3 days of adventuring in the Karoo, check!
Petrichor Adventures have just successfully hosted its 4th edition of the SEESA Trek 2 Teebus, a 3-day MTB Stage Race.
It is indeed a stage race, however, the race organizers prefer to call it an MTB Karoo Adventure.
After having been there this year, I agree with the latter name.
It's much more than a Stage Race - it's a full-on Karoo experience.
The goal is not so much to attract racing snakes who are chasing the podium here. They are most welcome to come, but if they don't take a moment to enjoy the scenery and the evening gatherings, they will be missing out.
In addition to the Trek 2 Teebus, this year, Petrichor Adventures (PA) also hosted a 3-day Trail Run Adventure, called the Trail 2 Teebus.
This has been a goal of Rohan and Emmie Germishuys, the owners of PA, for a number of years now and they were most pleased to make it a reality this year.
The two events happened side by side, with both mountain bikers and runners sharing the race village and mingling together.
Riders arrived on Thursday afternoon, registered, and received their Goodie Bags, which featured two Tees, a pair of specially designed Trek 2 Teebus socks, and various "goodies", all in a handmade shweshwe bag, made by the local ladies in nearby Hofmeyr.
Then came dinner that evening, followed by the Race Briefing. This was the first taste of "regte Karoo Kos" - made with such warmth by the local Tannie's. The meal department was headed by Tannie Claudia, wife of Oom Charles - the owners of the land that we all made our home for a few days.
The "homes" I speak of, were spacious, comfortable, and well kitted out Luxury Tents.
The tents were also provided by Petrichor Adventures and came complete with two beds and bedding inside, a night table with a lamp, and even tabbard bottles inside each tent in case the mosquitos tried to bother anyone.
There were also two safari camping chairs right outside the tents, where many riders and runners took the opportunity to have a nightcap and watch the plentiful stars.
To avoid diverting too much from the race, I won't go into too much detail, but must at least say this: The stargazing in this part of the Karoo is phenomenal. With hardly any lights around to detract from it, and clear skies - we were treated to the most spectacular movie by nature each night.
After a good night's rest, Stage 1 kicked off on Friday morning at 08h00.
The MC for the event, John Potgieter, woke the village at 06h00 with his chirpy voice, and everyone came to expect something along these lines each morning: "Good morning Campers, it's a good day to have a good day!"
Day 1 was 72 km with roughly 800 metres of climbing. It was a challenging day, but not too much so, in order to leave some strength in the rider's legs for Bulhoek Pass the next day.
The first day also included what was a highlight of the event for many, the Waterpoint at Unie Laerskool, where all the learners came out to cheer the riders on, and to serve them at the Aid Station.
A group of prefects assisted to set up the waterpoint, pouring coke, water, and Enduren into cups. Enduren is a natural energy endurance drink that is free of colourants, and artificial ingredients - meaning it looks like water once mixed.
I couldn't help but giggle when I heard the learners calling it "sweet water" and gently let them know that they should rather inform the athletes that it was in fact Enduren.
There was also a variety of snacks at each waterpoint featuring the usual race fuel food, and biltong and homemade banana bread.
Alas, it was not the drinks and snacks that were the highlight at Unie Primary School. It was the rows of the beautiful, smiling faces of the learners. The biggest smiles coming from the Grade 1 learners, who are all receiving a new pair of school shoes from Trek 2 Teebus, sponsored by SEESA.
Having grown up in Steynsburg, this has long been a dream of Emmie Germishuys - to provide a new pair of school shoes to learners at the local schools, especially to do so in time for winter. Thanks to the support of SEESA, the title sponsor, this was made a reality and 230 pairs of school shoes were bought to be given to all Grade 1 learners, at 4 different schools.
Naturally, it was a special moment for all. Some riders admitted to shedding a tear as they rode off, touched by the warmth of the children, who were truly so happy to simply cheer them on. Every single cyclist that passed was greeted with cheers of "here we go riders, here we go!"
Day 2 had fewer kilometres in store for the cyclists - 52 km only, but it was no easy 52.
They rode to the top of Bulhoek Pass and then along the foothills of the mountains, before taking on a steep mountainous downhill. At the previous nights' race briefing, it was made clear that there will be no judgement for those who chose to get off their bikes there. Everyone handled it well and made it back to the village in one piece, with no need to call on the medics from Frontier Medix. Rohan jokes that he hires the best and hopes that they don't have to do anything.
Once the riders arrived back each day, they could take their bikes for a bike wash and lube, courtesy of Squirt Cycling Products. Those that had booked packages with Enduroplanet also received bike servicing by the defending champions, Charl Coetsee and Ockert Struwig, who both participated and worked at the event. They would ride hard each day, come in first, leading by a good 15 to 20 minutes, get cleaned up, and ready to service the bikes of the other riders.
It was rather impressive, one must admit. Ockert and Charl are part of Enduroplanet, and along with them, came the owner, Christo Roos, who skilfully turned his van into a mini cycling store.
Afternoons were spent relaxing and for many, getting a massage from Massage Therapists Kevin Matthysen and Emmarie Van der Merwe. There was a chill lounge complete with bean bags, and a cash bar available.
On Saturday afternoon, Rohan arranged a tour of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel for those who were curious to see the fascinating underground tunnel that diverts water from the Orange River to the Great Fish River.
It was a welcome outing, and certainly, unique in terms of a Stage Race. The special touches and thoughtfulness that Petrichor brings truly make for a memorable event.
Evenings brought more food in abundance, with groans of not being able to fit into bib shorts in the morning - yet the same people groaning were the ones going back for seconds.
Thankfully, according to Oom Charles, calories don't count in the Karoo.
Day 3 was a long one, but a flat one.
The 80 km fast and flat day, as it was being called. The Enduroplanet Racing Team came in in under 3 hours, as per their goal, once again taking the win at the Trek 2 Teebus. Less than 20 minutes behind them was the "Mad 40" Team of Morne Van Rensburg and Duncan Palmer, unsurprisingly. This is a bit of a private joke, after Day 1 when the MC, John, announced that Duncan and Morne had "surprisingly" come in second.
They laughed and asked why it was surprising, while John blushed. The collective decision amongst pretty much everyone seems to be that we won't let him live it down, surprisingly.
"The Swiss Guys" - a Mixed Team, from you guessed it, Switzerland, took third place overall each day and were the first Mixed Team over the line. Corinne Overney and Vincent Fluck have been in the country for just over 5 months now, taking part in various races around South Africa. This will be one of their last before they return to work in Switzerland. Their words were "This race is incredible. It is proper mountain biking, with terrific routes and clear markings. The organization of the event is the best we've experienced, and the food and people are wonderful."
It's safe to say, the Trek 2 Teebus was a great success - as was its sister event, the Trail 2 Teebus.
With 5 participants in the first trail run event to be hosted in Teebus, it was intimate and truly special.
For the runners, Day 1, Friday - the run started in the late afternoon. The idea was to finish as the sun was setting, and they did. And it was beautiful.
3 men and 2 women came to run the trails of Teebus, covering 12 km on Day 1.
Day 2 was a longer, tougher route. 24 km through the foothills of the Suurberg Mountains.
To end off, Day 3 was a 19 km jog, that featured ascending part of the namesake of the event, the Teebus Hill, and then running along the Teebus River, which brought them back to the Race Village.
Ignus Van Rensburg, pictured below, a man with an impressive list of trail run events behind his name, thanked Rohan after the event and congratulated him on a job well done, saying he loved the route and the event as a whole.
It would appear to be a joint opinion, from riders and runners, that the Trek and Trail 2 Teebus is an adventure worth undertaking.
Add it to your race calendar:
28 - 30 April 2023.
Written by Simone Sharpe
Adventurer, Writer, and Media Events Specialist.