The opening day of the 2023 Dr Evil Classic took riders from Wittedrift to Cairnbrogie, along a scenic and at time challenging 58-kilometre route. Among the 350-rider strong field there were numerous eBikers, including a group of racing eBike riders. Most though, were happy to cruise and take in the spectacular Plettenberg Bay vistas; on Thursday, 21 September. A particularly large and vocal group were Trail Angels. Hailing from Cape Town this women’s mountain biking club are fantastic additions to any event.
On a day that began at Wittedrift High School the sun shone brightly and the weather gods looked favourably upon the mountain bikers. The three-day stage race started with a steady climb out of the Bietou River valley through the farmlands and into Knysna’s old growth indigenous forests. There was no time to look for the illusive elephants, or the stranger and more mysterious beasts which are said to roam the glades and groves however. Petrus-se-Brand trail ensured a fun and fast swoop through the deepest forest before climbing back to the superbly stocked first water point. Then more indigenous forest singletrack fun followed, before crossing under the national highway and entering into MTO’s pine plantations. Dual tracks made for fast riding into the unspoilt splendour of Harkerville, before a taste of the trails which await on Stages 2 and 3 were provided by MTO Garden Route and Cairnbrogie. In total the day included 1 400 metres of climbing, making it a tough but rewarding first stage.
The mix of challenging climbs with fun trails is a recipe which Leon Evans, or Dr Evil as he was known when he created the early Cape Epic routes, has utilised for a number of years on Stage 1. This is due to the fact that Stages 2 and 3 are shorter and more packed with trails. So, the opening day is the only opportunity riders get to stretch their legs on longer dual track sections. This helps everyone get into the swing of things and allows for seeded starts for the singletrack packed second two days.
Nikki Haywood, founder of the Trail Angels, was among those who are taking on the race on an eBike. With electric assistance the climbs were not a problem for the angel in chief, nor were the singletracks, given what she is used to in Cape Town. “None of us have done the Dr Evil Classic before,” Haywood confessed. “Which is quite amazing as we are 27 ladies here today! We’ve absolutely loved the riding on day one. The mix of forest trails, both indigenous and plantations, has been incredible. It’s so smooth and fun.”
“I’ve been checking in with the Trail Angels as we’ve gone along,” she continued, noting one of the benefits of being on a SCOTT Contessa Strike eRide. “They’ve been loving it. What I like about the Dr Evil Classic, for a mixed-experience group like ours, is that the milage and terrain are very doable too. We’re used to riding in Tokai, which is quite rocky, so for the ladies here it’s really nice to ride some smooth and flowing trails. Day one was a super nice introduction to stage racing I think.”
Stage 2 and 3 will present similar challenges, with more incredible flowing trails. MTO Forestry, the Plettenberg Bay mountain biking community and Cairnbrogie have worked to convert the area into a trail Mecca. After the mix of dual and singletracks on Stage 1, the next two days will be back-to-back trails. With the Cairnbrogie coastal singletracks and the old favourites in Harkerville serving as the day two’s highlights.
Stage 2 measures just 45 kilometres in length, but includes 1 080 metres of elevation gain. So, it is not to be underestimated. Once again, the racing eBikers will be off first, at 8:00 on Friday morning. While the touring eBike riders and the rest of the field will start at 8:20 from Cairnbrogie.
Contestants in the 2023 Dr Evil Classic are reminded to enter the SCOTT goes Bosch competition to win a SCOTT Strike eRide and a Bosch Fontus 18V cordless leisure cleaner. To find out more follow the race on Facebook, Dr Evil Classic, or Instagram, @drevilclassic. For more information on the event visit www.drevilclassic.com.