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NEW CAPE AGULHAS CLASSIC NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES
November 11, 2013
More than 700 entrants are expected to participate in South Africa’s newest mountain biking race, the Cape Agulhas Classic, on 21 December 2013.That’s according to Naas Vermaak, one of the organisers behind the event, which has been designed to test the skills and stamina of participants while simultaneously rewarding them with spectacular ocean and mountain views.
Africa’s southern-most mountain bike race takes its name from its location: Cape Agulhas is the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. An area renowned for its wealth of fynbos species, pristine beaches and rolling ocean currents, beneath which lie the wrecks of countless ships, it’s an idyllic holiday and residential destination just two hour’s drive from Cape Town.
The race starts in Struisbaai, after which riders head inland to the Agulhas Plains before traversing the Anysberg Mountains. “The views of the coastline from the top will leave the riders breathless,” says Naas, a semi-retired pro-am cyclist who still competes at the highest levels of racing. The route then meanders along the coast up and down the ridge of the Agulhas Mountains all the way back again to finish at the Dutch Reformed Church in Struisbaai.“It’s a completely new race, a new route with new surprises so participants will be like kids in a maze,” he says.
In addition to the main 60km race, there is also a 30km race and a 10km event, which “is not to be raced but rather to be consumed in a slow, enjoyable and soulful manner!” There’s also an event for children up to the age of six. Prize money totals R7 750 and there is a lucky draw to the value of R30 000. The proceeds will go to the Southernmost Foundation, a non-profit organisation which Naas started in 2009 to introduce cycling to young people needing the support, healing, nurturing and relationship building ideally found in family life.
“Mountain biking as a sport is exploding in our country,” he explains. “However, it’s mostly geared towards people already involved in a fitness regime. My goal is to bring it into the local community as a healthy pastime. Not only is it a cheap way of exercising but it’s also a very enjoyable sport. With obesity in our country reaching alarming levels, mountain biking has the potential to be a lifesaver so we’re putting together a really huge programme for the next 6 months in terms of outreaches and trail-building - we want to make the Bredasdorp/Struisbaai/Napier area a real MTB playground,” says the modest philanthropist.
To this end, the Southernmost Foundation has built a proper BMX course where training and regular playing take place; it has also built up a cache of donated bikes for the children with whom it is involved. Key focal points include identifying promising young riders and forming cycling groups that can train together and participate in races; involving the youth with community projects so that they can earn credits for bicycles of their own; forming a competitive school cycling league, and creating ongoing cycling activities for its protégés.
The Foundation has, to date, provided direct cycling opportunities to almost 3000 children in Bredasdorp and surrounding communities and has an active and growing schools programme that extends to children from Grades 5 to 7 in nine schools throughout the area. In addition, it has managed the construction of nearly 40km of cycle paths; removed more than 935 bags of litter, and donated 42 bicycles to eligible cases.
Entry for the 60 km (which starts at 07h30) is R150. The 30km (07h45) costs R80, the 10km (08h00) costs R50, and the children’s event (11h00) is R40. Prize giving is scheduled to take place at 12h30. Sponsored by Realty 1 International Property Group, PSG, Rheboks Kloof, Dykes Van Heerden among others, the Cape Agulhas Classic promises to become an important MTB calendar event and a valuable source of funding for the Southernmost Foundation, believes Naas , who may be contacted on 072 071 3092 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.