27 Nov, 2015

Eating (and riding) for the COWS

R150 000 raised! From left are Rob Bremner (Liviero) , Kirsten Barraclough (Liviero), Paula Quinn, Lynne Macrae, Tanner Quinn (Cow), Iris Varty and Corinne du Sart
The Great Annual Bicycle Ride Across Natal (or #GABRAN2015) which took place from 21 to 23 August, raised R150 000 for the Choc COWS. This is how it went down.

The three day cycle event called the GABRAN began on a pleasant and not too fresh morning at the ATKV Drakensville resort and wound its way up hills and down dales to Hillcrest.

Cyclists from far and wide joined the event, which saw them ride 300 odd kilometres across the beautiful KZN province. And it is a ride, not a race, so riders determine their own pace on each day with no pressure or podiums.

Tents, bags, camping chairs, (everything but the kitchen sink!) were loaded into a sponsored four ton truck which transported everyone’s belongings from start to finish, and all the stops in between.

The goodie bags were a major talking point – thanks in large part to so many individuals and companies who jumped on board to support the riders. It is possibly the BEST goodie bag ever!

Pitching tents for the overnight stops, new friendships were formed, many photographs taken, and memories that will last a lifetime for all those who took part. Various compulsory grazing stops are on route, the first being the Winterton Country Club which provided enough tea, coffee, juice and sandwiches to feed and quench the thirst of all the hungry cyclists.

After being well fed, and watered, the hills into Estcourt beckoned … Groans were heard as the momentum from zooming down the hill “evaporated” as the next uphill brought pain to the legs.

Onwards they soldiered, as the Estcourt Bowling Club hosted the cyclists … a merry gathering, sharing war stories, puncture repairs, some more puncture repairs and the general feeling of “Love Living Life”.

After that, it was helmets on, speedometers set, and they were off to the first campsite – Wagensdrift Dam. The once open and quiet campsite was suddenly abuzz with cyclists, pitching tents, laughing at others attempting to pitch tents, and yes, assisting along the way. A hearty cooked lunch was served.

The afternoon was spent chatting to fellow neighbours, meeting new people and just a general well-being of being out in nature. It was not long, then dinner commenced; queues were formed and the famous “Clip or Klap” was called – Cyclists had wristbands that indicated the various meals – and as they queued for their meal, so they were handed a plate, and the wrist band got clipped.

The GABRAN is definitely for the hungry – and chance of any “weight-loss” is not going to happen… thanks to three cooked meals a day; not counting the many grazing and drinking stops on route for which the KZN Midlands is famous!

Saturday morning rumbles began at 05:00 – as tents came down, bikes checked, bags packed and breakfast consumed.

Cyclists started leaving on the “grey concrete road” the first climb of the morning; this was followed by Bacon Hill (past the Estcourt Bacon Factory) and then, the gorilla of all hills – Griffon … despite the long, long climb, smiles, waves, and at times crying was heard.

Back-up drivers tempted the cyclists with bottles of Jagermeister… and as the cyclists approached them, the vehicle was off again into the sunrise…. The feeling of euphoria on reaching the summit is one all need to experience.

From there, it is all downhill into Mooi River, with yet another compulsory stop, or “second breakfast” at the local Wimpy. An absolute delight to see the Wimpy entrance becoming a bicycle park! From here, it was up the FINAL hill towards Midmar Dam – home for the second night.

Cyclists were now pros at pitching tents, showering, finding kit for the evening in untidy bags and securing bikes for the night.

The third day dawned too soon, as cyclist took the fast decent into ‘Martizburg with caution, and then onto familiar territory of the Amashova route. Hillcrest was the finish line – and the aroma of lamb on the spit wafted through the air.

The aim of the event was to raise funds for the Choc COWS and the GABRAN helped raise much needed funds for the little superheroes fighting various forms of Cancer! The entry fee for the Gabran Cycle Event is used purely for covering costs of the meals the event is catered for by a professional catering company from Durban, the campsite costs, hiring of marques for the make shift kitchen and dance area, and of course a paramedic – without any of these, the event simply cannot take place!

Cyclists were silenced when the “moo-lah” was counted with various mathematical calculations on their hooves and came to a grand figure of R65 000! – a fantastic improvement on last year’s figure of R40 000.

One of the corporate participants, Liviero, who support the event with a team of cyclists, would donate a further whopping R80 000 to the cause.

Dates for the 2016 GABRAN have been cast in stone – 19, 20 and 21 August 2016.

Should you, or your company wish to partake in the event, or make donations of any kind, please contact the Westville Cycle Club on 031 767 4448.