The inaugural Kia Val de Vie Estate Mountain Bike Challenge saw almost a thousand riders, including a few famous faces, busting their tjops through the vineyards of the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley on Sunday, September 16.
Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling and celebrity couple Gugu Zulu and Letshego Moshoeu were among those who added a touch of glamour to the 30km and 60km races through the heart of the Cape winelands.
The Toks ‘n Tjops TV crew were also there to capture the vibe, with co-presenters Breyten Paulse and Janina Oberholzer sweating it out in the saddle, while the show’s namesake and anchor, ex-Springbok prop Toks van der Linde, sampled the local wines and chatted with farmers along the route.
“It’s an event that will certainly grow in the future, so we just couldn’t wait to get involved at ground level,” says Paulse.
An experienced rider, he easily finished the shorter distance but the Capetonian’s co-host found her first off-road race a little tougher, coming in at the back of the field.
“Shame, she was broken,” says Paulse. “It was a tough day for Janina but I’m proud of her for finishing. At least she wasn’t last, just third last!”
The former Bok wing says he was very impressed with the organisation and the “lekker track”.
“It’s a nice family outing and was very well-supported. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the scenery was fantastic – so, all in all, it was a very successful first event.”
Paulse jokes that his ultimate aim is to get the burly Van der Linde to ride the race. “We’re busy building a four-wheel bike for Toks; at 190kg, he wouldn’t fit on a normal one.”
Race organiser Wynand de Villiers, of ASG Events, laughingly seconds this plan. “We might have to build Toks a special course too, maybe just take him around the polo field and leave it at that.”
According to De Villiers, the participants’ lighthearted take to the day is exactly what organisers had envisioned. “I don’t want this event to get too serious because it’s just so much fun!
“Most riders stopped for about 10 minutes at each waterpoint to socialise and enjoy a glass of wine with the farmers. It was more like a bazaar than a bike race.”
However, good riding will always remain a priority with exciting racing upfront and a well-marked off-road course, says De Villiers.
For those who did not linger at the seconding tables, the 60km race, which crossed 21 Western Cape wine farms, was won by Charles Keey of Team Blend Properties. He claimed line honours ahead of Team USN rider Jacques Rossouw and Adriaan Louw of Team Contego.
Phelia Burger was victorious in the women’s race, followed by Desiree Loubser and Tandi Kitching.
In the 30km event, junior riders Louw Kriel and Catherine Colyn took the men’s and women’s titles for Team Contego/Sludge’ish and bizhub-FCF respectively.
“A couple of people came across the line and said it was the best race they’d ridden in the Western Cape, so we’re very chuffed with that,” says De Villiers.
He says he was amazed at how the local community pulled together to make the race happen. “We’ve made so many friends here – it was just a great time and an absolutely unique event.”
On a serious note, De Villiers says the local Rotary and Vrede Foundation for young cancer sufferers have also benefitted from the race.
The event was the second fixture in the new Kia series, which includes the Walkerville Classic in July, the KZN Expedition in November and the Krugersdorp Game Reserve Mountain Bike Challenge in February next year.
For more info, contact ASG Events on 076 621 1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates, follow @CyclingnewsZA.
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