Entries to the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback events open on Valentine’s Day, that’s 14 February for those of you who’ve forgotten; a day when the love of trails, teammates, good food, great wine, incredible views, and serious GEES are at their peak.
It is the constants in life which we subconsciously pin so much to. Like the sun rising, the tides ebbing and the seasons changing, so is the Valentine’s Day entry opening of the FNB Wines2Whales.
While the day on which entries open remains unchanged, so much of the race has evolved and shifted over the years. The most significant change is the Switchback. 2023 will see the second running of the reimagined route; from Curro Hermanus to Lourensford Wine Estate, in Somerset West. Once again there will be new singletracks, as Cape Trails sculpt paths through the fynbos, gum forests and vineyards. Oak Valley Estate remains the central race village for two nights – providing a constant to come home to; a place to unwind, recharge and reminisce about the day on the trails.
In 2023, the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback shifts forward slightly on the calendar, starting with the women’s Chardonnay race from the 20th to the 22nd of October. Then it is time for the eBikers to charge their batteries and power though the switchbacks in the mid-week Pinotage event, from the 23rd to the 25th of October. Finally, the men’s, mixed and Exxaro races take to the course, from the 27th to the 29th of October. Anyone can enter any of the events, of course and riders of all levels are welcomed with open arms.
For most mountain bikers, their own schedules are the deciding factor of which event to enter, and teams are encouraged to enter the event that best suits their schedules and ambitions. Whichever event is selected, one can rest assured that there will be enough like-minded people to share the trails, tent village and tables at dinner with. Everyone is sure to rediscover old friendships and establish a few new ones, too. *A word to the wise: the Chardonnay event tends to fill up fast, so have your browser loaded and your card handy on 14 Feb at 08:59 ahead of entries opening at 09:00.
One of the highlights of the FNB W2W Switchback is the most imposing feature of the traditional direction’s opening stage: Gantouw Pass. Located mid-way through Stage 3, Gantouw Pass leads teams from the Elgin plateau down into the Helderberg during the Switchback edition. The ancient footpath was established by vast herds of eland, before being used by Khoi herdsmen and later European settlers, with their ox wagons. For ages it was the easiest route through the Hottentots Holland Mountains, which it remains, today, for FNB W2W mountain bikers.
Heading down the pass provides more opportunity to appreciate the spectacular views over False Bay, the wine farms of Somerset West and the verdant fynbos. Riders should be on the lookout for proteas in bloom, tiny sugar birds feeding on the nectar of said flowers and the basking bloukop koggelmanders (or agama atra if you are feeling scientific).
There are few opportunities outside of the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback to rail switchback berms and trails in the morning, while surrounded by the unparalleled biodiversity of the Cape floral kingdom, followed by a delicious lunch, an afternoon of sipping award winning cool-climate wines, and an evening of watching the Rugby World Cup after another hearty meal.
So, three days spent like that sounds pretty good right now…
Celebrate your love for all things mountain biking this Valentine’s Day and enter the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback. Visit https://www.epic-series.com/wines2whales-riders-entries and start the love affair with SeriousGEES.