Oak Valley, Grabouw, Western Cape
The name itself strikes fear into many Cape Epic riders ( the race has been based there for between 1 + 2 days ever since the Knysna –Cape Town route was dropped ) but as we discovered it was a lot less daunting than most think.
Trail: 6/10 Facilities: 7/10
“I started riding 8 or 9 years ago and just around the farm on dirt roads and jeep tracks. As I rode more, I saw the potential of bring people to the farm, since we also started producing wine ten years ago." The late Pieter Visser, trail pioneer and winemaker.
Founded in 1898 it took 110 years before mountain bikes were whizzing around the wonderfully maintained paths & trails. Set against the slopes on the Groenlandberg mountains there are more than 4000 oak trees covering the 30 hectare estate “ hence the name “
Arriving in Elgin an hours drive out of Cape Town one arrives at the most tranquil setting ( i`m sure they are not going to allow mountain bikes in here ? ) But sure enough pay your R 30.00 per rider at the security gate & you are on your way to ride one of the most famous ( not to mention FUN ) bike trails in South Africa. There are three marked routes : a 14 km Green route for the family, a 24 km Red route for stronger riders and then for advanced ( read : over achievers ) the Black 32 km route.
We chose, need I say it : “ the Black route “ as our party of 5 rolled out through the oak lined avenue little did we know that the next 33 odd km`s + 2 hours would be the best riding of our 3 weeks in Cape Town ! The gradual start following a stream leads you onto open rolling climbs laced with the most fantastic + well maintained singletrack, often circumnavigating forests to get the most value out of them. Almost before you know it you are have covered 22 kms + are at the high point of the loop, the fun does not stop as you seem to follow endless singletrack from forest to forest. The clever use of wooden bridges over the fences keeps the livestock where it is supposed to be ( but be aware as you do not want to be one of the hapless few who fall off these sometimes intimidating structures ) whilst on warnings the last forest section on the Black route has a STING in the tail so save a bit for that.