Mauer back to ride another GABRAN
Durban - With over 130 riders confirmed for the 2017 edition of the GABRAN
(the Great Annual Bike Race Across Natal), Bluff cycling enthusiast Johnny
Mauer has committed to extending his record as the ride’s most decorated
participant, having taken part in virtually every GABRAN since the three day
The ride now forms part of The Cows annual fundraiser for the Childhood
Cancer Foundation CHOC, but the ride from the foothills of the Drakensberg
to Hillcrest started more than thirty years ago, and Mauer says he won’t
miss out on an opportunity to ride the GABRAN.
“It beats a day in the office,” says the 56 year old telecommunications
professional wryly. “In the years when the GABRAN was cancelled because of
low entry numbers, I did the ride anyhow. I had booked the leave and
arranged vehicles, so I did the ride on my own.”
Mauer stumbled on the very first GABRAN and rode the final day with the
group, and has hardly missed one since then.
“It is a lot of fun, and not a race at all, and a chance to really enjoy
this beautiful country of ours,” says Mauer.
The ride holds a treasure trove of memories for Mauer, especially when they
linked up with independent riders who were so struck by the GABRAN idea that
they just tagged along.
“The best part of the GABRAN is sitting around the campfire while Horst
Phillips plays his guitar,” he says.
He says the race is different every year, and the afternoon sessions can
become quite protracted when they get bogged down at some of the popular
stops along the way.
“The afternoon socialising is superb. Some years we get quite delayed
because there are some many great places to visit, especially on the second
day when you go through the Midlands Meander area.
“We sometimes come across locals who set up refreshment tables on the side
of the road for the GABRAN, and there are no sports drinks there, I promise you!
“It is a not-to-be-missed experience,” he added.
Mauer says the ride is within the reach of any recreational cyclist, whether
on a road bike or a mountain bike. “You obviously need to enjoy the outdoors
and the camping, and even the longest days are ridden at a laid back, casual
He also laboured the value of the acceptable practice of taking a ‘casevac’
lift if a rider is struggling, for whatever reason.
He has been part of the event since its early days and seen the arrival of
the mountain bike craze, which led, somewhat controversially, to a MTB rider
being included in the GABRAN logo.
Mauer proudly houses a collection of all the GABRAN t-shirts spanning three
decades, which tell the unique story and evolution of the ride.
With a few places still available for the 2017 ride, which will contribute
to The Cows efforts to raise R10 million this year for CHOC to commemorate
their tenth anniversary, Mauer says any bike riding enthusiast should seize
“Just do it. You will never ever forget it or regret it,” he concluded.
More information can be found at
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The Cows Logo - JPeg
“It is a not-to-be-missed experience,” says Johnny Mauer (right), seen here
at a GABRAN with Tanya Mauer. He has ridden
almost every edition of the GABRAN (Great Annual Bike Ride Across Natal).
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