The ingredients for any iconic mountain bike race are pretty straightforward: breathtaking scenery, access to exclusive trails, loads of single-track, and rugged, challenging but ultimately rideable terrain.


In this regard, South Africans mountain bikers are spoilt for choice, with a multitude of exquisite options across single-day and multi-stage races across our beautiful country.

READ MORE | Biogen Extends Partnership With Dryland Event Management To 2026

As you plan your 2024 race calendar, consider adding these must-do bucket-list events to the list:

Single day: Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme MTB Challenge presented by Biogen

  • Region: Southern Cape
  • Distance: 121 km / 47 km
  • Ascent: 2900m / 950 m

About the race:

This legendary race boasts some of the most scenic tracks in the Southern Cape, and the early morning start guarantees wildlife encounters. The route includes rough and unforgiving steep and technical descends, and varying terrain as riders transitions into the fynbos-laden southern slopes of the Outeniqua mountain range in Karoo, arguably the most scenic section in the race. This exclusive area is only accessible once a year to riders during the race. The real test is the Attakwas, which riders then swop for an unforgiving and undulating gravel road where conditions are usually hot and humid. Past the 100 km mark, the heat and unrelenting climbs take their toll on weary legs. Eight Bells await and then its onto the finish, but not before the steepest and longest climb of the day at the 110 km mark. The first sight of the sea signals that the finish at the water’s edge is near.

Two-day: Berg and Bush sponsored by Standard Bank

  • Region: Winterton, Kwa-Zulu Natal
  • Stage 1: Distance: 60 km / Ascent: 817 m
  • Day 2: Distance: 52 km / Ascent: 883 m


About the race:

The 2-Day Berg and Bush event is sociable and chilled, but features the same thrilling trails as the Tour and Descent events.

Stage 1 includes climbs up past the historic Spionkop Lodge and Mike’s Pass, offering magnificent views of the Drakensberg mountains and Tugela Valley below. Riders will enjoy iconic single-track and descents down 4×4 tracks, including an exhilarating purpose-built track down a ravine through large herds of game.

Stage 2 includes another ascent of Spioenkop on the southern side of the mountain along the Zig Zigs, as well as Brakfontein Hill. Fast, flowing descents down single-track and stretches along the banks of the Tugela River and The Kloof, with sightings of Boer fortifications where they waited for the British to cross the river in 1899 are the other main attractions on the day. The final 13km descent back to the race village remains a highlight for many mountain bikers.

Three-day race: Glacier Storms River Traverse

  • Region: Tsitsikamma, Western Cape and Eastern Cape
  • Stage 1: Distance: 62 km / Ascent: 950 m
  • Stage 2: Distance: 50 km / Vertical ascent: 820 m
  • Stage 3: Distance: 51 km / Vertical ascent: 830 m


About the race:

The Tsitsikamma – with its deep gorges, fertile plains, and wild coastline – is undoubtedly one of the country’s most spectacular destinations in South Africa to visit and ride a bike. Starting at the quaint Storms River Village, the event is firmly family focused, providing fun on and off the bike for riders of all ages. Rather than a race, it is considered by entrants as a ride or a tour. A relaxed three days on the bike are punctuated by lingering stops at the Biogen-powered water points, with Beer and Barrel Belgian craft beers offered at the final water point of each stage.

Stage 1 is consistently rated as the favourite by all riders due to the views across this rugged coastline. Riders descend the historic old pass down to the Storms River gorge, then travel through Bluelillybush plantation. The route passes a landscape of recently harvested trees and thick mature forests, and winds along a cliff-hugging section above the Storms River mouth, overlooking the National Park below.

The shorter stage 2 takes riders into lush indigenous forests, with a challenging route that winds through undulating forestry tracks.

Stage 3 takes riders through the Storms River gorge through beautiful dairy farmlands onto the southern slopes of the Tsitsikamma mountains. The views are breathtaking, the tracks smooth and easy. On the return, riding under canopies of indigenous trees and crossing the fern infested ancient rivers, riders will give the soul time to breathe.

Multi-stage race: Momentum Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen

  • Region: Karoo and Garden Route, Western Cape
  • Stage 1: Distance 55 km / Ascent: 1,750 m
  • Stage 2: Distance: 77 km / Ascent: 2,300 m
  • Stage 3: Distance: 102 km / Ascent: 1,950 m
  • Stage 4: Distance: 83 km / Ascent: 1,750 m
  • Stage 5: Distance: 64 km / Ascent: 1,2000 m


About the race:

The Cape Pioneer Trek is known for world class organisation, great trails and great friends, offering a route unmatched in diversity.

Stage 1 is primarily a single-track stage taking riders through the amazing Jonkersberg Nature Reserve, riding on exquisite trails that represent the true essence of mountain biking. This spectacular stage offers views of George and the ocean.

Stage 2 takes riders towards the interior, posing a challenge of note with marvellous single-track riding in the Saasveld area to the iconic Seven Passes Road, with many steep climbs and unforgiving descends.

Stage 3 reveals the charisma of the Karoo, marked by a change in climate and terrain, with challenging descents on jeep tracks and rough single tracks.

As the Queen stage, stage 4 includes the mighty Swartberg Mountain as its main challenge, but the views make up for the effort. Riders will climb more than 2000 m vertically. The final 8km is straight up to the best finish of any mountain bike race – the World Heritage site of Swartberg Mountain.

The final stage caps off a week of fabulous riding, with a climb at the start to separate the field, and the iconic Chandelier. But it’s all about having fun and celebrating the achievements of the week gone by, enjoying the fast race into the finish at the Queens Hotel.