You can’t beat South Africa’s arid western regions when it comes to expansive displays of spring flowers. The West Coast, Cederberg and Namaqualand are at the epicentre of the blooms and biking is a great way to take in the spectacle.
The Cederberg Conservancy, within the dramatic sandstone reaches of the ranges, rates in my books as one of SA’s prime wilderness areas. With the arrival of spring, a multitude of indigenous flowers will soon punctuate these rugged fynbos slopes with pointillist colour.
Good news for mountain bikers is that a lot of work has been done recently on the Dwarsrivier MTB Trail. The circular loop now features purpose-built single-track sure to delight members of the fat-track tribe. Keen? Then saddle up from the Sanddrif campsite. The crank starts along the gravel road to Wolfberg Cracks (two kilometres) via the Valley of the Red Gods before juddering onto the Rietgat jeep-track. Soak up the stones for the next kilometre or so, then jam it along a sweet section of single-track down to a technical river crossing.
From Rietgat, the main gravel road loops you onto Lot’s Wife trail, combining technical rockriding with single- and dual-track stretches. This section has a wild and remote feel to it, with Cape mountain leopard spoor and klipspringers on point duty along the rocky ridges.
From the rehabilitated pine plantation, you can either circle back onto Lot’s Wife route, or find your way onto the Maltese Cross jeep-track to crank for six kilometres past the Cederberg Observatory. Both options are fun and will eventually bang you back onto the dirt drag about three kilometres from Sanddrif.
Spring is in the air, but you haven’t seen the last of the chill. Pack a wind-proof jacket and a lightweight fleece. The Capestorm Missile long-sleeved top (R475) will keep you toasty when you need it and allows you to regulate temperature with its full-length zip. Layer this garment with a Stratos jacket (R650) for complete wind protection (plus the added benefit of removable sleeves). www.capestorm.co.za.
You could take your old clunker onto the Dwarsrivier Trail, but a dual-suspension bike will add to your enjoyment. The GT Sensor 1.0 (R23 000) will make this the sweetest ride of your life. The All-Mountain geometry, quality components and the intuitive handling of the i-Drive design equate to a huge smile on your face, no matter what the terrain. www.obike.co.za.
Off the bike
Don’t miss out on wine tasting at Cederberg Private Cellars, where winemaker David Nieuwoudt presents an awardwinning selection of high-altitude reds. Evening stargazing at the Cederberg Observatory, just down the road from Dwarsrivier, is also a good option. www.cederbergwine. com.
From Cape Town, follow the N7 north for 200 kilometres, continuing past Citrusdal. Turn right onto a gravel road 25 kilometres beyond the town at the Algeria sign to cross the Olifants River. Continue along this road to Algeria, then keep right for 26 kilometres past the forestry station to Sanddrif.
Dwarsrivier MTB trail facts
- Grading: Intermediate
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Configuration: Circular from 7,5 to 32 km
- Start point: Sanddrif campsite (9º15’27″E/32º30’14″S)
- Terrain: Gravel road, jeep-track and single-track.
- Entry requirements: Conservation fee payable at office.
- Cell reception: Poor
- Contact: Tel 027-482-2825, www.cederbergwine.com.