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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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 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.
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 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.
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/.
2021 Trans Baviaans Results
- Young Guns: Erick Heyns & Wayne van der Walt (08:21:29)
- Uncle Fish: Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck & Gerrit de Vries (08:22:46)
- Coopetto/Darvin Trust: Yolande de Villiers & Dirk Coetzee (08:36:42)
- Coopetto/Darvin Trust: Yolande de Villiers & Dirk Coetzee (8:36:42)
- Cyclopro Aspire LiveFit: Jay Carneiro, Bruce Campbell & Tracey Almirall (9:51:48)
- Giant/Liv: Fienie & Kobus Barnard (10:13:51)
- Wintergreen-Ciovita Barrier Breakers: Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius and Leone Verster (10:44:55)
- Adventurers: Marisa van der Linde & Jodi Zulberg (12:24:02)
- Untamed Ladies: Anine Koch & Hayley Mcloughlin (12:52:34)
For the full results from the 2021 Trans Baviaans please click here.
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.
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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Level 3 regulations and restrictions are also changing on a daily basis.
- Things are changing rapidly, locally and internationally regarding lockdown regulations, treatments, and possible cures.
- 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.
- Uncertainty of when supporting businesses can operate normally, like Accommodation establishments, Restaurants etc. that has an impact on our event
- 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.
- 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!!
Wikus van der Walt
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Gerrit de Vries & Gawie Combrinck (Uncle Fish) 9:25:20
- Garth Ennion & Wesley Lentz (ESA Partner) 9:27:22
- Jan-Paul Gerber & Vickus Boshoff (Coimbra) 9:29:18
- Ilse Nel & Cherise Odendaal (Sumeil 1) 12:46:50
- Salomie Kolbe & Elize da Ponte (Chatting Blades) 13:50:47
- Adelle & Marleen Jeppe (Jeppe Jets) 14:55:34
- Jay Carneiro, Bruce & Tracey Cambell (Cyclopro) 10:56:17
- Dirk Pienaar & Johanet Cilliers (Douglas Breakaway) 10:58:58
- 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Mike Posthumus & Derrin Smith (dormakaba) 08:39:32
- Werner Roux & Jono Cloete (Hausberger) 08:48:25
- Jaco Davel & Ignus Oosthizen (Jocoignus) 08:50:25
- Pieter Seyffert & Myles van Musschenbroek (ProTouch) 08:57:59
- Fred Buter & Deon Kruger (Humankind Masters) 09:06:00
- Theresa Ralph & Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) 09:06:01
- Lucie Zelenková & Laura-Beth Eicker-Harris (Trifactri Chics) 11:35:15
- Nickey Botes & Esmari de Wet (Kekkel en Kloek) 11:49:57
- Illiska Verwey & Tanja Schutte (Die Heart) 12:00:11
- Alisha Myers & Kateryna Tertiienko (DC Gals) 12:07:52
- Tanya Kirstein & Christo Roos (Enduroplanet) 09:38:09
- Anriette Schoeman & Kevin Taljaard (ECC-Bestmed) 09:56:15
- Mariske Smith & Wayne van der Walt (Urcycling) 10:18:25
- Jana Kruger & Nichol Jordaan (Hansie en Grietjie) 10:35:12
- Liesel & Ken Prentis (Prentis) 10:56:09
For additional information please visit www.transbaviaans.co.za.
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.
“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.
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.
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.