The other day I tried mountain biking for the first time… and I loved it! I was in Bonnievale, a beautiful Western Cape town on the banks of the Breede River. The 10km route I rode took us through the town, past an informal settlement (more on this later), up a hill (I nearly died!), down the other side of the hill (I nearly died again!), through a vineyard and back to the starting point along the main road. Did I fall? Yes! I have a badge-of-honour roastie to prove it. Was it lekker? The ride… totally! The fall… not so much.


The Bonnievale Cycle Race includes mountain bike and road routes

The 10km MTB route was one of the events of the Bonnievale Cycle Race, which took place at the 2016 Bonnievale Festival. CN&CO sponsored the medals for the race, which benefited the Bonnie People Project, a local community outreach programme that’s supported by our good friends Karin Biggs and Karen Kleingeld, aka the Karins of Bonnievale. (You may recall the Karins from our visit to the Breede River Duck Derby in 2015.)

“Once a year our little town hosts its own festival to bring people together in the spirit of fun, adventure and community outreach,” says Karen Kleingeld. “The festival involves a host of activities including trail running, cycling, a fear factor event, a motor- and quadbike enduro and potjiekos competition. There’s also entertainment and food aplenty as well as local market stalls. It’s the highlight of the Bonnievale community diary.

“In particular, the Bonnievale Cycle Race is exceptionally well supported. It’s an established race on the Pedal Power Association calendar, drawing hundreds of participants every year.”

This year CN&CO lent a hand to the race by sponsoring the medals for all the participants.

“We wanted to do something different this year – something that supports the spirit of the event, which is to raise funds for the Bonnie People Project,” says Karin Biggs.

Instead of the traditional discs, the medals for the 2016 Bonnievale Cycle Race were little wire bicycles, which also function as key rings.


Me and my medal

“We went the wire bicycle route for three reasons,” explains Karin. “Firstly, it’s something different. Rather than just another medal to hang up in your trophy cabinet – or chuck in the bin, if we’re being honest – this is a medal that the cyclists will remember!

“Secondly, it’s useful as it also functions as a key ring. And last but not least, the sponsorship money that we received from CN&CO was used to pay the members of the community who made the little wire bicycles, bringing some much-needed income in for these very talented individuals.”

This is the type of sponsorship that we like at CN&CO – something that adds value to everyone along the line. It’s smart and memorable and it makes a difference. The 10km MTB route went right past the Bonnie People Project, so I got to see the work that the Karins and their benefactors have done for the people who benefit from their time and money.

As for me … my first time MTB experience was amazing! I do like to try new things. Since I was at school I’ve subscribed to the old adage, “You should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing”. Sometimes new things are amazing enough to do again (e.g. bungee jumping, Uber, and getting a tattoo) and sometimes once is more enough (caravanning, tripe and onions, and visiting Robben Island). Mountain biking is definitely on my to-do-again list. Time to start saving up for my own bike!

Any advice or assistance from experienced cyclists would be most welcome.

About the Bonnievale Cycle Race and Bonnie People Project

The Bonnievale Cycle Race started in 1994. At its peak in 1998, the race had over 1 000 entrants and was the second-largest road race in the Western Cape, after the Cape Town Cycle Tour. It is one of the few multi-discipline cycle races, catering to both road and mountain bike. It also offers a 10km fun ride. The key objectives are to create an event that is fun for the whole family, and to raise as much money as we can for community outreach work.

All proceeds of this year’s event were raised for the Bonnie People Project, a programme in the local informal settlement that focuses on early childhood development, after-school care and skills development. It is registered with the Department of Social Development. Funds raised by the cycle race will contribute towards the building of a youth centre for the project.

The vision for Bonnie People is to help the residents of the settlement to build and develop sustainable components within their community, focusing on the future of the children.

The Bonnievale Cycle Race presents a wealth of opportunities for socio economic growth, growth in tourism, job creation, and last, but not least, a wonderful and fun, yet safe, cycling event that will keep cyclists coming for years to come. This event has all the components to offer as one of the greatest cycling events, especially the in-demand road race routes.