Sent: 08 April 2013 08:58
Subject: Mountain biking in Greyton
I was in Greyton this weekend and I did the red route. I spoke to Tristram on Saturday and he gave me some good info. I said I would let him know how it went.
Below is a veeeery long email that I wrote. Don't worry, this isn't just for you, I do these from time to time for my mates. The bit on my ride is most, but not all, of the email, but I thought I would include to whole thing so it all makes sense.
I have a bit more info on the actual ride for you if you want. I see there are some blogs on the website and other people have picked up where I also had some problems (the dam wall on the first descent, for example). Real pity that people are pulling the stickers off of the boards already.
You guys are doing great stuff out there. Thanks for an awesome ride.
From: Paul Lewis
Date: 08/04/2013 08:53 AM
************************************************ I have to declare that I have never been a big fan of Greyton. It may have something to do with***********************. The house we were staying in was on the south end of town on a lovely quite street. We woke up on Saturday and the girls and I did a quick ride round town, partly to show of Olivia’s new bike. Then, as everyone knows, Saturday is market day in small rural towns. And as Carl says, the good produce goes early. So we headed to the market shortly after opening time. It is definitely one of the best markets I have been to. There is excellent fresh produce and cheese, and olives, and, of course, pancakes, with lemon curd. They are in the top 3 pancakes I have ever had. For some reason no cappuccino machine.
Greyton is certainly on the up and up in terms of mountain biking. There is an excellent, and massive, colour map at the information centre, although the ones they give you are small, black and white, and pretty useless. At first glance I thought that I would do one of the routes around the town. On the map there is the 14km Blue Route (which is actually marked in Green) and the 18km Red Route (which is marked in Blue!!!). The Red / Blue route looked a bit short for my Sani training so I did some more research and found the Greyton Genadendal Mountain Biking website (www.ggmtb.com). It is a really good website and they show you the one village ride (called the Green route, which I think is the 18km Red / Blue route, not sure what happened to the 14km Blue / Green route), as well as 2 longer “off road” rides in the area, the Blue and Red routes, and several even longer district road rides. My bike mates will know that I really don’t like riding alone as I need Bruce to help me change my tyre when I get a puncture, so the thought of doing a new route by myself was quite daunting. There was a contact number on the website and I had quite a long chat to Tristram, who was very helpful and gave me a few route tips. I decided to do the 38km Red route. There are rides that go from the Oak & Vigne at 8am on Saturday and Sunday (some websites say 7am), but I wanted to get off a bit earlier, and I wasn’t sure if they would be too fast or slow for me. The routes are being officially launched next Saturday, 13th April, and from then you will need to get a permit. I managed to sneak in for one of the last free rides. Free accommodation. You get the picture.
So, slightly nervous, I headed off just before 7am, making sure that I had Tina’s iPhone with the web map. You head out of Greyton on the road to Riviersonderend, and shortly after crossing the Gobos River you turn right into an alien forest. The strict Red route goes straight through this forest, but there is some awesome single track, called Rockhopper, from the Green / Blue route that you have to do. There have been some recent fires in the forest but in general it is superb single track. About 2.5km long, flat as a pancake, windy and full of pine needles. Just spectacular. You pop out onto a gravel road for 500m, cross the Riviersonderend, and then turn into the mountains. The next 3kms or so are the toughest of the ride. You head up a mountain through grassland / fynbossie type stuff, and there are a couple of hectic climbs, one where you do over 100m in a km, and on windy, slightly bumpy, single track. There are some excellent switch backs, a couple of which I didn’t manage to ride. Once on top you have superb views all round. The downhill, again all on single track, is also amazing (I am running out of adjectives). It is a bit like the bit that joins Han-se-kop to the portage on W2Ws, but a million times better. After a fairly slow decent you get to a jeep track and for the first time you can really let it fly. All the way to the R406, which is the main road back to the N2. You cross the R406, go over the Riviersonderend again, and follow some more single track until you get to the road to Voorstekraal. You run parallel to this road, again on single track, the only downside being that this seems to be the unofficial local rubbish dump. Eventual you pop out into the first of four Townships, Voorstekraal. I may be being a bit disingenuous calling them townships, as you could refer to them as villages. However, I was thinking that the second half of the ride could be referred to as the four Townships tour. Don’t get me wrong, I think that what the route designers have done is fantastic. It is also clear to me that the GGMTB Club have made a concerted effort to include all of the communities, not just Greyton. You can see this from the fact that they have changed the name of the route from Greyton MTB routes to Greyton Genadendal MTB routes. One of my concerns has always been that mountain biking is an incredibly elitist sport, due primarily to the very high equipment and maintenance costs (my bike is now worth more than my car). You are more likely to see Porsche Cayennes than Toyota Corollas (or even Lada Nivas, Google it) in the Tokai parking lot. I did have a couple of ndiUmlungu moments, but besides the one guy asking me for my camera (I think, he was speaking Afrikaans) I never really felt unsafe. It is just that you can feel a bit odd riding through a township with someone’s annual salary between your legs (Tina smirks).
After going through Voorstekraal and Bereaville you once again head off the beaten track and start climbing the mountains. Again there is some excellent single track, both up and down. One of the highlights of the whole route is the ride through Genadendal. This is a really charismatic township, famous for its beautiful Moravian church, the oldest in the country. Climbing out of Genadendal you get to the top of Nakkieskloof, which is another amazing single track. What is special about this one is that a lot of the path is covered with acorns and the popping sound as your tyres go over them sounds just like standing on bluebottles on the beach. One more climb to the top of Heuwelkroon, one last fast single track through the bluegums, and you literally pop out into the top of Greyton, where I met the girls at Vanilla for an excellent breakfast. What a way to spend a Sunday morning.
The official length of the Red route is 38km with 768m of climbing. My Garmin gave me 40.97km with 666m (oooohhhh) of climbing. I did ride a bit to get to the start, and I added the Rockhopper single track, and I had to backtrack a couple of times when I got lost. So the 38km is probably pretty accurate. I certainly didn’t push myself and my 2h 52m 15s was fairly leisurely. Given my Sani partner’s training this week is table tennis and body surfing at Pumula, I didn’t feel the need to over exert. Although there was less climbing than my legs thought I had done, the climbing is quite tough. One of the greatest things about this ride is that a huge portion of it is on single track. It feels like 75%, but it is probably less than that. I really recommend this to anyone wanting to ride in the area. The route is well sign posted but unfortunately some of the (very new) signs have already been vandalised, the stickers having been pulled off. So from time to time you have to make an educated guess which way to go. Perhaps the arrows could be painted on next time.
I also saw plenty of birds on the ride, the highlight being Grey-winged Francolin (which I confirmed after playing the call on my Sasol) and Karoo Lark.
As a short postscript, after breakfast I took the girls to ride the Rockhopper single track. It was their first adventurous riding and they absolutely loved it. There and back it was about 10km. I think that this ride with my girls was the highlight of my weekend.
Quick lunch, back into to the car, and home by 4:30pm.
What another fantastic weekend.