Hans de Ridder and Gary Kruger, who are part of a select group to have competed in the Ride2Nowhere mountain bike race every year since its inception, are set to return for the sixth edition in McGregor this weekend.
De Ridder first took part in the three-day event as part of his journey to a healthier lifestyle and he has returned to McGregor in the Western Cape to enjoy the scenery and hospitality ever since.
“I started working in the cycling industry and, weighing 135kg, realised one day that I needed to get fit, lose weight and do something active,” said the Tokai resident, who explained cycling had been the obvious choice.
He started racking up the racing miles and so did the memories, he said.
“Two years ago we rode in the freezing cold and rain up the first climb. We couldn’t see farther than a few metres ahead of us. That was quite a vasbyt moment.
“Three or four years ago there was a howling wind on the final day, and we still had to do the crossing over the dam. That was also an experience.”
The 44-year-old said the year when he and a teammate dressed up as bees was also a good story.
“My mate Thinus and I dressed up like bees, with the sting strategically placed. That caused quite a stir!”
The inaugural event saw 50 riders line up, and, with a record field expected this year, De Ridder said he would take a slightly different approach to his racing.
“I’ll be riding the short distance with my girlfriend. It’s my turn to give back in mountain biking as it will be her first stage race.
“Just as Nicole Birch was kind enough to stick with me on the very first Ride2Nowhere, where I probably came in last each day, hopefully I can be there to ease the nerves and assist in her first race.”
Among the group of roughly 300 riders, Kruger said he would team up with his eldest son.
“I hung up my podium shoes long ago so there’s not really any goals for this weekend. We’ll just look to finish with no punctures, mechanicals or injuries and just have fun.”
The 62-year-old father of two commented on the changes he had seen over the years and said he looked forward to finding out what surprises the organisers had it store.
“Every year the race director builds in new track. Probably 70 or 80 per cent of the route stays the same, but there’s always something new and exciting.”
As a five-time finisher of Ride2Nowhere, the Constantia resident said that although the field had grown there was still great camaraderie among the participants.
“In the early days it was very intimate and you got to know everybody. Now, with 300 riders, you don’t get to meet everybody but we all share the same enthusiasm.”