The Tour of Ara, named for the Southern Hemisphere constellation of Ara, is a prestige race that is ridden mostly on South African-built steel racing bicycles in the proud tradition of the early Italian multi-day stage races.
The Tour follows a gruelling new 800 km dirt-road route over six days through the beautiful but harsh semi-desert Karoo every year, and is as much a race as it is an exploration and celebration of this unique landscape and the people that live there.
In the interest of keeping the Tour small and intimate, two categories are being introduced for 2018, running in tandem and two days apart. Each of the two categories will be open to only 40 racers, and will follow the same 800 km all-gravel route. The new 'Sport Category' will accommodate all those who do the Tour as a personal challenge, or who want to race against friends. The second 'Race Category' is for those who want to do the fastest possible times every day, and race for the glory of winning each stage. However, you may race in whichever category you'd like, regardless of your speed and ability - the choice is yours.
As always, the Tour will be a race against the clock, and stages will be very difficult and challenging, predominately over varying quality dirt roads, with the longest day being about 200 km. Riders will encounter soft sand, corrugated roads, loose stones and sharp tyre-shredding rocks, and possibly even rain and snow.
The Tour of Ara is completely independent, and paid for by the entrants; there are no sponsors or patrons, and no prize money - we aim to keep it that way. This race is ridden entirely at ones own risk. You cannot hold anybody but yourself responsible for what might transpire during the Tour of Ara. So don't come crying if you get a flat or lose a finger. Prepare, train, and know your abilities and limitations before entering.
In August 2014, the first edition saw 35 cyclists race nearly 700km of gravel in six days, from the mountains of Franschhoek to Robertson, north to Touwsriver, then south of the N1 to Laingsburg. From there north-east to the little town of Merweville, then a climb into the west to Sutherland, after which the last stage to the south was raced to the finish in Matjiesfontein. The images below are from Tour of Arae 2014...
Race dates 29 July - 3 August 2017