Sat Jul 13, 06:45 - Sat Jul 13, 18:00

Valley of Desolation



Graaff-Reinet, EC, South Africa

two routes to choose from

ROAD TO DESOLATION - 179km | 2,773m - all bikes excl. E-bikes

TASTE OF DESOLATION - 66 km | 1,275 m - all bikes excl. E-bikes

As the main sponsor of RTD, Standert will be giving away a frame-set to a lucky ROAD TO DESOLATION rider!

No matter if you finish first or last. A raffle is a raffle - equal chances! The winner will be drawn at the post race dinner at 8pm (which is complementary to all racers and will be a vibe - more info to come!)

Heat And Cold In The Land Of Sheep & Goats

Rocky columns extend their crooked fingers heavenwards as we stare out over the Valley Of Desolation. A vast eden nestled on the edge of the dry expanse of the Karoo in South Africa. The little town of Graaff-Reinet sits neatly on a bend in The Sunday’s River. Shafts of light spear down and and illuminate puddles dotted across the scrubland while small black dots on green hint towards shapes of wild animals. The skies seem endless, vast and mighty as distant thunderstorms litter the scene. 

This forms the backdrop of our race. The Road To Desolation is a gravel race through the semi-desert area of the Karoo in South Africa. No exact definition of what constitutes the Karoo is available, so its extent is also not precisely defined. So too, our Race is slightly ambiguous and its rigours speak to the area itself. With two options available to test your mettle against the environment and other riders, The Road To Desolation is no mean feat.

Two unique choices face interested participants, Desolation (179km) and A Taste Of Desolation (66km), to choose your course and your approach. The longer version will only be open to drop-bar Gravel Bikes, whereas the shorter version can be raced on anything, as long as it doesn’t have a motor! No matter which you choose, the last 7km’s will be a reminder that you have taken on The Road To Desolation.


As its name suggests, this one is going to empty the tank. An onslaught of 178km’s with nearly 2800m of vertical gain. Road to Desolation is a true test of racing in these vast expanses and is a real test of attrition. Restraint is key as the mountain-top finish up to The Valley Of Desolation will decimate anyone who hasn’t left a little in the tank for finale.

Distance: 179km

Elevation: 2,773m

Surface: 85% Gravel 15% Paved

Start Time: 6:45 AM 

Cut Off: 4PM for anyone entering the Climb to the Valley of Desolation

Refuel Stops: 41km, 78km, 107km, 154km


At over 1200m of vertical gain in 65km’s suggests, this is no walk in the park, again a climb out of the valley awaits those who opt for the ‘easy’ route. With a later start and unique route, this one is going to sting. But it is not a race, we encourage you to see this more as an experience to say you too conquered the Karoo, and by no means the easy way.

Distance: 66 km

Elevation: 1,275 m

Surface: 53% Gravel 47% Paved

Start time: 09:30 AM 

Cut Off: 4PM for anyone entering the Climb to the Valley of Desolation

Refuel Stops: One at 36km


  • Race format: Solo / no teams
  • Limited race entries available
  • Group Starts: ROAD TO DESOLATION 06:45am Saturday 13th July
    Group Starts: TASTE OF DESOLATION 09:30am Saturday 13th July
  • All bicycles welcome except E-bikes. NO E-bikes allowed unfortunately  
  • 4 Refuel stations on Route ROAD TO DESOLATION 
  • 1 Refuel station on Route TASTE OF DESOLATION
  • Any emergency race support or assistance will be withdrawn at 18:00 Saturday 13 July
  • GPX file will be sent via email leading up to race day
  • There will be a top 3 podium for a men’s category & a women’s category (Equal prizes for both podiums)

We encourage all participants to treat ROAD TO DESOALTION as a self-supported race / ride. There will be route markings, please ensure you have the correct GPX loaded before the race. The safety & well-being of our riders are a priority, there will be a medical support vehicle on route & ambulance in case of emergencies. Please be sure to save necessary emergency contact numbers provided via email & at registration.


  • ROAD TO DESOLATION (Early Bird) - R 750 
  • TASTE OF DESOLATION (Early Bird) - R600
  • ROAD TO DESOLATION - R1400 (Late Entry - after 21st June)
  • TASTE OF DESOLATION - R1000 (Late Entry - after 21st June)
  • Entries only available online via Quicket
  • Substitutions will be charged an additional R250, no substitutions after 30th June.
  • No refunds
  • Event cancelation due to any unforeseen issues, all entries will automatically carry over to following year


  • Goodies Bag - Follow community connect for goodies announcements 
  • Entry to National Park
  • Food voucher for post race dinner
  • Race Number 
  • On route Medical support vehicle & ambulance
  • Equal prizes for men’s & women’s podiums - Follow Community Connect for prize announcements 


  • 12th July 3pm - 6pm Lot 44, 44 Sommerset Street 6280 Graaff-Reinet
  • Last minute 13th ofJuly 6:15 am - 6:30 am Lot44, 44 Sommerset Street 6280 Graaff-Reinet


  • Fully charged front & rear bicycle lights Lights to be capable of minimum 3 hours
  • Helmet
  • Windbreaker
  • Thermal layers (Baselayer, arm warmers or long sleeve jersey, leg warmers)
  • Buff
  • Gloves
  • Emergency Survival blanket (Space blanket)
  • Fully charged phone with saved emergency contacts (To conserve battery, leave phone in ‘Flight mode’)
  • Food, Nutrition & Hydration
  • Hydration - Minimum 1.5L capacity (Bottles or bladder or both)
  • Race Number (Mounted as specified)
  • GPS device for route navigation & time tracking
  • Camdeboo National Park Day visitor permit (or Wildcard)


Should you need to drop out of the race, you have to notify a race official immediately. If you leave the course and fail to notify race officials, you will be banned from participating in the future (unless assisted from the course by the race medic) Please report to race organizer or race officials when finished. Contacts provided on entry & at registration on Friday evening.


  • Leave no trace & take no souvenirs
  • Race participants are responsible for anything they discard, goes into a bin
  • Please respect & be aware of other road users, especially on descents and blind corners

    Attending ROAD TO DESOLATION & participating in ROAD TO DESOLATION, all participants do so at their own risk. Community Connect, organizer/s, volunteers, staff and sponsors take no responsibility for any loss, damage, injuries or deaths. 

    Community Connect recommends that you arrange your own personal accident insurance, ambulance cover and income protection insurance before participating in the Event to cover any unforeseen personal costs you may incur due to ambulance trips, medical expenses or time off work due to injuries sustained whilst participating in the Event. As a ROAD TO DESOLATION participant, you are responsible for yourself and should know the rules and regulations of the race. You need to be able to clearly evaluate your mental and physical abilities. You need to be sufficiently trained and keep with you all the necessary & compulsory equipment, gear & kit. 

    In entering any of Community Connect events, participants acknowledge and agree to all of the above.


We don’t offer accommodation as part of the race entry to make it accessible to anyone. Graaff-Reinet has plenty of options of accommodation for any budget. From 5 Star hotels to a Campground. Everything in town is within 5min cycle to the start. Nonetheless here are some reccomendations:

Drostdy Hotel | from R1763 pp


Langhuis Guesthouse | from R1350 pp 

Toer Boer Cottages  | from R700
Camdeboo cottages | from R850
Far Far away house | from R1200 double room
Middle street manor | from R1600 double room
Cypress cottage guest house | from
Cambro Cottage | From R750 pp





When is Registration?


12 July (Friday) 2pm – 7pm at LOT44, 44 Sommerset street, Graaff-Reinet


What are the routes like?


Desolation (178km): The course is approximately 85% on unpaved gravel surfaces. The surface varies from hard-packed and fast to loose and rocky. There are several river and stream crossings that can be tricky. Water can be ankle high in places. The first 1/4 of the course constitutes more than 1/3 of the climbing. There are three climbs amongst the gradually rolling terrain. The last 1/3 is more downhill than uphill but finishes with a very steep tar climb to the Valley of Desolation.
A Taste Of Desolation (65km): The course is approximately 53% on unpaved gravel surfaces. The surface varies from hard-packed and fast to loose and rocky. The Roodewal Loop begins on beautifully smooth gravel but culminates in a long technical climb before rejoining the tar. The route finishes with a very steep tar climb to the Valley of Desolation


What bike should I bring?


ROAD TO DESOLATION: (178km):  Gravel bikes with drop handlebars will be the best choice on the route. But all bikes are allowed. 

TASTE OF DESOLATION (65km): All bikes are allowed, Mountain Bikes are good, but you will be fastest on a pure-bred gravel bike.

NO E-BIKES! – Unless you have a medical condition – please speak to us. 

Overall the course is favourable for 1:1 gear ratio. But with the climb at the end we recommend something slightly easier.


What's the weather like in the area?


The weather in the Karoo can be unpredictable.
In Graaff-Reinet the weather in July is generally perfect, with pleasant temperatures and low rainfall. July falls within the winter season. Throughout the daytime, temperatures often hover around 19°C (show in °F). However, as the sun sets and evening approaches, there’s a noticeable cool-down, with temperatures gently dropping to a more temperate 5°C. While this is the time of year with slightly cooler averages, it remains comfortably warm.

Graaff-Reinet in July usually receives low rainfall, averaging around 19 mm (show in inches) for the month. Rain is expected on roughly 3 days.

What should I wear?

It’s mandatory to wear a helmet, the race number and have fully charged front and rear lights fitted on the bike. Everything else is hard to say, it’s the Karoo, and the weather is unpredictable. At the time of year, there could be strong winds but most likely sunny skies. There are low water bridges so your feet might get wet. On a great day shorts and short sleeves are terrific but bringing arm warmers and a gilet or jacket is always wise as things can turn in a matter of minutes. YOu probably want to start with something seriously warm. 


Is the race self supported?


We encourage all participants to treat The Road to Desolation as a self-supported race/ride and entry is at your own risk. The safety and well-being of our riders is however paramount. There will be a medical support vehicle & ambulance en route in case of emergencies. Please be sure to save the necessary emergency contact numbers provided via email and at registration.


Will the course be marked?


Yes. The course will be marked, however it's important to load the route onto your cycling computer if possible as we'll be riding on remote roads.


How many water points are there? And what do they offer?


There will be 4 water points in the long race and 1 water point in the short race. We urge you to bring the nutrition you normally use. That said, the water points will be stocked with fluids, and assorted food. Please make sure you have what you need in order to fix mechanical failures out on the course. Things like extra tubes, plugs, pump, hex keys, etc.


Can I use my cellphone?


Reception in the Sneeuberg Mountains is sparse. However, we insist that all riders carry their cellphones and keep them on at all times. Should something happen out on course, it's important to be able to ask a rider to call course staff at the next available spot. 


How do I get to Graaff-Reinet?


The best way will be by car but Graaff-Reinet has a Private Airport as well. The closest commercial Airport is Port Elizabeth about 2.5hrs away. Please contact us to arrange a shuttle or shared rides. 


What are stores like in Graaff-Reinet?


Graaff-Reinet is a small town, and importantly, does not have a bike shop. However, there are very limited spares available at Botha’s Garage in town. Please bring what you need. You'll find convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants but be aware of opening hours. The stores will not be open before the majority of riders head out on race day. Make sure to get what you need in advance.



What can my family and friends do while I’m racing? 

We reccomend to spectate in Nieu Bethesda as well as up to the finish on top of the The Valley of Desolation. We will offer a shuttle to the top of the valley for all day guests on raceday free of charge. – since we are welcome in a national park all you will have to cover is the conservation fee on the day. If they don’t care about the race – The town has a great opportunity for walking and running and numerous other interesting things to do from Museums to shops and restaurants.


Valley of Desolation
2 Park St, Graaff-Reinet, 6280
Get Directions