Monday, August 16, 2010


Saturday was an amazing ride from Rocklands to St Francis Bay, a distance of approximately 150km, though my Garmin indicates a shorter ride as it took me about an hour to remember that I needed to switch the unit on. I had not ridden the Elands river road for years and had written it off as boring and not a great ride. Even though the ride is not technically challenging, there are great sections of downhill, but, the views, are oh so good. It made me realize that its acually all about the ride. There were a number of other rides which co-incided with mine, and I thought about them as alternatives.

1) The Transbaviaans
2) The Leadville 100
3) The 1st stage of the TransWales

So how does my ride compare to these. Well firstly, I would never do the Trans Baviaans (this coming from the most notorious never say never proponents - see my post on the Cape Epic), unless off course the race changes it format to enable my participation. I have an aversion to the Trans Baviaans for the following reasons:

1) Its simply too long: Call me a wimp, but the human body has evolved over millions of years into one which settles for 8 hours each of work, play and sleep. You're not supposed to ride a bicycle for 15 hours in a day! Even the best can only complete the race in eight hours. Most of the top pro's dont do this race for one simple reason - it wrecks the body and their longer term training program.

2) The Baviaans is a Wilderness Area - to be appreciated: The Baviaans is a wilderness area, arguebly South Africa's best. Why run a bicycle race through one of its only public access roads, destroying the road in the process, and not appreciating the wilderness while going through.

3) I don't want to ride with cars: Like my ride, the TransBaviaans is run on public road. How many cars did I see on the dirt roads we rode on? Probably 3. A common complaint coming from the Trans Baviaans is the choking dust from support vehicles. That's simply not on.

4) Events should showcase areas: I love the Baviaans, but the Trans does nothing for the area. Leadville and the Trans Wales all result in major economic benefits from the carnival like atmosphere. Undoubtedly Willowmore benefits at the start and Jeffreys Bay at the finish. The Baviaans probably suffers from the event and I cant see much benefit to Patensie when most riders go through in pitch darkness.

5) The Eastern Cape has so much more: The Trans is often billed as the Eastern Cape's biggest mtb race. Thats really sad. We have so much more potential and so much more to showcase. In my head our biggest events should be in the PE area, in Hogsback, the Katberg or in the East London area. Thats where the true riding experience is.

6) Its about friends: The biggest attraction of doing a race or ride is about doing it with friends. I understand what the Leadville, Trans Wales or a leisurely ride in the Elands does for friendship. The Trans Baviaans - I am not so sure - after eight hours on a bike even the best friendships will take strain?

7) What it does for Mtb riding: A great ride turns you into an Mtb addict. I have seen far to many people do the Trans Baviaans only to never ride again or only appear next year. For many its a once off experience of pain. Personally, I don't think thats good.

8) I want to smell the roses: The nicest thing about the Elands ride, was the chance to stop and enjoy - the views and the food of the area. Nothing can compare to a Patensie Orange and farm pie at a Padstal.

Many will not like my views, some will allege that I lack the attributes to do a "real race". Others will concur and agree. I would love the Leadville and I would love the Trans Wales. I simply know, I will not enjoy the Trans Baviaans. Its an area I know well, and one needs to take time to appreciate it. Its not about the race, its acually about the ride. Mountain bikes are there to be enjoyed and to help your health, not hinder it.

1 comment:

  1. i completely agree with your views, all of them! i particularly agree with the fact that the body does not cope with 15 hour rides, and that 8 hour stints would be much better.