Erik Kleynhans hits like a heatwave at the Cederberg 100 Miler

Cederberg100Miler_IMG_2824_Photo Sam Clark

The Cederberg 100 Miler hit the Clanwilliam region like the current heatwave along the West Coast and Northern Cape. On the eve of 22 April, 190 mountain bikers trekked their way up to this sweltering rooibos-tea valley for South Africa’s most breath-taking 100 miler. Usually a one-day 100 mile race, the 2017 Cederberg 100 Miler also featured a stage race version of the same route aptly named “The Trek.” The 80km a day with a night under the mesmerizing Nuwerust night sky is sure to become a favourite in the Western Cape’s MTB calendar.

The one-day race that took place on the Sunday, was a brutal day out on the bike and truly not for the fainthearted. From the 91 entries, a reduced field of 70 riders pitched at the starting line for the one-day race. Endurance legend Erik Kleynhans and Ironman-guru Jean de Villiers were the firm favourites in the bunch. The top 3 finishers did it in under 7 hours, with Kleynhans taking the win with an impressive time of 06:36:39. Afterwards, Erik Kleynhans commented: “Cederberg. There is just something about this place. The mountains, the small towns, the stunning sunrise and the open spaces of nature. I knew the Cederberg 100 Miler would be a tough one with 3000m of climbing, some corrugated, sandy roads and loads of pedalling. Happy to take 1st in 6h36 and real marathon racing.”

Jean De Villiers followed 16 minutes later with Chris Cronje hot on his tail, trailing by only 7 minutes. The next 6 positions all came in under 8 hours. The first lady to cross the finish line was Elmien Stander with the time of 9:13:13. Kateryna Tertiienko followed 50 minutes later. They were the only women finishers. There is definitely a need for more competitive women riders in an endurance event like this. Let’s hope we’ll see more at the starting line in 2018.

The legendary gravel road between Clanwilliam and Koue Bokkeveld proved a real challenge for even the toughest of riders. Sections of the road were heavily corrugated due to the nationwide drought and regular vehicle traffic. The sweltering temperatures added to the woes of weekend warriors and racing snakes alike. Although this region is known for its intense heat conditions, this weekend was exceptionally hot for this time of the year. Emergency water points had to be added along the route, yet there were still riders who ran out of water due to the heat. But that’s why we ride our mountain bikes, to test ourselves on tough roads in remote places and challenging conditions for the love of adventure.

And what an adventure it was! The addition of the two-day event opened the 100 Miler to a broader audience who otherwise would not get the chance to experience the rugged beauty of this long and winding journey between Clanwilliam and Ceres. Robert Leyland dominated Day 1 of The Trek. He was joined by a flying Izak Visagie on the second day. Izak’s performance on Day 2 ensured a third overall, after taking time out to stop for free beer on Day 1. Hanlie Booyens, who also stopped for a cold one, came back strong and took the overall win in the ladies category.

Where the challenging road and the weather lacked in grace, the event and its sponsors made up for it with lots of “gees” at the water points and race villages. Free beer, good food and solid support along the otherwise lonely road made both versions of the event an unforgettable mountain bike experience.

The Cederberg 100 Miler was organised by Iqela Events and Gravel Travel. The Title Sponsor was Masgcor. Other major sponsors were: Olympic International, Fairview and Belting & Conveyor Services.