à bientôt, Avianto!
Words & pics Andrew “Average Andy” Steer
Looking for the perfect marriage of mountain biking and hospitality? And convenience? And safety? Try the Tracker RideFree Avianto Bike Park in Muldersdrift. We did.
Avianto, in Muldersdrift in the Cradle of Humankind, is probably best known to the greater public as a world-class wedding and conference venue, but over the past few years it has rapidly risen to prominence as one of the best mountain-biking venues in Gauteng. The trails have been going for a couple of years now, but over the last year things have certainly kicked up a notch with the expansion of the park to add much-needed mileage by including sections in Phambili and the Syringa ruins.
Along with this, Avianto has partnered with Tracker since May 2014 in setting it up as a RideFree Bike park. Just like the Modderfontein RideFree Bike Park, that means exceptional route marking, good maintenance of the trails and lots of value-adds for the riders such as bike washes, Biogen hydration stations, standby medical emergency assistance (on Sundays) and even monthly skills clinics.
A lot of people will recognise the venue and trails at Avianto from the Eqstra Spring Classic and USN Cup races that are held there annually, along with the numerous trail runs that they host throughout the year. A large part of its popularity is the relatively easy access from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the superb facilities on offer. This, coupled with the recent expansion and upgrade of the trails, now leaves riders spoilt in terms of options and enjoyment.
Red Route – The red route, at 2.5km in length, is aimed mainly at the kiddies and offers a fun, safe little trip on the bike around the eastern side of Avianto. There is nothing technical and all the road crossings are avoided.
White Route – Formerly the green route, this 6km route on the eastern side of the park is aimed at riders new to the sport and a bit short on fitness. The route again is very rider-friendly, featuring mainly jeep track and dirt roads, and with gradients that never get too severe. There is a little bit of climbing in parts, but the fun switchbacks and berms to be enjoyed on the way down will leave you smiling.
Green Route – Made up of two 12km sections on either side of the Crocodile River, this great little 24km route offers a nice option for fitter riders not too confident in the rougher stuff. There is still plenty of fun factor, with loads of singletrack, switchbacks, berms, climbs and descents littering the route. You also traverse a wide variety of terrains, passing dams, koppies, rivers, horse kraals and forests, all the while taking in some great views of the Cradle of Humankind.
Blue Route – The main event is the Blue route, again divided into two 17km sections on either side of the Crocodile River. The 34km total will give even the fit guys a great workout, as there is very little in the way of flat terrain in the area. It’s basically just an extension of the Green route, with the additional mileage coming in the form of slightly tougher terrain and often harsher gradients. While it definitely is a grade up from the Green in most parts, we found the sections very rideable for us weekend warriors.
Black Route - The Black is made up of occasional small sections that branch off the Blue and Green routes and offers the more serious riders a proper technical challenge, in terms of both skill and endurance. It’s aimed at advanced riders, and you need to be strong and technically competent to take on these little sections, as the steep gradients and rocky nature of most of them will certainly leave you a little worse for wear should you come a cropper.
The partnership with Tracker in making this a RideFree Bike Park certainly adds to the professionalism of the whole experience. The trails are really well marked and the routes a breeze to follow.
Although there isn’t a map as yet, with so many options available, and the routes broken down into so many sections, the options are limitless and can easily be tailored to suit riders’ or groups’ physical and technical abilities. All the routes’ branching off one another also allow families and friends of different levels to enjoy part of their day out together.
The riding on the Eastern Avianto side is pretty tight and compact, owing to the smallish area available, but apart from a little switchback sandwich at the start (having also run these may slightly distort my view), you seldom get the feeling of “making up the distance”.
The riding to the west over the Crocodile River is, however, a slightly different beast, and the terrain opens up a bit more, with some longer climbs, great singletrack and great vistas in and around Phambili and the old Syringa ruins.
And when you’re finished, grab a beer, cool down in the pool and enjoy a well-earned meal within the confines of one of Gauteng’s most luxurious estates. Is there a better place to get the whole family on to their bikes and enjoying their Sundays together?
The trails are open every day of the week from 6am to 6pm. During the quieter week times, trail passes (bands) can be bought from the main Avianto Reception (500m away from the trail head, just across the river), or else during peak times (weekends and public holidays), they are available for purchase from the Avianto clubhouse, from which all the trails start.
The trail is pretty exposed in most parts, so protection from the sun is pretty much a necessity all year round. The course holds up fairly well to rain, so apart from the occasional slippery rocks in the technical sections and the odd muddy patch, our famed Highveld thunderstorms don’t hinder the riding conditions too badly.
R40 for a single entry
Multiple pass cards to be implemented in the near future.
R700 for a yearly pass
Avianto Estate Clubhouse, Villa Street, 2067 Muldersdrift, Gauteng, South Africa
GPS: S 26 01’ 35” and E 27 50’ 40”
Directions to the Avianto Club House
From Johannesburg: Turn on to the M5 Beyers Naude (away from Northcliff towards Honeydew). Carry on straight for approximately 12km, passing Garden World on your right. Look out for a left turn onto the R114 Muldersdrift. Pass Carnivore restaurant on your right. Take the first road right (St Antonio’s), then first left into Villa Street, and go under the bridge. Turn right at the circle, then turn left at the first gravel road.
From Pretoria: Take the R28 towards Krugersdorp, pass the Lanseria/Randburg and Zwartkop/Randburg off-ramps, take the Muldersdrift/Driefontein off-ramp at the bottom of a long hill. At the four-way stop, go straight. Then take the first left into St Antonio’s, the next left into Villa Street, and go under the bridge. Turn right at the circle, then turn left at the first gravel road.
From Roodepoort: Travel west down Hendrik Potgieter until Cradlestone mall. Turn right after the mall onto the N14. Take the first off-ramp, signboard Muldersdrift/Driefontein. Turn right straight away to head back under the highway. Turn left at the four-way stop, then first left into St Antonio’s, next left into Villa street and go under the bridge. Turn right at the circle, then turn left at the first gravel road.
Unique functions and markets
You’ll struggle to find better facilities at any MTB venue in SA. There is ample parking, a beautiful clubhouse with great views, a pool to cool down in, showers to clean up in, a fully licensed bar, the option to picnic by the river or strike up a braai and even a kiddies’ play area. And if the trails have taken too much out of you, you can just order some scrumptious grub from Café Cielo while sipping a beer and taking in the great view. Over weekends there is a bike wash and hydration station, and on Sundays there is even full medical support from ER24, courtesy of Tracker.
Avianto Tracker RideFree Bike Park
Cell: 083 600 1289
Email: [email protected]
Source: Ride Magazine