Stage 1: 68KM & 1650M Climb
Lourensford REGISTRATION & START. The climb shortly after the Start has been extended all the way up to the Saddle. It’s easier to go all the way to the top, than to go halfway up, then down and up again as in 2015. Take a moment to experience the magical views of Stellenbosch and Cape Town from the Saddle. The climb is on a wide gravel road with a smooth and hard surface. From the Saddle it’s a long and steep downhill with the same road condition. TAKE CARE not to overcook it and end your W2W experience prematurely; it is a dangerous and fast downhill with water humps, tight and blind corners. A shortened singe track will take you to WP 1 on 20km. The trail from WP 1 to the border of Vergelegen going over the 1st PERI Bridge over Lourensford river, is similar to previous years.
Vergelegen this is an area of major change and improvement. You will be climbing to the highest point of the Vergelegen-Wedderwill border, offering some of the most scenic areas on the FNB W2W Route. The Vergelegen Climb is sure to become a FNB W2W Trail legend, but unfortunately for non-climbers and fortunately for climbers, it also offers the steepest climb on the entire 3 day FNB W2W Route. If climbing is not your strength, move to the left, get off your bike, walk and admire an absolute fynbos paradise, hidden between the mountains. Apart from the Vergelegen Climb’s scenic and climb-testing attributes, it eliminates the previous long climb towards WP 2 and also reduces the distance to WP 2, with 3km.
WP 2 – Idiom The Bottega Family has constructed a beautiful winery and restaurant at the Idiom Vineyards, which is now open to the public. It’s a great spectator venue and from the restaurant’s balcony supporters can view the riders making their way over the Vergelegen Climb and riding towards the WP.
Gantouw Pass & A2Z Trail in Grabouw plantations are the same and in good nick. The A2Z single track sections will test your technical skills. Make sure to brush up your technical skills during training and you will have lots of fun on these singles.
The last 10km towards the Oakvalley finish will have considerable changes, making it easier, more interesting and scenic. Enjoy the 4 new single track sections that were added before reaching the spectacular Race Village at Oak Valley.
In summary Stage 1 (-7km & -200m climb vs. previous years):
• From the Lourensford Start, a 8km and 450m climb up to the Saddle at 550m;
• Heartbeat = Pace DON’T be intimidated by anything / anyone else;
• After the Saddle, a very fast 3km downhill on open gravel roads with good surface & steep corners, SLOW DOWN & BE CAUTIOUS;
• At 30km the Vergelegen climb at 380m, a short climb, but the steepest on FNB W2W Route;
• At 38km Gantouw Pass at 530m, compulsory portage;
• A2Z single tracks from 40km to 55km, moderately technical and flowing;
• Last 10km to Oak Valley is different, easier and more interesting than previous years.
Iconic about Stage 1: Lourensford & Vergelegen Climbs, PERI Vergelegen Bridge, Portage over Gantouw Pass, A2Z Single tracks
Advice to first timers: Stage 1 starts with the 8km Lourensford climb, don’t get dragged along by the hype and frenzy of riders around you, cycle at your own pace, remember there is another 60km to go. Caution with the Lourensford downhill after the climb, it’s very fast with sharp turns and occasional ruts.
Terrain: Lourensford climb and downhill is the best gravel highway in SA, good gravel roads, jeep tracks and single tracks. Gantouw Pass is the only portage section on FNB W2W and it’s rocky.
Major changes from 2016: A2Z Trail: B & C more flowing, W has been taken out (too technical). 3 x new single tracks added in Molteno and rest of the route in Molteno has changed as not to interfere with farm activities.
Development of this stage: The 1st new single track section in Molteno was under construction last year, but then we found a better alternative, which is only introduced now. The W section of A2Z is scenic, but too technical, resulting in long bottle necks. Section V is extended adding a more flowing and downhill exit.Onward to Stage2 Stage 1-3 Map Pack (6MB PDF)