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TIME TO HAVE AN ADVENTURE

Take a mountain bike adventure through five different habitats on the farm including indigenous forest, grasslands and mountains. Experience single track, switchbacks, technical riding and interesting obstacles along these fast-paced trails. Besides being an exhilarating, technical ride, you may surprise a Samango monkey or a Bushbuck on the adrenalin-pumping forest trails.

Beginner Trail:

This trail starts with a single-track downhill through indigenous forest, which makes for an awesome beginning to a breath-taking trail. The trail makes its way along farm roads before moving onto a cattle track, which is fast and flowing. Just after the cattle track there is a rocky but do-able dry river bed crossing. Enjoy the quiet, easy cruise along farm roads before encountering the “switchbacks” where you will ride and learn. Once at the top of the hill you will make your way back to the farmhouse via the entrance road. This trail is approximately 7 kilometres.

Intermediate Trail:

This trail starts on the beginner’s trail up until the top of the “switchbacks”. From here you will cruise along farm roads until you reach the “hike-a-bike hill”. Now you will continue on through the farm along forestry roads until you reach the furthest boundary where you will encounter a memorable downhill single-track with technical corners and various obstacles along the way. This single-track will take you through some of South Africa’s finest indigenous forests. The last section of the trail is a single-track through a pine plantation that drops out onto a farm road which leads you back to the start.

Advanced Trail:

The advanced trail starts by riding the intermediate trail. When reaching the end of this trail you will make your way up towards Schnellskop, the second highest peak in the area. The first section of the advanced trail is a tough granny-gear climb that at times becomes quite rocky. After some hard work you will reach some flat, forest roads which take you towards Schnellskop peak. The last kilometre to the top of Schnellskop is a concrete road known as “death by concrete”. This may be a monster to climb but makes for a fast and furious descent on the way down. The route to the finish follows the same forestry roads back before taking a new route down the mountain to Kurisa Moya. It is important to practice caution on this descent into the lodge because the gum branches and leaves are very slippery.

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Spine of the Dragon - David Bristow

www.spineofthedragon.co.za      www.facebook.com/spineofthedragon

Wednesday, 13 April 2011: Day 6: Sunland Baobab to Kurisa Moya
Distance: 53.7 km

“You can translate Kurisa Moya variously as sacred spirit, or enchanted wind; it’s the name of the lodge where we’re staying tonight as the guests of Lisa. The wind that blew down, or variously up, the Kudu’s River Valley as we attempted to breach the heights of the Great Escarpment on the northern side of Magoebaskloof was more vindictive than benevolent.

The 20 or so km from Modjadjiskloof to the turn-off to Houtbosdorp (once earmarked as an early Boer capital, now a mere collection of huts), was fine to mild with rolling countryside, cows, a holy retreat of sorts (Ave Maria), and road works. We had a fine 5 km burst downhill on hard-pack road widening shoulder.

From there it was pretty much up all the way, and up and up. The gravel road runs beside the Kudu’s River, rich farming land flanked by dense thornveld and big bushveld trees. Every now and again a group of vervet monkeys would clamber into the road-side canopy to check us out. Twice families of warthogs broke cover and raced up the road ahead of us before breaking back into the dense bush.

As we climbed the mountains got greener, higher, and wetter. Rivers raced down the sides of the valley as it steepened, and waterfalls with rapids and pools, and umpteen bum slides, tumbled away to the Lowveld now well behind us.

Both Steve and I were more flowing than dripping by the time we got to the really steep section of the pass. Bakkie drivers looked at us skeef. The few perambulators had more of a WTF kind of greeting. A cool wind blew us into Kurisa Moya, a nature retreat in the mountains with lovely forest and one of the country’s finest birding destinations (Lisa’s recently deceased husband Ben was the mover and shaker of BirdLife SA all across Limpopo).

A cold blast from the fridge at Thoka Baloka cottage, looking all the way down the Kudu’s River Valley, revealed cold beers, Cokes, fruit juice and an asparagus and salmon pasta dinner in waiting. After hyena’ing down cheese, tomato and chip rolls, we rounded off lunch with the pasta. For supper, a bucket of KFC courtesy of my mates, wildlife film makers Adrian and Robin who are driving up from Hoedspruit to crack a few bottles of birthday wine. Never more will I be 54.

Tomorrow, a tough if short 30 km to Haenertsburg, and week one is in sy moer in. We have to head for Joburg this weekend to take care of business (T-shirt printing, radio interviews, bicycle repairs and GPS advice).

Stay cool and ride easy.”

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