Johan Vorster is a passionate man and this is most clearly conveyed by his telling of plans to unlock the trail potential on Kurland Hotel and Polo Estate in the Plettenberg Bay area of the Garden Route, which happens to be the start venue for Day 2 of the Dr Evil Classic, the 3 day mountain bike stage race that takes place from 19-21 September.
Perhaps best known for his Hakahana Enduro-style trail network in Gauteng, Johan and his team have built roughly 15kms of hand-built single-track at Kurland and by the middle of next year he expects to have completed a very special series of trails across the estate.
“We are building a different kind of trail here. This is proper riding,” says Johan.
“I would call this an aspirational trail – we will have all the elements for the gravity guys but a kid on a 20 inch bike will be able to ride the trail. You choose how you take it on.”
This project presents a great opportunity for Leon Evans, aka Dr Evil, who will treat 350 riders to the 8th edition of a stage race that has become synonymous with fun and adventure (and certainly not for punishing “evil” trails – his work on the Cape Epic route design earned Leon this nickname).
“This really helps us to offer a whole lot more on day 2, as we will include at least 8kms of Johan’s new trail. Previously day 2 was largely made up of a lot of good quality jeep track, as we would rather use good jeep track than supply substandard single-track – but this seriously fun section of single-track with loads of flowing descent and a beautiful climb, takes things up a level,” says Leon.
Johan describes the treat that Dr Evil Classic riders have in store: “Leon is tapping into the two primary flowy descents that we have built so far. The first is about 1,5kms of what we call Glenn’s Gamble”, he says. This section is named after master trail builder of Berg & Bush/Joburg2c fame, Glenn Harrison, who came to assist the team in building this section.
“This takes you down to the pavilion and you meander on the estate for a while, then you will join a climb through the forest on a custom single track with switchbacks. From there you have the second descent, about 2,5kms of flowy trails in pristine indigenous forest.”
Leon says that he and his partner in the event, Zandile Meneses, are constantly looking for ways to improve the race. “When we started the event, we were based at one location with 3 different loops per day. We needed more variation so we changed to 3 different and diverse race villages less than 20km apart, which has enhanced the rider experience hugely,” he said.
The venues are Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve (Registration and Day 1), Kurland Hotel and Polo Estate (Day 2) and Cairnbrogie Dairy Farm (Day 3), and with the catering at the race villages provided by well-known chef Grant Ludski from Knysna Hollow, the hospitality aspect of the event has become as popular as the route. With no tented accommodation as part of the race entry, riders are free to stay in their own choice of accommodation, and the Plettenberg Bay area has a wide range of options for any budget.
When asked what makes The Dr Evil Classic so special and what the biggest challenge is for riders, Leon wryly responds: “I think the most challenging part of the event is to just get here. Then the fun begins. About 170km of sublime countryside spread over 3 days should not be intimidating to anyone.”
He hesitates to isolate a highlight, but says: “the diverse terrain – forest, mountain and coastal routes all with exceptional views, the quality of the ride and the fact that it’s generally non-technical.”
And Dr Evil knows what technical looks like.
Remember you can use the Dr Evil Classic as a warm up ride for the Karoo to Coast 100km Mountain Bike Challenge, which will happen on Sunday 22 September (it starts in Uniondale and ends in Knysna). This race is also a seeding event for the 2020 Cape Town Cycle Tour, and all Dr Evil riders receive automatic second batch seeding for the Karoo to Coast. Enter the Karoo to Coast at www.karootocoast.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a manual entry.
Great news for those entering both events: there is a prize to the value of R 50 000 for the rider with the fastest combined times. “The Best of both Worlds” winner will be set for the 2020 editions of the races, with the prize comprising 2 nights for 2 at Kurland Hotel and Polo Estate during the Dr Evil Classic 2020, and 2 nights for 2 people at Pocket Breaks in Knysna during the Karoo to Coast 2020. Two Karoo to Coast entries and one Dr Evil entry, a Super Scott hamper and R 5000 in cash, is all included in the prize!