Challenge #5

20 - 29 November, 2020

DISTANCE: 30 Km

ELEV. GAIN: 580 m

ROUTES: Black/Red & Blue

This route will take you up to Barrel Loop, along the black route, then up the Gorge, around the De Bos Dam, then across to Newton Johnson and back down the blue route.

  • Starting at The Village

  • Up to Barrel Loop (Black)

  • Stick to the Black all the way down "Proper MTB"

  • Follow the Blue (now actually also black and red since Camphill closure)

  • Go up the gorge

  • At the top, ride across the dam wall and follow black around the dam

  • Dropping into Sumaridge, you'll stay on the black route and won't go towards the winery

  • Turning right at the split, you'll head up the gravel road and across the main road to High Season Farm

  • Off the tar road onto Newton Johnson

  • Climb to the top of the hill at Newton Johnson, missing the first trail for descent to go down the "old black route" on the top

  • La Vierge downhill section (steps)

  • Turn back to the blue route along the Vrede and Volmoed trail by passing underneath the road

  • Blue route all the wat back

 
 
 
 

Challenge #4

23 October - 01 November

DISTANCE: 22km

ELEVATION: 215m

ROUTE: Hermanus Urban Assault

This time I will take us back towards town, following pieces of the Hermanus Cycle Trail. This will be a quick one - nice lunchtime ride of about 40 - 60 minutes (probably even faster) and could join nicely into a longer ride.

Please remember that these trails are also frequented by runners and walkers alike, usually with a toothy canine close by...

The Challenge starts and finishes at the Hermanus Country Market. Here is a safe place to park your vehicle if you need it, and a lovely place to enjoy a beer after your ride if you chose to do it on a Saturday morning. 

There is one big change from the usual Urban Assault - due to the ongoing roadworks on the road to Stanford, I've cut out a rather big piece of trail. The guys were resurfacing with tar the other day and riding on the same road as the cars is simply not an option. I chose to come down 15th Avenue, across 7th Street (main road) all the way to 10th Street, where you will then follow Grotto Road past the beach and Dutchies. This does cut out quite a few kilometers of trail and road, but best keep it safe - also, if we all ride in different places, the segments might just get thrown out. 

My reason for coming down as early as 15th is in case there is a huge line of cars at the stop & go, and it is an easy way into 10th and Grotto. 

THE ROUTE:

  • Take Fernkloof Drive up towards Hermanus Heights

  • Continue until you reach the Fernkloof Gardens

  • Follow the garden signage to get you on the single track

  • After a bridge you will reach a jeep track where you'll turn right, heading down hill

  • left turn into 1st Street for a short while, then left onto the trails again

  • Stick to the trails for a while

  • The trails opens up straight onto a tar road (2nd Street) - look here to turn RIGHT into 15th Avenue to continue down 

  • Across 7th Street (Main Road) - PLEASE BE CAREFULL

  • RIGHT into 10th Street at the bottom, and LEFT again into Grotto Road (DO NOT FOLLOW THE CYCLE TRAIL SIGNAGE HERE, BUT RIDE ALONG THE TAR ROAD TOWARDS DUTCHIES AND THE BEACH)

  • As Grotto Road turns back toward the mountain, you'll notice a servitude road which you must take in order to go straight

  • Short piece up 9th Avenue will get you to 11th Street which will take you towards Voëlklip Beach and Birkenhead House

  • Shortly after Birkenhead House, you'll have to find your way through a little boundary fence in order to ride across a big lawn (there is a construction site on the corner piece)

  • Now for the awkward and tight little urban jungle section, where you feel like you are driving through people's gardens

  • Continue on a near straight line in front of these houses - 800mm bars might be a slight disadvantage here as it gets pretty tight in some places

  • PLEASE TAKE IT EASY - You can make up the time on the tar!

  • After crossing the Mossel River, you'll be in Mossel River Drive, then onto the Main Road

  • Stick to the Main Road until you reach the roundabout at Woolworths, where you'll go through the ROAD CLOSED signs to enter Marine Drive 

  • Continue on Marine Drive to the New Harbour

  • At the New Harbour, you'll have to go around The Gecko Bar in order to go down onto the harbour wall

  • Turn at the little lighthouse

  • Go back the way you came, up round The Gecko and into Marine Drive

  • Continue all way to the Woolworths roundabout, where you'll head up towards the schools and Hoy's Koppie

  • At the end of Lord Roberts Street, you'll go straight across Magnolia Avenue to go through a parking area of a church - straight towards the cemetery

  • turn right in the road to go toward the Hermanus Old Boys Club, Hockey Astro, BMX Track and Sports Complex

  • The segment ends as you enter the parking area for the sports complex


Part of the trail gets a bit awkward...it feels like you are riding through people's gardens, but in fact, they have just made the green belt in front of their properties look nice. Some of my signage have already gone astray since Monday, so I am hoping for the best. 

Once you hit the tar road you will not find any more signage - but I think the route is pretty self explanatory. Watch the longer ride video if you need more clarity. 

Besides staying on the trail, my only rule would be that you are not allowed to SWOP BIKES when you hit the tar...this is a MTB challenge after all. That being said, if you want to take on the rocky Fernkloof/Voëlklip trails on a gravel bike, be my guest

Challenge # 3 
18 Sept. - 04 Oct, 2020 (extended)

DISTANCE:  30km
ELEV. GAIN:  785m
ROUTES:  Black

TAKE NOTE: Since you will only find route markers for one route, there are considerably less "DUSTY FEET" signs along the way - just follow the usual route markers. I have straightened and added quite a few of the boards along the way and I trust you will be fine! Remember that you are on working farms and labourers, tractors and other equipment are likely to be on the farm roads. Gates which are closed on arrival must please be closed again after use. 

This route will start and finish at Sumaridge, following the Black Route signage. At the "route split" you will go LEFT, following the signage for the 67km Black, down the hill towards the stud farm. After the bridge there is a RIGHT turn which takes you around the stud farm on a long climb to the where you cross over to Haygrove. 

After you've passed the berry fields you will start a climb and soon you'll find yourself at the foot of Babilonstoren mountain, surrounded by streams, birds, the odd "bokkie" and the fynbos. Dropping down towards Ataraxia, you will turn left when you reach the house with the dam in front of it, following the farm roads. You will find a temporary fence and gate with netting along a newly planted vineyard, probably to keep the "grysbokkies" out. Please make sure you close this gate again upon exit.

You will now follow a mix of road and trail until you reach a farm dam. After a short section on the dam wall, you'll drop down toward the fields, with a sharp LEFT before the houses/buildings taking you back towards some trails. Eventually you'll reach a massive fallen tree which is easily rounded, but followed by a gate which seems to be locked. Here, unfortunately, you'll be required to do some heavy lifting and climbing/crawling in order to cross the fence. 

You are now on Domain des Dieux and will follow jeep track until you reach the tar road at their gate. Please note that I have taken the road to the LEFT after the "dip" to round the vineyards along their boundary fence. This is a deviation off hte traditional Black Route, which would usually take you straight towards the Domain des Dieux tasting room. 

Once in the tar road (R320) you will head toward town for a few kilometres - please ride single file and as far left as possible. Signage will take you off the tar onto Babylon Farm, where you will do some of the toughest hills in the valley - short, but steep. The main hill is also on a nother deviation, where you will be required to turn RIGHT, away from the Oak Cottage towards the vineyards and going down the main farm road, until joining the trails adjacent to Oak COttage once again. Sticking to the trails you will eventually find the Spookfontein drop, a rocky, very technical dowhill onto a rather wet plain, with another LEFT turn towards the mountains and past the Spookfontein tasting rooms and restaurant. 

As you follow the farm roads running next to the tar road, you will find a particularly muddy stretch of about 200m where heavy equipment has been used recently...apologies. 

After this section will come to High Season Stud Farm, where you are required to do a short section on the shoulder of the road. Riding in the tar road here can be very dangerous as there isn't much room in the yellow line, so please try and use the trail next to the road. 

Once off the road you will climb up and past Newton Johnson's Restaurant for the final push, before descending down towards the tar road one last time to cross it, and make you way back to Sumaridge. 

Take the time to do a wine tasting if you've parked here, or have something to eat in the restaurant - you deserve it! 

Challenge #2

21 Aug. - 30 Aug, 2020

RED XCO - The Route

DISTANCE: 4 Laps -  approx. 18km
GAIN: 400m (100m/lap)
ROUTES: Green and Red
LAPS: 4 Laps (U/13's only do 2)

The circuit will start in the parking area at OTI/Forest Adventures/Park Run. You can ride here for your warm-up, or even drive there with your car.
The route starts with the short climb along the Green/Blue, where you will cross the road into the forest, but sticking to the GREEN ROUTE (don’t go Blue) all the way down to the Camphill Road bridge. Go UNDERNEATH the bridge, then turn RIGHT, onto the tar, then immediately LEFT onto the jeep track.

From here you will ride about 100m in reverse, but will stick to the jeep track going uphill. Shortly after a small river crossing, you will take a new trail to the left, which will connect you back to the usual RED/BLACK singletrack climb.

At the “top” of this section, you will reach the Red/Black split, where you will keep to the RED Route, turning RIGHT. The familiar RED Route will take you through the forests to the back of SA Forest Adventures, but then you’ll use a short new little turn to drop into the little singletrack some call “Rollercoaster” to the bottom of the hill where you started. Turn LEFT and repeat….

Each lap is 4,5 km with an elevation gain of roughly 100m.  

This might be a good little route to keep in your memory bank for training purposes. It might have too little climbing for a “proper” XCO track, but in principle, it will still be a good lap, with a decent mix of jeep track and technical riding.  

As this is not a full-on XCO event (watch this space) I am not going to differentiate between Men’s and Ladies laps. This way we can all still ride together to compete and enjoy it.  It will be a challenging ride for most, and once again the racing snakes will be able to chase each other down!

I will, however, only be doing 2 laps with my U13’s and will adjust their scores accordingly. Since our Juniors were so strong in the first challenge, I feel they can do the same as the Seniors.

Men’s, Ladies’, Juniors – 4 laps (20km, 640m gain)
U/13’s – 2 laps (10km, 320m gain)

The decision to go the XCO-styled route is due to the extremely wet conditions we are currently experiencing on the Blue Route between Camphill and Volmoed. 

We trust you will still enjoy the challenge - just please take it easy!

Challenge #1

24 Jul. - 02 Aug, 2020

DISTANCE: 20km
ELEV. GAIN: 320m
ROUTES: Blue and Red

The route will start and finish at the area around Whale Haven Winery/Hermanus Wine Village. Remember you need a valid trail permit in order to take part, so if you need a day permit, you can get one at The Wine Village, Village Cycles or by using the online facilities shown on the trail signage. 
Your ride will follow the BLUE ROUTE at first, heading towards Die Plaaskombuis. Shortly after the little Volmoed climb, you will follow signage onto the RED/BLACK ROUTE towards the Onrust river gorge. A short portage might be required to make your way up the wooden walkway, although many riders do manage to ride this part.


Once you have climbed the concrete strips and have reach the De Bos Dam wall, you will keep right, following the jeep track, then along the fence. After a long straight between a fence and some port jackson trees, you will have to cross a gravel road (Karwyderskraal Rd) to enter Sumaridge farm, then immediately left to follow the trail (RED ROUTE).


The route will take you around to the winery, where you will travel around the dam and cellar. You will see the route heading away from the winery (RED/BLACK). Be sure to take the route for the RED ROUTE here, which will take you around to the top of an irrigation dam - this is the highest point of our route. 


Now you will follow the Sumaridge fence, past a vineyard until you are required to cross the main (tar) road  at the second gate- PLEASE BE CAREFUL HERE. 


Once across the road, you will follow the markers. PLEASE NOTE: If you ride in the tar road, your ride might not show on our segments and it will not count! There is a tricky downhill section in front of La Vierge and winds through the fynbos. Once you have crossed the bumpiest bridge in Hermanus (you'll know when you hit it) you will turn right, off the red and return to the BLUE ROUTE by following a relatively new section which runs across Vrede, passes underneath the road, goes towards Volmoed and joins the BLUE ROUTE again. 


Once Die Plaaskombuis is behind you, you'll be greeted with the very familiar strips of gum trees next to the road, before heading closer to the river again. You have to follow the traditional BLUE ROUTE now, which means turning right after Rock 'n Roll Bridge, then through the little dip into the section known as "snakes and ladders".


From here it's an "enjoy yourself" type scenario, with some of the nicest sections of forest trails you'll come across as you follow the main trail all the way back to where you started. If you are riding with a mate - last one down buys the coffee (as beer is still not available)!

Remember that the use of STRAVA is key to this series, so remember to start your watches or phones! We will be looking at segments in order to get your race time, so if you chose to ride to the start and home again after, it should not make a difference.