TO HELL AND BACK EXTREME MTB STAGE RACE..... since 1995
2 DAY STAGE RACE
15 & 16 November 2014
Don't let the distance fool you!!
THE LEGEND OF GAMKASKLOOF
Gamkaskloof is a legendary and remote valley situated in the heart of the Swartberg mountains also referred to as the Hell. The history is as fascinating as the natural beauty and splendor thereof. It is almost certain that the first inhabitants of Gamkaskloof were bushmen. Only in 1830 did European farmers first establish themselves here. These farmers farmed with goats, wheat and beans, and later the valley became renowned for the high quality of its dried fruit. For many years the inhabitants were self reliant and essentials such as salt, paraffin and sugar were brought in with pack mules from Prince Albert through the northern gap formed by the Gamka river. This northern access route could later not be used due to the construction of the Gamkapoort dam, which was completed in 1968, and for this reason a road, was built by Kosie van Zyl, in 1963 on the eastern side of the valley to provide the necessary access for the inhabitants.
There were never more than 100 people living in the valley at any given time. In 1915 the first school (Kleinberg) was built and in 1923 a second school followed. The last school was finally closed in 1981 as a result of many people leaving the kloof. The long droughts followed by floods, together with the new access road and the young people leaving for the bigger schools, led to the final exodus of the inhabitants out of the valley.
The largest portion of the valley is currently under the management of Cape Nature. They, with the help of the SA Nature Foundation, Simon van der Stel Foundation and the National Monuments Council, are in the process of restoring the buildings in the valley. Onderplaas is being managed as a traditional farm to uphold and maintain the farming methods and traditions of the valley’s historic past.
THE LEGEND OF THE TO HELL & BACK
The To Hell & Back extreme MTB tour started way back in 1994 when two MTB crazy conservators decided that it would be a great idea to organize a race to Gamkaskloof (the Hell). At that stage it was aimed as a marketing campaign for Gamkaskloof to attract tourist interest to this remote valley of which most of the private farms were obtained by Cape Nature Conservation and a few houses have been restored for the tourism market. Little did they know that this would lead to a new legend being born ...... the annual To Hell & Back mountain bike race....be part of the legend!.