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Pedal Power Association Bouckaert Soenen Funride and MTB REVIEW

by Holly Blades

This PPA funride also doubled up as the third race in the Aca Joe Pro Classic Series. Now we can see the pink jerseys worn by each of the category leaders based on their GC points standing. Points are awarded to the first five in each category together with additional bunch points for the first 100 riders.


Date 29 January 2012

Distance - road 126km, 72 km or 45km

- MTB 45km or 25 km

Participants - road 547 (126km), 427 (72km) , 149 (45km)

- MTB 158 (45km), 35 (25km)

Organisers Rotary Club Paarl

Start Paarl Boys High Sports Ground, Paarl, Western Province, South Africa


Report from Aca Joe Pro Classic Series -126 km - Masters Category

The sponsors, Bouckaert Soenen are a Paarl based textile printing company, without whose support the race would not be possible. Some research has revealed that Bouckaert Soenen were invited to tender to supply flameproof underpants to the South African army. The rising temperature on race day could also have resulted in a request for similar clothing from the riders taking part! Temperatures of around 37 degrees were forecast and hydration, and cramping were to prove to be problems for a number of riders.

All proceeds from the event are used for sustaining many of the charitable projects supported by Paarl Rotary.

The race is described as being similar to Die Burger, but this one with an easier start and hitting the major climb, Bothma's kloof, at around 42 km which peaks at around 50km and at around 300m in height. Thereafter, a nice down-hill before those long rollers. Its 126 km is however somewhat longer than Die Burger's 92 km (the latter was shortened last time from the usual 98km because of roadworks).

So - what was happening at the back of the Vets, Racing Ladies & Masters bunch this week? With an hour and a half gone - I was still with them (ignoring a small bunch of 3 or 4 who had broken away) - an unusual, but pleasing sensation. Then of course the obvious happened as we hit the foot of Bothma's kloof - the inevitable attack and the main bunch gets strung out. The road turns and the work ahead becomes painfully apparent as one can see the road climbing across and to our right. I join up with a vet also gravitating towards me. "Some of those boys are going to be dropped" he says in a broad Afrikaans accent. "They have been going too hard". "I hope you're right!" I reply.

"Here come the next bunch" he says, and the leaders of the A-C seeded bunch come past on the wide road. Against the rules or not, there was no chance of jumping on as the quicker group powered past. "You have to climb to your own ability" my companion commented. Wise words - so we let them go.

We had passed the Riebeek Cellars winery ( at the foot of the climb, but I hadn't noticed. I usually like to take note of such points of interest for future reference, but today my mind must have been on other things.

The sun was climbing in the sky and as our speed dropped on the climb, the increasing temperature was becoming apparent - and it was only 8 o'clock in the morning!

Eventually over the top, the Kasteelberg mountain (961m) now slipping out of sight behind us to our right, a glorious descent with the road stretching out before us. An expanse of fields to gaze at and a cooling breeze on the nose with Riebeeks River to our right.

We were soon to be collected by a small group comprising two racing tandems, one C seed and another master. I wasn't sure whether to get mixed up with the tandems so hung at the back of our little group until the C seed started marshalling us and instructing us all to take short turns. Fair enough I thought and we got ourselves organised and started working well together.

When the speed fell away as we climbed each roller, you could feel the increasing intensity of the sun which was climbing towards the forecast 37 degrees.

The racing tandems were quick and we had to keep working to hang on. A small group of riders appear in the distance and we slowly reel them in. They act like a rabbit to the greyhound C seeder as he takes to the front determined to catch them. The group turn out to comprise six racing ladies who had left me behind on Bothma's kloof. We pass them at 73km and they in turn jump on.

At 80km I feel the onset of a few cramps, insufficient liquid intake for the heat of the day I guess. We have travelled south eastwards along the R45, have taken a right turn effectively skirting the Perdeberg mountain and National Reserve. A left turn takes us past the Perdeberg winery - "Home of Chenin Blanc" they would have you believe, at the foot of the Paardeberg. Paardeberg means "Horse mountain" and is named after the now extinct mountain zebra or "quagga" that used to roam its slopes, an unusual looking animal sporting its zebra like stripes at its front end only. The winery also sports a zebra on its wine labels.

Next a right turn back onto the R44 highway. On the flat we can power away from the ladies, but they always seem to reappear just when I thought they were left behind. And on the hills they took off and we reeled them back in. A good game of cat and mouse.

I had been drinking steadily in an attempt to stave offthe cramps and was by now almost out of water. Not having taken any notice of where water stations were situated, I started to calculate how to ration what I had left over the last 15km. One sip in another 5km....then another at another 5km...

Now we are about to turn left onto the Suid-Agterpaarl Road reversing the direction of the Tour de PPA and passing Seidelberg and then Fairview wineries (see my review ).

As we turn left, mirabile visu, joyous sight, a water station. "Am I glad to see you guys!". "Enjoying the race?", I was asked. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that innocent enquiry, so I held my peace.

Guzzling to my heart's content, we are now skirting under the Taal monument, a beautiful modern piece of sculpture opened in 1975 to commemorate the semi-centenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of SA, making it one of the youngest languages in the world.

Nearly home as we sweep into the southern suburbs of Paarl. Sadly my cramping resulted in me sliding off the back of our hardworking sextet and I was on my own as I crossed the line in 3 hours 42. Then a beautiful dousing under a fine shower mist thoughtfully erected by the organisers to cool the overheated riders.

As for the winners, Chris Esch of Brothers Sport took the elite category in 3.08.58 whilst Sharon Laws of Garmin Cervelo took the Racing Ladies for the second consecutive week in 3.18.15.

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