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South Africa is sheer mountain biking heaven

South African Mountain Biking

By J.F. Kloppers

South Africa is a treasure trove of exciting Mountain Biking routes, discovered and waiting to be uncovered, with weather allowing for cycling at any time of the year, all day and just about every day.

Around Cape Town there are some great single-track routes on the mountain and in the pine plantations. There are escorted trips on the mountain, around the winelands and in the Cape Point section of the Cape Peninsula National Park.

The scenic De Hoop National Park near Swellendam, up the east coast from Cape Town, has dedicated, easy trails. There are a few hardcore trails near Swellendam, and then onto the Garden Route, which is just fantastic.

There are four superb, laid-out circular tracks in the Harkerville Forest, ranging from mellow to a hectic red route. And nearby are two long, quite strenuous linear trails, Homtini and Petrus se Brand. Locals and international visitors alike agree that the last 6km of Petrus se Brand is the most fun single track ever.

Port Elizabeth also has dedicated trails, including one traversing a green belt which cuts right through the middle of the city. An annual MTB race on the Wild Coast set a precedent for pedaling this fantastic area.

KwaZulu-Natal has its share of routes, with many great ones in the Drakensberg and the Midlands.

Pietermaritzburg, especially, is blessed with superb options. It hosted the opening round of the UCI Nissan Mountain Bike World Cup in April 2009 and will host an MTB World Cup event for another three years after the success of 2009.

The Free State is home to some seriously strenuous trails, and often has competitions. There's one called the Two Mountains Race, which should give you an idea of what you'd be in for.

And Johannesburg also has a huge active MTB population, so there are a lot of trails nearby. Many of these urbanites head out to the wonderful trails in Mpumalanga, where you'll find lots of opportunity to get down and dirty.

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