Trans Baviaans Repeating the Race Success

The second event of the 2021 Trans Baviaans is dubbed the Repeat. While the Race attracts a more competitive field the Repeat blends racing with riding for the challenge, the scenery and the pleasure of traversing the Baviaanskloof. It was fitting then that the icy conditions were not repeated for the less serious riders. They were greeted rather by a classic crisp late winter’s day as they rode from Willowmore, 227-kilometres, to Jeffreys Bay.

The Langwater water crossing, after Check Point 4, ensured wet feet for the imposing climbs of the Fangs and the Mother of All Climbs. Photo by Bruce Viaene.

Predictably there were those who took the task at hand seriously and raced for category victories, or to set the best possible time. Team of that ilk included the Coopetto Mix squad of Kevin Taljaard and the husband-and-wife combination of Yolande and Henties de Villiers. Yolande de Villiers had finished third overall, alongside Dirk Coetzee the previous weekend and was on course to repeat her mixed category victory too.

 

Disaster struck for the team after the Big Dipper descent, near the 160-kilometre mark. Henties de Villiers destroyed his rear wheel and was left walking towards Check Point 5, at Komdomo. His wife, meanwhile, rode ahead to collect a spare wheel from their support crew at the check point and returned to her stricken husband. In total the mechanical cost the Coopetto team nearly 90 minutes, but they nonetheless still managed to claim the mixed category title.

 

Ahead of them the men’s race was won by Team Sparkles. Bruere Kloppers and Dean Hopf crossed the finish line, at the Fountains Mall, in a time of 9 hours, 28 minutes and 36 seconds. Their nearest rivals were the Vital Vet team. The Roaming Goats outfit, of Tina Brenzel and Alma Colyn, were the fastest women’s squad. They reached Jefferys Bay after 11 hours, 48 minutes and 28 seconds of racing.

 

The real stories of the Repeat were the tales of riding for a good cause or completing the Trans Baviaans against the odds. Marc Van Staden, Wayne Keet, Brendan Keevey and Andrew     Robinson were one of the teams riding for charity. Not content with representing Knysna’s NSRI Station 12 the quartet also rode to raise funds for CHOC. The Childhood Cancer Foundation is an organisation which does exceptional work and anyone inspired by the NSRI Station 12 team’s efforts can visit www.choc.org.za to find out more about the work of the CHOC Foundation.

Conditions were still chilly, especially in the early morning hours, when leaving Willowmore and pedalling uphill towards the highest point of the route, at The Roof. Photo by Bruce Viaene

As with the Race the previous weekend riders were held at Check Point 5, at the 174-kilometre mark, if they failed to pass that point by 17:00. This was to ensure nobody broke the curfew. Some teams took the opportunity to plan ahead and spend the night at Komdomo. Team AB did just that.

 

André and Amori Blignaut had attempted the Trans Baviaans once before. “I promised André we’d finish a Trans together” Amori said. “But to be honest without the overnight stop I wouldn’t have made it. By the time we reached Check Point 5 I was finished. After a night’s rest though, I was ready to ride again and I’m really happy to have been able to keep my promise to André. I don’t know if I’ll do another Trans Baviaans, but I’m so happy to have finished one.”

The Trans Baviaans provided moments of pure riding pleasure, along with challenging periods on the course’s long climbs. Photo by Bruce Viaene.

“I hope all the Trans Baviaans Race and Repeat riders thoroughly enjoyed their experiences in the Baviaanskloof this year” EcoBound’s Zane Schmahl reflected post-Repeat. “It was by no means and easy year to organise the events, but we felt that for Willowmore, the Baviaanskloof and the riders who had entered for 2020 already that it was essential to do all we could to host the events. I think the camping at Komdomo added a different element to the 2021 events, as did the rolling starts in Willowmore. For the teams who slept over it was a truly memorable experience and one which will make the 2021 Trans Baviaans one for the history books.”

 

“The Race riders will certainly remember 2021” Schmahl smiled. “Regardless of when they started or if they had to wait out curfew at Check Point 5. The freezing temperatures and frost on the road verges certainly made for captivating photos, if not ideal riding conditions.”

 

Riding into the golden light; the earlier start provided more teams with the opportunity to see more of the route in day light hours than ever before. Photo by Bruce Viaene.

“We’re looking forward now to a more ‘normal’ Trans Baviaans in 2022” Schmahl added. “Entries to next year’s Race and Repeat will open in Month. Riders can bookmark the _ of August so long though, for the Race, and the _ August for the Repeat.”

 

In the meantime, mountain biking fans can relive the 2021 Trans Baviaans Race and Repeat on the event’s social media handles. Like Trans Baviaans 24HR MTB Race on Facebook and follow @transbaviaans on Instagram for more photos and videos from the events. For more information visit www.transbaviaans.co.za.

The Trans Baviaans Repeat was staged in far better weather conditions than the Race had been the week before. Photo by Bruce Viaene.

Young Guns Upset Experienced Favourites in 2021 Trans Baviaans

The 2021 Trans Baviaans was held in unusual conditions, imposed by Covid-19 restrictions, and in difficult weather; on Saturday, 28 August. Teams were able to start, in self-seeded start times, from 05h00 in order to beat the 22h00 curfew. The early start and the late winter cold front, lead to sub-zero temperatures, with brief flurries or snow and hail falling on the 227-kilometre route.

 

The fastest teams across the course, through the Baviaanskloof, from Willowmore to Jeffreys Bay were the Young Guns, Coopetto/Darvin Trust and Wintergreen-Ciovita Barrier Breakers. Erick Heyns and Wayne van der Walt won the men’s race. Yolande de Villiers and Dirk Coetzee won the mixed category and were third over the finish line to boot. While Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius and Leone Verster were the winning women’s team.

Sub-zero temperatures ensured icy conditions for much of the 2021 Trans Baviaans Race. There was snow on the higher peaks of the region and frost on the ground when the majority of the field got underway in Willowmore, on Saturday morning. Photo by Peter Kirk Media.

While the non-competitive riders started at the time which suited them best the elite men, women and mixed teams all started together at 08h00. This ensured that there was a chance of pelotons forming and helping the fastest riders knock off the first 105-kilometres to the Baviaanskloof Reserve as quickly as possible. Things transpired a little differently however, as the large groups soon splintered into smaller ones, of just two or three teams.

 

Right at the front the biggest and longest surviving group was made up by Uncle Fish, the Young Guns, Coopetto/Darvin Trust and the Coppetto. Nico Bell, of Uncle Fish, relentlessly drove the pace for his teammates Gawie Combrinck and Gerrit de Vries. After 70-kilometres the group started to split under the pressure exerted by Bell, with the mixed Coopetto/Darvin Trust and the Coppetto dropping off the pace.

 

On the Baviaans Back, after 110-kilometres, the Young Guns started to distance Uncle Fish. Heyns and Van der Walt proved on that, the first of the race’s significant climbs, that they were the strongest climbers in the race. Through Check Point 3, at Smitskraal, over the Fangs and up the Mother of All Climbs to Bergplaas the Young Guns slowly extended their lead. The gap never ballooned out however and Bell was always able to pull his teammates back into contention whenever the roads flattened out.

 

The moment when Erick Heyns (leading) and Wayne van der Walt managed to distance the Uncle Fish team, on the Mini MAC climb. Photo by Seamus Allardice.

The Young Guns came into Check Point 4, at Bergplaas, with a 3-minute lead. A slower turnabout in the check point handed a minute of their advantage back to the Uncle Fish team. Which Bell, Combrinck and De Vries further whittled down over the next 30-kilometres. By the time the leaders reached the base of Neverender, with 30-kilometres to race, the two teams were back together.

 

It was only on the Mini MAC, the last significant climb of the race, that the decisive move was made. Heynes recounted how the last 15-kilometres unfolded: “We had seen that Gerrit [de Vries] was struggling a bit more than the rest of us on the climbs. So, we got ourselves to the front of the group after Check Point 7 and went all in on Mini MAC. Once we got a gap we just had to push on as hard as we could. By the time we reached the train track singletrack, 5-kilometres from the finish, I was seeing double. I couldn’t follow Wayne [van der Walt’s] wheel and nearly crashed a couple of times. But somehow, we held it together and stayed ahead of Nico [Bell], Gawie [Combrinck] and Gerrit.”

 

Heyns and Van der Walt were so exhausted by their efforts that they hardly celebrated upon wining the 2021 Trans Baviaans. A could burst in the last 15 minutes of their race had drenched them to the bone, after having already endured over 8 hours of 2-to-12-degree temperatures. Their winning time was an impressive 8 hours, 21 minutes and 29 seconds. The Uncle Fish team crossed the line just 1 minute and 16 seconds behind the race winners. Coopetto/Darvin Trust rounded out the overall podium places 15 minutes and 13 seconds later.

Wintergreen-Ciovita Barrier Breakers’s Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius (left) and Leone Verster (right) celebrate their 2021 Trans Baviaans title. Photo by Peter Kirk Media.

The remarkable fact of Coopetto/Darvin Trust’s third place overall was that they were also the first mixed team over the finish line at the Fountains Mall, in Jeffreys Bay. Yolande de Villiers once again dominated the mixed race, this time with her new partner Dirk Coetzee. Their victory margin was 1 hour, 15 minutes and 6 seconds over the Cyclopro Aspire LiveFit. Giant/Liv rounded out the mixed category podium.

 

In the women’s race the Wintergreen-Ciovita Barrier Breakers rode solo through most of the 227-kilometre course to win the 2021 Trans Baviaans title. Harmzen-Pretorius and Verster had a lonely ride, passing lots slower teams who started earlier but unable to find anyone to work with them. “The elite start group splintered pretty early on” Harmzen-Pretorius recounted after crossing the finish line. “We initially didn’t even know where we were in the women’s field. We just had to ride our own race and work together, as the two of us. It was really hard at times! But I’m glad to have had Leone alongside me, she was incredibly strong!”

The Wintergreen-Ciovita Barrier Breakers winning time was 10 hours, 44 minutes and 55 seconds. Adventurers’s Marisa van der Linde and Jodi Zulberg were second and the Untamed Ladies, Anine Koch and Hayley Mcloughlin, were third fastest across the course; despite starting earlier. The third elite women’s team was that of Sarah van Heerden and Elaine Beytell, though their time was nearly an hour slower than Kock and Mcloughlin.

 

After a near-freezing Race the Trans Baviaans Repeat riders will be heartened to hear that the weather forecast is better for next weekend. Clear skies and a temperature range of 7-to-19-degrees is currently predicted. Along with a light north westerly wind, which should blow the teams from Willowmore down the Baviaanskloof towards Jeffreys Bay.

 

Mountain biking fans can once again follow the Trans Baviaans on the event’s social media handles. Cell phone reception is limited in the Baviaanskloof so updates will be sporadic through the mid-phases of the Repeat. Tune in by following @transbaviaans, on Instagram, liking the Trans Baviaans 24HR MTB Race Facebook page and following @EcoBoundEvents, on Twitter. Time updates from the Check Points will also be available at www.transbaviaans.co.za/live-event/.

The Trans Baviaans is a boon for tourism in the Baviaanskloof region. Willowmore in particular struggled due to the loss of income from the 2020 race being cancelled due to Covid-19. Photo by Peter Kirk Media.

2021 Trans Baviaans Results

Overall:

  1. Young Guns: Erick Heyns & Wayne van der Walt (08:21:29)
  2. Uncle Fish: Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck & Gerrit de Vries (08:22:46)
  3. Coopetto/Darvin Trust: Yolande de Villiers & Dirk Coetzee (08:36:42)

 

Mixed:

  1. Coopetto/Darvin Trust: Yolande de Villiers & Dirk Coetzee (8:36:42)
  2. Cyclopro Aspire LiveFit: Jay Carneiro, Bruce Campbell & Tracey Almirall (9:51:48)
  3. Giant/Liv: Fienie & Kobus Barnard (10:13:51)

 

Women:

  1. Wintergreen-Ciovita Barrier Breakers: Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius and Leone Verster (10:44:55)
  2. Adventurers: Marisa van der Linde & Jodi Zulberg (12:24:02)
  3. Untamed Ladies: Anine Koch & Hayley Mcloughlin (12:52:34)

 

For the full results from the 2021 Trans Baviaans please click here.

 

Trans Baviaans – Covid-19 Update June 2021

Dear Rider,

 

It feels like we have hit rewind and we are exactly at the same place we were a year ago. However unfair or unfortunate this may seem, it is simply the reality that we are facing.

 

We have realized that we made the call too early last year and, in hindsight we could have presented the Trans Baviaans in August 2020.

Based on those directives from last year, we are planning to wait for the current 2-week Level 4 restrictions to pass, before we make any decisions.

Our first and utmost priority is to present the event as it should be in August.

 

If the conditions are not favorable for the event to take place in August, we will postpone the event to September or October 2021.

We will make the exact date available as soon as we have made the final call. We understand and respect the fact that everyone needs to plan their lives, accommodation, and travel plans, and we therefore will not linger on the decision making.

We will make an announcement after the 11’th of July, when the 2-week imposed Level 4 has passed, and the President addresses the nation again.

We have a whole event to organize and plan and assure you that we are just as eager as you are to get moving on this.

 

The curfew remains a big question on everyone’s minds. First, we need to understand that we are talking about 20% of our riders that for whatever reason might not make the cut offs. For them, we will make a plan with a curfew sleep out.

We will move CP5 from the “Pakhuis” to the Komodomo Campsite where people will be able to camp and sleep the curfew out, then continue with their race from that point to the finish.

That said, our priority remains to get a curfew permit grant to host our event in its traditional 24hr concept.

Currently we are still planning to have a 5am free flow start system from Willowmore, giving everyone ample time to finish in Jbay before curfew.

We are constantly talking to the authorities, role players and our sponsors to monitor the situation.

 

Please know that we want the Trans to take place as much as you do, and we are doing everything in our power to make this happen.

 

Kind Regards,

Team EcoBound

Hannele Steyn smiling her way to the summit of the Mother of All Climbs, a feat that not many riders manage. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Trans Baviaans 2020 Postponed to January 2021

Goeie Dag

Dis nie n maklike dag vir ons nie, en in 25 jaar van events aanbied is die, die eerste keer wat ons so iets moet doen. Ek slaan oor na Engels vir die res van die boodskap.

Official Statement

Dear fellow Trans Baviaansers,

We have reached the time to make a decision on the Trans Baviaans 2020.

Just as many of you, we at EcoBound are also facing hard, challenging, and uncertain times ahead trying to deal with this Covid-19 lockdown and its effects. Although many, or most, businesses will be open under level 3 (from 1 June 2020), is there no indication when mass participation events and functions will be able to continue nor what the conditions will be. With the dates for Trans Baviaans just over 2 months away, it might be a touch and go situation for August.

We’ve had numerous meetings and discussions with affected parties, trying to take in all the known and unknown factors to determine our way forward. We strongly believe our solution is the one that benefits our riders the most.

Please see below factors we had to consider in our decision making process:

  1. The Event takes place in the poorest Province in South Africa. These are remote and fragile communities – there are limited medical establishments available.  Sending a crowd of people through these areas can potentially put them all at a higher risk during this time. It will be devastating if these communities experienced a increase in Covid-19 cases due to the event taking place
  2. Cross Provincial Travel restrictions – This might potentially ease during lockdown level 2 but the status of ‘Hotspots’ can fluctuate and prevent traveling between provinces any time during lockdown.
  3. Too many pending outcomes – CSA is meeting with the Sports Ministry in this week to discuss possible solutions for future events but, there is no clarity on what the Sports Minister will decide.
  4. Level 3 regulations and restrictions are also changing on a daily basis.
  5. Things are changing rapidly, locally and internationally regarding lockdown regulations, treatments, and possible cures.
  6. Mass participation events will only be allowed to take place under lockdown level 0 and we are unsure how long we will be in the various levels nor when this will happen.
  7. Uncertainty of when supporting businesses can operate normally, like Accommodation establishments, Restaurants etc. that has an impact on our event
  8. Rider training consideration – we want to give our riders fair time to prepare for the event. Lockdown restrictions have made this challenging and we understand this.
  9. We considered the input of our Sponsors, vendors , communities, etc. who supports our decision.

Thus, taking the above main reasons into consideration, and adopting a risk-averse approach we have decided to postpone the Trans Baviaans 2020 to 23 and 30 January 2021.

This means that the scheduled 2021 event will still take place in August 2021, with the result of two events taking place in 2021.

We sincerely hope that you will understand this is not a decision we wanted to make, but we are forced to comply with the restrictions regulated by our Government.

Please reach out to your accommodation establishment to discuss changing the dates.

For event refunds please see our website for revised Covid-19 cancellation policy. 

We sincerely hope you trust our decision,
Keep training, keep safe, and we look forward to see you in January 2021!!

Kind Regards
Wikus van der Walt
Race Founder

 

Wikus van der Walt is the patriarch of the EcoBound family. From left: William, Alexander (on William’s shoulders) Marelize, Nina, Terence, Maia (being held by Terance), Wikus, Elmarie, Carmen, Lukas (being held by Zane) and Zane . Photo by Jacques Marais.

Covid – 19 Update

EcoBound’s plan on the Coronavirus.

Dear Fellow Rider and Runner,

There is no need to elaborate on the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the world is currently facing together. Our current plan of action is NOT to postpone or cancel any of our main events.  We are up to date with the current situation and will be keeping a close eye on how things unfold. Unfortunately like the rest, we can’t provide a real estimate of how long we will be facing this crisis and we will have to make decisions based on the information we receive and obtain from the Goverment. We will keep communication open to keep you informed and updated of any changes in our decision.

We will continue with the preparations for the Trans Baviaans 24hr Marathons to take place in August 2020. At this point in time we feel the event is still far enough out of the current timelines communicated.
We had to postpone the Trans Talks scheduled for JHB and Centurion, but we are working on an Online Trans Talk version for our riders to watch and engage safely. More details on this will be released soon.

Uncle Fish Best Suited to Damp Trans Baviaans Repeat

Gawie Combrinck and Gerrit de Vries, riding as the aptly named Uncle Fish team overcame damp conditions to win a very challenging Trans Baviaans Repeat; on Saturday, 17 August. The second event in the 2019 Trans Baviaans stable, which followed the same 230 kilometre course from Willowmore to Jeffery’s Bay, was contested in testing weather. Combrink and De Vries best battled the head wind, muddy roads and a brief rain squall to cross the finish line, at the Fountains Mall, in a time of 9 hours, 25 minutes and 20 seconds

Gerrit de Vries leads Gawie Combrinck through the notorious Langwater crossing, just after Check Point 3, on their way to Trans Baviaans Repeat glory. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Combrinck has only recently retired from elite mountain biking, but showed that he was still the pedigree rider in the 1 250-rider strong field. The former NAD Pro MTB rider, who has been spending long hours riding his gravel bike in the Low Veld this winter, put the years of mileage to great use. “Gawie was the only rider working for the first 100 kilometres today” his partner De Vries praised. “We went it alone from Check Point 2 (at the 93 kilometre mark) and just rode tempo. Gawie worked for probably 220 kilometres, I did about 10. So, it was all Gawie today” De Vries recounted. Chipping in Combrinck added, with a laugh: “Unfortunately I have it on a GoPro where Gerrit rode away from me on a climb, so I won’t hear the end of that”.

Behind the race winners the Trans Baviaans Repeat riders battled in, splatted with mud and grateful to be out of the wind. “It was just the wind which was a killer” Garth Ennion, of ESA Partner, said upon sealing second position. “The temperature was actually alright.” “Head wind all the way, except for the last 5 kays” his teammate Wesley Lentz was quick to point out. “Ja”, agreed Ennion with a rueful smile, “except for the railway line singletrack.”

The challenging weather conditions ensured that team spirit came to the fore even more than usual during the 2019 Trans Baviaans Repeat. Photo by Jacques Marais.

A little further down the field the famous Trans Baviaans team spirit came to the fore. Riding for the event’s official apparel partners, Ciovita, Jaco Pelser and Raymond Cox had a longer and harder day than they had anticipated. “Ray had a terrible day. I had to pull him all the way” Pelser said with a grin at his teammate. “The road was definitely not smoother and that headwind was brutal. I’m shattered!” he finished; before setting hungrily to work on the post-Repeat Spur burger, chips and a Darling Brew beer.

While the times were significantly slower than in the previous weekend’s Race one new record was set in the Trans Baviaans Repeat. Bryan and Lauren Allot, riding as Team PowerBar 2, became the first riders to complete the event on gravel bikes. The couple are preparing for the 1 000 kilometre long Munga in December. “I figure if I can do this then the Munga will be just as easy” Bryan smiled a little nervously on the start line in Willowmore. “There might be no suspension, but you get rattled around anyway. The corrugations are always smoother on the other side of the road. But it’s a photograph ride, we are aiming to take it easy and enjoy it.” The Allot’s did just that, finishing in a steady time of 17 hours, 53 minutes and 56 seconds.

From Bergplaas at the 140km mark the route to Jeffery’s Bay was muddy in places following the, much needed, rain the region experienced that morning. Photo by Jacques Marais.

It was arguably not the year to take on the Trans Baviaans on a gravel bike though. “It was the toughest one I’ve done in the last 12 years” Vickus Boshoff rated. Boshoff, who owns the Coimbra bike shop in George, has completed an event in each of those 12 years and knows a thing or two about surviving the Baviaanskloof. His and Jan-Paul Gerber experience in the event helped them to third overall, just two seconds ahead of the Pure Savage team of Waldo Zevenster and Malcolm Isaacs. Zevenster and Isaacs had by all accounts been two of the strongest riders in the field, but mechanical issues kept them off the podium.

Bryan and Lauren Allot became the first riders to complete the Trans Baviaans on gravel bikes when they rolled into Jeffery’s Bay in the early hours of Sunday morning. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Like in the first weekend’s Race mechanical misfortunes played a significant role in the Repeat riders’ stories. Many failed to heed the warnings about the state of the road and the pre-race rain did not help matters either. A steady drizzle fell on the final 100 kilometres, from Bergplaas to the finish, in the morning before the first riders summited the Mother of All Climbs. From Bergplaas, at 140 kilometres in, to the finish muddy roads and a thick mist made the already challenging riding conditions even harder. Each and every rider who completed the Repeat should thus be justifiably proud of their achievement.

The water crossings in the forests between the base of the Big Dipper and Check Point 5 were deeper than they had been the week before, forcing riders to get creative to keep their feet dry. Photo by Jacques Marais

To relive all the action from the 2019 Trans Baviaans Race and Repeat visit the event’s Facebook page, Trans Baviaans. Alternatively, follow @EcoBoundEvents on Twitter and @transbaviaans or the hashtag #TransBaviaans2019 on Instagram.

Results

Men’s

  1. Gerrit de Vries & Gawie Combrinck (Uncle Fish) 9:25:20
  2. Garth Ennion & Wesley Lentz (ESA Partner) 9:27:22
  3. Jan-Paul Gerber & Vickus Boshoff (Coimbra) 9:29:18

 

Women’s

  1. Ilse Nel & Cherise Odendaal (Sumeil 1) 12:46:50
  2. Salomie Kolbe & Elize da Ponte (Chatting Blades) 13:50:47
  3. Adelle & Marleen Jeppe (Jeppe Jets) 14:55:34

 

Mixed

  1. Jay Carneiro, Bruce & Tracey Cambell (Cyclopro) 10:56:17
  2. Dirk Pienaar & Johanet Cilliers (Douglas Breakaway) 10:58:58
  3. Hannele Steyn & Waleed Baker (Passion4Wholeness Mixed) 11:08:38

 

For the full results from the 2019 Trans Baviaans Repeat please visit: www.transbaviaans.co.za.

The dense indigenous forests of Cambria, in the eastern part of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve, feature spectacularly gnarled old trees. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Trans Baviaans Repeat – No Mysteries in the Kloof the Second Time Around

Over the sixteen year history of the Trans Baviaans the greatest topic of debate before each Race has been the road conditions. 230 kilometres is, by any cyclist’s standards, a long distance. On gravel roads and jeep tracks that link Willowmore to Jeffery’s Bay, via the Baviaanskloof, there is amble opportunity for the route to provide challenging surface changes. In addition to the already strenuous trial set by the deceptively attritional meters of accumulated climbing, which stack up despite the downhill trend towards the Indian Ocean.

Repeat riders be warned: road conditions were particularly corrugated in the first 100km of the 2019 Trans Baviaans Race. Photo by Jacques Marais.

For the Trans Baviaans Repeat riders, who follow the tracks laid down by the Race competitors a week later, the road conditions hold no mysteries. The Race, which took place on Saturday 10 August, saw dormakaba and Galileo Risk win in dominant fashions. Neither team were able to match their times from 2018 though. This Saturday, 17 August, the Repeat pits another 1 250 riders against the roads of the Baviaanskloof.

“It was similar to the first one we did together [in 2017]” Sarah Hill said to her partner Theresa Ralph after sealing the 2019 Trans Baviaans Race victory. That opinion, the general consensus is, underplayed the roughness of the route though. “There were five broken rear derailleurs by Check Point 1” William Rhodes revealed. As one of the men married into the Trans Baviaans organising Van Der Walt clan Rhodes has been co-ordinating the water point at Check Point 1 for nearly a decade. “I’ve never seen so many issues so early into the race” Rhodes added.

Christie Hearder (front) and Courtney Webb (behind) were two of the riders who struggled with rear derailleur issues. Webb finished the race with a makeshift singlespeed set-up after her second derailleur failure of the race with 40km left to ride. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“Wikus [van der Walt, the race founder] always says the route is bad” Race Director Zane Schmahl said. “It’s a mountain bike race and the section through the reserve is always rough. Since the concrete strips were put down on the Fangs and MAC it has got a little easier though. That, the freshly graded roads leading to the reserve and a consistent tail wind led to fast times last year. This year there have been floods which damaged the road before the reserve. Though work has started to fix them there are still piles of gravel waiting to be graded into the road in places. The corrugations in the first 100 kilometres were particularly bad this year, as a result of those floods, and the rough section through the reserve is rougher than it has been in a number of years. That and the head wind from the start of the Neverender to the finish definitely slowed the times down.”

The rough road conditions and warm weather also led to an increased number of the top riders cramping. Hardly any of the fastest finishers failed to mention suffering from cramps. “Dezza [dormakaba’s Derrin Smith] started cramping with about 120 kilometres to go” Mike Posthumus recounted. “Later I started cramping too; but not as badly as Derrin, fortunately!” “With the temperatures reaching twenty five degrees Celsius and the tail wind blowing, I think it dehydrated people more than they realised” Schmahl speculated.

The infamous Langwater water crossing, after Check Point 3, forced virtually everyone to walk as it was deeper than usual this year. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Fortunately for the Repeat riders they have the experience of the Racers to call upon. They will therefore be prepared for the rough roads. Worcester’s Manic Cycles manned the service station at Check Point 1, where Vero’s famous rooster brood is usually the only reason for riders to stop. “We suggest that all Repeat riders have their rear derailleurs checked properly. Make sure the pulleys are still in a good condition and that all the bolts are fastened properly” the shop tweeted on Sunday, after the Race.

The weather conditions will hopefully also contribute to smoother day out for the riders this coming Saturday. No rain is predicted to fall during the event, but the temperatures are expected to be lower – peaking at just sixteen degrees on Saturday afternoon. A cross-head wind is predicted for the first half of the race unfortunately, but that could force riders to remain in groups in the first 100 kilometres rather than striking out alone. Thereafter, once the route turns West towards Jeffery’s Bay after the Hadley Check Point, the riders can expect a gentle tail wind.

Once riders reached Bergplaas, and Check Point 4, the road surfaces smoothed out considerably. Photo by Jacques Marais.

For those still nervous about what exactly lies in store during the Trans Baviaans there is no better way to mentally prepare than by recapping on what took place during the race. Riders and fans can view all the photos and videos from the Race on the event’s Facebook page, Trans Baviaans. Or relive the blow-by-blow account of how the Race unfolded on Twitter, at @EcoBoundEvents. More photos and rider experience posts can be found by following @transbaviaans or the hashtag #TransBaviaans2019 on Instagram. While all the other essential information is available on the website: www.transbaviaans.co.za.

 

dormakaba and Galileo Risk Overcome Rough Terrain to win 2019 Trans Baviaans

The 2019 Trans Baviaans, which took place in the Eastern Cape on Saturday 10 August, was won by the dormakaba and Galileo Risk teams. They and their fellow competitors in the Trans Baviaans Race, the first of two events, had to brave the roughest conditions in years on the traverse through the Baviaanskloof. Floods in the build-up to the race left the usually smoother roads in the first 100 kilometres, of the 230 kilometre long route, in a rutted condition.

Those ruts would be felt later rather than when they were assaulted, on fresh legs, because a steady tail wind blew from the North West as riders left Willowmore for Jeffery’s Bay. A frenetic pace was set from the off by the Hausberger team, of Werner Roux and Jono Cloete. Roux revealed at the finish that it had not been part of their race plan. “Jono [Cloete] attacked in the first kilometre” he said shaking his head. “We hadn’t even left Willowmore yet. I didn’t want to follow but I didn’t really have a choice.”

Derrin Smith, of dormakaba, leads the reduced group from which both the first and second place at the 2019 Trans Baviaans Race came. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Cloete’s brave move echoed the acceleration by Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit in 2018, when the pair set the current course record. It also played into the hands of the race favourites, Mike Posthumus and Derrin Smith, of dormakaba. “It suited us, them [Roux and Cloete] making it so hard” Posthumus recounted. “It forced quite a select group to form; with them, us and the guys from ProTouch. We got away and then at 90 kilometres we saw them hesitating at a Check Point and we [Smith and Posthumus] pushed on from there.”

“It was a solo ride from 90 kilometres” he continued with a grimace. “It was awful. It was so rough. I had between 10 and 15 chain-drops off my chainring and had to keep stopping to put that back on and then chase back. So that burnt a few matches. Then Dez [Smith] started cramping with about 120 kilometres to go. It was a rough second half for him and I started cramping too, but luckily not as bad as him.”

Addressing the slip; which saw them penalised with a 20 minute time addition Posthumus explained: “We made an error at Check Point 7 by not taking our lights.” “The plan had been to beat the setting sun. And though we didn’t manage it technically, at least we didn’t need our lights” he laughed off the mistake which ended up not costing them too dearly.

Having crossed the line 28 minutes and 53 seconds ahead of Roux and Cloete; but 19 minutes after their targeted time of 8 hours the 20 minute the penalty did not deny them the win or a personal best. Posthumus, Smith, Roux and Cloete were joined on the podium by Jaco Davel and Ignus Oosthuizen. Davel and Oosthuizen had suffered their own cramps earlier in the race but stormed through the final 50 kilometres to overhaul the ProTouch team of Pieter Seyffert and Myles van Musschenbroek. Seyffert and Van Musschenbroek had been among the race’s main protagonists, so slipping from the podium was exceptionally cruel; but that is the nature of the Trans Baviaans. It often provides a vicious sting in the closing kilometres as the accumulated effects of 8 hours of racing starts to tell.

Galileo Risk’s Sarah Hill contemplates the challenge ahead as she lined up to start the 2019 Trans Baviaans in Willowmore on the morning of Saturday the 10th of August. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Two riders who know exactly how to pace their efforts, in the Trans Baviaans, are Galileo Risk’s Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill. Having won the previous two editions together they use the race as a benchmark for their development as a team. “Today we really pushed hard” Ralph said, just after crossing the finish line. “Sarah [Hill] has grown so amazingly. I remember the first one I did with her, I could have pedalled with one leg. Now she’s putting me in the hurt-locker for a lot of the race. We really had a good dynamic, sharing the load.”

“The corrugations were a lot like the first time we rode the Trans Baviaans” Hill added. “And the headwind was so tough. There was a time when I thought there was no way we would even get close to our record, especially on the Neverender. But then we found such a good rhythm and we were feeding off each other’s energy. We ended up getting so close… so we’ll have to try again next year” Hill laughed.

Dane Walsh (far) completed his sixteenth Trans Baviaans. Riding alongside Craig Edwards (near) the Distinguished Voodoo Grinders finished eighteenth overall this year. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) follows Deon Kruger (Humankind Masters) along a section of relatively smooth district road. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Ralph and Hill were joined on the women’s podium by former Olympian and 2009 IRONMAN South Africa champion Lucie Zelenková and her partner Laura-Beth Eicker-Harris. The third placed team was the Kekkel en Kloek team, of Nickey Botes and Esmari de Wet.

In the mixed category there was a proposal on the finish line after Tanya Kirstein and Christo Roos had raced to victory. Fortunately for Roos the endorphins of the win were clearly running high as Kirstein accepted instantaneously. The newly engaged couple were joined on the podium by ECC-Bestmed’s Anriette Schoeman and Kevin Taljaard; as well as by Urcycling’s Mariske Smith and Wayne van der Walt.

The Langwater crossing – which comes 123 kilometres into the route, in the middle of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve – caused more than just wet feet in 2019. Photo by Jacques Marais.

To further relive the 2019 Trans Baviaans Race mountain biking fans can follow @EcoBoundEvents on Twitter or @transbaviaans on Instagram. Additionally liking the Trans Baviaans Facebook will provide access to photos and videos from the race. The action commences next weekend, on Saturday 17 August, with the Repeat; which will see a more social ride from Willowmore to Jeffery’s Bay take place through the magnificent Baviaanskloof.

 

2019 Trans Baviaans Race | Results:

Men’s

  1. Mike Posthumus & Derrin Smith (dormakaba) 08:39:32
  2. Werner Roux & Jono Cloete (Hausberger) 08:48:25
  3. Jaco Davel & Ignus Oosthizen (Jocoignus) 08:50:25
  4. Pieter Seyffert & Myles van Musschenbroek (ProTouch) 08:57:59
  5. Fred Buter & Deon Kruger (Humankind Masters) 09:06:00

 

Women’s

  1. Theresa Ralph & Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) 09:06:01
  2. Lucie Zelenková & Laura-Beth Eicker-Harris (Trifactri Chics) 11:35:15
  3. Nickey Botes & Esmari de Wet (Kekkel en Kloek) 11:49:57
  4. Illiska Verwey & Tanja Schutte (Die Heart) 12:00:11
  5. Alisha Myers & Kateryna Tertiienko (DC Gals) 12:07:52

 

Mixed

  1. Tanya Kirstein & Christo Roos (Enduroplanet) 09:38:09
  2. Anriette Schoeman & Kevin Taljaard (ECC-Bestmed) 09:56:15
  3. Mariske Smith & Wayne van der Walt (Urcycling) 10:18:25
  4. Jana Kruger & Nichol Jordaan (Hansie en Grietjie) 10:35:12
  5. Liesel & Ken Prentis (Prentis) 10:56:09

 

For additional information please visit www.transbaviaans.co.za.

 

Willowmore Abuzz Ahead of 2019 Trans Baviaans Race

The sleepy Eastern Cape town of Willowmore is never as busy as it is right now. On the dusty main road; not a parking spot is to be found and pedestrians have to dodge bicycles and cars crawling at walking pace through town, as there is simply no space on the pavements. Knysna has the Oyster Festival, Grahamstown has the National Art Festival – but Willowmore has the Trans Baviaans.

For two weekends a year the town comes alive with an influx of visitors. This year those weekends are the second and third weekends in August. Every bed in town is filled. Makeshift accommodation is provided by a temporary campsite and mattresses on the floor of the school and church halls. The town’s main attraction has long been its location as the gateway to the Baviaanskloof.  Even outside of the mountain bike race it lures adventure seekers looking for a point from which to strike out into the country’s largest wilderness area.

The best way to experience the Baviaanskloof is undoubtedly by bicycle. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“One of the restaurant owners told me they pray for Trans Baviaans ahead of Christmas in Willowmore” race director Zane Schmahl laughed. “With 1 250 riders, and a growing number of friends and family members who accompany them as supporters, the race provides a massive boost to the local economy. Not just in Willowmore, on the Karoo side of the kloof, but also in Jeffery’s Bay on the far side. It is great to see the town so full and all the small businesses benefiting from the event.”

“At EcoBound we like to use local service providers as much as possible” Schmahl continued. “Take Vero’s for example. We provide the raw materials and pay her to make her famous roosterbrood for 2 500 mountain bikers over the two weekends of the Trans Baviaans Race and Repeat. She has grown her business into a Baviaanskloof institution with the help of the thousands of riders who have visited her both within and outside of the events over the years.”

“The Smit family, who farm in the kloof also play a massive part in the event” Schmahl praised. “They hunt kudu and make sausage and sosaties which are braaied at Check Point 3. It is probably the most connected to the area riders can be, being nourished by healthy, free range and hormone free, venison from the Baviaanskloof” he concluded.

The kloof and its rugged roads are also an adventure motor-biker’s dream. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Aside from mountain bikers the other groups of thrill seekers with whom the region is exceptionally popular are adventure motor-bikers and 4×4 enthusiasts. Their trips through the kloof keep Willowmore on the tourist map with year-round visitors. On Saturday afternoon, when the majority of the field is making their slow ascent of the Mother of All Climbs, the most significant ascent of the event, many will no doubt be wishing for an engine. There can be no doubt however that experiencing the kloof by mountain bike is the best way to do so.

For those who are more comfortable on four wheels the Baviaanskloof is a fantastic destination for 4×4 enthusiasts, hikers and campers. Photo by Jacques Marais

If you have never taken part in the Trans Baviaans then you will be able to get a hint of what South Africa’s most popular ultra-endurance mountain bike race is all about on Saturday the 10th of August. Follow @EcoBoundEvents on Twitter for regular updates from the race or @transbaviaans on Instagram for insights into the beauty of the area. Alternatively like the Trans Baviaans Facebook page to view all the photos and videos from the 2019 race or visit www.transbaviaans.co.za for more information.

The Mother of All Climbs is a serious challenge by bicycle; though the concrete strips, which were laid down to make the drive easier for vehicles does help significantly. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Jeffery’s Bay is not just Surf City South Africa, it offers a magnitude of other adventure activities too. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Posthumus, Smith, Hill, Ralph and Co Race the Elements at Trans Baviaans

The 2019 Trans Baviaans, ultra-endurance mountain bike race, is set to take place on Saturday the 10th of August. Among the 1 250 riders who will roll across the start line in Willowmore, on their way to Jeffery’s Bay are Mike Posthumus, Derrin Smith, Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph. Though the quartet of riders from dormakaba and Galileo Risk headline the field their race through South Africa’s largest wilderness area, the Baviaanskloof, will be anything but simple.

Over the 230 kilometre long route, with includes 2 850 meters of climbing, there are innumerable opportunities for misfortune. Punctures, crashes, nutrition and most pivotally – the elements – could all play their part in determining the race outcome. How each team, of two to four riders, overcomes the adversities the Baviaanskloof directs at them will ultimately decide the winners.

Mike Posthumus raced to third, alongside Derrin Smith in the 2018 Trans Baviaans, beating the setting sun by 3 minutes. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“The roads aren’t in as good a condition as they were last year,” race director, Zane Schmahl warned. “After the recent rains in the kloof the roads department have been grading, but the surfaces will probably be less smooth than last year’s near perfect condition. On the other hand, the water levels are relatively low. We expect about six water crossings. So for the less competitive riders the risk of a long day with wet feet is lower than usual” Schmahl added.

In 2018 three teams broke the historic 8 hour barrier for the first time. Co-race winners Insect Science/Garmin (Ben Melt Swanepoel and Timothy Hammond) and DSV Pro Cycling (Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit) did so by a massive nine minutes. Their shared record thus stands at 7 hours, 51 minutes and 6 seconds. Postumus and Smith, were third last year, also beating the 8 hour mark and finishing before the sun set on the Fountains Mall, in Jeffrey’s Bay.

Sarah Hill (right) and Theresa Ralph (left) will start their third Trans Baviaans as a team on the 10th of August this year. Photo by Jacques Marais.

It would take a remarkably ride to match their time of 7 hours and 57 minutes in 2019 but Posthumus is as bullish as ever. “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to race with Derrin again, this year representing Team dormakaba” he began. “We will always give our absolute everything to go as fast as we can on the day. From previous experience, a fast day is more determined by a positive fast start and the wind direction on the day. To me, those factors are more important when trying to break 8 hours. We can’t do anything about the weather, so we will focus on influence the factors under our control” the doctor of Sport Science related.

“It is extremely important to have a good open relationship” with your Tran Baviaans partner Posthumus continued. “It is very important to be able to communicate how you are feeling. We (Derrin and I) are so fortunate to understand each other so well that we don’t need to verbally communicate; we have raced together for long enough to be able to read each other and feed off each other’s strengths.”

Hannele Steyn smiling her way to the summit of the Mother of All Climbs, a feat that not many riders manage. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Turning his attention to advice to his fellow Trans Baviaans riders he added: “The biggest tip I could give anyone is to remember that it is only a 140 kilometre race. See the first 100 kilometres as neutral. It is mostly flat and fast riding so save your legs for when they will be needed. Imagine this section as a transition to the start of the race.”

Two-time Trans Baviaans champion, and women’s course record holder, Hill will once again partner four-time winner, Ralph. The Galileo Risk pair has made the Trans Baviaans one of their key races over the last two seasons. The long hours spent on the bike in the race have helped forge their partnership. “Teamwork is way more than simply riding together” Hill pointed out. “Both parties are going to go through ups and downs and it’s really important to acknowledge and respect the spaces you go through. Encouragement and support is essential, and both of you coming into the race with the same goal is vital” she advised to her fellow competitors.

From Bergplaas, at the summit of the Mother of All Climbs panoramic vistas extend over the Baviaanskloof to the North West and East towards the ocean and the finish line nearly 100km away. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“Working with each other’s strengths is also critical. If you have a diesel engine for a partner (i.e. Theresa), then the long power sections are her thing. She will look after me and I will make sure I hold that wheel! On the climbs things start to even out and that’s where I can set the pace, and make sure we don’t go over our limits… You remind each other to eat eat eat, and drink drink drink, and then congratulate each other on every mile stone of the race. For us, it’s the stickers from the check points! My favourite thing is the sense of humour prep. T (Theresa Ralph) and I have this thing, where we both have one hilarious lame joke. We don’t tell each other until we’re on the Never Ender (when you need that sense of humour check!). We reveal the jokes when we think the other partner is suffering the most. Trust me… It is a mental game changer” Hill laughed.”

“This race is a must on our calendar” Hill continued. “It marks our Team-Aversary which is so special. Theresa and I have grown from strength to strength, and this is the reminder of where it all started. It holds such a special place in my heart, and reminds me of the value of teamwork, and the practice of suffering with a purpose. We are coming back to defend our title of course! If there’s a tail wind, we’re going for a new record. Otherwise we will race as fast as we can to test each other for the upcoming events.”

“The distance is quite intimating” Hill, who is more frequently seen racing cross-country events than ultra-marathons confessed. “And I think that’s why I love it. It’s our mid-season ‘check in’ where we come and reset our minds for the rest of the year to come. We get such a mental strength benefit racing such an ultra-endurance event, that we carry through onto all the stage races we do until December.”

The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve is the largess wilderness area in South Africa and boasts a rugged, unspoilt, beauty. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Outside of the men’s and women’s races the mixed category race could be the most fiercely contested in years. With serial champion Yolande de Villiers on the mend after a serious leg break but not yet able to return to competitive riding and her long-time partner Neill Ungerer also absent the category victory is up-for-grabs. The pre-race favourites are the local team of Kevin Taljaard and Anriette Schoeman. Taljaard, who owns East Coast Cycles in Jeffrey’s Bay, is no stranger to Trans Baviaans having won the second weekend’s repeat event alongside De Villiers on two occasions. He also placed second behind De Villiers and Ungerer with Siska van der Berg in 2018. For 2019 he will line up alongside one of the country’s most decorated cyclists, in Schoeman, but one who is a Trans Baviaans novice.

 

Schoeman’s inexperience could open the door for the Enduroplanet team of Tanya Kirstein and Christo Roos. Or the Cobra            team of Arno du Toit, Ernestine and Ernest Safar. Though historically in the Trans Baviaans two rider teams have held the advantage over three and four rider squads, as the larger teams often lose time in check points or with mechanicals.

 

Posthumus and Hill both referred to the wind as a determining factor in any potential record attempts. With the race a week away the long-term weather forecast is pointing towards a challenging day on the bike. Riders can expect tail winds through the Baviaanskloof but rising headwinds once they pass Check Point 5, at the Hadleigh Pack-house 172 kilometres into the race. The final 60 kilometres, including the ascent of the infamous Never Ender climb could thus be undertaken into a headwind, with the added discomfort of a slight chance of rain in the late evening.

While the challenging weather and road conditions will make the going tough for the riders it should ensure an exciting race for mountain biking fans. Friends, family members and riders can download the EcoBound Explorer mobile application, for iPhone and Android devices, where they will be able to access all the news and updates from the race. Updates from the race will also be available; from selected WiFi hotspots on the remote route, on the Trans Baviaans website, www.transbaviaans.co.za, and EcoBound Twitter handle @EcoBoundEvents. Meanwhile the event’s Facebook page, Trans Baviaans, will once again feature videos, rider interview and amazing photos from the Jacques Marais; as will the Instagram handle, @transbaviaans.

By night the trials of the Trans Baviaans are illuminated by one thousand bicycle lights. Photo by Jacques Marais.