With a lofty national target of raising R10 million for the Childhood Cancer Foundation in their tenth year of existence, the irrepressible sport fanatics that make up The Cows are gearing up for their annual three-day fund-raising bicycle tour known as GABRAN, or the Great Annual Bike Ride Across Natal.

Into its 26th year, the ride is now organised by Westville Cycle Club and attracts cyclists of all abilities keen to enjoy a slow paced, social ride and contribute to The Cows CHOC fund-raising efforts by buying an entry into the three day ride for R1950, which includes three cooked meals a day and all camping and transport of the riders personal possessions during the ride.

“It is not a race at all,” stressed event organiser for The Cows Lynne McRae. “It is an experience. Everyone rides at their own pace, and takes as long as they want to complete each stage.”

“It all forms part of the national campaign to raise funds for CHOC, and over the last three years we have raised R385 000 through GABRAN,” said McRae.

“This year we want to really raise our game to contribute meaningfully to the national target of R10 million, by raising R250 000 from GABRAN 2017,” she added.

The race is open to any cycling enthusiast looking to enjoy the leisurely 283km ride from the foothills of the Drakensberg to the outskirts of Durban. Minors who are 14 years or older are welcome if accompanied by an adult.

While road bikes are the popular choice, many opt for tandems or mountain bikes, and the odd unicycle or mini cycle has also completed the fun event.

“Safety is paramount throughout,” stressed McRae. “Every rider will adhere to all the usual cycling safety requirements, like compulsory helmets, and they have obey all the rules of the road, all the time.”

The race actively discourages riding in big groups to contribute to the events safety and a sweep vehicle will be on hand to assist riders battling at any stage of the ride.

The event website makes it clear that this is a non-timed, non-podium event, and warns that there are numerous ‘compulsory’ stops for ‘feeding and grazing purposes’.

Legendarily, these have, over the years come to include pit stops at the Winterton Country Club and the Escourt Bowling Club on Day One, the Bierfassl in Nottingham, Road on Day Two, and the race-ending lamb-on-the-spit at the Hillcrest Running Club.

The first stage is a 100km ride from ATKV in Drakensville, followed by an 87km second stage to Howick, and finishes with a 94km closing stage to Hillcrest.