Old Hermon Gravel Ride – Muddy Marvellous

A fresh, clear morning greeted the riders of the Old Hermon Gravel Ride, held in Wellington on Saturday, 26 August.

Nearly 1 000 riders braved the pre-spring chill; there were smiles all round, and all around the beautiful back roads out of Wellington, in spite of a delayed start due to flooded parking areas. Friday’s downpours called for both changes to the routes, and to the logistics at Welbedacht, with small delays in the start procedures and minor detours around the bigger puddles.

The wait was worth it, though, with the sunny Swartland providing the perfect backdrop for some great racing as the happy smiles at the finish line – the Old Hermon Gravel ride uses Schalk Burger’s Welbedacht Wine Estate for it’s base – would attest. The sometimes slippery conditions led to some tactical racing and tested skill levels. 

The 85km event, which also serves duty as a seeding event for the 2024 Cape Town Cycle Tour, kicked off with a climb up a road-bike bucket lister: Bainskloof Pass. The reward for the smooth, fast ascent was a flowing fynbos descent, before the reduced front groups hit the rolling backroads north and towards Hermon and eventually returning to Welbedacht. 

Eventual men’s champ Franko van Zyl came home in a shade under three hours, three minutes ahead of Dan Loubser, while the women’s 85km title went to Michaela Surtees, whose ten-minute winning margin over Layla Schwellnus was good enough for 17th overall. Guy de Cafmeyer and Nikalau Volsteedt took the honours in the 45km route, with Daniel van Niekerk and Aylin Botha the 22km winners.

A final note from the organisers: We’d like to express our gratitude to all participants for the manner in which everyone embraced the challenges we had around parking following the 60mm of rain that fell the night before. We will be revisiting a number of aspects of the event to ensure that future experiences will be far smoother and more enjoyable.

For full results of the Old Hermon Gravel Ride, visit www.finishtime.co.za, and for a gallery of images head over to the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust Facebook page. And we will see you (and your friends who now HAVE to come and share the fun) next year.

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