Welcome cash injection for conservation

The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy (GSC) received a welcome cash injection of R90 000 from Fairtree Capital, sponsors of the Fairtree Simonsberg Contour Mountain Bike and Trail Run Stage Races.

Adele Toua (Greater Simonsberg Conservancy), Nora Thiel (Delheim), Herman Sandrock (Fairtree Capital) and Meurant Botha (Dirtopia)

The GSC partnered with local landowners, event organisers Dirtopia and sponsors Fairtree Capital to offer participants a unique opportunity to access routes across all 32 member farms during the two-day mountain bike stage race, which will be hosted for the third time in February 2018.

According to GSC Conservation Officer Adele Toua, the Fairtree Capital Contour Stage race is not only a welcome financial boost, but provides a platform to educate the public on the importance of conservation. “Efforts in restoration of the natural environment have only been possible through sponsorship and landowner support. Funds are allocated to education programmes, fire management, conservation of biodiversity in the area as well as alien clearing campaigns, as this is one of the major threats to water supply,” says Toua.

The GSC is situated in an area that has precious fragments of critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld and Mountain Fynbos. The farmland area currently covers over 4000Ha of which 32% is designated for conservation, including projects such as the Cape Leopard (sighted on Tokara Wine Farm), critically endangered Serruria pinnata, endangered Aristea lugens and 300 year old yellow wood forest (Podocarpus elongates) on Klapmutskop.

The inaugural MTB Stage Race – dubbed the Fire Ride – took place shortly after the devastating Simonsberg fire in 2016, which damaged 90% of the trails that were constructed over a 2-year period and also destroyed large sections of the forest canopy.  However, route designer and race director, Meurant Botha from Dirtopia, deployed more than 50 trail workers to ensure that a slightly adapted route was ready for race weekend. 

Remarkable vegetation regrowth has already taken place and according to Botha, riders can look forward to even more new trails for the 2018 race.   “The event aims to expand and showcase the expansive single-track trail network on the Simonsberg Mountain. The final route will be launched later this year, but longer route riders can expect daily stages of 55-60km with around 1500m elevation, while the shorter 40km route option will focus on a fun trail experience with an 800m climb.  For 2018, we are adding more singletrack to day one, while minor tweaks are on the cards for day two. Sunday’s route boasts over 25km of singletrack and ranks as one of the best stage race days around”, explains Botha.

As an Early Bird Special, all entry fees will remain the same as 2017 entry fees and only increase on 1 January 2018.  Riders can customise their entry and opt for the following variations: 60km both days (R975), 40km both days (R825), 40km on Saturday and 60km on Sunday (R875), 60km Saturday and 40km on Sunday (R875), 60km one day only (R495) or 40km one day only (R420).  The entry fee also includes a goodie bag with a bottle of local wine, coffee and a breakfast snack, buffet lunch as well as daily bike wash and lube service.  A secure bike park is set up so riders can leave their bikes on site overnight.

In 2017, the event was expanded to include the Fairtree Simonsberg Contour Stage Race Trail Run with starting and finishing points at Delvera Farm just outside Stellenbosch.   Entry fees vary according to route selection and whether runners opt for one or both days:  25km both days (R650), 12km both days (R500), 12km and 25km respectively (R580), 12km on either day (R270) or the 7km fun run on the Sunday (R175).  The entry fee for the 12km and 25 km includes timing, a goody bag, breakfast, lunch, water points and a medal. 

Fairtree Capital added that “With over 40km of mountain singletrack, connecting more than 10 wine estates, the region is considered a mountain bike hotspot.  Riders are also able to catch a rare glimpse of harvest season in the winelands. We are very proud to be associated with the Fairtree Simonsberg Contour and look forward to welcoming riders for the third edition of the “Fire Ride”. Dirtopia and the landowners have done an incredible job in preparing and maintaining the trails. We can attest that participants are in for two fantastic weekends in incredible surroundings.”

For event information and race entries visit www.fairtreecontour.co.za, while you can find more conservation information on www.simonsbergconservancy.co.za or on facebook @simonsbergcontour and @GreaterSimonsbergConservancy.

The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy is a Non Profit and Public Benefit Organisation.  Permits and trail information for the marked hiking and mountain bike trails open to the public in the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy is for sale at the Dirtopia Trail Centre at Delvera or online at www.dirtopia.co.za.

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