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 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 Baviaans Event #1 Race Report Video

Trans Baviaans Event #1 2016 Press Release

Luus and Stelling Claim Trans Baviaans Victory with a Tactical Masterstroke

Trans Baviaans first timer Lourens Luus teamed up with old hand Billy Stelling to successful effect as the PowerBar 1 pairing rode to Trans Baviaans victory on Saturday 13 August. The race was the first of two weekends of Trans Baviaans action and joining Luus and Stelling on the top step of the podium were; Yolandi de Villiers, Johan Labuschagne and Neill Ungerer, of Ultimate Cycling TBC, in the mixed category and Theresa Ralph and Amy McDougall, of Galileo Risk Valencia in the women’s category.

The 230km race started at 10:00 in Willowmore on Saturday morning. A steady early pace was set by in large by the ASG Best-Med teams, with Labuschagne and Ungerer also doing turns on the front. The expected tail wind failed to materialise and instead a slight head wind kept the lead bunch together until around the 80km mark when the jockeying for positions heading into Check Point 2, at 104km, started. At Check Point 2 the experience started to show for teams like Ultimate Cycling TDC as they tended to navigate the potentially confusing check point zones; where riders had to check in, fill bottles, stock up on nutrition, collect essentials for the next leg from their check point boxes and check out again in good time. Stelling and Luus had clearly planned their check point strategy too and managed to minimize their time off the road.

Heading into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve the race started to splinter as first the Frangs and then The Mother of All Climbs (The MAC) took their toll. Up front Stelling and Luus were joined by the Altech-Autopage duo of Pieter Seyffert and Hanco Kachelhoffer. Behind them on the road the leading mixed team of de Villiers, Labuschagne and Ungerer were riding with the third placed men’s team of Steven Shirley and Juan-Pierre Minnie riding as team On Your Bike. A little further back the race for second in the mixed category was hotting up as the RMB Change A Life duo of Martin Dreyer and Jeannie Bomford had caught the Merrell Mixed trio of Craig Boyes, Timo Cooper and Nicky Gillomee. 

Stelling appeared to be struggling up The MAC, so Seyffert and Kachelhoffer attacked in the final phases of the climb to claim the PowerBar King of the Mountain prize. However, once over the climb the four leaders all missed the Bergplaas check point at the crest of the climb and had to track back, nullifying the 20 second gap the Altech-Autopage guys had garnered. The first woman to crest The MAC climb and claim the PowerBar Queen of the Mountain was the high flying de Villiers.

Descending the Big Dipper Seyffert and Kachelhoffer again pulled a lead on Stelling and Luus, but Luus dug deep when they reached the kloof below to re-join the leaders. For the next 50km Luus sat at the front of the lead group setting a steady pace, while Stelling recovered on the back of the group. Heading up the Never Ender climb the race for outright victory appeared to enter a stale mate.

The Trans Baviaans is famed for its need for strong teamwork and in the final reckoning it was teamwork that settled the two closest battles. In the mixed category race for second the advantage of having three riders in a team allowed the Merrell Mixed trio to reel in the RMB Change A Life duo. Gillomee took turns hanging on Cooper and then Boyes’ pockets as they powered up the Never Ender passing Dreyer and Bomford. In the men’s race the decisive move came at the self-service Check Point 6. Stelling passed the check point tag to Luus in the approach to the check point and while the stronger Luus stopped to tag the PowerBar 1 team in Stelling continued up the road. The Altech-Autopage team stopped together, but when Luus accelerated away from the check point to catch Stelling they were unable to hold his wheel. Despite having nearly 40km to race Stelling and Luus managed to hang on; eventually even extending their lead when Seyffert and Kachelhoffer eased off the pace in the closing kilometres once it became clear the pursuit was futile.

DSC_1843The race-winning move was made at Check Point 6 where Pieter Seyffert waited for his Altech-Autopage teammate Hanco Kachelhoffer to complete the check-in process, alongside Lourens Luus, while Billy Stelling raced ahead. Photo by Seamus Allardice.

In the mixed category the Ultimate Cycling RDC team of de Villiers, Labuschagne and Ungerer crossed the finish line, at the Fountains Mall, hot on the heels of team On Your Bike, the third men’s team made up by Shirley and Minnie who they’d ridden with for most of the day. The trio’s victory was their fourth in the Trans Baviaans mixed category. Behind them Boyes, Cooper and Gillomee, of Merrell Mixed, finished strongly to claim second while the RMB Change a Life duo of Martin Dreyer and Jeannie Bomford were third.

The women’s category race failed to ignite into a racing spectacle when an early mechanical for Hanlie Booyens dropped her and her Tiletoria Ladies teammates, Fienie Barnard and Esther Lategan off the pace of eventual winners Ralph and McDougall. Riding on tired legs, following her recent Iron Bike stage race exploits in Italy, McDougall was not happy with the time she and Ralph managed. The very competitive pair would have liked to have challenged the mixed teams more closely, but it wasn’t too be so their attention shifted to enjoying the route and there surely could not have been a team who finished the first event of the 2016 Trans Baviaans with bigger smiles than the Galileo Risk Valencia duo. Closing out the women’s podium was the Ander Fairies duo of Franci Joubert and Lolita van Aardt.

With the first of the two Trans Baviaans events wrapped-up the attention now shifts to the second event, which takes place on the 20th and 21st of August. Along with the other prizes the victors of the second Trans Baviaans event win entries to the first event in 2017 to ensure that the strongest possible field attend the first event each year. To stay updated on all the action from the second Trans Baviaans event follow @EcoBoundMTB on Twitter, @transbaviaans on Instagram, and like the Trans Baviaans Facebook page. For more information and all the results from the first 2016 Trans Baviaans visit

Selected Results: 2016 Trans Baviaans | Race 1


  1. Lourens & Billy Stelling (PowerBar 1) 08:40:52
  2. Pieter Seyffert & Hanco Kachelhoffer (Altech-Autopage) 08:49:06
  3. Steven Shirley & Juan-Pierre Minnie riding (On Your Bike) 08:553:59The gruelling #TransBaviaans #mtb race through #Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, RSA - presented by Ecobound.


  1. Yolandi de Villiers, Johan Labuschagne & Neill Ungerer (Ultimate Cycling TDC) 08:54:07
  2. Craig Boyes, Timo Cooper & Nicky Gillomee (Merrell Mixed) 09:11:04
  3. Martin Dreyer & Jeannie Bomford (RMB Change A Life) 09:19:27


  1. Theresa Ralph & Amy McDougall (Galileo Risk Valencia) 09:54:26
  2. Hanlie Booyens, Fienie Barnard & Esther Lategan(Tiletoria Ladies) 10:46:09
  3. Franci Joubert & Lolita van Aardt (Ander Fairies) 11:00:43

The gruelling #TransBaviaans #mtb race through #Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, RSA - presented by Ecobound.The MAC – A.K.A. The Mother of all climbs, snaking from the valley floor up into the clouds. Credit: / Pentax.

Source: Seamus Allardice