Barely had they crossed the finish line on Sunday and riders in the 2023 Rubicon Great Zuurberg Trek E-edition were already looking forward to next year’s event.
Even though the cold winds blew in overnight, the smiles were warm and compliments even more so as participants completed the third and final stage to receive their medals and enjoy a well-earned refreshment.
Contrary to conventional mountain biking, the e-bike version does not discriminate in terms of age and ability and this year’s field bore testimony to that: no fewer than three men in their mid to late seventies mixed it among riders more than half their age.
Among them was 77-year-old Pieré le Roux, who has already conquered Everest and will next be heading into space aboard one of Richard Branson’s space craft.
While Saturday evening might have been full of friendly banter as the two Manchesters squared off in the FA Cup final, the camaraderie on the final day was plain to see.
“The people are wonderful, the last vestiges of testosterone are gone, and everyone is here to have fun and enjoy it. It really is a fantastic event,” said David Evans of Nature’s Valley.
He was particularly taken by the single-track, which he described as “absolutely incredible”.
Knysna’s Humphrey Price is used to the splendour of the trails surrounding the picturesque holiday town but was blown away by what he encountered at Zuurberg in the Greater Addo.
He learnt of the event while watching highlights of the inaugural edition on television last year and was immediately grabbed by what he saw.
“Four of us have come down to do it and we haven’t been disappointed,” said Price.
“The ruggedness, the open spaces, the single-track and the views . . . just to be riding in the mountains has been so special. We don’t get a lot of that at home and it’s just incredible.”
He loved the hospitality and history of the Zuurberg Mountain Village, long-time home of the original Great Zuurberg Trek and, now, also the GZT-E.
“Also, a big shoutout to the guys who’ve done the trails. They are so well marked and it makes it much easier for us. We will be back.”
For Tania Pfaff of Plettenberg Bay the Rubicon GZT-E was “the most fun I’ve ever had on a mountain bike”.
She had entered the GZT previously but never got the chance to ride. Two weeks ago she decided to put that right by entering the e-bike adventure.
“Biking is my passion and it’s been fantastic. The organisers are brilliant,” she said.
“I think I will come back for both events next year!”
Another visitor from the Garden Route, Tanya McKenzie, will be doing the same in 2024, such was the impression left on her by the beauty of the terrain.
“Today (Sunday) was just epic. The single-track is really, really wonderful,” she beamed.
“You have to look after your battery to get up the hill at the end, but the e-bike really does help on the single-track.”
McKenzie praised everyone for their friendliness and vowed to bring “more people” next year.
“They would love this,” she said.
Gqeberha’s Rory Andrews, who is in the e-bike rental business, said the boutique nature of the GZT-E made it a winner in terms of bringing people together to have a good time.
“It’s not often we get a chance to ride these trails and they are superb.”