Popular Springbok leader Jean de Villiers visited the Argus newsroom as part of his commitment. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers wants to take his two little girls, Lana and Layli, to see rhinos when they’re a bit older. But he fears that at the rate they’re being poached, this may never happen.

This is why De Villiers has thrown his weight behind the Ride the Rhino three-day stage race. It takes place from September 26 to 28, just days after World Rhino Day.

De Villiers, who is the ambassador for race organisers Resolution Health and Zurreal, says that each rider will be given a number representing a real rhino.

“The riders will also be given a horn which resembles a specific rhino that was killed. It makes it more personal,” he says.

To date, about 1 200 rhinos have been killed in South Africa with 558 being poached this year alone.

The Ride the Rhino is a three-day stage race in memory of all the rhinos poached last year, but is also being held to raise awareness about the other endangered species whose habitat is under threat in the quickly receding Renosterveld. The endangered animals include the geometric tortoise, the Cape dwarf chameleon and the Cape Fox.

The race will start at the Langebaan Country Estate, taking riders on a journey through the West Coast National Park, along the rugged terrain of the Renosterveld and ends at a wine estate in Durbanville.

A “Race the Rhino” mountain bike challenge will take place six days before the “Ride the Rhino”, on September 21 in the Magaliesburg/Hartbeespoort area in Gauteng.

While De Villiers is the ambassador, he will not be able to take part in the race because of his rugby obligations. But cycling is something he’s taken up recently as part of the rehabilitation programme for his knee injury.

Despite not being able to participate, he feels this is a good cause and that it’s his duty to get behind it. “Being a dad, it’s important to leave the world a better place. I want my kids to experience a rhino. Extinction is happening at a rapid rate. We’re in dangerous territory. As humans, we have a responsibility to take care of the Earth,” says De Villiers.

For those taking part in the race, De Villiers says nutrition is an important part of the preparation. He says it’s easier for him and fellow Springboks to follow a strict diet because their main meals are prepared for them before games. And when they stay in hotels, the chefs are given guidelines for what they should eat.


For the most part, their diet is as important as physical training. This applies to all sports.

“Whether you are racing a short-track, marathon, stage race or downhill, eating the right fuel can literally make or break your race. In fact, eating a proper diet is important for everyone, in particular sports fanatics who often push their bodies to the brink during their sporting pursuits,” advises De Villiers. – Features Writer


What you eat is a crucial factor

With only two months to go until the Resolution Health and Zurreal Ride the Rhino stage race, it’s important to be aware of what you should be eating in preparation.

Clinical adviser Dr Jacques Snyman explains what you should put in your body in order to ensure optimal performance:

* The first tip is not to change your diet dramatically just before an important event, this should usually be done gradually and in consultation with a nutritionist as not everybody is the same or will perform the same with the same diet.

* The ideal general diet for a cyclist or mountain biker includes plenty of whole grains and complex carbohydrates that are rich in fibre. These foods include whole-grain products such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, wholewheat bread, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, whole rye, whole-grain barley and whole-grain corn.

* Fruits and vegetables are vital for any mountain biker because they are loaded with vitamins, nutrients and carbohydrates. Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are high in fibre, carbohydrates and protein, which are essential for pre-race preparation.

* Foods high in “good fats” are essential for long-distance sportspeople. These foods include saturated fats found in animal products like meat, egg yolks, yoghurt, cheese, butter and milk. Fat is a very important part of any mountain biker’s diet. It provides the highest concentration of energy of all the nutrients. One gram of fat equals nine calories. This makes fat the largest reserve of energy, perfect for long distance races.

* Proteins such as lean red meat, chicken, fish, nuts and beans are also important, especially for the post-recovery phase because they help repair muscle tissue and aid in recovery.

Cape Argus