Where it started
This year marks the 2nd year of my roll as Bezhoek Extreme Race Director. It is also 2 years since I met the owners of the Bezuidenhoutshoek Farm. Back then it was just a hand full of people around a restaurant table. We all had different objectives but we shared the same vision. It was a vision to create something extraordinary.
Our biggest challenge was that we are living in a country where mountain bike riders are spoiled for choice. We’re at a time where new events are popping up like magic mushrooms. Established organizers have every angle covered, catering for everybody from the weekend warrior, to the experienced and hardcore.
We needed a different approach. We had to execute whatever we were going to do in such a way that nobody would be either able, or willing, to copy it. It meant that we couldn’t simply join the field and try to play the game with everybody else, we had to play a different game on a different field. We had to create a challenge and an experience at the same time. We decided to venture into territories long forgotten.
The Challenge and the Key ingredients
It meant that it was going to take longer to establish, without the upside of short-term financial gains, which is the driving force behind so many other new events. We also knew it would be more difficult to find sponsors. Many sponsors are looking for participant numbers. It is the easiest and safest way to motivate marketing spend and unless you can show 1200+ participants, sponsors simply aren’t interested. We did however meet one person who shared our vision. Thank you Jurgens Bekker for believing in us and for your willingness to invest in our vision.
Since we had something very specific in mind there was one crucial ingredient. That which was going to make or break everything; the trails. It’s easy to make trails unrideable and cause participants to lose their sense of humour. To find the balance we were looking for was a bit more challenging. Maarten van der Klooster, you have hit the nail on the head. When riders curse you while they are on the bike, but love you once they have crossed the line, you know you have done an extraordinary job.
So with the Olifants River Valley as our playground and the unique and various biomes in this transition area between Highveld and Lowveld we have put together The Bezhoek Extreme. It’s really impossible to describe The Bezhoek Extreme to somebody that hasn’t experienced it.
So what makes it different
It is brutal and it is not for everybody. It’s unlike any other event on the calendar. It’s the hardest, but the most rewarding two days in the saddle you’ll ever experience. It’s a bucket list item and it combines every aspect of mountain biking. It will test you to the limits. It is real old school mountain biking and it’s “good old fashioned tough”. The one who takes the win here should really be crowned the SA Marathon Champion.
These are claims that any race organizer can make, but when these compliments are from the Elite riders and seasoned MTB veterans, you can’t help but smile knowing that the team has put something really spectacular together. Thank you to my partners and friends, and to every team member that made this possible.
And to the real heroes of the day, a big round of applause to every rider that conquered The Bezhoek Extreme 2019. You have achieved something really extraordinary. You have also made an enormous contribution towards the conservation work done by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Róan Rossouw – The Bezhoek Extreme Race Director