The Karoo Burn
The Karoo Burn, an amazing Tankwa MTB challenge – Starting in the Great Karoo sheep-farming town of Calvinia, the route heads onto the longest dirt road in South Africa – the R355. After an initial climb out of Calvinia, the course drops down towards the 110km mark along fast-rolling gravel roads. But beware the middle-mannetjie! Some of those gravel roads hide rocky shards that can shred a tyre in an instant so caution is critical.
The first 103km is just a warm-up. The real work starts after Waterpoint 3 as the road starts to climb slowly and the track becomes rougher. Choosing the right line on these gravel roads is key. Avoiding the corrugations will save your hands and that sensitive area that attaches you to the saddle! Opt for the smoother sandy sections and you could find yourself battling through the soft stuff that can quickly grab your front wheel and buck you off.
Keep the pace up and ensure you make the right tyre pressure choice as you head towards the 170km mark and the famous Tankwa Padstal at Waterpoint 4. Make sure you eat, top up your hydration and pack in plenty of water as you swing off the R355 and head up the brutal, but majestic, Katbakkies Pass – the toughest part of the course.
The Pass will come as the hot African sun starts to set and the magnificent Tankwa will show off its world famous beauty. From there, it’s a welcome descent at 190km followed by rewarding undulating roads as you head towards the finish at Kaleo Guest Farm.
Start & Finish
Start: Calvinia Primary School
Finish: Kaleo Guest Farm
Total Distance: 242 km
Vertical Ascent: 1950m