You only have until midnight to enter SA's best e-bike MTB event

Eastern Cape singletrack on e-bikes with great food. That's the Great Zuurberg Trek e-edition. (Photo: Richard Pearce)
Eastern Cape singletrack on e-bikes with great food. That's the Great Zuurberg Trek e-edition. (Photo: Richard Pearce)
  • The Zuurberg is one of South Africa’s great wilderness areas, best known for the Addo Elephant National Park.
  • But the area also hosts an event targeted at e-bike riders, which doesn’t sacrifice trail quality or recharging convenience.
  • The Great Zuurberg Trek E-edition brings amazing trails and recharging infrastructure to the South African stage racing scene.

Since 2014, riders who pine for backcountry Eastern Cape mountain biking have been rewarded by the Great Zuurberg Trek (GZT). Although the event is billed as a three-day stage race, it’s more of an Eastern Cape wilderness experience with luxury accommodation and fine dining.

In 2021 GZT organisers added an e-edition recognising the growing popularity of battery-assisted mountain bikes, often used by dedicated riders with legacy injuries. The GZT-E enables e-bike riders to explore those amazing Zuurberg trails and enjoy the same hospitality, with recharging facilities provided.

The GZT-E is great for older riders who have embraced the adventure-assistance potential of e-bikes. (Photo: Richard Pearce)

Empowering more riders 

Gordon Pope is an example of how valuable the GZT-E has become as an adventure experience. The 63-year-old suffered severe Covid-19 complications in 2021 and has legacy lower limb injuries from his years as a motocross racer.

Riding a conventional mountain bike around the Zuurberg wilderness area was not an option for Pope after his Covid-19 illness. But an e-bike has enabled. "I can now exercise and get my heart rate up without being in the hurt locker, and I can ride twice the distance I normally would."

"For those who think that life is finished for people like us – we are having more fun now than ever before," said Pope.

The Zuurberg area has terrific mountain biking topography, linked in places with bridges. (Photo: Richard Pearce)

Many return riders 

GZT-E co-owner Trevor Hayter was thrilled that more than half the riders who took part in the inaugural edition were back for another bite at the e-bike cherry last year. And he’s excited about this year’s race, too.

"We have riders from Gauteng and the Southern, Eastern and Western Cape. There is no doubt that e-biking will grow aggressively and will afford folk who typically may not have participated in a GZT event the opportunity to enjoy our special terrain."

Use your battery wisely 

Johannesburg’s Stephen Knight is back for another GZT-E this year. Knight admits that riding an e-bike is not an autopilot experience, despite what non-cyclists might think.

"Last year I had a smaller bike with a smaller battery. You’ve got to manage the battery because of the amount of climbing you do. You’ve got to be very careful, it’s not like a 'get on it and go' type thing."

"What Rob [Hayter] and Trevor have done with those trails is magnificent. It’s a world-class event that allows even people like me to participate. I wouldn’t be able to do it on a normal bike."

The GZT-E is about singletrack and socialising, even at the water points. (Photo: Richard Pearce)

Recharging is sorted 

Rubicon Energy & E-mobility director Greg Blandford expects an incredible three days at this year’s GZT-E. "We had bikes charging from your traditional plug socket-type charger. The benefit of that is that this unit can charge up to 30 bikes with one charge of battery."

"We will also be bringing portable battery packs to the event, so for those guys who run out of battery or are tired from pedalling all day, we also have that option."

The GZT-E is scheduled for the weekend of 2-4 June and features a route profile of 166km over three stages, with 3450m of climbing.

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