The annual Knysna Rotary Cycle Tour took place this last weekend on a wet but surprisingly warm weekend. Opting to go back to our roadie routes we decided only to do the long road route on the Sunday and not the mountain bike on the previous day. This decision had nothing to do with the packing constraints imposed by the Mrs.
There was a new route for 2019 which included a loop to Buffels Bay and a counter clockwise loop around Karatara which included a gravel pass from the 7 passes road. However in the days leading up to the event the narrow road down to Buffels Bay was deemed unsafe by sanctioning authorities and it was decided to send the long route to the usual turn around point in the Wilderness. Registration was a breeze on Thesen Island with all the usual stands and even a pretty awesome Canyon stand with Erik there to chat about bikes.
Driving to the start on Sunday morning we were met with torrential rain bursts as we got closer and closer to Knysna from Natures Valley. Luckily there was no need to ‘accidentally’ bump a rear derailer hanger to avoid riding in a storm as on arrival in Knysna the rain stopped only a little water on the roads was left to greet the 650 riders on the start line.
We rolled out in the AA bunch as the admin and fitness was a little lacking to start in the elites. This didn’t stop Klyde and Brendon cannon-balling off the front in the first 2km and getting a healthy lead onto the first climb out of Knysna which Klyde used to cruise over with the front of the AA group and Brendon used to take photos and selfies while waiting for the Savage old ballies.
The remainder of the ride was spent pacing up the climbs as the group edged away and then hammering back to the bunch on the flats into the headwind to Wilderness. There are very few flat sections on the entire route with the big climb up to Karatara coming at 65km, which led to a lot of riders saving the legs for this kick.
When the climb to Karatara did arrive there was no hiding from the stretches of up to 10%, once over the climb the route greets you with a long and undulating false flat till the start of the gravel section. Even with the early morning showers the gravel pass was in great condition and around 150 riders had already navigated down into the valley. As seen in the graphic there are no super steep sections and the road surface was really good for climbing. A welcomed feed station was placed just at the end of the gravel to fix and punctured tyres and try assist in reviving any punctured legs.
The route back down to the N2 was fast on great roads and we managed to pick up many of the mountain goats that had gotten away on the climbs. As we pulled onto the N2 our little group had swelled to around 10 riders very happy to sit in and get towed back to Knysna. At this stage the legs started coming off for the old ballies and their natural mixed team instincts kicked in and pockets were seized.
The final run in to the finish along the lagoon is a great end to such a challenging race as you meander along the shore and tear into the finishing straight. In true fun ride fashion those that had been sitting on for the past 24km sprinted for 140ish place. The Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour was a great event again, it’s a great winter test and a real challenge with a tough route. We will defiantly be back again next year and maybe even do the mountain bike the day before to warm the legs up.