Riders again able to go solo in exclusive Knysna stage race

SOLO riders will again be able to race alongside the usual two-man teams in this year's RECM Knysna 200, which takes place from June 6 to 8 on some of the Garden Route's most spectacular mountain bike trails.

Race director Patric Mosterd said entries for the exclusive event would be capped at 350 riders, with solo entries potentially making up nearly a quarter of the field.

Last year's high-profile champions were RECM's Erik Kleinhans, who was eighth in last month's Cape Epic, and Africa Silks-Bestmed's seven- times Argus champion Anriette Schoeman, who will return to defend her title.

"Our solo category has been a very successful addition to our team offering," Mosterd said. "Riders sometimes struggle to find suitable partners and time to train together."

He said many came with friends but opted to compete solo, which allowed them to enjoy the event together but race separately according to their ability.

With stage distances ranging between 65km and 75km a day, Mosterd said it was a manageable event without the support of a riding partner.

"It's one of the most scenic races around and quite technical but not dangerous. There are some lovely fast descents and reasonable fitness is essential." He said riders who spent between eight and 12 hours a week on their bikes would be able to enjoy the Garden Route and Knysna forest in all its splendour.

"This year, we've added a daily 'enduro' section. These are fun downhill sections that will be individually timed. These will offer less serious riders an opportunity to 'compete' with the pros."

Mosterd said even teams would be timed as solo riders on these sections, with the usual time-gap penalties only applying 500m after the end of each section.

The race would also introduce the new Tread Buffalo category, aimed at riders who weigh more than 90kg, this year, he said.

Mosterd said RECM and Cape Storm Clothing would jointly sponsor the overall prizes, which included professional-quality racing kit and iPads for the winners.

"There's also a R50000 unit trust raffle prize up for grabs, in support of Knysna Sport School. They help us enormously behind the scenes. We reciprocate with free entries for their development teams and as much cash and used cycling kit donations from participants as we can muster."