Maropeng hosts 24-hour mountain-biking challenge

  • September 02, 2008

Mountain biking can be a tough sport in the simplest of conditions. But throw in a gusty wind, a cool dark winter night and 24 hours of non-stop racing, and you will soon understand the “challenge” in the Mugg & Bean 24-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge, held at Maropeng on August 30-31.

Hundreds of cyclists gutsed it out over the 11.8km course, slogging through lap after lap, while rock fans partied at the EA Rock Feast nearby with the likes of Prime Circle, Lonehill Estate and SpoonFeedas.

After 24 hours, the Quickets Racing team, comprising Jacques Fullard, Damian Booth, Ben Swanepoel and Cornelius van der Westhuizen, edged out Pro Team USN to win the men’s relay event, covering a distance of 578km in 24 hours. That is nearly the distance from Johannesburg to Durban, cross-country!

Roan Exelby won the Solo Male Open event by cycling 366km in 24 hours. Lizelle Smit won the Solo Female Open event, covering 153km. (Full results can be found on Download results spreadsheet here.)

Thinus Van Staden, 41, of Team Singletrack, which came in sixth in the men’s relay, said the course was “quite bumpy, but fun”, noting that the “Maropeng Mound”, a tough uphill section in the course, had caused some riders problems. His teammate, Dreyer van Huyssteen, 23, agreed. “It’s quite technical in one or two places … but I suppose it’s a part of the sport, so we’re not going to complain.”

As night fell, riders donned torches on their helmets and handlebars and thicker gear to combat the cold. “Night riding is the most awesome experience you’ll ever have,” said Grant Sanders, who had competed in the event in 2007. “It’s just you, your bike and your thoughts.”

Organiser Richard Beswick said Maropeng was a natural choice for the event. “It suited the event as the infrastructure was already there. All we had to do was construct a mountain bike course,” he said.
Although the race has thus far been held at different locations every year, Beswick did not rule out returning to Maropeng. “We’d definitely like to come back,” he said.

Maropeng marketing manager Erica Saunders said Maropeng was proud to host the event. “The Cradle of Humankind is a symbol of human endurance through the millennia, so it’s great to see competitors ‘coming home’ to test their limits.”

To download another account of the weekend’s events (in pdf format), click here

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