NOVA Eroica: Race nerves and jam roosterkoek

We’ve all been there - on the rivet, sweat in your eyes, dust between your teeth and the only view is a not-very-appealing one of some other sweaty rider just in front of you, likely also pushing as hard as he/she can. But that is racing, right? Type 2 fun. There are some who love this, most of us actually, but what if there was a different way to race? Something closer to Type 1 fun? NOVA Eroica South Africa kicked off in 2018 with exactly this in mind.



The Eroica Festival was originally launched as a celebration of Italian cycling culture of the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s. A time when cycling technology was still in its infancy. Good race nutrition included bread, soup, cheese and wine and a post-race cigarette or five was nothing out of the ordinary. It might have lacked some of the things we now consider important aspects of racing, but damn, it had style!




With the original Eroica building on a tradition of exactly that style, classic bicycles, old school cycling kit and the spirit of a festival, NOVA Eroica was born to run alongside the classic cycling event in a very similar way, but as a serious race with an interesting format.


As part of the festival, riders and spectators are transported to the classic era of cycling and from the moment they arrive in Montagu a different pace can be felt. Stepping into the old KWV distillery that hosts the festival for the weekend is like taking a step back in time - vintage collectors’ bicycles on display, upbeat but period-correct music playing somewhere and food stalls selling coffee, wine, cheese and dried fruit. At registration, you are met with friendly faces and riders of all ages and walks of life, with cycling a common thread.




With registration, dinner and the well-known evening-before-faff all done, race day brings the familiar nerves and excitement. For some riders, a relaxed day out on classic bicycles and vintage kit awaits but if you’ve registered for NOVA Eroica and donned the red race number, you know it’s on! As the flag drops though, the pace is as relaxed as a group ride leaving the coffee shop on a Sunday morning, with racers being escorted out of town by local police and some beautiful classic cars. Therein lies the beauty of it all - this race happens in parts. A 155km route with four timed segments of approximately 10km each, and non-racing transfer sections in between, allowing even the most hardcore racers the opportunity to take in and enjoy the incredible beauty that Montagu and the Karoo have to offer. Racing segments include ear-popping climbs, long fast descents and flat open dirt roads where the wind and sun try to stake their claim - a challenge for even the hardiest cyclist. The beauty of this event though is that even if you don’t count yourself as one of those hardcore racers, you’ll still be able to enjoy the entire route without having to race too hard through the timed segments.




And waterpoints? There are a few, but instead of grabbing a handful of energy gels and racing off, these are all in the transfer sections so you can take a seat or lie down while you stretch out your legs and enjoy some freshly made cheese and jam roosterkoek, biltong, dried fruit and other local treats. If you’re lucky enough you might even make it in time for a sip of something stronger before it’s all gone.





The organisers have really managed to keep the great things we love about racing - from pre-race banter to lung-busting efforts, and the incredible reward of pushing yourself to the limit. But added are the best parts of long social rides, like taking in the scenery with your friends, going for a quick dip in a farm dam and sitting down for a mid-ride snack and a chat.


A breath of fresh air in an otherwise stuffy racing scene, a truly enjoyable experience before, during and after. Type 1 fun indeed.





Eddy Gordo, Feb 18 2019 07:55

Sounds lekker

Stan Engelbrecht, Feb 19 2019 02:26

Sounds lekker

Yes! Come join us?

Mamil, Feb 20 2019 07:21

Next year me and my checkpoint are coming for sure

Mamil, Feb 21 2019 07:47

Hmmm .... but why not this year?

Stan Engelbrecht, Feb 21 2019 08:52

Hmmm .... but why not this year?

Yes! This year. Come ride, it's gonna be a great weekend.

Mamil, Feb 21 2019 07:35

Accommodation booked - race entry registered and paid.




Yes! This year. Come ride, it's gonna be a great weekend.

Stan Engelbrecht, Feb 22 2019 03:23

Accommodation booked - race entry registered and paid.

Great! See you there.

Stan Engelbrecht, Mar 09 2019 05:29

Hi NOVA racers! Eroica South Africa is a week away, and I hope you are all prepared for a great weekend. Entries will be closing this Wednesday 6 March 2019, so if there are still family and friends who you know want to join us, please get them to register as soon as possible. 

Here is some important information you need to know for the weekend of the event.



  Friday 15 March 2019
Registration : You can pick up your riders numbers from the MMACC from 16:00 until 20:00.
Concourse : We will host a vintage bicycle concourse at 18:00. The best and rarest and most beautiful will be judged and awarded. Please get in touch with me at if you are wanting to enter some bicycles for display and judging. You can enter as many as you like, and entry is free. 
Dinner (not our official dinner) : There are not many options for dinner in Montagu, so in addition to old favourites like Ye Olde Tavern (+2723 614 2398) and 22 Church Street Restaurant (+27236141200), we've arranged for Rambling Rose to be open for dinner too. You can book by chatting to Cay or Sergio on +27834014503 or at
  Saturday 16 March 2019
Late registration : For those of you who cannot collect your numbers etc. on Friday, you can do so between 06:30 and 07:30 on Saturday morning.
Start times : At 07:30 the 135km group will start, followed by the NOVA riders at 08:00. The 90km riders will set off at 08:30 and the 45km group at 09:00.
Routes : Each rider will receive a map, and the routes will be clearly marked. But remember, people do get lost. Don’t simply follow the riders in front of you - pay attention to the route markers. Please report to a marshal and get your map stamped at each of the rest stops so we can keep track of you all. Important - carry enough water with you, and some extra food if you eat a lot. Especially on the 135km and NOVA routes.
Massages : For those of you who would like to pre-book a massage from Susan Retief of Montagu, get in touch with her at Susan will be set up at the Festival venue, so you’ll be able to find her without straying too far. She’s really good!
Official dinner : Please book your tickets for the official dinner on Saturday at 19:00 as soon as possible. Remember that you cannot attend this dinner if you do not pre-book. Tickets for the 3-course Italian-style dinner are R200 each, and you can book here -
   Sunday 17 March 2019
Unofficial breakfast ride : On Sunday morning we will meet at the old church at the top of Kerk street and have our official/unofficial jaunt around Montagu to take in a few sights, have the chance to check out each other’s bikes one last time, and divide ourselves amongst the 3 or 4 breakfasts spots to eat something and say out goodbyes. 
See you in Montagu!

Stan Engelbrecht, Mar 25 2019 01:44

Hello dear Eroica riders! What a wonderful weekend it was. I would like to thank each and every one of you - you have made our fourth Eroica South Africa an even bigger and better experience than imagined. The atmosphere was great, the food fantastic, and while the riding was very tough in temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, I’m sure you’ll agree that it made the adventure all the more memorable. After four years I think it is safe to say that Eroica South Africa has found its own identity as an Italian-South African event, and I’m confident that together we can grow it into a true celebration of vintage Italian cycling culture as seen through our own storied local cycling past. Together we need to work to get South Africa’s greats to come out of retirement again, dust of those historic bicycles, and come ride with us! But at the same time we need to foster and instil an appreciation of vintage bicycles in the younger generations. We need to get riders of all ages out to Montagu to celebrate our great history and the love of our sport. I can proudly say that my vision for Eroica is taking shape - each year we’ve had a more multicultural field, more women riders, and a range of ages participating.


Here are a few images, more to follow soon - 

A special thanks to the town of Montagu, Mimosa Lodge for our great dinner, our sponsors, all the marshals and volunteers, and all the friends Eroica South Africa has made. Our great weekend would not have been possible without you. I hope that we can continue to work together in future. And thank you riders! Without you there would be no event. Your enthusiasm for Eroica South Africa and taking on the challenging dirt roads around Montagu is well appreciated.
Congratulations again to Imraan Ho-Yee, who won the NOVA under some trying circumstances. In the heat only about 6 of the almost 30 racers completed the course. And even though the gruelling Eroica Classic 135km was not a race, Sipho Mejini from the fantastic Tsiba Business School ( made it his goal to finish first again this year, and he did! Another Tsiba rider, Simiso Manatha, refused to let the mean 135km route and the extreme heat stand in the way of him finishing, and after many hours in the saddle and refusing to get picked up by the sweepers he rolled over the finish line as the very last rider. Simz, that is the true Eroica spirit! Well done. 
It was a very tough day out there. In light of extreme conditions like this, we are looking at adding a couple of water stops out on the long 135km and NOVA routes. However, we would like to hear from all of you what you think will improve the event. Whether it’s about the routes, venue, dinner, or any other aspect, we would like you to share your opinion on how we can make Eroica 2020 event better. Get in touch at
See you then friends.