Monday, June 7, 2010

Powerade Kremetart Report

"Kremetart" is the Afrikaans name for the fruit of the African Baobab. This fruit grows up to 20 centimetres long, has twice as much calcium as milk, is high in anti-oxidants, iron and potassium, and has 6 times the vitamin C of an orange. The leaves can be eaten as relish, while the fruit dissolved in milk or water can be used as a drink. The seeds also produce edible oil. In 2008, the European Union approved the use and consumption of baobab fruit as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars.

The Kremetart is also the name of one of South Africa's most popular bicycle road races and it is not the nutritious value of the fruit that makes it so popular.

So what is the Kremetart cycle race and why is it named after this super healthy Baobab fruit?

The Powerade Kremetart is a 21 year old event that attracts both competitive and social fun riders from across the country. The event is hosted by the warm and friendly locals in the town of Louis Trichardt, the P&L Hardware Cycling club and supported by various sponsors.

Louis Trichardt is a town situated at the foot of the Soutpansberg mountain range in the Limpopo province of South Africa and about 4 hours drive on the N1 from Johannesburg. From the minute you arrive in town, one feels warmly welcomed and there is certainly no lack of friendly faces and hospitality.

Our race numbers and bulging goodie bag were waiting for us at registration; the goodie bag lived up to its reputation. Note to shopping unnecessary during Kremetart weekend!

The main affair and most definitely the flagship event of the weekend, is the 175km road cycling adventure. Here’s how it works...

There are four stages...53, 48, 52 and 22km in distance. Each stage starts at a predetermined time , in our case 7h00, 10h00, 12h45 and 15h45. Each stage has a cut off time which is 10 minutes before start of next stage. The cut off time for stage 4 is 17h30. You need to make the cut off time otherwise you are prevented from beginning the next stage. See the picture below for an idea of the route and profile.

The organisers have managed to secure full road closure for the event and this ensures a safe cycling experience. Friends and family are welcome to meet you at the end of each stage to wash you down and stock you up with treats for the next stage. Not that the food is necessary, as the organisers have arranged a surplus of breakfast, lunch, snacks and refreshments for the cyclists during the course of the day. My family really got into the spirit of things and the kids loved the concept of the "travelling picnic". The supporters really add to the festive nature of the event and this is one of the attractions of the Kremetart.

If you don't have family or friends to help out, a baggage van follows the race to ensure your stuff is available at each stage and if your supporters don't have transport, buses are available to get them to the finish of each stage before the winners arrive. The bus fee is R350 (Luxury) and includes meals and refreshments between stages as well as evening "potjie" dinner. The buses leave strictly 5 minutes before start of each stage.

Based on the success of the 175km event, you now have the option to ride a 70km version of the race and there is a short fun 12km ride that takes place too. For beginners, this is a really good way to be part of the weekend fun and you even get a medal! Something new this year, is a mountain bike race on the Sunday. Mountain bikers have a choice of 40, 30, 20 or 10km distances. I opted for a slow bacon and egg breakfast while the dust bunnies did their thing on the Sunday morning.

Official timing is done by Champion Chip and I was able to see my results and those of my friends online by Monday afternoon following the weekend. Here are my results. As you can see, we weren't in racing mode and our times reflect the social way in which we rode.

Split Times and Average Speed:

Accumulated Time Split Time min/km km/h
Stage 1 - 53km 1:44:12 1:44:12 1:58 30.52
Stage 2 - 48km 3:23:13 1:39:02 2:04 29.08
Stage 3 - 52km 5:10:54 1:47:41 2:04 28.97
Stage 4 - 22km 6:03:24 0:52:31 2:23 25.14
Finish 6:03:24

All finishers received a superb finisher’s medal depicting a 2010 world Cup soccer ball and a cyclist emblazoned on a background depicting the African continent...very nice!

A locally prepared Potjie (a stew prepared outdoors in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot) awaits everybody on the Saturday night after prize giving and for those that had the energy to brave the cold; it is a festive time to re-live the day’s events over a tasty meal and drinks. As we had small tired children (and tired Dad), we decided not to go but I have been told that the evening didn't end early!

Accommodation is plentiful in Louis Trichard and the surrounding areas. Guest houses, Hotels and B&B's all open their doors to the visitors and we were made to feel most welcome at the Clouds Inn hotel. Book early, if you leave it too late you may find yourself without accommodation as the events attract well over a thousand entries.

We never did try out the fruit of the Baobab. I only remember seeing one "Kremetart" tree the whole weekend and that was a bit of a blur during the 2nd stage of the race. There were probably more but it doesn't matter, the race, the organization, the locals and the camaraderie made it so special, seeing a Baobab tree would have been only a small part. We had a great weekend and can highly recommend it if you haven't done it before.

See you at the Powerade Kremetart next year!


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