The term “Gran Fondo” loosely translated in Italian means “Big Ride” or “Big Challenge”, these events always involve long distances with tough climbs on difficult terrain that includes cobblestones or gravel sectors.
The Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo takes place on 27 April 2019 and draws on two different race cultures, namely that of the grungy gravel-grinder events in the USA, such as the Dirty Kanza, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, Michigan Mountain Mayhem and Barry Roubaix. Then there is the European Spring Classic races such as the Strade Bianche and Paris Roubaix with their cobbled and gravel sectors. The Swartberg 100 takes place during the height of the European Spring Classics in Africa’s autumn.
The route starts and ends in Prince Albert, arguably one of the most attractive Karoo towns in South Africa, it covers 171km of which there are 3 large gravel sectors. The final climb is over the gravel Swartberg Pass, a relentless climb of 28 km, the last 9.8km being on gravel with gradients of 16% in places. The route is spectacular and takes riders through the Prince Albert Valley, the northern foothills of the Swartberg, Meiringspoort, a narrow defile that cuts through the mountains, the southern foothills of the Swartberg as it doubles back towards the Cango Caves and then finally the epic Swartberg Pass.
The Swartberg100, in true South African tradition, is one of the toughest Gran Fondo’s in the world. “We have created a course that goes back to the days of old when mountain passes were all gravel and brave cyclists climbed them on single speed bikes weighing in at 16kg. A course that allows us to pit our modern training knowledge and technology against an old foe, a road surface that isn’t always friendly.”
The town of Prince Albert is relatively remote and has become a long weekend destination for race participants, the organisers therefore lay on a few shorter races for the less endurance minded family members and spouses.
For more information visit www.swartberg100.com