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Enjoy ‘Rock’ bike and trail festival

When I moved from Johannesburg to Paarl, I was in absolute and instant awe of the mountain biking terrain that the beautiful Boland town offered. Six years on the natural trails have remained, and 180 km of additional trails have been built on the Paarl Mountain since our arrival.

Paarl has all the natural elements required for great trails. It’s surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides and the views are inspirational. The mountains, Drakenstein, Simonsberg and Paarl Mountain offer climbs in excess of 10 km and, of course, long downhill rewards, which can reach up to 20 km.

I immediately set about creating what eventually became the three-stage Liberty Winelands Encounter as well as the two-stage Sanlam Invitational, which sadly doesn’t exist anymore following Sanlam’s withdrawal.

I and my extremely talented and hard-working sidekick, Darren Herbst, who built the 180 km trail network on Paarl Mountain, left these events in the care of a local cycling distributor.

We swiftly went on to a new creation, which we believed would encompass the best of both the Encounter as well as the Invitational, but at a fraction of the price.

The result was The Rock Mountain Bike and Trail Run Festival!

The first participants in “The Rock” last year were astonished at the remarkable value offering linked to the trails and venues – it led in a new chapter for mountain bike and trail-run events.

With an affordable price tag and array of options to suit all levels of mountain bikers and trail runners, Paarl’s biggest mountain bike and trail run bash was here to stay. It was staged very successfully and attracted more than 1 000 participants to its inaugural edition.

This year the festival comes to Spice Route Destination and Rhebokskloof Estate from 27 to 29 September, and again presents lots of entertainment and fun activities to cater for all levels of mountain bikers and trail runners and their families.

The off-road festival presents a three-day mountain-bike stage race and a two-day trail run as well as seven other individual fun rides and runs for mountain bikers and trail runners.

The three-day mountain-bike stage race carries a price tag of just R1 350 and entry fee for the two-day trail run is an affordable R900.

We wanted to create the opportunity for as many cyclists and runners to get in on the act over a single weekend.

The Rock attracted incredible feedback from participants last year, with many riders commenting that it was the best three-stage race in which they had ever taken part.

Besides the meticulous planning and service delivery around the route, the major distinguishing factor of The Rock is the off-the-bike elements, which are exceptional and excellent value for money.


27 Sept: Day 1 Malmesbury – Rhebokskloof: 54 km – 1 300 m elevation

28 Sept: Day 2 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route: 43km – 950 m elevation

29 Sept: Day 3 Spice route – Rhebokskloof: 48 km – 1 300 m elevation

Riders can enter any one of the days individually.


28 Sept: Day 1 Rhebokskloof – Spice Route: 21 km – 568 elevation

29 Sept: Day two Spice Route – Rhebokskloof: 18,5 km – 720 m elevation

Runners can enter any day.

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