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Bikes, camera, action. Missioning in Swellendam and the Baviaanskloof.

Last week saw Team oZONE visiting two locations.

First, myself (Simone), and Zane Schmahl, drove from George to Swellendam, to spend a few days in the Overberg, working on a project for Around The Pot, and Tent Rentals.

Both are owned and run by Rohan Germishuys from Petrichor Adventures, who is both a client and a friend. While this formula is generally not advised in work environments, it is the norm within oZONE and quite simply, cannot be helped. We do work for and accept offers from businesses/ brands that we respect, who work hard, and who care about the bigger picture and the environment. Basically, we like each other.

Becoming friends is certainly not a requirement, but it tends to happen naturally, as is the case with Rohan. Of course, most importantly, is the fact that the job needs to get done, and we thrive on doing it.

The job at hand for Around the Pot, which is known as the greatest gravel race in the country, was to create content for a new addition to their line-up which will be announced soon.

Their current offerings are 25/ 60/ 100 and 200-miler routes.

oZONE spent time riding parts of the route, with myself and Seamus Allardice on bikes and Zane, AKA Beardie, behind the camera. Seamus travelled from Stellenbosch and met us in Swellendam. He is a writer, a rider, and it seems to me, a real jack of all trades. This was my second time having met him, after covering The George Mountain Ultra Trail with him in June. We tag-teamed teasing Zane, and therefore, got along like a house on fire.

On day 1, I managed to not fall off my bike, which is most unlike me.

On day 2, I was back to my usual antics, with three falls. All minor falls, fortunately, as I have gotten good at falling considering it happens frequently.

Sadly, my great wish of being a bad-ass on a mountain bike has yet to come true and I can’t shred as the boys can. Luckily they accept me despite my limited capabilities.

Before you start to question how I landed myself in this position, I must mention that I can stay on my road bike :)

And for those of you who’ve never tried mountain biking, give it a go before you judge me. Although you can judge me too, I can’t say I’m bothered either way.

It helps that we believe in all-natural. “Everyday people” ride too and I don’t have to be Greg Minnaar to showcase the greatness of the ATP route.

We ended day 2 up at the Strawberry Hill Farm, amidst the Langeberg Mountains, on the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy.

We had a beer while watching the sunset and shared stories.

My favourite part about these trips is that although pictures are constantly being taken, there isn’t really posing involved. Zane is rotating around us, taking pictures, while we’re sitting on the platform drinking beer, talking about life. We’re all joking, talking, and just enjoying the moment.

I then went off to put a dress on, and Seamus hopped into, well, I can’t remember, but he got out of his cycling kit and emerged looking ever so dashing. I say emerged, because yes, I was out first.

And people say ladies take ages to get ready!

I would say freshly dolled up, but we were far from fresh - just slightly dressed up… So, slightly dressed up, we went over to the tents that Rohan had set up for us.

This is where our job for Tent Rentals comes in. They are luxury tents, available for hire and are perfect for race villages/ sporting events and outdoor weddings. They are a regular feature at sporting events, and the aim is to now highlight and promote the use of them for weddings.

Petrichor Adventures sets them up for you, with Luxury Canvas Tents (with beds and bedding inside), Dome Tents, and Stretch Tents available. They set up outside showers and mobile toilets too. It’s pretty freaking great, man.

For any nature-loving couple, I can’t think of a more attractive option than having a little tented village set up for you and your family and friends.

Well, that’s the way I see it, and no, I’m not paid to say that, I just genuinely love the idea.

Seamus and I sat outside one of the tents, on the luxury camper chairs that come with the tent, and he poured a gin for us to enjoy while Zane took some pictures of the setting and us, once again talking nonsense and having a drink. It doesn’t take much to keep us happy.

While spending time on that, it had gotten dark and was starting to get quite cold so we went inside the Strawberry Hill Lodge where the guys had started a fire for us to braai.

It was a lekker evening, with good people.

On day 3, we were out on the bikes for sunrise shots and more exploring of the trails. We had lunch in the center of town at a fantastic restaurant called Aan de Eike, before going our separate ways.

For Zane and I, that meant driving to George to pick up his Fluid Kayak and then driving straight through to the Baviaanskloof, for the second leg of our trip.

We arrived at the Cedar Falls Basecamp at about 20h30, where we found JM (Jacques Marais), AKA Die Oom, and Angus Teeton waiting for us.

It was good to be reunited with Oom and Angus. We were last all together at The MUT (George Mountain Ultra Trail) in June. We caught up and discussed the plan of action for our time in the Baviaanskloof.

We were to capture content for The Leopard Trail, one of South Africa’s top 5 hiking trails. This relationship has come a long way for Zane and Jacques, with them frequently visiting The Leopard Trail over the last 5 years. My first time there was in January this year, and I immediately fell in love with the Kouga mountains and the peace that the Baviaanskloof brings.

Naturally, I was delighted to be back - running in the mountains, climbing them, and immersing myself in the ice-cold dam pool.

We also captured content for Core Merino, another regular client. Core Merino is a clothing brand, made from merino wool. It has a no-stink effect and you are encouraged to only wash it after a few wears. I don’t want to do a sales pitch, but, it’s the business. It’s comfortable, it’s sustainable and it gets a big thumbs up from me, even when not on location for work.

The third box we went to the Baviaanskloof to tick, was to speak to the community. The people who live and work there, who have been greatly affected by the fact that the Trans Baviaans 24-hour MTB Stage Race 2020 could not go ahead.

The Trans Baviaans is known as the toughest single-stage race in the world, covering a distance of 230km. It starts in Willowmore and ends in Jeffrey’s Bay. Having started in 2004, it has built up a large following of mountain bikers who are keen to push their limits. It is so popular, that EcoBound Mountain Events, the organizers, host 2 races. One is called “The Race”, and a week later, there is “The Repeat”.

Roughly two thousand participants take part each year, with 2020 being the first year that was missed, due to COVID.

Apart from the disappointment of the riders who couldn’t race, even worse, is the community who have come to economically rely on the income that the Trans brings to their towns.

We spoke to family’s and restaurants who told us of what a struggle it has been for them without the race. During the race week, with the guest houses, and restaurants being full, that time has been their biggest source of income for the year since the start of The Trans. They told us of their desperation for it to return.

It will. The Race is set for the 28th of August 2021, and The Repeat will be on the 4th of September.

We documented their stories as we believe that side of the event is equally as important.

I always love seeing new places, so it was a treat to visit Willowmore, a town I had never been to, in order to speak to the residents and business owners.

We also rode part of the route, with me, excuse my language, kakking off, going down a loong hill. I started 3 minutes ahead of Angus, for obvious reasons (I’m slow), but he still came zooming past me like the pro that he is about halfway down.

Going down a steep gravel road with many switch-backs is not for the faint-hearted. It was exhilarating, scary... and sore. My hands and wrists were aching, so when at the bottom of the hill, Zane asked if I wanted to continue on the bike, I declined and opted to hop into the bakkie, while Angus continued zooming.

We saw Buffalo, thanks to Die Oom’s incredible sighting abilities, as well as kudu, red hartebeest, the cutest little bushbuck, and many baboons.

We went deeper into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve to have a picnic by the dam. Considering I was with 3 men, “picnic” turned out to mean that we had a braai. Thankfully Beardie has a Weber, so it was quick to prepare.

Beardie was grilling the chicken sosaties and Angus and I were having a beer, peacefully, when suddenly, Die Oom stripped down and we saw his bare cheeks entering the water. Angus needed no encouragement and his Ciovita bib shorts were off in no time.

Two bare bums became three as Zane entered the water too.

I finished my beer and decided that I couldn’t let them have all the fun. Needless to say, four bare bums entered the dam that afternoon.

We swam, we kayaked, we ate, and we were merry. Life is good in the Great Outdoors.


📸⁠ Zane Schmahl and Jacques Marais

⁠✍🏾⁠ Simone Sharpe

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