The ever-popular Namaqua Quest mountain bike challenge took place between 1 and 3 September. Riders were stationed at the beautiful eco-friendly Jakkalswater Guest Farm, located close to Springbok. They had a choice of staying in the lodge, a luxury tent (with its own private bathroom), or a 2-man tent with shared ablutions.
The race is always a treat but this year the Namaqualand really put its best foot forward with no wind, no rain and warm temperatures – event organisers describes it as the best conditions for any Namaqua Quest event so far.The chilly evenings were spent cosying up next to the fire and discussing the day’s events with fellow riders while sipping on a glass of Namaqua wine.
Every year the event takes place during peak flower season and this year you could again revel in the flower-covered valleys, rugged mountains and unexplored trails that this incredible part of SA has to offer.
300 very excited riders lined up for day one that started at the Jakkalswater Guest Farm. Covering a distance of 68 km, riders were confronted with a lot of sand which proved tricky to some of the more inexperienced riders. The first leg of the race covered the Schaap River Canyon with an average elevation of 784 m.
Day two took the riders through the Goegap Nature Reserve. Between August and September, this 15 000 h reserve transforms into a breath-taking kingdom of wild flowers that attracts visitors from all over the world. Apart from the unbelievable number of floral species the reserve also boast 45 recorded mammalian species including springbok, gemsbok and the endangered Hartman’s zebra. But riders did not have much time to focus on spotting animals as this 50 km route confronted them with a maximum elevation of 1261m. Spar’s water tables were the proverbial oases in the desert and here the riders also took some time to admire the incredible scenery that surrounded them.Riders returned back to base camp for a nice hot shower before being treated to a delicious dinner. They also had a chance to recap the day’s events with the usual slide show.
The final day of the race saw 350 riders tackling the Old Copper trail of 51km. Riders experienced quite a steep climb of around 1040 m early in the day but from there on it was mostly downhill all the way to the finish line.
The podium spots were dominated by riders from the master’s and veteran’s categories for both men and ladies. Master category rider Fourie Kotze (who has been crowned SA Champion numerous times) took the first-place position on all three days and finished with a total overall time of 07:46:33. He was followed in second place by Schalk van der Merwe who also managed to take this position for all 3 days. George McPhail bounced back from the seventh position on day two to finish third overall – 15:31 behind race leader Kotze.
After three days of racing ladies’ favourite, and 2005 winner of the Cape Epic, Hannele Steyn, took the top spot with a time of 08:16:45, with Lolita van Aardt taking the place as the second lady ending with a time of 09:07:36, and Louise Kotze coming in third overall.
Thank you to all the organisers, sponsors and, of course, our riders for making this event a memorable one. We look forward to welcome everyone back in 2017!