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.
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.
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.
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, www.transbaviaans.co.za. 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.