By Ben-Melt Swanepoel for Team Garmin.

The Glacier Cradle Traverse is an intimate, family-orientated event held close to the Cradle of Humankind on the Western outskirts of Johannesburg. Just across the Muldersdrift stream from where it was held last year, the Avianto Lifestyle Estate took over as base camp for the 2nd edition of the event. The beautiful surroundings and practical layout of the camp made one easily forget we were within touching distance of South Africa’s busiest economic hub.

The 8am starts, very manageable stage distances and interesting routes added to the allure of the event and with 3-day, 2-day and fun ride options there was something for everyone to enjoy. Add to that the hospitality synonymous with any and all of the Dryland events and you have a winner!

3Yolandi and I did the inaugural event last year but started each day at the back and slowly worked our way through the field focused on enjoying the event and interacting as much as possible with fellow competitors. This year we had a different tactic… We still wanted to enjoy the event and stay true to its nature, but we also wanted to enjoy the trails and get in some fast miles. We hatched a plan to start mid field and race from the gun, but made sure to stop at each water point and enjoy what was on offer. If you saw what was on offer at each water point, you would understand!

Our plan worked pretty well and each day we started pretty quick, working our way through the field only to be one of the first teams to stop at the water points. Riding a bit faster also changed our perception of the race route as the trails came alive when we tackled them slightly quicker than before. In fact it was so much fun we had to force ourselves to stop, but the variety and quality of refreshments offered at the water points made stopping easier. Inspiration soon struck and we invented the date-ball sandwich consisting of home-made banana bread and freshly baked date-balls – a firm favourite which soon became a regular at water point 2 on each day. Water point 3 was the one closest to home which required protein for recovery and as luck would have it that came in the form of freshly braai’d (barbequed) ostrich steaks and a sip of CBC beer to wash it down.

4The race route was largely on singletrack, expertly connected by route director Richard Beswick to showcase the best the area had to offer while allowing for good flow from one section to the next. Each day had a character all of its own ranging from loose and gravely to rocky and steep with just enough climbing to challenge riders without making it so hard that you wanted to quit.

Post ride facilities were well catered for with enough clean showers and ablutions for everyone.

2Food is a big part of any event’s success and the breakfast, lunch and dinner served at the event was more than enough to keep everyone happy.

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Ben & Yolandi with the Smile Foundation riders. The 6 of them dressed up (or down rather in some cases) in fancy dress to raise R40 000 for the Smile Foundation on the final day of the Glacier Cradle Traverse.

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