Cape to Cape isn't afraid to keep it fresh, and for 2019 the race is finishing in Margaret River!
Cape to Cape is the most popular mountain bike stage race in Australia. It is so popular, that the four-day event has spawned two sister events on the east coast, with Port to Port in the Hunter region of NSW in May and now Reef to Reef offering a tropical escape in Tropical North Queensland in August.
Each year the variety of trails in Cape to Cape have increased, with more red dirt singletrack being added, especially around Margaret River. In 2018 we were the first riders through on new trail on stage 3 - and it was awesome!
So the event team have decided that the trails in and around Margaret River will be a fitting final stage in 2019. That means Middle Earth on Saturday, and singletrack worship at Margs on Sunday. Suits us!
Stage 1: Cape Leeuwin
This is a classic place to start Cape to Cape, even if the weather can be a bit... coastal. This stage has 40km of riding and starts and finishes in front of the lighthouse. There is 840m of climbing split mostly between the opening 10km and the final 10km, but it's the first two climbs that will tell you where you stand.
Expect sandy trails once off the first climb, as the descen rips through lightly used double track. It's a fast stage and you'll find yourself in a group.
But the benefit of being in a group is having someone to relive your ride with blow by blow at the finish. The pies at the cafe are highly recommended. Not cheap, but worth it.
Next up is Stage 2 in Boranup Forest!
Stage 2: Boranup Forest
This stage will feel a world apart after the first stage. Starting and finishing at Leeuwin Estate, you do have 72km in front of you. But don't worry, there is less climbing than on Stage 1 with just 620m - but it's all fast!
The singletrack through Boranup Forest is lightning quick once you're off the farm roads, but don't forget to keep fuelling the fire as otherwise it can be easy to run out of juice on the sandy trails before descending to the beach.
The climb out of the beach is a bit of a long drag, then you're back onto the dry trails with limestone rocks to throw in some natural features. Or hazards, depending on your point of view. After a view fast farm trails you're back to Leeuwin Estate, and I reckon you will have earnt your burger or something tasty.
Make sure your bike is ready for Stage 3 as you're about to take on Middle Earth!
Stage 3: Middle Earth
With a start and finish at Colonial Brewery, your friends might suspect that you've stayed on for a long time afterwards to sample their product - as there's just about zero reception once 1500 people rock in. But mountain biking is usually best when you're disconnected from distractions, and you will have to find a complete focus to get through Middle Earth as fast as possible.
With a start that is about as lit as Stage 1, you might have your work cut out for you to get your legs working today. Sure, there's plenty of singletrack on the menu, but you ned to get there first. And it is fast on the way out! You have 56km to tackle in total with about 540m of climbing.
The trails twist and turn then turn some more. You'll go up to go down to go up to go down again and then you'll repeat that whole sequence until you're certain you're turning back on yourself. Check out your GPS trace when you're finished, you'll be amazed how much trail is squeezed into the one area!
The final run back to Colonial is rarely smooth sailing, especially if it has been wet. This will be a battle royale at the front, but don't let anyone you're competing with get away from you, as you don't want to get to the line at Colonial too late.
The final stage awaits. Make sure you're ready.
Stage 4: Margaret River
This stage has its highs and lows like any day between the tape, but you can be sure it will end on a high. With a start at the Margaret River Gin Distillery, make sure you hold off until the end. Take off from Carters Road and get set for what lies ahead.
This is a short stage, and with just 37km you can expect it to be fast. The pace is on, and expect to be strung out on the rolling double track before hitting the forest roads and singletrack. No one wants to be stuck behind someone slow, so be prepared for some wild maneuvours. Some by people capable of them, others not.
It's a real mix of trails, from rockier natural trails to bigger machine built berms. It's all good, it's all fun, and it's all one step closer to the finish.
The best thing? The Margaret River Distillery at the finish, and a big pan of paella!
The shake up of the stage plan is a nice change and it should make for a super fun last stage - everyone is ready to party after the singletrack at Margaret River. Whether you head to the beach, head to the pub, hit the road to the airport or something else entirely, you will have finished on a high.
Need more course details? Get them on the Cape to Cape website. Don't forget to get your entry in, race as a pair or race solo. If you're racing as a pair you can even try to win a starting slot at the Cape Epic!
See you there!