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Mountain Biking in the Western Cape


Mountain Biking in South Africa

Mountain biking is an exceptionally popular sport in South Africa and each province has an exciting array of well-established trails. An increasing number are marked, but the profusion of rural gravel roads and footpaths traversing the country allows you to make up your own off-road journey.

A relatively new phenomenon is the development of mountain bike parks such as the MTN Toyota Cycle Park in Gauteng and Giba Gorge MTB Park in KwaZulu-Natal. These provide dedicated MTB trails that are safe and accessible.

Gauteng has a large number of single-track trails to cater to for its large mountain biking community. Although by no means the most scenic, these provide an escape for stressed urbanites. There are some superb trails a little further afield, particularly in the scenic Magaliesberg Mountains, less than an hour from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The Free State has some outstanding trails, particularly in the golden sandstone mountains in the south-east of the province. The forests and river valleys of Mpumalanga, especially around Sabie, are heaven for dirt-hounds.

The rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal make for exciting riding. There are numerous wilderness trails in the Drakensberg for adventurous riders. Areas like Karkloof in the Midlands and Clearwater Trails on the South Coast offer beautifully crafted single-track routes.

The beaches and maze of footpaths along the Wild Coast make this a very popular destination for mountain bikers wanting to enjoy sublime scenery and testing tracks. There are also plenty of challenges in the Baviaanskloof, the Tsitsikamma and elsewhere in the Eastern Cape.

Some of the best and most scenic riding is in the Western Cape, particularly in the Harkerville Forest near Knysna. Cape Town has some excellent single-track routes on Table Mountain and in Tokai Forest. There’s plenty more in the Jonkershoek Reserve in the Cape Winelands.

If you have a competitive nature you are spoilt for choice. Mountain bike racing has grown at a phenomenal rate and several of the multi-stage races - like the ABSA Cape Epic - attract large numbers of international riders. Some of these routes can be ridden year-round. If you prefer to make a holiday of it, there are numerous operators that will organise guided trips through spectacular or inaccessible regions. You can cycle through game reserves, on birding routes or on other special interest tours. Logistics are taken care of, including bike hire, allowing you to just enjoy the ride.

Articles & Blogs

Land Rover Joins FNB Wines2Whales Sponsor Family

Valda 1:48pm 9 Oct

Land Rover and the challenging trails that comprise the FNB Wines2Whales route go hand-in-hand. The esteemed automaker has, after all, forged a reputation over the past 70 years for exploring, adventuring and going where no other vehicle has ever dared to go. Having recently aligned itself with mountain biking and the lifestyle that accompanies it, joining the FNB W2W as Official Vehicle and Route Partner made perfect sense for Land Rover as a brand.

“We are thrilled to confirm our partnership with the FNB Wines2Whales as the Official Vehicle and Route Partner for the next three...

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Baleia Wines 2018 MTB Challenge & Trail Run

Valda 6:30pm 7 Aug

Pics Riversdale Photography Club

The third annual Baleia Wines Mountain Bike Challenge and second Trail Run is taking place on Saturday, 8 September, from Baleia Wines & Olive Oil cellar and tasting room next to the N2 just outside Riversdale in the Western Cape.

Baleia Wines craft exceptional wines and extra virgin cold pressed olive oil from their vineyards and olive groves on the farm Dassieklip in the Vermaaklikheid area near Riversdale. 

Owners, Jan-Hendrik and Lindi Joubert, avid triathlon athletes who have just completed the Durban 70.3 Half Ironman, along...

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Harkerville Red Route Re-opens

Valda 9:30pm 15 Jul

SANParks was delighted to reopen the world-famous Harkerville MTB red route on 20th June 2018, the first day of the Knysna Oyster Festival. Speaking on site after an assessment was done, Area Manager for the Knysna section of the Garden Route National Park, Megan Taplin says her section has received numerous requests from cyclists to reopen parts of the trail affected by the June wild fires. 

The Red Route Mountain biking trail coastal section through the fynbos area is now open after monitoring rehabilitation for a year and working on the part of the trail that offers cyclists...

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Exxaro Special Jersey Winners Belgium Bound

Valda 1:57pm 10 Jul

Pics Ewald Sadie, Greg Beadle, Mark Sampson/Cape Epic/Sportzpics

Lucky Mlangeni and Tshepo Tlou punched the air in joy after winning the Exxaro special jersey race at this year’s Absa Cape Epic. This month, as part of their prize, they head to the Bakala Academy in Belgium to have their mettle tested to the maximum 

For the past six years the Exxaro special jersey competition has given previously disadvantaged riders a platform on which to test their talent against the best mountain bikers in the world. Since its inception the pool of teams has grown every year and...

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FNB Wines2Whales

Valda 9:55pm 13 May

Entries for the 10th birthday of the FNB Wines2Whales opened on St Valentine’s Day, with organisers promising participants the most glorious, beautiful finish to a mountain bike race yet.

The end of the three events that make up one of the most popular stage races in South Africa has been moved to the Marine Hotel in Hermanus, where the whales that were part of the inspiration for the event will welcome them after their three days of endeavour. The hotel is regarded as the best place to spot whales in a town that has become...

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Di Data Celebs in Absa Cape Epic

Valda 4:25pm 11 Mar

The Absa Cape Epic has a long history of interesting celebrity pairings teaming up to undertake the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race to raise funds and awareness for charity. The 2018 the race is no different and now boasts one of the most competitive charity pairings yet, in the form of Douglas Ryder and Jan Scannell, riding for Dimension Data, technology partner to the Absa Cape Epic.

Ryder (Main pic above) is the team principal of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Africa’s only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) WorldTour team, while Scannell is better known as Jan Braai and...

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Tour de Braai

Valda 8:00pm 25 Jun

Pics Craig Kolesky

For five days in May 2017, 20 cyclists with a taste for the finer things in life rode through the Klein Karoo, making their way from George to Swellendam via the most scenic district roads and mountain passes in the Western Cape. 

The five-day ride was the inaugural Tour de Braai, an antidote to South Africa’s obsession with gruelling mountain bike stage races, tents and smelly communal toilets. The Tour is the brainchild of Jan Braai, the man behind the National Braai Day initiative and the National Braai Tour. Riders on the first Tour came from...

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The Garden Route’s MTB Mecca

Valda 3:43pm 21 Mar

Words Fiona McIntosh, pics Shaen Adey

Knysna is #TrailTownSA for a very good reason. It is the mountain-biking hub of the Garden Route, that glorious area novices and veteran dirt hounds call MTB Mecca.

“Bend ze knees,” says Tony Cook as I nervously approach a bump in the well-groomed path. “Then straighten your legs in the dip and your momentum will carry you over.”

I’m riding the Mad Cow route at the Garden Route Trail Park, at Barrington just west of Knysna. It’s graded as...

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Last Minute Tips for ABSA Cape Epic

Valda 8:18pm 12 Mar

Pics Emma Hill and Mark Sampson

So the Absa Cape Epic is only days away and the butterflies are starting to flutter around your stomach.

Who best to turn to for a bit of advice than four very unique individuals who have finished every edition of the race since it launched in 2004? Yes, that’s an incredible 13 editions of the race in which even the best-prepared of the professionals is not guaranteed a finish.

How on earth have they – the Last Lions – avoided all the calamities that riders can...

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The 2017 Absa Cape Epic Route

Valda 10:28pm 22 Nov

In 2017 the Absa Cape Epic returns to an old favourite seaside venue for a spectacular Stage 1 … and finishes at a new Grand Finale venue. 

After the Prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate the riders, crew and supporters will transfer to Hermanus for the first staging of the race in the coastal town since 2008. In the intervening years the area has been turned into something of a mountain biking mecca, with a network of trails snaking across the nearby hills and valleys.

A week later the event will finish for the first time at the renowned Val de Vie Estate near Franschhoek....

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Absa Cape Epic Gears Up for Change

Valda 7:11pm 2 Oct

Pics Mark Sampson

The Absa Cape Epic is taking steps to help nurture future mountain bike champions with special focus on Untamed African MTB race’s development category and charities.

In addition to the teams fielded by the Exxaro MTB Academy, in 2017 the Exxaro special jersey race for development riders will also include teams committed from academies in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape. The category is open to historically disadvantaged South Africans under the age of 26.

"The Absa Cape Epic is proud of its record of encouraging development riders and with...

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Substitution Entries for 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour Now Open

Valda 9:19pm 9 Feb

The official substitution process for the 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour is now open. Those cyclists who missed the original entry cut-off in September last year, and who are still keen to ride now have the chance to secure a spot in this year’s event.

The official substitution entry process allows cyclists who have entered, but no longer wish to participate, the chance to transfer their entry to someone who wants to ride. Substitution entries will close on Friday, 19 February and a fee of R250 is applicable to all substitution entries. 

Substitute online


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The Fire Ride & Momentum Grape MTB

Valda 3:11pm 1 Feb

Words Fiona McIntosh

The devastating fires around the Simonsberg have been big news lately and we feel for those affected. This weekend’s Fire Ride in the Simonsberg Conservancy is a chance to show your support.

Mountain bikers need little introduction to the spectacular Simonsberg trails that wind their way through the Delheim, Muratie and Uitkyk wine farms. This weekend’s Fire Ride is a chance to ride brand new trails cut by MTB trail building Meurant Botha and to enjoy the peaceful winelands setting.


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Down South

Valda 7:35pm 22 Oct

Words Fiona McIntosh, pics Fiona McIntosh, Matthew Holt, Andrew Wonnacott

Cresting the hill we saw a bike lying on the track. It was tricky terrain so we feared the worst, but on closer inspection realised that the first rider in our merry band, Sean Privett, had not taken a fall but rather was crouching, peering at the fynbos. “Look at this,” he exclaimed in delight, pointing to a clump of small yellow and red flower heads. “This is Leucospermum prostratum, a vulnerable, ground creeping pincushion that is endemic to the Overberg sandstone fynbos.” We grinned, caught up...

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Tygerberg Trails

Valda 7:26pm 18 Oct

Words and pics Carlo Jonkerman and Elise Kirsten

Bored with Table Mountain post-Tokai closure? Don’t know where to go? Well, head to Tygerberg and CY the locals keep it a secret…

People from the southern suburbs of Cape Town like to mock their northern neighbours. If it’s not the ‘beyond the boerewors curtain’ jibes, or reminding them to bring their passports when they head to the city, then it’s talk of avoiding cars with CY number plates.

How ironic then, with the closure of fire-ravaged Tokai and dearth of mountain-biking terrain besides Table Mountain, that those self...

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Captivating Contermanskloof

shane 8:29am 19 Apr

Words & Pics by Daniel Dobinson

The rolling hills of Durbanville are home to a staggering 80km of grin inducing trail. Dedicated efforts by the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club have been instrumental in gaining access to the land and building beautiful single track through vineyards, grasslands and Renosterveld.

Contermanskloof falls in the middle of the trail network and is privately built and...

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Whines and wails

shane 9:29am 25 Feb

By Tim Brink

There is a small tree about a third of the way up the Gantouw Pass, a compulsory portage section on day one of the Contego Wines2Whales (W2W). There is a comfortable rock in the square meter of shade it offers at midday and this is where I found myself defending my last piece of sanity. I christened it the sense of humour tree, but failed to regain mine until much, much later.

The day had started well, with an open eight-kilometre climb that begged...

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shane 7:53am 27 Sep

Words by Ronald Jessop, Photos by Christine Woods

The inaugural Quantum Leap 250 to 300 km Adventure Race was held in the northern Cederberg at the end of August 2012. Conceived by the diabolical Ugene Nel after years of brooding over it, nobody knew what to expect, but rumours of a very difficult course abounded.

Amongst the teams at the start was Team First Ascent, which consisted of my...

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