A decade of delight at joberg2c

South Africa is a mountain biker’s dream; there can’t be many countries where mountain bike events take riders over historical passes, across pristine beaches, through vineyards, over rivers, into valleys, down mountains, over mountains and on world class, hand-cut singletrack.

However, there is only one event that can take a rider on a journey through the heart of South Africa, and showcase the varied beauty of its landscapes and the beautiful natures of the country’s welcoming inhabitants.

For 9 years, the joberg2c has been taking mountain bikers of all shapes and sizes on an incredible journey, at the same time exposing them to a colourful palette of places and personalities. It’s what makes the event unique amongst South African stage rides, and what’s helped the event reach the impressive 10th anniversary milestone in 2019.

“The beating heart of the joberg2c, and what sets the ride apart from the many that South Africa has to offer, is the warmth of the people involved, the vast distances covered each day and ever-changing scenery as you make your way from the Highveld to the coast,” says race organiser Craig Wapnick.

“We follow a community-driven model, where every water table and race village is manned by a local community. The joberg2c uses no outside caterers or suppliers, rather encouraging the communities along the route to utilise the event as a fund-raising platform. As a by-product of this model, the most amazing energy and gees is generated at each water table and race village, all filtering through to the riders and race crew; it’s made the race – and I don’t think this is a stretch to say – the friendliest in the world.”

From Frankfort to Jolivet, from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, every water table is different, every race village unique, and every face smiling. Local farmers, school children, teachers, parents, church groups and other organisations combine to create a friendly and funky atmosphere for the nine days.

It’s an atmosphere that has spread far around world and will spread ever further this year with 2019’s event playing host to a total of 238 foreign riders from a total of 28 countries. In all, 800 lucky riders will experience the 10th birthday of the joberg2c.

“We live in a beautiful country, with amazing variety,” says Wapnick. “And if you truly want to witness that, then the only way to do so is on a bicycle!”

10 years, too many highlights

Another reason for the success of the joberg2c is how the event organisers have cultivated a relaxed, stress-free environment for riders to enjoy the 900km of pristine mountain biking. Yes, there is a cut-off, which is more or less sometime late in the day, but there is no race official waiting at the end to clip off number boards. Wapnick is adamant that every entrant is a VIP, and everyone should be encourage to finish.

Day 9 – ‘Champagne’ celebrations

“Our ride is an epic escape from real life,” says Wapnick. “We are not here to add to your stress; we’re here to give you the best possible nine days you can have on a bike. This is not an easy ride, but we do everything in our power to ensure that our guests enjoy themselves.”

On top of creating an event where all feel welcome, the joberg2c has also championed mixed category and women’s mountain biking. This year 65 mixed teams will compete for the Global Mixed Category Championship, while over 140 women will participate in the race.

“Emphasising the mixed racing allows us to bring different riders to the forefront,” says Wapnick. “There are many great stories to tell at the excellent mountain bike events all over South Africa, but we choose to focus on making mixed racing a viable and exciting category. It also breaks up the monotony of seeing middle-aged male boeps in all the event photos!”

Day 4 – early morning sunrise near Sterkfontein Dam

From mowing down sections of trail just days before the first event to the streamlined, full-service world class event the joberg2c has become, the margins for improvement get smaller with each passing year. But Wapnick is determined to always provide the best possible rider experience.

“We have had nine incredible years; in that time we’ve created a route that you can only ride during the joberg2c, built 220km of amazing single track, developed the route continuously in consultation with generous land owners, and probably looked at more maps than an Uber driver will look at in a lifetime. But we never stop looking to improve the ride. Because that’s what it’s all about; riding the beloved country.”