Situated on the northern slopes of the Paarl Mountain, Rhebokskloof Wine Estate has developed a reputation for some of the finest single-track riding in the Western Cape.
The trails, which were conceptualised by Johan Kriegler of Wines2Whales fame, offer sweeping vistas from the Franschhoek Mountains, over the Swartland to Table Mountain in the west.
According to former Springbok cyclist Hans Degenaar, who is part of the team that implemented Kriegler’s concept, the uniqueness of the trails lies in the combination of the historical farm setting with its natural amphitheatre and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
“Seventy terraces were constructed on the western side of the amphitheatre 25 years ago and then left to revegetate. This provided a unique opportunity to implement fun, easy flowing, mountain biking nirvana.”
Degenaar says two-storey high granite rocks and swathes of indigenous forest also lend themselves to a unique single-track riding experience.
Named after the estate’s flagship wines, the two route options are the 20km Shiraz and 14km Chardonnay.
Both are blue-graded, with the only difference being that the Shiraz distance impacts on the rider experience, he says.
“The longer route just gives more of the fun factor with an extra kilometre of climbing.”
But, he says, riders should not be deterred.
“The eight-kilometre section up to the first of the two viewpoints has been constructed in such a way that it changes the suffering of an uphill slog into an up-and-down experience of note.
“Every effort has been made to alleviate the pain of climbing and improve the enjoyment of the free-flowing downhills over the last 10km.”
Degenaar says average riders should take about 90 minutes to complete the short course and two hours for the longer one, while reaching speeds of up to 50km an hour on certain sections.
“This course is designed for someone with average to expert levels of skill. A noob could find it quite daunting but in terms of exposing yourself to real mountain biking, this is it!”
He says the exciting thing about the trails, which took eight months to build, is that they remain a work in progress.
“We thrive on input from the mountain biking fraternity.”
Although the route only officially opened in February this year, mountain bikers had gotten wind of the new development via word of mouth and had been enjoying preview rides for several months in the lead-up to the launch.
The estate initially paid for the construction of the routes, with Pedal Power Association committing funding for the maintenance and extension of the trails in July this year.
“At present, six kilometres of additional single-track is being constructed with even more to follow,” says Degenaar.
“Submissions will be made for further funding to make this the destination of choice for all mountain bikers in the Western Cape.”
He says the natural terrain presented some interesting route-building challenges.
“The typical Paarlberg granite formations and indigenous clusters of forest were challenging to incorporate into the design.
“Also, maximising the distances without compromising the flowing nature of the route.”
He says they made a serious attempt to conserve the natural vegetation, maximise the views and elevate the riding experience to new levels.
“For example, trees are not unnecessarily cut down to make way for single-track. There’s also one section with a sharp descent into a cave, which is awesome.”
Degenaar says it is possible for families to ride the first 4km of the route in a circular format, crossing over three natural dam walls and catching glimpses of horses and water birds as they pass by.
Aside from mountain biking, young and old can take a horse or quad bike ride. They can also enjoy a meal at the authentic Boland bistro-inspired restaurant as well as the estate wines, which won 34 national and international awards in 2013.
“The estate is family-friendly with jumping castles, trampolines, jungle gyms and pony rides over the weekend.”
Daily permits cost R30 and are available at the restaurant on the estate.
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