and a week ago it also didn’t mean much to the field of cyclists who entered the Namaqua Quest MTB race. Now, however, it will hold strong memories of a far-away place with a unique landscape, hot weather and people never to be forgotten.
Once a year, the landscape explodes in colour to cover a harsh terrain normally devoid of life. Daisies sprout out of every conceivable crack and crevice, splashing the landscape in colours from the entire spectrum. Ordinarily, tourists from around the world arrive to experience this floral spectacle, but now an opportunity is available to enjoy them from the saddle of your mountain bike.
With warm conditions, water tables bearing ice-cold cokes and numerous goodies were greatly appreciated by the cyclists.
Day two included a 20-minute road trip to the Goegap Nature Reserve, where riders were treated to 64 kim (elevation gain of just over 1,000 m) of rolling hills speckled with unique dolomite koppies and the distinctive quiver trees. In-between the blankets of daisies, gemsbok, zebra and springbok intriguingly kept an eye on the riders as they made their way through the reserve.
Day three, the final day, once again saw riders start from the race village of Jakkalswater and then head off into the surrounding farmlands. The day’s 54-km route included some history from the bygone era of the Boer War, allowing riders to view some old block houses built by the British, as well as riding along the railway line they built to transport copper.
Prize-giving was not only a celebration of finishing the three days but about enjoying some local cuisine of skilpaadjies and homemade rooster brood. To the uninitiated, this is wrapped-up kidneys and dough cooked over the fire – simply delish!
Having grown up in the area, Fourie Kotze certainly knows the terrain and being a grandmaster has had time to get to know it. Pulverising the field and winning each day, his time was 9:36:50, almost half-an-hour ahead of his nearest competitor, and cycling partner Hannele Steyn. As the first lady in, Hannele had a superb ride to finish in 10:04:39, despite getting a little lost on the second day.
Next year promises to be an even better event in an area that warms the heart and mesmerises the eyes. Numbers are capped for 2105, so be sure to keep an eye out when entries open.
For more information on this event and when entries open for the 2015 race, visit www.namaquaquest.co.za