5 Reasons to hit up a Mountain Bike Trail in the Eastern Cape
Friday, 20th April 2018
Mountain biking has taken South Africa by storm throughout the last couple of years; long gone are the days when only a selected few had thoughts of suspension and Velcro shoe straps on their minds.
The Eastern Cape has more kilometres of gravel road than any other province, 26 391 kilometres to be exact, and is no stranger to mountain biking and the explosion of the sport comes as no surprise. Besides the fitness and social aspects (and benefits), mountain biking is also a fun-filled family-orientated sport and of course, the diverse outdoor environment, great weather and plethora of trails will inspire any mountain biking enthusiast to fill up a water bottle, put on a helmet and get into the right gear.
Whether you are a seasoned, competitive pro in lycra or an enthusiast who enjoys exploring the outdoors on two wheels, the Eastern Cape’s exciting extensive network of mountain bike trails is ready to take you on a ride of a lifetime.
5 Reasons to hit up a mountain bike trail in the Eastern Cape
The Eastern Cape is geared for cyclists; numerous towns actively promote cycling as a way to get around and there are plenty bike-friendly restaurants or cafes strategically situated along popular routes where you can kick back with a cold one after a long day on the saddle. The majority of guest houses and/or tour operators often have mountain bikes available for rent with mountain biking activities to satisfy any age and level of rider on a nearby trail; popular destinations include Hogsback, Bedford, the Wild Coast, Jeffreys Bay, Greater Addo region, Graaff-Reinet and Nieu Bethesda to name a few. Even within the urban areas of the bigger cities like Port Elizabeth and East London, as well as on the outskirts, there are numerous trails to discover and let’s not forget the multi-day trails that will take the rider from one magnificent landscape to the next.
Famous author, Ernst Hemmingway, must have had the Eastern Cape in mind when he said: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” If you are an adrenaline junkie and need something more than just another off-road terrain you’ll be pleased to know that the Eastern Cape is home to some of South Africa’s highest passes. While these passes are popular amongst 4x4 enthusiasts, mountain bikers also traverse over the rugged terrain’s inclines and nerve-wracking declines that will put more than just brakes to the ultimate test. Zuurberg Pass is well-known, especially for the Zuurberg Great Trek 3-day stage rage, as well as the high altitudes in the Eastern Cape Highlands which offers bikers a scenic ride on the road less travelled.
EVENTS & CHALLENGES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
The Eastern Cape is home to numerous events ranging from not-so-serious to not-for-the-faint-hearted and professionals, dads, moms, kids and grandparents are all welcome to put foot to pedal in races and challenges. The official media platform of the Eastern Cape provincial mountain bike association, EAST CAPE MTB, are constantly keeping everyone informed of the what, where, when, who and how of mountain biking in the Eastern Cape with a calendar of upcoming events, news, race reports, trail reviews, tips and more. Participating in your first race – be it 5 km or 80 km – is as easy as ready, set, go!
Take your game drive to the next level and get on the saddle on one of the numerous mountain bike trails scattered all over the Eastern Cape’s nature and game reserves such as Samara Private Game Reserve, Silaka Nature Reserve, Hopewell Conservation Estate and the Baviaanskloof mega reserve where stray baboons and the thought of leopards will keep you on your toes. Some of these wild rides are guided (especially where the big five animals are present), others require a support vehicle and on the majority of the trails you’ll be on your own with an opportunity to spot smaller, and less carnivorous, animals.
7 BIOMES & DIVERSE LANDSCAPES
The Eastern Cape is synonymous with diversity; not only in its cultural landscape and heritage but also in its fauna and flora, climate, scenic vistas and unspoiled nature from beach to bush, snow to savannah, city to coast and fynbos to forest. Whether you are in the mood for riding next to the waves, or on the beach, through magical forests, traditional villages and up steep mountain slopes with a chance of snow or you’re simply feeling like pedaling from town to town on a sightseeing trip… your mountain biking wish is the Eastern Cape’s command.
You know can’t go wrong when a province has been dubbed as the adventure province of South Africa; so pimp your ride, pump your wheels, pack a helmet and head straight for an Eastern Cape trail near you. Adventure is out there.