When a complete newbie meets dirt road rock stars
Hi, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Izandi, a graduated designer, and marketing enthusiast, I recently joined the dynamic Extreme Lights team, as their marketer, knowing, I had no previous experience in this niche industry. Which of course is (excuse the pun) extremely exciting!
Let me tell you, reading about the TransBaviaans online and actually experiencing it first hand is two worldly different things! No amount of pre-reading and research could have prepared me for this unforgettable weekend.
Me and my colleague left Stellenbosch around 5h00 AM, 4×4 packed with enough gear & accessories to make sure Extreme Lights will light up everyone’s adventures!
We arrived in Willowmore just before 12h00 PM and set up shop. Probably the first thing I learned was that there’s no such thing as ‘just a mountain biker’. The registration area was crawling with Enduro Riders, Roadie Crossovers, and even those crazy Single Speed Racers otherwise known as “Special Kinds of Idiots”, by the Baviaans folks.
Most of the riders were pretty keen on ensuring they have the best and brightest cycle light, the Extreme Lights Ultimate+ Cycle Light with a wireless remote included, which is perfect to switch between modes, for the “I-need-to-hold-on-for-dear-life-moments”, going down the infamous Baviaanskloof.
Friday evening was all about final bike check and a more than welcome truly South African braai with an out-of-this-world rooster koek. Got to load up on carbs before the big race day, and all that.
TransBaviaans Race day!
Saturday morning I set off to take a few photos of the pre-start gathering and to wish the Extreme Lights Willehonde A & Gold team good luck with their race. The vibe in Willowmore was a healthy mix of excitement, nervous laughter, and pure anticipation!
10h00 AM sharp, and the racers were off!
Extreme Lights arranged to be at Check Point 4, in case any of the riders needed assistance with their lights or batteries, so off to Bergplaas we went. We traveled via PAPER map, as Bergplaas don’t pick up on any of our digital devices. A true adventure, small talk, snacks and using navigational skills like pros, none did we know there were 3 Bergplase in the area!
Lost, confused and slightly humiliated we got directions from a farmer who lives at the not-so-much-Bergplaas number one, a planned 4-hour drive turning out to be a bit longer… Now you can imagine the panic starting to sink in.
We eventually reached the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area. It’s hands down probably one of the most exquisite sceneries I got to experience. There’s a reason the Baviaanskloof is a World Heritage site, and a must add, on all those adventure seekers’ bucket lists.
My free-spirited hippy heart was at its happiest with the windows rolled down, waves of fresh air crashing on my face and that same hippy heart nearly stopped as soon as the ascent to Bergplaas began.
Quickly rolling up the window, I kept thinking ‘there’s seriously something wrong with mountain bikers’! I’m sitting in a 4×4, at the same time fearing for my life as there is no railing along the path to prevent anyone from just going off the cliff. It’s completely insane! Then as the sunset drew close to an end I realised the racers will soon have to go down this radical part of the mountain, IN THE DARK!
Setting up an assistance point at Bergplaas is much like taking a stroll through a battlefield. Tired, hungry, muddy and some bloody racers checking in. Between all the exhaustion, one thing struck me most of all. Although the racers were extremely tired, there was an abundance of hope in their eyes. They reached the halfway mark and every peddle they take from there is one step closer to the finish line. Through all the madness the races still had time to motivate their teammates, make sure everyone is set and Extreme Lights could help out a few brave souls in need of a little light in their life.
Just before 12h00 AM, the last teams arrived and we made our way to Jeffreys Bay, with the promise of a warm bed to look forward to.
After this weekend’s adventure, I have a new found respect for mountain bikers, the true dirt road rock stars! I’ve upgraded my ‘Newbie’ title to one of ‘Fangirl’!
Congratulations to each and every team who competed in #TheRace as well as competing in this weekend’s #TheRepeat TransBaviaans 230km race and a special well done to our very own Extreme Lights Teams! The dynamic duo, Willehonde A finished in 10.44.42 hours & our Willehonde Gold team finished with a whopping time of 14.04.51!
The first & definitely not the last MTB event which I will be attending!