When you’re stuck inside your comfort zone, you stop learning. In October, the 2016 Tour of Ara will take place: a supported 800km+ of racing over six days through the Karoo — a semi-desert region of South Africa. That’s far enough out of your comfort zone to do some serious learning.
If you were mesmerised by the photos of the recent Eroica South Africa, the Tour of Ara will surely satisfy your wanderlust. Don’t fret, this is no sado-masochistic torture trip, you’ll be luxuriously catered for.
The Tour Of Ara has been coordinated by the same folk that organised Eroica South Africa. It’s a similar format, just with less flamboyance.
From the press release:
The Tour of Ara is a very tough 800km all-gravel 6-day stage race, ridden exclusively on vintage steel road racing bicycles, and only open to 40 racers.
With the beautiful but harsh semi-desert Karoo as a backdrop, racers are pitted against each other, the elements, and themselves. Riding an old skinny-tyred road bikes over sharp rocks, relentless corrugations and through thick sand for 6 days is not for everyone, but those who dare are rewarded with breathtaking vistas, swift camaraderie and a sense of unmatched achievement.
After lengthy days of being bounced around in the saddle and fighting your handlebars for control, there is also the fantastic food and wine to look forward to — always sourced locally, and prepared by the communities the Tour passes through.
This ensures that the Tour of Ara isn’t only about racing headlong to the horizon, but also to experience the history and culture of the small communities travelled through.
The race will be ridden entirely at your own risk. There’s no prize money. There’s no sponsors. Only 40 spots are available, and it’s first come, first served. Interested? Entries open 12:00 sharp (midday) on Monday 6 June 2016, by emailing Stan Engelbrecht.
It’s not free, but the pricing is fair. This is from Stan’s email:
There will be 5 tiers:
• There will be 5 sponsored riders, who will be nominated. I still have some open spots, so I’m open to suggestions. If you know a strong underprivileged rider who you think can benefit from the experience of racing in the Tour, please let me know.
• R9,500 entires (limited to 10). Anybody can apply for one of these spots, with good reason. Students, artists, young folks starting out. Please get in touch with me to discuss if you’d like to apply for one of these entries.
• R12,500 entries. This is the standard entry fee.
• R15,000 + entires. If you can afford to pay a bit more, please do. Tour of Ara really depends on a few of these entries, so please help if you can. Your money will go to making the sponsored positions possible (everything from appropriate bikes to travel to and from the race), and will be spent responsibly throughout the communities we’ll be traveling through.
• R15,000 + INTERNATIONAL entries. Because of our weak South African currency, it is only fair that those with stronger currencies pay a bit more. This equates to US$950 / €850 / £650, or more if you so choose. Thanks for your understanding and support.
What you get for your entry:
• Transport from Cape Town to the start, and back from the finish.
• 7 nights accommodation. Sometimes spartan, sometimes superb.
• Breakfast and dinner every day, including lunch packs or lunch stops during the race. Our last dinner will be something very special, as always.
• Our by-now-traditional cheese and wine table at the end of each day’s stage.
• Transport for your luggage, and a second sweeper vehicle.
• A small dedicated team taking care of everything along the route for you, and picking you up at sunset if anything went wrong with your race during the day.
• A professional photographer traveling along with the race documenting everything.
• Some local traditional cultural music, dancing and such.
• The knowledge that your money is being used responsibly in the communities we encounter along the route, and to assist in sponsoring 5 underprivileged riders to join the Tour of Ara.
• Some very special and unique Tour of Ara memorabilia.
• An unforgettable experience of pain, pleasure, achievement and camaraderie. It will be hard, but beautiful.
Entry details :
• Entries open 12:00 sharp (midday) on Monday 6 June 2016.
• The first 40 emails I receive AFTER exactly 12:00 will get a spot. *
• Email me at email@example.com.
• A 50% deposit will be payable by 10 June 2016 to secure your entry.
* except for those riders who will be riding on their numbers from Tour of Ara 2014. If sending an email at this time is impossible for you please get in touch before.
• 15 – 20 October of 2016, 800km + over 6 days of racing.
• View the route (subject to change).
• View the rules (please study them closely, and consider your equipment and abilities before entering).
• Before you enter, know that the Tour of Ara is ridden entirely at your own risk. There is no indemnity to sign, and by paying your entry fee you agree to this.
The silent Karoo waits.
These photos are from the 2015 Tour Of Ara. For more enticement, head to the website.
Special thanks to Little Wheels for the photography.