Craig Wapnick, Glenn Haw (of Sani2C fame) and Gary Green (of Berg & Bush fame) are the organizers and their philosophy about mountain biking permeates through the event endearing it with a unique feel.
Unlike other events the race starts and finishes with neutral stages where all competitors have to complete the stage, but time is not taken. This leaves the middle 7days to be raced and make no mistake – this is a race!
Taking riders from the Highveld, through rolling mielie (maize) fields of the Free State, down the Drakensberg escarpment, across the Natal Bushveld and finally to the Ocean, it is a 900km journey offering a complete challenge to riders’ fitness, skill and resolve while showcasing some of South Africa’s hidden beauty.
Along the way we made overnight stops in Frankfort, Reitz and Sterkfontein dam where true Free State farming hospitality awaited us. Emseni camp and Clifton school were next where the friendly Natal Midlanders did all they could to make us feel at home. Finally we were on to the Sani2C route where the seasoned hosts at Glencairn, Jolivet and Mackenzie Club did their thing to aid in our final push to the line. Each and every race village had its own persona but the commonalities were the extremely friendly hospitality, and the abundance (and variety) of food ensuring racers couldn’t go undernourished. In fact, most were complaining that they would put on weight through the event despite cycling around 100km’s each day!
Team Garmin MTB raced in the highly competitive Mixed Category, aptly named the AmaBokkeBokkie Global Mixed Category Championships. In much the same vein as last year we finished 4th every day to finish 4th overall despite delivering a much improved performance compared to 2017. Ahead of us were Team Dormakaba (Arno du Toit and Amy McDougall), last year’s champions Team Summit (Darren and Candice Lill) and Team Surgeons for little lives/Mitas tires (Johan Labuschagne and Catherine Williamson).
What stands out about this event is that the time spent racing each other was the only time people had their ‘game faces’ on. The moment we stepped off our bikes it was a relaxed atmosphere with the accompanying camaraderie borne out of the challenge of covering the 900km journey.
We are already looking forward to the 10th edition of this race in 2019!