04 Aug, 2015

Gentlemanly officer takes on the Trans "Cowviaans" triple

Tony's Trans Cowviaans will see him riding 750 kilometres.
Tony Cloete will ride the Trans Cowviaans triple.
Tony will ride a large percentage of the Trans Cowviaans on a single speed.
In today's age of celebrating celebrities and immersing ourselves in suburban stability and mellowed mediocrity, it is invigorating and almost enchanting that among us breathes a man who does not settle for easy remote-control television viewing nor does he surrender to the zing of a croissant and the hearth of a double espresso.

No, gentle readers, here is a man of action. A bull runner. A charger. One who does not go quietly into that still night.

Tony Cloete is an officer. An officer and a gentleman. His rank is that of lieutenant colonel in the South African Air Force (SAAF) and he is a gentleman of the regular variety.

In 2001 Tony, inspired by the passing away of one of his colleagues at the SAAF Officers Mess, agreed to take up cycling and help out the Voortrekkerhoogte Hospice which was in need of TLC and a lick of paint.

One of his suppliers agreed to donate paint for the hospice, if Tony could beat the supplier’s wife’s 94.7 time. It was a challenge that would help Tony shed excess weight, however he wouldn’t be able to beat the target time.

Nonetheless, Tony would continue cycling and eventually find The Cows in its early days which he joined to help raise money for CHOC. It was a match made in heaven.

Tony was drawn to the endurance side of mountain biking and fell in love with the 230 kilometre TransBaviaans Mountain bike race. Its organisers, Willie and Elmarie from ECO Bound events, were and continue to be instrumental in helping The Cows raise funds for CHOC and being thankfully sane enough to deny Tony the opportunity to complete the race on a modified ice cream bike.

My good friend Tammy Keet told me about the TransBaviaans. “It’s long and it’s hard. And it’s cold and it’s in the dark and its 230 kilometres in 24 hours. Last time I helped support the race, I was pregnant and couldn’t even drink wine and they finished at 05:30. Not many people ever do it twice.” Tammy was grimacing as she said this.

Tony heard that an extra offering of the race would be added in 2015. The seeds of a Triple TransCowviaans were planted. Tony thought that it’d be a good idea to ride the first TransBaviaans on a regular mountain bike, ride back on a Cow single speed over three days, and complete a third TransBaviaans on the Cow single speed.

To undertake this rather extreme challenge, Tony has partnered up with various sponsors and a colourful array of riders.

For the first leg of the Trans Cowviaans, Tony will partner up with his team mates Major Salome Lambrechts (also a CHOC Cow) and Warrant Officer First Class Andre Martin (a long time training partner) to complete the ride in under 13 hours. As this race acts as the SANDF Cycling Championships, the team aims to race for selection in the SANDF MTB team and to earn their SANDF Cycling Championships colours.

Tony will cycle the second leg over three days with his friends, Salome and Riaan Naude.

For the third and final leg, Salome, Riaan and Tony will be joined by Adele Kimble, a super Cow and 360ne finisher, all in cow kit with some of the riders in full woolly cow suit regalia.

In addition to riding 750 kilometres, Tony’s goal is to raise R50 000 for CHOC and is asking each TransBaviaans rider to donate 10 cents per kilometre for Tony’s triple challenge which equates to R75 per rider. Non-TransBaviaans riders are asked to match this or donate whatever they can.

The first stage of this Quixotic endeavour takes place on 15 August. Until then, Tony and his team of riders will spend the next few months in the saddle aiming to get in at least 250 kilometres of cycling a week, thinking about the long sandy mountain roads between Willowmore and Jeffrey’s Bay.
Roberto Riccardi

Roberto Riccardi

Journalist |