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MTB Stage Races: Choosing the right race for you

MTB Stage Races: Choosing the right race for you

A stage race. Is a multi-day competitive cycling events, with each day raced as a separate event? However, it’s not to be confused with stage races in other sports such as cricket or running. On MTB stage races you have daily goals that are measurable and achievable. But it’s easy to lose sight of goals during long rides where you can’t tell if you’re getting better or worse. MTB Stage races create a defined structure for success. However, we are seeing it become more and more a family event, finding a MTB Stage race that accommodate both the challenge you seek and the family friendly event can be a daunting task on its own.

A Stage races vs A One-day races

Imagine completing an epic MTB stage race with a friend and being so excited about it that you’re already looking forward to next year’s event. Besides you getting to experience racing side by side with other athletes, whilst you taking in the adrenaline-laced air as you sprint towards the finish line.

MTB Riders
Team of Mountain bikers crossing over a mountain.

One category of racing is classified as stage races. The stage races are longer racing that cover multiple days. They start at one location, travel to another location and then back to the starting location. They offer a variety of challenges and opportunities for personal growth. In stage races, you’re training with friends, pushing to the limit, and working together as a team.

The event itself is exciting, and the wide variety of terrain makes every stage different.

One-day races are just that. The whole race is completed in under 24 hours. Consequently, it can be either a road race or a time trial. In addition, a point-to-point race is also one day, but it has different starting and ending points. The difference between stage races and one-day races is an important decision for any cycling enthusiast to make.

There are three basic types of mountain bike races:

Cross country (XC):

  • Cross country is a form of mountain biking that takes place on the trails. These trails consist of forest paths, smooth roads, single track, and paved roads connecting the trails. XC biking emphasizes endurance over technical skill.


  • Enduro mountain bike racing began in Europe, where it was influenced by rally and motorbike Enduro racing. The idea was simple: climb to the top of a mountain and race to the bottom, time trial style.

Downhill (DH):

  • Downhill is a sport that involves racing against other mountain bikers and the clock down a hill. The question is simple, which rider can reach the bottom of a hill in the quickest time possible.

Each type of race has its own unique characteristics and choosing the wrong one can led to a less than optimal experience. However, when choosing a race for your character, there are a variety of options available. Each race has its own set of bonuses and penalties that affect performance in combat and social situations.

MTB stage race rider
Happy MTB rider enjoying his ride on a single track

With so many stage races available in the South Africa, it can be hard to know where to start.

Are there different types of stage races. Which ones are right for me.

Stage races are a great way to build fitness, get in shape and see new places. They are also a great way to meet other like-minded riders and can lead to some lifelong friendships.

Stage races come in all shapes and sizes. Some take place in a single country over the course of a couple of weeks, while others cover multiple countries and span the course of months. The most common types of stage races are road cycling stage races, mountain bike stage races and cyclocross stage races.

Here is an overview of multi-stage mountain bike event in South Africa attracting cyclist from all over the world.

  • The Freedom Challenge:  is a 2,150-km long route along the Freedom Trail, from Pietermaritzburg to Wellington. It has 33km of ups and downs.
  • Absa Cape Epic: Also called “the Tour de France of mountain biking” this race typically covers more than 100 km a day and lasts 8-days.
  • FNB Wines2Whales: Three events are spread over 10 days – the Chardonnay, Pinotage, and Shiraz.
  • Joberg2c: Joberg2c is a 900-km, 9-day mountain bike adventure across four provinces of South Africa.
  • Sabie Xperience: a 3-day fun, affordable, and family-friendly MTB stage race set in one of the most beautiful sceneries in the country in the small town of Sabie, lowveld, Mpumalanga. –

Which MTB stage race to choose from the different races out there

If you are looking for a quick solution to your fitness problems, stage races might not be the right choice. If you’re a novice racer, try a smaller local race. There will be less pressure, and you can learn the ropes. Take your whole family to a family-friendly race and make it a fun weekend away from home.

If you want to participate in stage races, that have a sense of adventure and push your limits, then consider participating in trail races. Alternatively looking for something a bit more extreme, then a challenging yet affordable MTB stage race might be for you. With this in mind you want to participate in stage races that have a sense of adventure, and help you push your limits.

Actually, if you are looking for the best of both worlds, read our recommendation.

Looking for a family friendly & an adventurous test your skill MTB Stage race? The Sabie Xperience is a unique route that both competitive and casual mountain bikers can enjoy. There are a wide range of self-guided mountain bike trails, which are well marked. The race takes place in the wild and remote mountain area in the lowveld of Sabie, Mpumalanga. Challenging riders both mentally and physically. Completing a mountain bike stage race is a real achievement for all finishers.

For a long time, Sabie Xperience was the benchmark for South African stage racing. The race stands out not just because you get to ride on some of the best mountain bike trails in the world – but also because you leave the groomed trails. And while there would have been some good dreaming when coming up with the routes, the execution is top notch.  From the event village, timing, mix facilities on offer, course selection all the way down to the ice-cold beer afterwards. Yes, you get to enjoy a beer.

Offering a one-of-a-kind kid friendly fun-race every day after each race, the event makes this the perfect destination for a family weekend away. Check out our Facebook page for more information:

MTB Stage race rider
Rider enjoying his single-track MTB event
MTB Stage race rider
Smiling all the way at an epic single track MTB event

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