Gravel cycling in South Africa is becoming more and more popular, so it makes sense that there are more gravel cycling races in South Africa for you to do. There is even a gravel cycling stage race now! I should note that all these gravel cycling races are active at the time of writing this article. Some races do unfortunately get cancelled or postponed and I might not always notice in time to update this list of gravel cycling events.
Gravel Cycling Races in South Africa
Race to the Sea is a 164km mountain- and gravel bike journey from Franschhoek to Hermanus. Starting in Franschhoek, the route takes you over the Franschhoek Pass, past the Theewaterskloof dam, Botriver, Caledon, through the Hemel en Aarde Valley to finish at the exclusive Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate. The total elevation gain for this race is 2300m.
The Karoo Burn is an exciting and challenging 242km race with a 1950m vertical ascent. Starting in the Great Karoo sheep-farming town of Calvinia, the route heads onto the longest dirt road in South Africa – the notorious R355. This one is sure to be a hot day under the African sun.
Ride The Karoo is a journey of 160km or 80km through the beautiful Sneeuberg region in the Eastern Cape. 2021 presents a switch back in the route, meaning you will do it in reverse. Entries are already full, but there is a waiting list you can register for.
The Swartberg100 Gran Fondo starts and ends in Prince Albert, arguably one of the most attractive Karoo towns in South Africa, it covers 171 km of which there are 3 gravel sectors covering 79 km. The final climb is over the gravel Swartberg Pass, a relentless climb of 28 km, the last 9.8 km being on gravel with gradients of 16% in places. The Swartberg100 is said to be one of the toughest Gran Fondo’s in the world and having done this race in 2019, I tend to agree!
Race to the Sun is a prestigious and challenging event for adventurous mountain bikers and gravel cyclist. The 167km journey starting at Hartbeespoort Die Oewer, stretches the imagination by taking the racers through picturesque landscapes and challenging terrains to the finish at Sun City, ensuring a true Mzanzi magic experience.
The Trans Elands is a 160km “extreme” mountain bike marathon with 3200m of climbing. It is one of South Africa’s toughest mountain biking events, which means it is one of South Africa’s toughest gravel bike events! Trans Elands is a true test of a rider’s physical and mental capability, but with adequate preparation it is an achievable challenge.
Around the Pot riders will experience a superbly well-organized event with great goodie bags, well stocked water points and stunning on route scenery. The riders will depart from Swellendam and will experience 160km gravel road racing towards the Potberg mountain. They will then cross the Malgas ferry in a 45min neutral zone before riding the last 60km back towards Swellendam.
The Maloti 100 Miler is a mountain bike and gravel cycling event taking place in Barkly East, Eastern Cape. The route is non technical, following the district gravel roads between Barkly East to Rhodes, over the Naude’s Nek pass to Maclear. With a Short Tar Road section out of Barkly East before hitting the dirt… Don’t burn your matches too early as the pass takes no prisoners.
The Rainmaker RollerCoaster is a 7 day gravel cycling adventure in the stunning Western Cape wilderness. Riders can now enter to “race” as an individual or a pair, or if you’d prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery you can enter to “ride” and join small groups supported en route by the HotChillee Ride Captains. The 2021 route has yet to be announced, but going by the previous editions of the race it is going to be epic!
These are all the gravel races in South Africa I could find for 2021. You might also be interested in this:
The series will be based on a points system through SA Seeding, where a rider’s top four results will count towards his/her final series standing. Most of the gravel cycling races mentioned above are included in the 100 miler racing series. The series winner will walk away with massive bragging rights, get their name engraved on the coveted “100 Miler Series” trophy and take home a pay check from the R50 000 prize purse.
If you know of any gravel cycling races in South Africa I need to add to this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.