An even tougher Trans Baviaans awaits

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The magnificent Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area will welcome mountain bikers back in 2021. (Photo: Jacques Marais)
The magnificent Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area will welcome mountain bikers back in 2021. (Photo: Jacques Marais)
  • Willowmore to Jeffrey’s Bay is a challenging drive in a car – not to mention journeying it on a mountain bike
  • The Trans Baviaans is a noteworthy event for endurance mountain bikers
  • But this year, riders will have to race the terrain, fatigue – and a pandemic curfew 

Following the recent Attakwas, this weekend’s Trans Baviaans is another testing mountain bike endurance event for riders who year to be in the pain cave.

Starting in Willowmore and ending in Jeffreys Bay, the route does what it says – traversing the Baviaanskloof, one of the world’s most spectacular wilderness areas.

Aside from the unique landscape, there is a real challenge to the Trans Baviaans. At 230km, it is more than double the distance of a conventional mountain bike race stage.

Beyond the sheer point-to-point distance, there is also the question of topography. Trans Baviaans riders must contend with the undulating nature of riding through the Baviaanskloof.

Willowmore
The infamous Langwater river crossing, could be shallower than usual this year, after a dry winter in the Baviaanskloof (Photo: Jacques Marais)

Most riders will be out for more than ten hours

The spread of climbing sections means that riders hardly get the opportunity to spin out their legs. Total elevation across the route is 2540m.

As with many other events scheduled during the pandemic, this year’s Trans Baviaans is running in late winter instead of summer.

Anyone familiar with the Baviaanskloof will know how warm and stifling it can become. For this year’s edition, riders will be managing colder temperatures and how to layer and manage their thermal efficiency throughout the monster 230km ride.

gravel ride
With rolling starts from 5am, in Willowmore there are sure to be more riders than ever finishing before sunset (Photo: Jacques Marais)

A cold and early start

Weather predictions see a start in Willowmore, with sub-zero temperatures. And a peak of only 10 degrees Celsius throughout the event.

Riders can start at 5am, which should see initial riding in the dark, with significant windchill. Riders with lower body mass might be wondering how many layers to wear. Cold weather gear that can easily be folded and stowed will be worth the investment.

The lockdown curfew will also present riders with a unique challenge at this year’s Trans Baviaans.

Traditionally the event has featured a 24-hour window for completion, but with riders having to be home and at their Jeffreys Bay accommodation by 22:00, there will be a stricter cut-off.

Whereas previous years allowed riders to struggle and finish within the 24-hour timeframe, checkpoint five will not allow any riders to depart for Jeffreys Bay after 19:00. If you aren’t at the 172.9km mark before 19:00, you won’t get to complete the event. 

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