Out of a field of 450 cyclists, Donovan O’Reilly was the winner of the 2020 Buco G2C (Grahamstown to Sea) Mountain Bike race on Sunday November 8, in a time of 1:50:02.
The 47-year-old was 13 seconds ahead of last year’s winner, Jason Peach (1:50:15), who had Sarel van Staden hot on his wheels just four seconds later.
The first woman home was 19-year-old Kelsey van Schoor in 1:57:30, who was in 13th place overall.
The 58km race starts in Makhanda (Grahamstown) and ends at Rosehill Mall in Port Alfred.
The first e-bike rider was Stephen van Niekerk, 61, who finished in 2:00:20. The e-bikes are in their own category, as they include a mechanism to store energy that can be used to assist the rider over more strenuous stretches of the race.
The e-bike riders set off half an hour before the rest of the cyclists, so Van Niekerk came in well before the frontrunners of the main group.
The second e-bike rider home was 66-year-old Anne Pienaar of Beaufort West, who came in just a minute and spare change ahead of O’Reilly, Peach and Van Staden.
“You don’t know how long your battery’s going to last. I thought the frontrunners would catch me,” Pienaar said.
It was her first G2C, and she said: “It was amazing. Good markings, good everything. There was a little bit of wind from the front, but no issue. I’ll definitely do it again.”
Riders started at the Buco warehouse in Makhanda’s industrial area to the west of the city.
They had a taste of tarred road for about 2km before tackling the tough Mountain Drive that comprises dirt road and single track.
There was more tar as the field hastened down Woesthill Pass, then a change in gears for the uphill stretch before reaching the gravel road that heads towards Southwell district.
This road took them along undulating terrain past farm lands, with a couple of uncompromising passes and challenging hills thrown in for good measure to test stamina.
As the riders approached the R72 between Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea they took a left turn and headed to the finish at Rosehill Mall through a private farm.
Wind plays a big role in the race, with a wind at riders’ backs leading to faster finishes in previous years.
Conditions on the day were warm and sunny.
The race, which is usually held in July after the National Arts Festival, was delayed to later in the year because of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions on events.
Even so, there were constant reminders about mask-wearing and social distancing at the race finish, which drew many family members and friends of the cyclists.
Buco is the title sponsor and other sponsors include Cycle Asylum, which raffled a bike, Rosehill SuperSpar and Hydrolec.
First senior: Patrick Brown (28) in 1:50:59
First master: Charl Joubert (55) in 2:03:06
First youth: Cade Hoffman (16) in 2:06:14
First grandmaster: Mark Jamieson (60) in 2:16:16
First great grandmaster: Alan Bryer (70) in 2:42:35