After attending the event for the first time in 2015, the Y2Karoo received a special place in my annual events schedule. Considering that the race is still young and in the small town of Colesberg you might wonder why… Quite simply – it as great event organized by a team of people who still believe in making life fun for all riders. From the moment you arrive in Colesberg are treated to the warm hospitality of this wonderful community. As per standing tradition, Keith Wilson, the race organiser made a special effort to welcome all the arriving riders, adding to the personal touch that this event already has.
Starting out the riding, the first stage consists of 25km of awesome trails ridden in the afternoon as the sun is setting. This is a particularly fun stretch, but not to be taken lightly. Hidden in the trails are a few tricky sections, along with a testing little climb about half way through, now aptly known as “Keith’s Revenge”.
After a quick shower to get the dust off we were off to the diner tables, which is accompanied by the daily prize giving and “Penalties” (The first of which went to my partner Dawie Blaauw with the reasoning “Just because you are here”).
The following morning we woke up to some icy weather which somehow didn’t seem to affect the bulk of the riders who poured in from the surrounds. For a guy from Gauteng, finding ice on my car when I take my bike to the starting line felt like we were in arctic winter! Fortunately the world heated up very quickly and I ended up at the starting line with only a thermal vest under my kit and arm warmers.
Route wise, day two is marked as the tougher of the two long stages,and takes riders over a few stretches of district road, some Jeep track, and through section called Jurassic park. In Jurassic park the trail gets exciting with a few rocky climbs and some sandy patches to keep you focussed. Once you are of the park, a nice stretch of combined Jeep track and district road takes you back into the hills behind Colesberg to end off the day with another bit of that awesome single track you ride on day 1.
We started out the day on an easier pace, and decided not to chase after the riders that flew off the starting line. The first 20km went past quickly and painlessly, allowing us some time to absorb the beauty of the wide open Karoo landscape. This was soon to change – Between the first water point and the infamous Jurassic park the riding is tough. Bumpy, windy, and sandy. Having taken things easy at the start we picked up the pace a bit to try and get over this section as quick as possible, and it paid off. We were at the foot of Jurassic park in no time, leading us into another one of the hidden treasures on the route. The route in Jurassic park is rocky and hilly, but great fun and over far too soon. From there we started on the road back to town. At the third water point we had to stop for a quick beer (just because they have beer of course) which gave the legs a quick break before pushing back to the trails behind the town.
The evening before the last day of a stage race is always marked by a little more socialising that you find on other days, and the same applied to our end of day 2. We had a few bottles of wine and quite a few plates of absolutely wonderful Karoo lamb chops which was provided and perfectly prepared by the guys from Meatlands.
Waking up on day three was a little tough… but we managed to get out of bed in time for a good breakfast and much needed cup of coffee. By this time the cold morning air didn’t feel that cold anymore (Amazing what a day or two in the Northen Cape can do), and I opted to get on the bike with just a set of arm warmers and my normal kit.
Day three offered a bit more single track again at the start, including a magical little section carved out in the middle of nowhere with a proper drop and a few nifty little twists and turns. From there, we turned on to the district roads which included a few nice and steady drags that takes you out to the first water point. With the wind at our backs we were making good time and it felt like the day would be a breeze. After water point 1, the trail turns into one of the farms and leads you down a nice stretch of evenly spaced humps that keeps life interesting until you reach the second water point. From here, things changed… As we turned back onto the district road to head home, a 30km/h wind hit us straight in the face. On top of this nice little breeze, we were at the foot of an 8,8km drag which steadily climbs out of the valley that we descended into. It was tough… we got into rhythm and slogged on for the remaining 40km heading into the wind. Even the last portion of single track didn’t allow us to get away from the wind, and we finished the day knowing that we worked hard.
After a quick shower we went round for the last meal of the event and the final prize giving before hitting the road back to Bloemfontein for a well-deserved rest before taking on the trip back home to Pretoria.
Having done the Y2Karoo for the second time this year I still believe it’s one of the nicest experiences I’ve had at a stage race. With the warm Colesberg hospitality and a route that takes you through areas that few us ever get to see this event really is a gem. It’s not as commercialised as the bigger stage races which gives you that personal touch that tends to get lost when people stop caring about the fun we have on our bikes, and worry too much about the money it makes. I will definitely be back again…