Transcape 2016 Day 1

TransCape Part II … it is – in just about anyone’s book – a day made up of equal parts of dreams and nightmares. The second showing of this astoundingly tough MTB Challenge is made of seven days of gruelling riding, with competitors taking on 750km of gravel road, jeep track and single-track as they journey from the Garden Route all the way to far-off Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands.

Registration was once again a buzzy affair at Mitchells’ Breweries in Knysna, but despite the bonhomie, every rider knew that this will not be an easy journey. There will be pain. There will be blood. There will be dust, saddle-sores, tears. And a lot of swearing at the sky and gritting of teeth.

But the flipside of TransCape will be the utter joy of free-riding within primal forests and passing through breathtaking lansdscapes as the riders journey across the ever-changing environs of the Cape, wiaitng to experience that final elation of crossing the finish line.

But before you can do that, you need to tame a route that is ‘part beast, and part beauty’, in the words of Route Director Andrew White. This is not a ride for the leisure crowd, and starting at the coast in Knysna means there is only one way to go, and that’s up.

The full complement of 130 riders – each and every one fully catered for in premium guest houses, hotels or B&Bs – knew what lay ahead, and there was much trepidation amongst the Stage Race newbies at the 5AM call at Knysna Waterfront.

Flat went to steep immediately after the neutral zone along the Main Street as the riders grunted up past Simola Golf Estate, and into the forest, cranking hard as the sun started rising over the Outeniqua Peaks. Unlike last year, there was a lot of cloud cover today with temperatures in the mid-20s rather than the high 30s as in 2015.

Gouna Pass was the first real test, with Kom-se-Pad dealing out a few more low blows in the granny-gear department. The riders hung tough though, looping onto the 7 Passes road and then up through Beervlei and Bergplaas Plantations. Superb forest riding added an edge to the high-speed gravel chase, spreading the field as they blasted amidst the fragrant pines.

Niek Lingier, the returning Belgian victor from last year had some quality competition from the fairer sex, with a bevy of Olympians, World Champs and Epic victors in the mix. Names like Esther Suss, Sharon Laws and Catherine Williamson will make even the toughest guy sit up and take notice, but today just ‘sitting up’ was not going to pull off a win …

The women cleaned up, big time … after riding together in the lead bunch for most of the race, their break along one of the final ascents proved too much for the men, with Suss and Laws taking the respective Top Spots.

As in 2015, Transcape can’t be faulted so far, with everything running beyond smooth. Organiser Lenore Collett believes in her RED BOOK POLICY, with a journal and pen on hand to all riders and staff, specifically for suggestions or complaints … now that is how an event should unfold!

Results at

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