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Donkey carts are as much part of the Baviaanskloof as the iconic Trans Baviaans mountain bike race. Photo by www.jacquesmarias.co.za | Pentax.

The massive demand for Trans Baviaans entries meant that in 2015 EcoBound Events decided to stage a second event the following weekend and, as was the case last year, both events sold out completely in 2016. The second event follows the exact same route, boasts the same hospitable water points and challenges riders to conquer the 230km trip from Willowmore to Jeffrey’s Bay in under 24 hours. The only difference between the events is that EcoBound encourage the professional and highly competitive riders, who intend to race for overall or category victories, to enter the first event. The second event therefore is expected to feature a slower winning time, but with the riders being more evenly matched across the field one can expect groups to remain together for longer than they did during race one, making it harder to pick winners.

When mountain biking across such vast distances the weather plays a crucial role and for the second event of the 2016 Trans Baviaans riders can expect chilly conditions; especially on Saturday morning for the start in Willowmore and again in the early hours of Sunday morning as they ride towards the Fountains Mall in Jeffrey’s Bay. There are a few millimetres of rain predicted in the lead-up to the race, but as no precipitation is forecast during the Trans Baviaans the little that falls pre-race won’t even linger long enough to dampen the roads and keep the dust in check. The main concern for riders taking on the second event though is the forecast for a gentle breeze. The high ridges of the Baviaans Mountain Range twist and refract the wind making it swirl into a seemingly constant head wind. The gentle breeze should be blowing by-in-large over the riders shoulders, providing a little forward impetus, but what the weather charts say and the mountains of the Baviaans determine don’t always synchronise.

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Riders can expect to get their feet wet at least twice during race two of the 2016 Trans Baviaans, before and after Check Point 3. Photo by www.jacquesmarias.co.za | Pentax.

The Trans Baviaans riders will once again be treated to PowerBar nutrition products at every check point along with a range of First Choice dairy products – including flavoured milks, high protein recovery drinks and even jellies – as well as all the traditional Trans Baviaans treats like roosterkoek at Check Point 1 and braaivleis at Check Point 3. For the slower riders who expect to descent the Big Dipper from Bergplaas in the dark a warm change of kit is recommended for your Check Point 4 box as is stopping to enjoy a hearty mug of soup, before starting the descent. Extreme Lights will be stationed at Check Point 5 with spare batteries and a charging station, but riders should ensure they have at least two fully charged batteries available if they expect to be riding throughout the night.

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Though the surface is makes it rideable throughout the length and gradient of The MAC will have many Trans Baviaans riders pushing their bikes. Photo by www.jacquesmarias.co.za | Pentax.

There is also a social media competition for riders to get involved with; by simply tagging their Trans Baviaans race day photos with #TransBaviaans2016 they can win a pair of Adidas sunglasses. Plus riders and supporters can also treat themselves to Trans Baviaans goodies from Capestorm, check out some of the 2017 Momsen Bikes’ range and stock up on last minute essentials from the Trans Baviaans Expo at registration in Willowmore.

On the racing front, race two is expected to be tightly contested between the Darkhorse Racing Team of Dusty and Tailor Day, the George locals Vickus Boshoff and Chris Herbst riding in the Coimbra Cycle House colours, and the PowerBar duo Chris Wolhuter and Mike Posthumus. Wolhuter in particular will be highly motivated to secure a Trans Baviaans victory as his usual stage racing partner, Craig Boyes, fell one position short during race one when he and his Merrell Mixed team failed to match the Ultimate Cycling TBD trio.

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A hearty welcome awaits Trans Baviaans finishers in Jeffrey’s Bay complete with Spur burgers and Darling Brew craft beers. Photo by www.jacquesmarias.co.za | Pentax.

Though the weather will surely play a role in the outcome of the race, riders will be comforted by the fact that the roads used by the Trans Baviaans are all in fairly good conditions. Despite The Mother of All Climbs (The MAC) losing more of its concrete strips over the winter the surface is still ridable throughout – if you have the legs that is. The water level in the Baviaanskloof is on the low side with only two water crossings, either side of Check Point 3 possibly requiring riders to dismount.

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EcoBound Events would like to encourage every rider to soak up the experience, of riding through the Baviaanskloof, but also to keep the kloof clean and carry all nutrition wrappers back out with them. Non-riders and support crews will be able to follow race two of the 2016 Trans Baviaans via social media. Follow @EcoBoundMTB on Twitter, @transbaviaans on Instagram, and like the Trans Baviaans Facebook page to stay updated throughout the weekend. For more information on the Trans Baviaans and to watch the Trans Talk live chat show, from the finish line at the Fountains Mall, from 09:15 on Sunday 21 August please visit www.transbaviaans.co.za.