PPC Kremetart 2013

Words: Richard Coetzee | Photos: JJ van Zyl - e-grafix

Road Cycling

Rated as one of the best road races since 2003, the PPC Kremetart Cycle Race took place from 8 to 9 June 2013, in the picturesque town of Louis Trichardt/Makhado, and offered cyclists and their supporters an opportunity to experience the beautiful Soutpansberg region. More than 1,500 cyclists took part in the weekend’s rides, making it the best attended event since the race's inception.


The popular 175 km event was the 24th instalment of South Africa’s only four-stage race held on one day and kicked off on Friday, 7 June 2013, with the registration of more than 1,000 participants. Among them were seven Pro teams: Team Abantu, Bonitas, Bestmed, ASG, ASG (under 23), Columbia Blue Pencil and Cyclelab Toyota. Many of the participants were local riders, however some came as far as the USA and Europe to ride. Later that evening, the competitors indulged in a carbo-loading pasta evening, followed by some chilling out in the beer tent … which can also be seen as 'carbo loading' of a different kind.


The main event kicked off at an early and brisk 06h40 on Saturday, with the Tandem cyclists going off first, followed by the Elites (up to age 29), Sub Veterans (30-39), Veterans (40-49), Ladies, Masters (50+), and finally the Comrades riders (a social category was specially created for the participants who finished the annual Comrades Marathon a week earlier), who left last in each stage. The seeding system was based on age and all the categories were open to men and women.


Stage 1

Stage 1 started in Louis Trichardt and ended in Waterpoort. The gruelling
53 km course crossed over the Soutpansberg, climbing approximately 450 m in the first 8 km. The descent down the mountain was fast and dangerous, as speeds of up to 90 km/h were reached by some cyclists. From there, the riders had to brace themselves against the freezing conditions they experienced upon entering the valley and tunnels. Once through the tunnels, the route flattened out a little and the cyclists started forming descent groups. The end of this stage saw riders being warmly welcomed by the community of Waterpoort, who treated them to a well-deserved breakfast of delicious muffins, soups, sandwiches, energy bars, and fruit.


Stage 2

The cyclists left Waterpoort at 09h40 and in the same order as they did on stage 1. This stage was meant to be a very fast stage, as the route was flat and only 48 km long, but this drastically changed when good old Mother Nature decided to make this stage more challenging with a nasty and vigorous headwind. Such was the force of this wind that it prevented the riders from breaking out of their bunch, rather preferring to stick close together and forge forwards as one. After a tough few hours, the stage ended in Vivo for lunch, where cyclists gratefully rested their weary, wind-blasted bodies.


Stage 3

The local primary school once again opened their doors to participants and were kind enough to supply delicious hamburgers and pasta salad for lunch. We were very fortunate to have the medic tent stationed there, as quite a few of the cyclists were starting to feel the pressure on their muscles from working so hard in the wind. Lunch ended at 12h30 and back in the saddle, the cyclists powered away on the 52km stage 3. Usually, this is the toughest stage of the Kremetart, as it is renowned for the ever-present head-on wind that riders have to battle against. However, this year the wind was a tail wind - maybe mother nature felt badly about the earlier chaos she'd created - making this stage extremely fast. Again the groups stuck together and enjoyed the support of the wind. Stage 3 ended harder than it started, with the last 2 km going uphill to Schoemansdal. This climb really took its toll on a number of the riders, who decided that they'd had enough and called it a day. For those continuing, they were treated to fruit, sweets, and refreshments.


Stage 4

Although this stage was a mere 22 km, it would be a sprint from start to finish and you could feel the tension in the air as the cyclists readied themselves. At 15h30, the competitors took off in a burst of speed and high-voltage energy. Everything seemed fine on the stage and the few hills that were crossed didn’t seem too bad, until they reached 'Otto’s Hoogte', as the locals call it. This was a killer climb of about 200 m in only 1.5 km and many unsuspecting victims started to cramp as a result of their herculean efforts to conquer this foe. Thankfully, what goes up must come down and the last 5 km of the race was on a flat piece of road all the way to the finish line in Louis Trichardt. The results in each category were as follows: Overall Men - Nolan Hoff (04:15:59); Overall Women - Lynette Burger (05:24:53); and the Tandem Overall - Hansie Joubert and Jacques Fullard (04:23:14).


PPC Kremetart Road Race 70 km

During the day, there were also smaller events taking place. One of which was the shorter 70 km PPC Kremetart Road Race that started at 08h30, and ran along the south foot of the Soutpansberg before making a loop and heading back into town. Unfortunately for the participants in this race, they had to cross the infamous 'Otto’s Hoogte twice! So even though the race was about 105 km shorter than the main event, it still proved to be extremely challenging. Shaun Constable (P&L Cycling Club) won the race in 02:07:44 and Cherie Siebert (Randmark) was the first lady home in a time of 02:18:38.


Fun Ride 10 km

The youngsters and not-so-experienced cyclists were also catered to with the organisers adding a KFC 10 km Fun Ride on the Saturday. This route proved to be a lot of fun for the participants and their parents. Zian van der Heever (13) and Cara Joubert (12) won the Boys and Girls races respectively.


Kremetart Mountain Bike Cross Country Olympic

In the past, there's always been a MTB race, but this year the organisers decided to introduce an all-new Kremetart Mountain Bike Cross Country Olympic (MTB XCO) event. It was held on the Sunday and boasted one of the most exciting courses in South Africa, with bridges, single tracks, hills, and the most perfect rainforest settings. The event consisted of four laps of between 6 km and 8 km per lap, with the number of laps varying according to the different age groups. The kids, women and men’s tracks were all different, as they were designed specifically for each category. CP van Wyk finished in overall first position, with a lap record of 18 minutes 28 seconds.


The weekend was a great success and the vibe created by the supporters was amazing, so I urge every cyclist in the country to come and partake in this event and be a part of its awesomeness.


For more information about the event, when it is being held in 2014, and to enter, visit www.kremetartcycling.co.za or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/PPC-Kremetart-Cycling-Race/448889368539014. For full 175km PPC Kremetart Cycle Race results, click here. For the full Kremetart Mountain Bike Cross Country Olympic results.