Welcome to the first post-race newsletter of the third annual BIKE4BEASTS MTB Challenge. Lycaon Logistics were thrilled with the success of the event, which is growing in popularity and can only get bigger and better each year.
We would like to start this newsletter with a huge thank you to all of our sponsors who so very generously supported the event. In addition to major sponsorship from the Diamond Route, the organisers would like to thank Land Rover South Africa, De Beers Consolidated Mines, Powerade, Terex, Olympic Communications and South African National Parks. Special thanks go to Jacques Willemse of UHN Potatoes for providing a helicopter for rider safety. Sports coverage of the event was provided by SABC news, which aired on the day of the challenge.
Over the past three years the BIKE4BEASTS MTB Challenge has raised almost R200, 000.00 for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). The proceeds of this year’s race went directly to one of the EWT’s Working Groups, the Carnivore Conservation Group (CCG) which has several carnivore conservation projects across southern Africa.
Each year, a different threatened species is chosen as the mascot for the BIKE4BEASTS MTB Challenge. In 2007 the mascot was the black rhino, and in 2008 it was the Endangered African Wild Dog. The mascot for the 2009 challenge was the Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, which is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Of all the big cats, the Cheetah is the least able to adapt to new environments and they also face greater pressure from other native African predators as available range declines. In the past, the Cheetah pelt was viewed as a status symbol of wealth, which led to their being hunted. Current global Cheetah population estimates vary from 7,500 to 10,000, with approximately 550 of these found in South Africa. The EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Group is currently conducting four different Cheetah conservation projects in South Africa, and BIKE4BEASTS has helped to raise the profile of these projects, as well as generating funds to support them.
Thank you to all for your generous donations and efforts to raise sponsorship for EWT. Three riders managed to raise more than R2000 – thank you to Colin Donian. John Power, Andre Cloete and Bruce Allen. Donations are still pouring in – we are currently on R90,000 raised for the Carnivore Conservation Group. Exxaro Sands and Base Metals donated R5000 and then set a challenged any other corporate to beat the. Standard Bank rose to the challenge and then donated R6, 000. Thank you to both these two corporates and the challenge is still open!
Thank you too to Karin Irvine Smith, Damien Booth and Cornell van der Wetshuizen for donating all or some of their prize money back to the Carnivore Conservation Group, as well as Andre Cloete, the rider who raised the most in sponsorship and donated his water cooler prize to the Duncan MacFadyen Research Centre on the De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the “Naming of the Leopard Competition”. Over 200 names were put ‘into a hat’ and the winning name was “Leila” – entered by 10-year-old Reece Biehler from the Land Rover group. Reece will be receiving regular updates from Leila.
Riders reported some awesome sightings along the course with Kori Bustard, zebra, kudu, impala, Giraffe, Hippo and even an aardvark and the very elusive black rhino.
The winner of the 2009 BIKE4BEASTS men’s challenge was Damien Booth, crossing the line by the nose of his wheel just ahead of Cornell van der Westhuizen, who finished in a tight second place. The winning time was a new course record of 02:27:25, beating the previous time by a mere 45 seconds. Bernard Bronkhurst finished in third place. The winning lady was Kerry Baytopp, with a time of 04:15145. Rosalia Kubjone took second place, and Karin Irvine-Smith in third. The winning team was Team Garmin, with a new course record time of 03:53:42. A youth category was introduced this year and was won by William Mokgopo who was also the fourth fastest rider. William and Rosalia were both sponsored by Terex and are members of the Diepsloot Development Riders’ Group. Each of the 3 places walked away with prize money, sponsored by Land Rover South Africa. Full race results and details can be found at www.lycaonlogistics.co.za.
An Under 16 category was introduced this year by an anonymous sponsor; Rosalia Kubjone and William Mokgopo were the first home in the Under 16 category. William in particular excelled coming in 4th overall. Brenda de Witt received an “emergency bush-ablution kit” donated by Land Rover for her efforts to finish the course in the allotted time as the last rider.
The “Terex Trophy” is awarded each year to anyone showing “Team Spirit”. This year it was awarded to Brenda Daly from EWT, who has volunteered every year at BIKE4BEASTS. She is an enormous asset to the organisers as well as a fantastic supporter of the riders whilst out on the checkpoints.
The G4 mountain bike, donated by Land Rover was raffled and won by Simon Nash. Simon is the organiser of the Diepsloot Development Riders’ Group operating near Northern Farms. Simon says that the bike will be a fantastic addition to the club.
Braam Fourie was the first ‘local’ home, finishing in 7th place – 2 positions higher than last year, whilst many riders from the 2008 challenge improved their times dramatically this year; I will be sending out a results and times list so you can see your improvement.
Thank you to Tim Forssman, our resident archaeologist on Venetia. Many of you commented on the “Archaeology Meander” section of the course, and how interesting it was. This area is incredibly rich in cultural heritage and it is important we conserve this as well as our wildlife.
BIKE4BEASTS also saw its first tandem entrants with Estelle and Bertus Pretorius. Congratulations to these two for completing BIKE4BEASTS and demonstrating such teamwork.
An exciting addition to the weekend’s MTB activities was the BIKE4BEASTS 31km Fun Ride in Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Landscape. On Monday 27th April, riders gathered at the main gate, the route went past the Confluence picnic spot at the lookout over the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, before passing along the Limpopo River – including an amazing and nervous sighting of elephants – before returning back to the to main gate. It was a leisurely ride and we all got to dip our toes in the Limpopo River, which is still flowing, as well as look across to Zimbabwe and Botswana. Thanks to SANParks for supporting the Fun Ride.
Many of you ordered commemorative CDs of the event. We are still taking orders so if you would like one then please deposit R50 into the race account, and email proof of deposit. The CDs are a truly memorable record of the occasion with some great photos. We were very privileged to have Rob Till taking photos of the event – a huge thank you to him as well as the other photographers who contributed to the compilation.
BIKE4BEASTS MTB Challenge cycle shirts (R350) available if you wish to purchase one. Please place your orders and payment before 20th May 2009.
A final thank you to all our volunteers who gave up their time to assist with the organisation of the event. I think you’ll agree that their efforts and encouragement on their check points was awesome – thank you to Global Vision International, Projects Abroad, De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve Staff, Endangered Wildlife Trust staff, Venetia Conservation Society members as well as some of our local neighbours.
Exciting news is that we are planning a new BIKE4BEASTS challenge at another Diamond Route reserve in September 2009. This will help to spread the BIKE4BEASTS brand to a broader audience and generate more support for the Endangered Wildlife Trust. We look forward to continuing our relationship with you in this new event. It was a truly wonderful day and we are all looking forward to next year’s challenge. Yours in sport and conservation,
Project supported by the Diamond Route.
The Diamond Route is a massive national project which focuses on linking the conservation properties of the Oppenheimer family and De Beers. These properties conserve vast conservation areas and provide a safe haven for a wide variety of unique, rare and ecologically important plants and wildlife and provide endless photograph opportunities. These properties are open to the public whom are encouraged to explore this wealth of tourism opportunities.
Please visit the website www.diamondroute.co.za or contact Duncan MacFadyen, Manager of Research and Conservation: E Oppenheimer & Son on Duncan.MacFadyen@eoson.co.za