As they continue their fundraising for the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa, the passionate cyclists who make up The Cows embark on the unique three day GABRAN ride from the foothills of the Drakensberg to Hillcrest next weekend, from 31 August to 2 September.

GABRAN stands for the Great Annual Bike Ride Across Natal, and for decades it has attracted cyclists keen to enjoy the social, non-timed ride and striving to better the amount raised for CHOC the year before.

Last year the Gabraners raised R185 000 through entry fees, raffles and competitions and personal fundraising efforts, taking the total earned from Gabran by The Cows in the last four years to R570 000.

They start at ATKV in Drakensville for the 100km first stage to Escourt, followed by an 87km second stage to Howick, and it finishes with a 94km closing stage to Hillcrest, with overnight stops at Wagendrift Dam and Midmar Dam.

Started 29 years ago and run by the stalwarts from the Westville Cycling Club, the event has in recent years become an important part of The Cows fundraising and social calendar.

“It is totally unique,” said organiser Lynne McRae. “You get a relaxed, social way to enjoy three days of great riding in a totally non-competitive spirit, and you get to see this spectacularly beautiful country of ours while making a real difference by riding for a cause.”

“It is very social, and everyone rides at their own pace,” she explained. “There is always someone to ride with you!”

The race visits a number of stops along the way that have become iconic features of the Gabran, including the Winterton Country Club and the Bierfassl in Nottingham Road.

“There is now a wine farm in Winterton, so we have a group that plans to visit them for a tasting on the way,” said McRae.

McRae said that plans for the ride, from Friday 31 August to Sunday 2 September were well advanced but added that riders ken to join the event could still be accommodated.

“All you need is a sense of humour matched by your sense of adventure and you will be fine,” said McRae. “Oh and bring some warm clothes because somehow we always hit a chilly spell during the Gabran! The Cows beanies then become indispensable!”