In 2019, the FNB Wines2Whales introduced eBikes to the mid-week Pinotage event. For 2020, the eBike division is growing within the Switchback, expanding from the eTour to include an eRace too! For riders wishing to (battery)power their way from the Curro School in Hermanus to Oak Valley to Lourensford Wine Estate, on the 2nd to the 4th of November 2020, this is what you need to know.
“We saw in 2019 that many of the eBikers in the inaugural eBike field wanted to push their limits” explained FNB Wines2Whales Race Director, Hendrico Burger. “The FNB W2W has always looked to balance the riding experience of those mountain bikers who take part for the joy of taking in the famous trails, but also for those riders who want to push themselves a bit. Riding an eBike doesn’t change the fact that some riders are happy to tour while others want to race. To accommodate both approaches we have introduced an eBike race which will take place during the 2020 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback.”
The eBike race will start 30 minutes before the A Batch riders on each of the three stages. To be part of the eRace, would-be-riders have to apply to the event, using race results or Strava (or similar) data to support the fact that they are capable of maintaining an average speed of over 22 kilometres per hour for 60 kilometres. The reason for this is to ensure that the eRacers do not inadvertently interfere with the students who rev to their limits during the Varsity MTB race.
To assist the eRacers maintain a high average speed, there will be a battery change service at Water Point 2, on each stage. Riders can bring their own spare battery and swap it out, at the designated battery swap point, in order to ensure they do not have to use their power too conservatively.
“It goes without saying that the riders taking part in the eBike race, in the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage will not be eligible for overall podium places” Burger clarified. “There will be a specific eBike subsection for the eRace and eTour but as the Pinotage is the non-competitive event within the FNB W2W stable, there is no prize money allocated to the eBikers at this point in time. The winners can of course claim the significant bragging rights of being the unofficial eBike stage race champions of South Africa though and claim a bottle of wine or two.”
“The eTour will continue to capture the essence of the FNB Wines2Whales” Burger continued. “eBikes make it possible for riders who, due to fitness or heath reasons, wouldn’t usually be able to ride 180 kilometres in three days share in the FNB W2W gees. It’s a concern I know all-too-well myself, having been booked off mountain biking by my doctor for a heart issue for nearly a year. My eBike was an absolute saving grace during that time, as I was still able to get out in nature and participate in the sport I love; without putting my heart under strain and doing it further damage.”
“The eTour really is a spectacular way to take in the route, the area and share in the FNB Wines2Whales experience” Burger enthused. “In fact, I might be getting JK (Johan Kriegler) to take up the Race Director duties for the Pinotage so I can ride as an eBike guide during the eTour.”
eTour riders will set off an hour after the last batch starts and will have to ride behind the eGuides at all times. This is to ensure that the slower riders on conventional bikes are not affected by eBikes passing them or putting them under undue pressure in the singletracks. The guides will all be knowledgeable local mountain bikers who will no doubt add tremendous value to the riders around them, in terms of both area specific insights, riding tips and, of course, Serious GEES.
To ensure that every participant in the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage is offered the same opportunities to enjoy the trails and gees of the event the eBike Race and Tour will be conducted under the following rules. Please visit www.wines2whales.com/e-bikes to find out more and to enter the event.