This weekend’s Underberg Gran Fondo will have something of an unusual aeronautical theme with Sling Cycles officially joining the event as one of the event’s supporters.
Sling Cycles is a fledgling South African-based bicycle manufacturing company which grew out of aeroplane builders Sling Aircraft. While the link between aircraft and bicycles is unusual, there is a precedent: The Wright brothers, who are credited with inventing the aeroplane, used their knowledge of hand-building bicycles to build the world’s first aircraft.
Ahead of the second edition of the Underberg Gran Fondo this weekend, Sling Cycles has teamed up with the event to help grow the gravel racing discipline.
Director of Sling Cycles Branko Brkljac teaming up with the Underberg Gran Fondo was a simple decision.
“With four of our owners from Howick the event is a local event for us,” Brkljac said. “We love the environment and the atmosphere that surrounds the Underberg region and the event so we are excited to be a formal part of the event.
“We’re all about having fun and enjoying the event away from the competitive side and we can see that the Underberg Gran Fondo is about more than just the racing.”
The Underberg Gran Fondo also forms part of the Gran Fondo World Series which incorporates gravel races around the world and the Underberg event is the only South African leg of the series.
“With gravel racing taking off around the world and in South Africa, we are pleased to welcome a company that is specifically focused on creating bikes for this discipline,” organiser of the Underberg Gran Fondo, Pierre Horn said.
“As an event we have been looking to partner with like-minded brands and given Sling Cycles’ vision for their business, it is great match for us and hopefully we can help each other in the long run to achieve our goals.
“We look forward to welcoming them to the event this year and hope that it’s the start of a long-running partnership.”
The Gran Fondo will once again attract riders taking on the three different distances and with a company that sells gravel bikes on site there is a good chance that they will be a popular stop for riders.
Many riders will be taking on the 140km, 94km or 45km rides on mountain bikes and should the gravel racing bug bite then having demo bikes on hand to ride will be a benefit to all involved.
The race this year has attracted more interest and for organisers this interest will only grow as the discipline of gravel racing becomes increasingly popular.
“We’re happy to see the increase in interest this year as well as the interest in the shorter distance that we have added.
“There is still chance for riders to enter, and we encourage those sitting on the fence to get involved and come and enjoy a fantastic weekend away in the Southern Drakensberg,” Horn added.