September 2, 2023, Franschhoek to Hermanus
A Wind-swept Journey
The King Price Race to the Sea 100-Mile Gravel Race on September 2, 2023, will forever be etched in the memory of all participants as an epic test of physical and mental resilience.
This event not only offered the usual challenges of a gravel race, but also added a formidable mix of wind, rain, and low temperatures into the equation, making it an even more gruelling but ultimately fulfilling experience.
Months of training and preparation have led participants to this day. They had studied the course, fine-tuned their bikes, and dialled in their clothing and gear for the anticipated weather conditions. The forecast had promised a tempestuous ride to the coast, or at least, the start and finish, with mild and even warm conditions in between, which made it even more challenging to put together your race gear…
Race morning greeted us with overcast skies. The start line buzzed with anticipation and determination, as everyone knew the race would push them to their limits. The scent of rain was in the air, and the majestic Franschhoek Mountains loomed gloriously in the distance, reminding riders of the stiff 7-km climb that awaited them from the get-go.
The race started. The early miles led riders up and down Franschhoek Pass, past a full Theewaterskloof Dam, through the apple orchards of Botrivier and onto the golden canola fields of the Overberg. Riders flew along in good spirits, with a tailwind pushing them swiftly toward the halfway mark at Wolwekraal Farm at 82 km into the race.
After the halfway mark, the pace slowed considerably as riders made their way along the rolling hills of the Overberg toward the Hemel en Aarde Vallei. Sometimes, without seeing another rider for miles, turning the pedals and inching, mile upon scenic mile, toward the finish.
As riders approached the Hemel en Aarde Vallei, 30 km from the finish line at Benguela Cove, Hermanus, the skies closed up again, blotting out the sun. Temperatures dropped, and the wind had turned. This stretch of the race, tested riders’ physical endurance, as well as their mental fortitude. The rain came down, soaking riders at the tail-end of the race to the bone, while the headwind relentlessly buffeted them from the front. Low temperatures numbed fingers, and relentless climbs hampered progress. But the beauty around them provided a glimmer of solace, a reminder of why they embarked on this journey in the first place.
Riders who survived the cut-off times at Waterpoint 3 (13h00), 4 (14h30) and 6 (17h00) were now in survival mode. With less than 30 km to the finish, they battled exhaustion, wind, rain and cold. But the route into Benguela Cove revealed its rugged beauty one last time, offering breathtaking views that fuelled their determination.
Crossing the finish line was a momentous achievement for every rider. The King Price Race to the Sea 2023 had tested riders in unimaginable ways but had also proven their determination and resilience!
The Elite athletes made it look easy as they cruised gracefully from start to finish. It was hard to follow the class acts of our current SA Gravel Champions, Matt Beers (Toyota Specialized) and Cherise Willeit (Sandton City Cycle Nation), who crossed the line comfortably ahead of their closest rivals.
🥇Matt Beers – 4:48:24
🥈AlexMiller – 5:01:23
🥉Kent Main – 5:15:02
Matt Beers took his hat-trick win, with a strong second for the Namibian National Champion and Olympian, Alex Miller, and Kent Main rounding off the podium in third.
🥇Cherise Willeit 06:18:01
🥈Danielle Strydom 06:26:45
🥉Tyla Setzkorn 06:26:46
While Danielle Strydom claimed the Queen of the Mountain, the first to summit Franschhoek Pass, Cherise made her breakaway on the descent.
A risky decision, but one which served Cherise in great stead, as she worked hard to widen the gap between herself and the remaining women’s field, putting in a 5-minute gap from the 35 km mark.
Danielle and Tyla battling for 2nd and 3rd, worked to close the gap between themselves and Cherise, but the SA Gravel champion’s expertise earned her an 8-minute lead.
A huge congratulations to our Elite Women’s field on conquering a gruelling course in style.
View your race results here. https://racetothesea.co.za/results/
What a successful inaugural run of the 50-mile distance! Jumping into the course at Waterpoint 3, they joined the 100-milers on the second half of the route, rolling into Benguela Cove after riding a gruelling but incredibly scenic 84-km route.
This is the perfect introductory race for those not quite ready to face 100 miles on a bicycle. Or to introduce our young riders to the discipline of endurance gravel riding. The 50-miler was won by 16-year-old Carlo Engelbrecht. Congratulations, Carlo!
Every rider who crossed the King Price Race to the Sea 100-Mile Gravel Race finish line can be immensely proud. This race is a true test of endurance, a battle against the elements, and a journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery South Africa has to offer.
Congratulations! And for those who did not make the finish line this year, we will see you next year… for revenge…