Road Professional Rabie wins Nissan TrailSeeker Diamond Rush

Words: Sarah Kobal ǀ Photos: Zoon Cronje

Mountain Biking

Road cycling professional Johann Rabie (NuWater) won the Nissan TrailSeeker Diamond Rush mountain biking event that took place in and around Cullinan on Saturday, 6 July 2013. A jubilant Rabie crossed the finish line in a time of 2 hours 44 minutes and 55 seconds. Gawie Combrinck (Westvaal/Bell Cycles) was second in 2:45:43, followed by Matt Brittain (USN) in 2:48:01.



Rabie has only ridden four mountain bike races, as he was initially a road cyclist, but he really excelled in these previous races. Combrinck and fifth-placed Hanco Kachelhoffer (EAI Solutions/Specialized) are also former road cyclists and Brittain is an Olympic gold medalist in rowing. With four of the top five positions going to novices, this left Arno du Toit, Barend Burger, Guylin van den Berg, and Dylan Girdlestone, all well-known mountain bikers, in the top eight on the leader board.


According to Rabie, "The course was very tricky and after 20 km into the race, we had a really technical section which split up the riders." Rabie powered away on his own for the last 20 km after Combrinck fell back, having lost energy from the ride up a steep hill after a river crossing. "I dropped my bottle with 25 km to go, so I was starting to lose energy towards the end. Luckily I had a big enough gap," said Rabie.


Jan Withaar, who was in the leading group in the first half of the 70 km race, lost endurance when the track opened up and required a lot more power. "I was in the front group, but then halfway into the race I hit a bit of a bad spot and I couldn't pull through," explained Withaar. "It was a lot more technical in the first half, which suited me better and I managed to keep up with the front guys. After that, it became too open and I didn't have the power."


Yolandi du Toit (Bizhub) came first in the 70 km Women's race in 3 hours 15 minutes and 55 seconds, followed by Nicci Grobler in second, in 3:21:47, and Janine King in third, in 3:24:26. This was du Toit's fourth Nissan TrailSeeker Diamond Rush race, and despite having ridden there before, the route surprised her. "It was a completely new route, so it was quite challenging as you didn't know what to expect," explained du Toit. "Normally, when you know how far it is to the finish, you can pace yourself, but today was completely new. I kind of just pedalled and pedalled and hoped that I didn't run out of energy before the finish line."


Due to the terrain being very rocky and dusty, du Toit rode into a stone whilst descending a trail, causing a tyre puncture. Du Toit, who had moved off the track, was so focused on fixing the damage quickly that she was totally unaware if any of the other riders had passed her or not. Once back on the route, du Toit didn't know what position she was in, so she pushed herself until the finish line. Apart from a flat tyre, du Toit didn't have any other issues during the race. Her favourite part of the race was going through the old mine shaft.



Mountain biking is growing significantly, especially with road cyclists starting to move over to this exhilarating sport. What is also encouraging to see is that these events are seen as great fundraising opportunities for a better cause. Rent-A-Cow is a great example of how funds are raised for the CHOC Foundation. Rent-A-Cow was part of this TrailSeeker event, and participants could hire CHOC Foundation representatives, who were dressed in cow outfits, to ride with them during the races to keep them company and give cycling advice and tips along the way. These cows worked extremely hard during the day as they participated in the 10 km, 20 km, and 40 km races. Two cows even participated in the 70 km race. Apart from donating R150 to rent a cow, anyone could sms 'rentacow' to 40021, at R20 an SMS, and the funds raised would go towards the CHOC Foundation. Gerhard Myburgh, one of the organisers of 'Rent-A-Cow', rode in the 20 km race dressed as a cow. There were also cows along the route, known as Sweeper Cows, to help with any problems, such as making sure riders didn't get lost.


There are still three more races in the Nissan TrailSeeker series for 2013, with the next one taking place on 14 September, at Van Gaalens Cheese Farm, Skeerpoort (near Hartbeespoort Dam). We hope to see you there.



For more information on the remaining races in the 2013 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, visit If anyone would like to make a donation towards our fundraising efforts, please go to and follow the instructions. Alternatively, you can SMS 'rentacow' to 40021 to donate R20.