You don’t have to cross the line first to be a winner!

Mandilakhe Duma and Ayanda Witbooi, development riders of the Elgin Grabouw Cycling Academy, were lucky enough to be given an entry to the Wines2Whales Pinotage this year (which is winning already in our books!). These two youngsters, 19 and 18 respectively, have been competing in any local races they have managed to get entries for, including the No Frills No Fuss Oak Valley 24h MTB, as well as starting their own bike washing business and guiding cyclists from Trail’s End on the Elgin Valley Trails.

The Wedderwill Trust was given an entry to the mid-week Wines2Whales race, which they chose to auction in aid of the teachers at the Sir Lowry’s Pass School. The winning bidder decided to give the entry to a worthy pair of riders from the Elgin Grabouw Cycling Academy (EGCA), which despite being in its infancy, has had a huge positive impact on many youngsters of the Grabouw community. As Duma and Ayanda have shown the most promise and commitment to training, we were delighted to put them forward for this wonderful opportunity.

Duma and Ayanda took on Stage 1 on Lourensford Estate on the slightly too small, 3x, 27.5″ Specialized bikes that were donated to us for development riders to make use of. Within the first 10km, Ayanda suffered a broken chain on the first climb. Luckily the Trail’s End Social team, Cally and Bianca Silberbauer, were only a few minutes behind them and were able to stop and assist with removing the broken link, as the boys didn’t have any tools with them.

Wines2Whales has introduced Guides that ride within each start batch, these guides carry spares to ensure they can assist with most mechanicals. Luckily one of these guides was carrying a 9-speed chain link, as no other rider passing had one, and the more mainstream 11/12-speed chain links are not compatible with a 9-speed chain. Finally we got the chain fixed and the boys on their way. They suffered 4 flats throughout the rest of the day, and Duma suffered from lower back pain, due to the small bike. They didn’t let any of this put a damper on their race and finished the first stage looking strong in a time of 5:09.

Our in house mechanic, Luke Phillips, who was out working on the Elgin Valley Trails until all hours to make sure they were ready for the Pinotage riders, was generous enough to lend Duma another bike better suited to his height. Duma and Ayanda started Stage 2 on Oak Valley, in D Batch due to their mechanical delays. They fought incredibly hard through the mud and rain to pass a large portion of the field and finish in 4:29.

Starting in C Batch again for Stage 3, and spurred on by the home ground advantage, riding the trails they know best and with familiar faces at the first water point, manned by the Trail’s End community, and marshalling the A-Z section of the route, Duma and Ayanda flew through the stage to finish in just 4:00!

We couldn’t be prouder of how these two rode, they learnt a huge amount, and are even more enthusiastic to race more next year! If you would like to get involved in any way with the EGCA, please get in touch with Pieter Silberbauer, Also if you’re ever in the area and in need of a guide (definitely a good idea with the flood damage), you know you’ll be in good hands with Duma or Ayanda, contact us to organise it.