As I sit at home, yearning to be out in the Karoo and updating Trackleaders every few minutes, it seemed only logical to jot down the stops my mates will encounter en route from the finish line.
Oh, what fun – Remembering all the water points (WP) and race villages (RV) on The Munga, while I’m watching all the dots having fun in this 2020 edition of that wonderful 1000+km mountain bike race across South Africa in the heat of summer. Here we go, complete with GPS coordinates for all stops.
Taken from memory, Trackleaders and Google maps.
As far as I recall, this is how it goes.
- Swing out of the casino area and head for the dirt and farm roads. There’s a hell of a sandy/thorny patch before between the start and the first water point.
- Somewhere between WP1 and WP2 is a spaza shop with a Coke sign across the road from a police station where you can refill if needed. And then on to a long straight gravel road to the WP2 farm house for a boerewors roll.
- Dodge the vlakvarkgate (wharthog hideaways and holes in the ground) on your way the 1st race village (RV#1) at Vanderkloof dam — after you crossed the bridge and climbed up on the other side.
- WP3 is a farm house with a big tree and a corner porch, before you cross the railway at Houtkraal to make your way to WP4 for some unique homemade snacks outside.
- RV#2 is the hotel in Britstown at 400km, including mechanics and masseuses. A few sandy patches along the railway line as you leave town.
- WP5 is a farm house with a swimming pool about 40kms outside of Britstown, but it might have been moved this year. And WP6 is a favourite stop for Pancakes at Pampoenpoort.
- Go through Loxton and 5kms thereafter you’ll arrive at RV#3 at Jakhalsdans, from something unique. Then onto the long district roads towards Sutherland, with two more stops before you get there.
- WP6 is marked Munga farmstay on the map and has the friendliest of children assisting, and WP7 is the Cape Dutch house under the stars about 30kms or so before Sutherland – it is worth noting that you pass through Fraserburg about halfway between WP6 and WP7, and shortly after Fraserburg you get off the main road for a lovely technical section, before rejoining the main road again.
- It bit of climbing and a bit of tar leads into RV#4 at Sutherland. After that you’ll climb to the top of the escarpment for a wonderful view before dropping down and down to the flats before WP8 at the Tankwa River Lodge. Magic.
- A long (and loose) climb, with a tricky (but short) descent take you to the moon-like landscape on the way to WP10 at the Tankwa farm stall. Carry on to the R43 T-junction and go over Bo-Swaarmoed pass to Ceres, while the scenery completely changes from Karoo to Winelands.
- Dennebos is the last race village (RV5) and final stop before you get to the finish at Doolhof. Previous years saw us go over Bainskloof for a magical descent to the finish line but this year riders go around the flat but further Nuwekloof pass.
Start at BFN casino
The Windmill casino in Bloemfontein and surrounding area is a hive of activity, even on the before the start of The Munga. Registration takes place around the pool, bicycles are delivered to the car park, ambulances arrive in earnest and there is a special mix of excitement and fear from the riders.
On D-day its best to fuel up at the hotel breakfast buffet, prior to the race briefing and The Start — no, The End (of things as you know it). Enjoy your ride and see you in Wellington in 3 or 4 or 5 days. Go go go. PS, Covid-19 may have had a hand in things being slightly different this year. Find the start at GPS location -29.16899109334331, 26.18075182513854
WP1: Farm house 60km in
By the time you arrive at the farmhouse, the heat would likely already have made a statement and the Cokes, bananas and boerewors rolls on offer never tasted better. Fill up and get going as there is still over a 1000 kms home. GPS coordinates -29.344626901231496, 25.803909418043116
WP2: Lovely Lawn at 170km
This farm house had the braai going, ample space and friendly people. Grab a bite to eat and fill your bottles for the 50 kms to your first race village experience at Vanderkloof dam — and note a minor technical bit as you descent towards the dam, before crossing the wall and climbing out the other side again. At -29.791716580733443, 25.000443418985682
RV1: Vanderkloof dam, 222km
On my first arrival here it looked like a light version of Saving Private Ryan. There was a chap refunding his last meal on the thick carpet in the foyer. Otherwise it was a lovely experience, coupled with the first opportunity to sign in/out as you arrive and leave — and entertaining to see the positions of other riders at the time. GPS -30.00043860885864, 24.74014606588776
Extra: Petrusville around 245km
There are a few extra opportunities to grab something cold when the need is there and this is certainly one of them, depending on what time of the day or night you pass through, off course. After this there is another 55 kms to water point #3. Coordinates -30.082015041678932, 24.659367264658897
WP3: Die Groot Boom at 300km
Last year I had an early mechanical and was just riding home for fun, expected to be all alone for the whole distance, until I turned the corner into WP3 to find about 30 riders hiding from the sun. It must be said, this is a perfect hideout. It was also unmanned for the most part (as far as I could remember), so fend for yourself. Lat/long -30.255916583464558, 24.270753526948162
WP4: After Houtkraal, at 340km
Houtkraal is where you cross the railroad line from North-East to South-West and this water point #4 follows not too long after that (about 15 kms). I distinctly remember a wide variety of baked and homemade goods on the table and very friendly hosts. Keep up the good work. Decimal degrees -30.33562188441367, 23.973826881748728
RV2: Britstown at 400km
Another opportunity to sign in and out and check the positions of your mates — this time at the Transkaroo Country lodge. One my first outing I arrived here late-morning, after 23 hrs of riding — and in stead of trying to force a nap I would have been better off eating and going. Now you know for next time. Oh, and they have a great menu. And a bar. At -30.587880068363297, 23.505410139846568
WP5: Soek die swembad, 440km
I don’t remember this one, or I can’t make out the premises from the satellite view, and off course there is no street view here. What I do remember as a water point from 2018 and 2019 (and that I haven’t seen here), is a lovely farm setup with sprinklers and a swimming pool and a round fire pit / braai area with a concrete floor under a roof, right in front of the house. And fresh fruit and caring owners. GPS -30.66407560676226, 23.192479077694557
WP6: Pampoenpoort at 525km
Chris’ infamous water point – and with good reason. I also remember that the owners knew family from Fraserburg from Valerida’s side. A lovely long stoep for a mattress and a proper spread on the table — those pancakes alone are worth staying an extra few minutes for. Enjoy. Coordinates -31.070697640211964, 22.65392616472898
RV3: Jakhalsdans at 592km
Just outside of Loxton — well, if you’re that tired, the extra 5kms outside of town feels never-ending – but the end result is so worthwhile. Sleep like the animals, just muck more luxurious. You are in for a treat at www.jakhalsdans.co.za — including great dining and a quick shower if need be. Find it here -31.53775923401191, 22.343020131046572
WP7: Net vriendelikheid at 650km
On google maps it is marked as Munga Farmstay, Saaifontein, Fraserburg — but the most noteworthy about this stop is the eagerness and enthusiasm with which the children on the farm jump around to ensure you as a rider is well catered for. Great stuff guys. There is a garage full of snacks and a lovely stoep, lush green lawn and huge trees under which you can escape the sun and be fulfilled. Oh, and easy does it, as the next water point is about 100 kms on. Friendliness at -31.71765748871215, 21.88363607703349
Extra: Fraserburg at 700km
Another stop that might be closed depending on the time of day or night you pass here, but during the heat of day (and with a likely reverse-tailwind) this is one that can come in very handy. I stopped at the shop below, and there is another guest house with a bar and restaurant just as you are about to leave town. Relief at -31.916099591126933, 21.510236045233874
WP8: Cape Dutch at 745km
Great hospitality and very well-organised by the owners (who’s names have now escaped me, but if I’m not mistaken they were also from around Stellenbosch and involved in finance). This was a welcome stop before race village #4 in Sutherland, not far down the road from here. Stop at -32.13618350735144, 21.140350554936397
RV4: Sutherland, 777km
At The Whitehouse Inn. For me, Sutherland arrived at night on both occasions. The toilets had seen their fair share of traffic by then but the rest of the amenities were top notch, including a private room with en suite bathroom if you decide to take a refreshing nap. Oh, and the breakfast table was great. GPS -32.396362184334365, 20.66096415602873
WP9: Tankwa River Lodge, 870km
Now this is the Oasis that you have been waiting for. A great venue with hosts to match and food in the shade next to the sparkling pool. Pure bliss — see some great pics here. Be careful though, the clock is ticking. And beware the technical climb in the distance, before you get to the moon-like landscape. Points to -32.5036655372502, 20.239290067606834
WP10: Tankwa padstal, 940km
Did someone say arson? Another hidden gem upon arrival, and not a moment to soon. The Tankwa padstal is a welcome temporary shield from the sun and prevailing winds. Also have a look at this account from blogger Roxanne Reid. The famous Tankwa padstal is located at -32.870294865190615, 19.77581437486431
RV5: Dennebos in Ceres, 1034km
Dennebos is a pine forest holiday resort of the Western Cape, located in the outskirts of Ceres and at the foot of the Skurweberg. We also came here for a family holiday way-back-when we were young. Fond memories. The entrance gate to Dennebos is at -33.3652380602552, 19.29864820287586
Finish at Doolhof, 1100km
The 2020 skips the iconic end over Bainskloof and down the track to Doolhof — swopping if for Nuwekloof pass and around Gouda into Wellington for the finish. Either way: Welcome home. A fitting venue with some brilliant wines to end of a stunning ride. Have a cold one, you deserved it. And Buy their wine, those ladies in red and their friends make for some great company at doolhof.com. Fin -33.62585358858896, 19.083348344416276
Well this was fun. But it is better on a bicycle then behind a screen. Hoping to do this again in the future. Keep up the good work, Alex & Erik.