Trans Baviaans Founder Makes His Debut in 15th Edition

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.

Wikus van der Walt – the founder of EcoBound Mountain Events, the organisers of the iconic To Hell and Back and Trans Baviaans mountain bike races – will be making his Trans Baviaans debut in the 15th edition of the famous ultra-endurance race, when he rides the Repeat on the 18th of August. To make his traverse of the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site and the 230 kilometres of the race route a little easier van der Walt will be taking part on the new Momsen Vipa Ultra.

The new Momsen Vipa Ultra (first look)

Over the years van der Walt has poured his passion for mountain biking into event organising and ensuring others get to experience his twin loves for the sport and the environment in which it takes place. Since 1995, when the first To Hell and Back took place, he has been a pivotal figure in the local mountain biking community. While his three daughters were at school van der Walt and his wife, Elmarie, were exceptionally active in the organising of age group racing – particularly in the Southern Cape.

Now with the Trans Baviaans running like a well-oiled machine he can delegate to his trusted team of children, their spouses and long-time crew members, and take the opportunity to experience one of the events he created for himself. He will be setting out from Willowmore alongside his partner for the initial To Hell and Back trial ride, 24 years ago, John Sharples and MP Heyns, father to one of the race favourites Gert Heyns. Do not be fooled into thinking that van der Walt is a stranger to riding a bicycle through the Baviaanskloof however.

Wikus van der Walt and his famous beard, have been at the forefront of the South African mountain biking community since the inaugural To Hell and Back stage race in 1995. Photo by Jacques Marais.

He is a firm believer in the principle that an event should never take in a trail he has not ridden himself. Over the years he has ridden through the Baviaans numerous times on reconnaissance rides and most recently while undertaking the Freedom Challenge in June this year; though that crossing of the Baviaanskloof was done in the opposite direction and on a heavily loaded bicycle. Those recent memories and his new purposely endurance-designed Momsen Vipa Ultra are sure to make his Trans Baviaans ride a far more enjoyable experience.

Wikus van der Walt and his fellow Trans Baviaans riders will need to conquer the Mother of All Climbs en route from Willowmore to Jeffreys Bay. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Designed and developed by EcoBound’s bicycle partners, Momsen Bikes, the Vipa Ultra is a complete reengineering of the original Vipa full suspension mountain bike platform. Showcasing the modern trend for full suspension race bikes to feature longer top tubes, slacker head angles and more capable performance in technical terrain the Vipa Ultra is not only lighter than its predecessor the Vipa Race but is also more comfortable (now with 100mm rear wheel travel) and confidence inspiring. Key to an ultra-endurance event like the Trans Baviaans is the Vipa Ultra’s ablity to fit two bottle cages inside the main triangle and the presence of integrated storage compartments in both the top and down tubes. It is a bike that not only lives up to the Momsen motto of “Forged in the untamed” but is superbly equipped to conquer the Baviaanskloof. For more info on the Momsen Vipa Ultra you can go to their website or follow them on social media: Facebook & Instagram

The production models of the Momsen Vipa Ultra have been kept carefully under wraps, but their predecessors the Vipa 2 proudly sported the contours of the Baviaanskloof on their top tubes. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“After 15 years of organising the event, I look forward to taking part in my first official Trans Baviaans, to experience the highs and lows of the event with my fellow riders,” van der Walt said. “I’m especially looking forward to doing this event on the brand new Vipa Ultra as it is a bike made and developed for this type of riding” he concluded.

The 2018 Trans Baviaans takes place over two weekends in August, with the Race starting on Saturday the 11th and the Repeat the following weekend on the 18th. Mountain biking fans can follow Wikus van der Walt and his fellow riders’ progress throughout both events online at or on social media, by liking the Facebook page, Trans Baviaans, following the Instagram handle, @transbaviaans, and following the EcoBound Twitter handle @EcoBoundMTB.

Preparing for the Biggest Ultra-Endurance Race of the Year

The Trans Baviaans is without a doubt South Africa’s iconic ultra-endurance mountain bike race. In a country where ultra-endurance events attract thousands of participants the Baviaans holds the torch as mountain biking’s Comrades Marathon. Now in its fifteenth year the 230 kilometre event takes place over two weekends, with races starting on the 11th and the 18th of August.

The annual Trans Baviaans mountain bike race covers 230 kilometres from Willowmore to Jeffreys Bay, via the remote Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Billed as the toughest team single stage MTB race in the world, it challenges riders to cycle from Willowmore on the edge of the Great Karoo, through the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site and to the coastal town of Jeffreys Bay. The 230 kilometre route includes 2 843 meters of climbing, with ascents like the Mother of All Climbs and Neverender having gained infamy of their own, beyond the event at large.

Boasting two events, each attracting over 1 250 riders, the Trans Baviaans sells out in a matter of days – making it undoubtedly the largest ultra-endurance mountain biking event in the country. It is also made unique by the fact that riders take part in teams. The teams range in size from two to four individuals, but ride as a team they must – to ensure each person has someone looking out for them throughout the rugged journey from the hinterland to the Indian Ocean.

South Africa’s top ultra-endurance riders will be pitting themselves against each other and the challenging route in the first event, dubbed the Race on the 11th of August. Photo by Jacques Marais.

For the fifteenth edition of the famous event riders had the choice of entering the Race or the Repeat. The Race starts in Willowmore on Saturday the 11th of August at 10:00 in the morning, while the Repeat begins, at the same time and place, seven days later. South Africa’s most competitive ultra-endurance riders will be lining up in the normally quiet main road of Willowmore to do battle to be crowned the Kings and Queens of the Baviaans in the first edition. The second edition is a little more relaxed, though riders can be sure there will still be a racing element; but without as many elite riders on the start line – the bunches tent to traverse the first 150 kilometres a few kilometres per hour slower.

With the Trans Baviaans starting at 10:00am in Willowmore all the riders will be cycling into the dark, which adds to the unique experience and the challenge of the event. Photo by Jacques Marais.

The good news for one and all participating in the 2018 Trans Baviaans is that the roads leading to the reserve have been recently graded. This should ensure faster times at the front of the field, and perhaps new record times if the weather plays along. More importantly it should ensure a pleasurable day out for the bulk of the riders, who ride the Baviaans for the experience and the camaraderie.

With the events now rapidly approaching all that remains is to nervously keep an eye on the weather forecast and to complete the final pre-race preparations. Fortunately EcoBound does just that on their social media channels and on the race website, Be sure to like the Facebook page, Trans Baviaans, and follow the Instagram handle, @transbaviaans, for all the news in the build-up to the event. If you are not riding one of this year’s Trans Baviaans events, but would like to live vicariously through those that are, you can follow the racing action on the EcoBound Twitter handle @EcoBoundMTB or on the race’s website.


Stay tuned to the Trans Baviaans social media channels in the built-up to the race for more information on the route and weather conditions. Photo by Jacques Marais.

For more information visit, alternatively contact Zane Schmahl ( | 072 076 8623) or Seamus Allardice ( | 082 748 7772).

Don’t Panic: Trans Baviaans Is Just Around The Corner

The Trans Baviaans, 24 hour MTB Marathon, is rapidly approaching and while there is virtually no time left for improving your fitness there is a great deal of preparation you can still do to ensure you have a successful ride. Whether you are lining up for the Race on the 11th of August or the Repeat on the 18th you will still have 230 kilometres of rugged Eastern Cape gravel roads to cover, including 2 843 significant meters of elevation gain. So here are a few tips for ensuring you a prepared for the toughest team single stage MTB race in the world…

  1. Go Long at Least Once

While you cannot really improve your fitness much between now and the event you can get your body and mind used to long hours in the saddle. So schedule a last long training ride, of at least 150 kilometres, to simulate how you will feel during Trans Baviaans. It will also give you the opportunity to find tune your nutrition plan, and remember never eat or drink anything for the first time during the big race, you have to train your gut like you do your muscles to perform on race day.


  1. Final Bike Prep

Give your bike a pre-race check-up. Hopefully at this late stage it won’t need a major service; but to be on the safe side make sure everything is turning smoothly, that your tubeless sealant is topped up and that all bolts are tightened up appropriately. Also be sure to check that your spare tube is puncture free and that your multi-tool, CO2 adapter, CO2 bombs, tubeless tyre plugs and spare chain link are all packed.

3. Gear Check

Do you have everything you will need gear wise for Trans Baviaans? Download the official gear check list here and ensure that you have all the kit, regardless of what the weather throws at you. Included in the gear check list are essentials like bike lights, cycling kit, nutrition and more.


4. Plan Your Strategy

Don’t be too rigid in your planning because it’s a mountain bike race after-all, anything can and probably will happen. But put plans in place for your ideal and worse case scenarios. Plus pre-pack your checkpoint boxes into large zip-lock bags so you can minimise your post-registration hassle. It’ll also help to print out the Route Profile and tape it to your top tube.

Night riding like never before…

5. Pack Right

  • Pack for warm, wet and cold weather. Make your final decision on race day but remember to add cold weather gear to your checkpoint 4 box regardless.
  • Pre-pack your race day nutrition. If you plan on putting bars, gels, whole food or a sports drink concentrate in your checkpoint boxes pack all the necessary products into a clearly marked zip-lock bag for each checkpoint box.
  • Double check. Make sure you have all the essentials, by cross referencing the official gear check list, which you can download here.

6. Reduce the Stress

Get to Willomore early, register and check-in to your accommodation. Have a hearty, early supper, of easily digestible and familiar foods before trying to get a good night’s rest. If you struggle to fall asleep don’t stress it, try to remain relaxed and visualise the challenge ahead. Just lying relaxed in bed will ensure you’re more well rested for race day than if you spend the night tossing and turning trying in vain to get to sleep. (If you’re staying in the hostel ear plugs are a good idea too!)

Pre-Race fun or nerves?

7. Wake Up Early

With the Trans Baviaans starting at 10:00 you have plenty of time to eat and digest a good breakfast, but don’t waste your morning either. Get up early, eat breakfast and then check in your boxes if you are sending boxes to checkpoints two and three.

8. Kill Time in Willowmore

This will be less of an issue than you think but if you are struggling for something to do take a very slow pedal down the main drag and check out the town. Or settle in with a newspaper. Just remember to avoid too much coffee, it’s a diuretic and can play havoc with a stressed stomach too, so rather use the time to hydrate with a watered down fruit juice.

9. Line Up to Go Time

From 09:00 you can start collecting your race token, which will be marked at each checkpoint, and file into the start chute. At 09:45 the race briefing will take place and at 10:00 the Trans Baviaans starts.

10. Early Kays

Remember, save energy. Every calorie you expend early on is one you won’t have for later when you’re climbing MAC or Neverender. Someone has to sit at the front of the group, but try to ensure it’s not you – or at least not you for too long.

11. The Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve

Once you hit the reserve the going gets tougher, this is what you saved energy for. The climb to Baviaans Back at 115 kilometres in could be a shock to the system, but the Fangs at 130 kilometres certainly will be. Just after the second Fang the Mother of All Climbs starts (Check it out on Stava), save energy for it. The main part of the climb is about 5 kilometres long and averages just below double figures in gradient, but be warned there are sections which ramp up briefly to over 20% and longer drags at over 10%. The surface of MAC is better than ever this year though, with Eastern Cape Parks having laid concrete strips up the climb; just don’t drop off the concrete onto the old eroded jeep track surface.

12. The Big Dipper

At Bergplaas you’ll reach the all-important checkpoint 4. It’s here that most riders aim to be before it gets dark. Remember Bergplaas is located off the main road, so hang a left to the check point about 3 kilometres after the King and Queen of the Mountain hot spot. Descending the Big Dipper at night can be daunting, but if you have an Extreme Lights Ultimate+ or Endurance+ light you’ll be thankful for their wide beams which cast light through the corners as well at a focal point straight ahead.

13. Beyond the Baviaanskloof

Once out of the nature reserve the road surfaces improve once more, but by now you’ll probably be too tired to notice the difference. This is where your mental strength and team work will really come to the fore. Prepare to suffer here and promise yourself now that you won’t quit. Once over the Neverender at 195 kilometres the major battles are won.

14. Final Tips

  • Eat, Eat, Eat. Keep putting back those calories
  • Drink, Drink, Drink. Keep hydrating, especially if it gets colder and your thirst response drops off. You’ll still need the fluids.
  • Don’t faff. Don’t waste time at the checkpoints, get in and get out. Have a plan for what you’ll need at each checkpoint and stick to it.
  • Save energy for the end. The final 5 kilometres to the Fountains Mall in Jefferys Bay are now on a singletrack next to the railway line. Don’t expect a smooth tar run in to town.
  • Stick together and Enjoy it. The Trans Baviaans is a team race and hopefully you’re riding it with friends, so stay together and enjoy the experience.

15. Stay Updated

Keep yourself updated in the build up to the Trans Baviaans by following the event on Facebook and Instagram, or EcoBound on Twitter. Your supporters at home or meeting you at checkpoint 5 will be able to follow the race live, over both weekends, by following those social media handles or by watching online at

The Start!

For more information visit, alternatively contact Zane Schmahl ( | 072 076 8623) or Seamus Allardice ( | 082 748 7772).

Trans News #3-18

Goeie Dag

Die koudste week van die jaar!
Wikus van der Walt is tans besig met die Freedom Challenge en het deur n spier wit Hel gery 2 dae terug! Hy het ook deur die Baviaanskloof gery en beplan om hierdie jaar vir die eerste keer ooit in 15 jaar sy eie event die Trans Baviaans aan te pak!


In order for you to prepare your logistics, this is how registration will work:

Registration opens on Friday from 13:00 at the Town Hall in Knysna road (Main Street) in Willowmore and will continue untill 20:00.  Please note: There will be no registration on Saturday morning.

Remember:- Containers for Checkpoint #4 (Bergplaas) must be loaded on Friday before 20:00 at registration. Containers for Checkpoints #2 & #3 will only be loaded on Saturday from 7:30-8:30. Trucks for these containers will be parked next to the Engen Garage in Willowmore.

Please Note: All the information required for the race will be provided at the Race Registration. Allow enough time to familiarise yourself with the info before the start – especially the route as it will not be marked!

For the full event Schedule go to our website


We are currently running a FAQ campaign on Facebook, go check it out and we might be answering some of your questions!
Facebook Page


You can download the proven training planners from our website that has been covered in the Trans Talks. If you are following the conventional one this should be what you need to do next week:
MO 45min @ zone 1 or rest
TU 1h10 @ zone 1, include 30min @ zone 2
WE 1h30 @ zone 2
TH 2h00 @ zone 2
FR 45min @ zone 1 or rest day
SA 1h30 @ zone 2
SO 2h30 @ zone 2

EcoBound Explorer
“Explore everything EcoBound”
We have a mobile app! It is still in the starting phases of development but you can download it from the app stores. The aim will be to make your entry process to our events smoother! We are including some cool features like the “Polar Training Planners” that you can follow, they are located under “Performance”
We will have the “Live” event run from the app with feeds on your progress and handy features for your supporters!


Development bikes going into the Baviaanskloof!
We have started a programm where these guys will be able to rent out their bikes to tourist and generate income for them to compete in races. The first event on their Momsen AL129’s will be the Trans Baviaans!

We are very excited to announce our partnership with Versus socks as they are undoubtedly the leader in the industry! We will have the limited edition Trans Baviaans Socks available for pre order up to 16 July on our website and they will be up for grabs at event registration.

Happy Riding

Team EcoBound


Trans News #2-18

Goeie Dag

Die maand van April het aangebreek. Vir die wat nog ons “Polar Training planners”oorweeg, hierdie sal die maand wees om te begin met die oefening program.

Trans Talks / Rides

The past Trans Talk’s have been very well received and we had great turn outs at all of these evenings! Thank you so much for the continued support everyone!
We are now focusing on the Trans Rides coming up in April and we hope to see some of you at these more casual evenings. If you have not yet booked your spot please RSVP by clicking this link

Community Projects

We recently had a community meeting in the Baviaanskloof and we are excited to work with the community of this special place, on some new projects for the area. Projects that have been identified for 2018 are:
1. Baviaanskloof Racing Team – To supply gear and facilitate training of a team to compete in the Trans Baviaans 2018.
2. Sanitary facilities for Zaaimanshoek School –  To help with the installation of a septic tank and sanitary facilities of the Zaaimanshoek School.
3. Information Boards – We are looking at the possibilities of placing Baviaanskloof information boards at the entrances of the Baviaanskloof.

The annual Trans Baviaans mountain bike race covers 230 kilometres from Willowmore to Jeffreys Bay, via the remote Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Happy riding!
Team EcoBound

Trans News #1-18

Trans Talks – The Big Cities

The Big Cities of our country was up next for the Trans Talk Roadshow, but first an “intimate session” with the boys from Pietermaritzburg in Greg Minnaar Cycles. It was a small group of people but a good talk with lots of questions and discussion on the Trans Baviaans.

Greg Minnaar bikes are all on display at his shop

Centurion, a predicted 150 people for the evening, the biggest Trans Talk yet at The Bicycle Company. Johan Labuschagne gave some insight on his experience of racing the Trans Baviaans as a multiple title winner of the race in his own shop. Polar once again delivered with an excellent insight to training for this event.

The Gauteng area saw more Trans Talks as stops where made in Klerksdorp at Tailwind Cycles and in Johannesburg at Melow Velo Cycles.

Some new stuff revealed at Melow Velo

Bloemfontein was a big surprise with over 80 people for the Free State Capital, the talk was done in Afrikaans in true “Vrystaat” style.

Full selection of ice cold Darling Brew’s

It was Cape Town Cycle Tour week in the Cape and the Trans Talks kicked of with Stellenbosch on the Tuesday evening at Extreme Lights offices. Charl from Extreme lights added value with a quick demo on the lights!

Polar and Extreme lights collaborated to demonstrate a solution for your GPS battery life / run time! This is an ideal setup for the Trans Baviaans, taking into account that the route is not marked, its a 24hr race, you need lights and that Polar is the only unit we know of that will navigate while plugged into a power source!

Cape Town at Revolution Cycles was the last stop of the “Big City” Trans Talk tour.

Only two Trans Talks are left for the tour with home town George and Knysna this week.

15 March 2017 Knysna Knysna Cycle Works
16 March 2017 George Coimbra Cycles

The Trans Talk initiative has grown from strength to strength and has become an valuable part of this iconic mountain bike race!

First Round – Trans Talk 2017

The Trans Talks in the Eastern Cape region 2017.

The first round of Trans Talks has been very well received in Port Elizabeth and East London last week. Port Elizabeth saw double the number of people from the previous year and The Bike & Brew was jam packed with 90% of the mountain bikers being Trans Baviaans rookies. This made for a very attentive crowd as Wikus van der Walt explained the story of how it all started, Harald Zumpt from Polar gave everyone a sigh of relieve with the valuable tips on training for the 230km route and Nick Cape from PowerBar explained the importance of nutrition.

East London Cycles hosted the first Trans Talk in the “Slum” town after a request from the local riders. “The amount of riders that showed up for the talk on a Friday evening amazed us” said Zane Schmahl from Ecobound.  Some very interesting questions was asked and the Ice Cold Darling Brew went down well as everything MTB was discussed.

The rest of the Trans Talk Tour schedule is below, all evenings are set to start at 19:00 and you need to RSVP with

7 Feb 2017 Pietermaritzburg Greg Minaar Cycles
15 Feb 2017 Centurion The Bicycle Company
16 Feb 2017 Klerksdorp Tailwind Cycles
17 Feb 2017 Johannesburg Mellow Velo
22 Feb 2017 Bloemfontein Cycle World
7 March 2017 Stellenbosch Extreme Lights
8 March 2017 Cape Town Revolution Cycles
15 March 2017 Knysna Knysna Cycle Works
16 March 2017 George Coimbra Cycles


Trans Talk Port Elizabeth

Polar Trans Baviaans competition being entered

The Trans Baviaans Route Profile being studied 

The mountain bikers of Port Elizabeth

The Ciovita Trans Baviaans 2017 kit being fitted

You can enter for the Polar Trans Baviaans competition and win a Polar V650 or M400 follow this link


East London Cycles

Momsen Bikes being checked out 

Trans News #2 -17

Trans Talk Schedule and more on the Trans Baviaans 2017.

The very popular Trans Talk Info evenings will come your way in the next couple of weeks as we kick off the tour with Port Elizabeth tonight at The Bike & Brew.
If you have questions about the event, the format or would like to just chat to fellow Trans Riders come and join us at one of these evenings. We will go through some do’s and don’ts, share valuable training, nutrition and gear insights.
You will notice that the schedule has been updated with some additions (East London & Johannesburg) to the list of cities we intend to visit. Cape Town’s date has changed to the evening before and Druban’s venues has been confirmed.


Date City Venue
2 Feb 2017 Port Elizabeth Bike & Brew
3 Feb 2017 East London East London Cycles
7 Feb 2017 Pietermaritzburg Greg Minaar Cycles
8 Feb 2017 Durban Leigh’s Cycle Centre
15 Feb 2017 Centurion The Bicycle Company
16 Feb 2017 Klerksdorp Tailwind Cycles
17 Feb 2017 Johannesburg Mellow Velo
22 Feb 2017 Bloemfontein Cycle World
7 March 2017 Stellenbosch Extreme Lights
8 March 2017 Cape Town Revolution Cycles
15 March 2017 Knysna Knysna Cycle Works
16 March 2017 George Coimbra Cycles

Please book with


If you haven’t started yet, go and have a look at our training plan on the website and get inspired by the #Bergplaas video below!

Sterkte met die oefening en veilig trap.
Fiets ry groete
Wikus van der Walt

Polar has launched a competition with The Trans Baviaans for 2017.
As a Trans Baviaans rider, you can enter online for a chance to win one of two Polar Bike Computers!  Then enter again at one of the Trans Talks near you and double your chances of winning.
Click here to enter
Shedding some light on #Bergplaas – Trans Baviaans 2016
The 2017 Trans Baviaans Ciovita Cycling Jersey will be available at the Trans Talk’s for viewing and fitting before you order! Online Shop
Have you seen the latest Vipa? We will have the new Vipa Two with us on tour and at the Trans Talks.

Trans Talk Schedule 2017