FNB Wines2Whales is without a doubt an icon of the South African mountain biking calendar. Over the last decade it has built a reputation for amazing trails, a festive atmosphere and maintained a racing element for the competitive at heart. Now in its tenth edition, with entries sold out, here are ten reasons your friends – who missed out on an entry – will have W2W FOMO.
1. W2W Turns 10 #10yearsofgees
Celebrating a decade of fantastic experiences is no small feat. The ten year honour roll is launched by paying tribute to all ten time entrants. Unlike many events, at Wines2Whales it’s the taking part which matters most; so entrants are rewarded for their commitment. The race will also boast special 10th anniversary commemorative gear, including the sought after W2W jacket and Ciovita cycling jersey.
2. Trails to Whales
Wines2Whales has long boasted the best collection of trails of any stage race in the country and for 2018 the route will be better than ever. Stage 1 sees a return of some of Lourenford’s much loved original singletracks, plus the addition of Old Pine and JK’s Contour before Gantouw Pass. Then after the portage, riders will be ecstatic to hear that the fire damaged A to Z trails have now largely been rebuilt and reincorporated into the route. Stage 2 features a few subtle changes too; with the Red Climb to Lebanon Village being replaced by a new singletrack dubbed, Trunk Trail. There’s also a new approach to Thandi’s Hickory Shack water point along the Huppelland singletrack and a new run in to Paul Cluver on the Rietvlei Roller. The highlight of Stage 2’s updated route comes at the Peri-Kromco Play Park – but you’ll have to wait and see what’s in store there. The final stage of course now finishes at an exciting and spectator friendly new venue (more on that later). The route for Stage 3 therefore blazes a new trail over the final few kilometres; with a new final climb, a loop through the spectacular Fernkloof Nature Reserve and the trail debut of the Hermanus Golf Club being included.
3. New finish at the Marine Hotel
The Marine Hotel on the famous whale watching cliffs of Hermanus overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and provides the perfect setting for the conclusion of three scintillating days of riding. From the lawns of the grand old dame, which dates back to 1902, friends and family members will be able to watch you roll across the finish line. And most importantly share in your moment of glory.
4. Spectator Friendly
With the route passing through so many amazing wine farms it makes sense to encourage riders to bring their families along to enjoy the Elgin and Overberg scenery at its best. Each stage will feature dedicated spectator points where fans will be able to see their heroes in action, grab a coffee and maybe even sample some of the excellent local wines – though buying for later rather than for consumption on site is the advisable approach.
5. It’s All About the Balance
At Wines2Whales it’s all about the balance: the balance between climbing and fun singletracks. And, perhaps more importantly, the off the bike balance between recovering from the day’s riding in the beautiful race village and having fun with your mountain biking mates – it is the end of the year after all and you deserve to have some fun before you start training for 2019’s big goals.
6. Slow Living at Oak Valley
The famous Oak Valley Estate race village deserves more than a passing mention – it’s part of the FNB Wines2Whales institution. Not only is the farm the perfect spot for hosting mountain bike races, with its rolling lawns and plethora of trails, but the FNB Rider Lounge has set the bar for stage race chill zones. There is no better place to put your feet up and relive the stories from the trails.
7. Food, Glorious Food
It is a good thing there is a fair amount of riding involved over the three days of Wines2Whales or all that amazing food would provide too great a temptation. But after a long day on the bike there are plenty of excuses on hand to indulge a little in the superb catering provided in the Food Lovers Market Rider Dining Marquee.
8. Easy Peasy
Logistics are a breeze at Wines2Whales, especially now the race is more spectator friendly. Book a taxi or have your vehicle driven from Lourensford to Hermanus, or Lourensford, Oak Valley and on to Hermanus, through the race website. Alternatively if camping isn’t your scene book accommodation in one of the many outstanding B&Bs in the Elgin Valley and enjoy staying with your family – who’ll be able to visit the market, wine taste or go zip lining while you ride your bike.
9. Equality and Development
Wines2Whales has introduced a global first in the Chardonnay event, with the elite women starting first. The prestige, media attention and a whopping R100 000 in prize money to the winning women’s team will ensure the 2019 W2W field is the most competitive yet. Competition does not end with the elite men’s and women’s races however; this year also sees the introduction of the Exxaro Special Jersey in which a whopping 18 development teams will take part. Historically disadvantaged South Africans under the age of 26 will be competing for a distinctive leaders’ jersey on Stages 1 and 2 with the overall winners being rewarded with an entry to the 2019 Perskindol Swiss Epic.
10. Rub Shoulders With MTB Royalty
Not many events can boast an entry list to match Wines2Whales, but even those that can don’t guarantee your mountain biking heroes will be in any mood to chat. W2W is different; with a relaxed race village and end of year festive spirit filtering through the field. Even the elite riders are in a laid back frame of mind. They’re not the only ones either – it has been quietly boasted before that W2W attracts not only the best riders but also the best people. Perhaps a little smug self-congratulatory pat on the back is in order then…
Cures for W2W FOMO
There is no effective known cure for W2W FOMO but there are a few things you could try: