The Tanqua Kuru Bicycle Race

The Tanqua Kuru Bicycle Race

The Tanqua Kuru Bicycle Race offers adventure, art & arid beauty to cycling aficionados

Cycling devotees with a lust for adventure are in for an unforgettable experience in one of South Africa’s most arresting moon landscapes: the two-day Tanqua Kuru Bicycle Race in May. 

The inaugural Tanqua Kuru is a two-day gravel bike race deep in the dusty heart of the true Tankwa Karoo, a backdrop best known for its unforgiving roads, desert arts gatherings and rare wildlife. The race participants have been granted special permission to traverse private & park land.

Not a typical bike race, the weekend event entails an array of authentically Tankwa experiences. ‘Rocktail’ sundowners, boma dinners, campfire stories, desert art tours and dam swimming complement a potent dose of gravel bicycling across the otherworldly landscapes of the Tankwa Karoo.

“The Tanqua Kuru Bicycle Race is a new kind of bicycle race. It’s a simple celebration of how a self-propelled machine can bring people together. It’s about being outside. It’s about exploring. It’s about racing. It’s about self-discovery and connection,” says event founder Jeremy Crowder.

The race name is rooted in ancient origins. Although the true origin is unknown, “Tanqua” is said to be a San word meaning “thirstland” and “Kuru” was the original Khoi-San spelling of “Karoo” which means “dry” - an apt description for this vast, open, arid thirstland.

The Tanqua Kuru experience begins on Friday 28th May at the Tankwa Karoo Tented Camp and ends in celebratory style on Sunday 30th May at the same location. The itinerary includes a guided Tankwa art tour around the Stonehenge Farm and sundowners on the local koppie on Friday, and 110km on gravel followed by a dip at the Stoney Beach dam, a drag race, boma dinner and Bicycle Burn on the Saturday. It ends off with a farm-style breakfast, a 70km race and a special Tankwa trophy ceremony at the tented camp on Sunday. Several legends of the South African cycling fraternity will participate in themed storytelling around the campfire each evening.

“The race has been specifically designed to test a modern gravel bicycle, however, our main aim is to bring people who love bicycles together. We want to be as inclusive as possible, so whilst the trophies will be reserved for drop-bar gravel bicycles, we welcome any type of bicycle to take part,” says Crowder.

The Saturday race stretches to the Biedouwberg and the steep Karretjies Pass. On this day there will be five timed segments. “Route profile and GPX files will be shared two weeks before race day. There will be minimal route marking so it is essential for participants to take enough water with them and that their GPS devices are in good working order.”

On the final day the route edges into Stonehenge Farm, to the national park where riders will pass some ancient ruins, cross the Tankwa River towards Roodewerf, and end off with a final stretch back to camp via Pramberg. “This course will see our cyclists riding through a variety of hardpack, loose gravel, shale rock and sand,” says Crowder.

Both race days will include a lunch stop which will encourage riders to linger longer before they set off on their next timed segment and next water point. “We want to encourage our riders to take in the beauty.”

Riders will be staying in dome canvas tents with proper beds, pillows and linen, two persons per tent. Single supplements are available. Hot showers will also be provided.

The race entry fee, which includes meals, accommodation and entertainment. Partners are also welcome to join the festivities. A cash bar will be available. Entries are extremely limited. For more information visit

The Tanqua Kuru Bicycle Race
Start Date: 26 May, 2023
End Date: 28 May, 2023
Venue: Tankwa Tented Camp