Trail Daze - Cederberg | Where It All Started

While visiting the Cederberg mountains in 2014, I quickly realized this uniquely beautiful and surreal vast landscape would lure me back to try and capture its magical atmosphere through photography. The emphasis being on try, as the sheer size and unlimited features of this area would make that impossible. It was this same atmosphere, and the idea of simple, uncontested riding and exploring with a couple of friends, without time limits, that inspired the whole Trail Daze project to begin with.
The Cederberg mountain range lies roughly 300km from Cape Town, near the small town of Clanwilliam. We opted to access the range from Ceres' side as the gravel road is usually less rough and rutted, and more suitable for a fully loaded, non off-road, van. The highest part of the range goes up to 2026m with the dominating characteristic being sharp, reddish sandstone rock formations. Summers are very hot and dry, and not the best time to be out there. On the flipside, the winter is when this area receives its rain and the nights can get extremely cold, so the best time of year to get out here is autumn or spring.

Arriving in the dark left the imagination running wild until we woke up in the morning to our first view of the Cedarberg - an almost Martian landscape, with wind and rain-eroded rock giving way to trails that shouldn't have been possible to make, but somehow manage to find their way through the labyrinth. Amazing fast flowy trails, interspersed with techy rock sections kept everyone challenged, the "woops" of joy echoing off the cliffs and blokes' banter flowing just as fast as the bikes - this is mountain biking at its purest. Harry Millar

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You can't help but get excited about the riding that lies ahead as you approach these hills.

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Into the Ceres valley, towards Gydo Pass we headed.

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Rupert watering the plants.

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From Ceres it's still a long way to go to our final destination, but the aptly named 'Oasis' gave us a good excuse to stop for some grub, and a couple of cold ones.

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Not many pubs as old school as this still around - no barman, just an 'honesty box' and a pen and paper.

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Pretty sweet cottage we hooked up. Cozy, but had everything we needed.

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First light.

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Everything checked. Water and snacks packed. Nothing to do now but hit the trails.

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One of the natives keeping an eye on things as we head into the mountains. Klipspringer, aka 'Rock jumper'.

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Fast, technical, rocky singletrack as far as the eye can see.

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As a photographer, documenting these trails often prove tricky as the number of photogenic rock features can be downright overwhelming.

A 4 hour drive to find new trail always presents the usual worrying anxiety about missing out on riding the local trails and getting guaranteed satisfaction. Thank you for wanderlust. It takes you to better places. The Cederberg is where I found that better place and the place that allows 27.5,165mm travel bikes to excel on the rock hard descending trails. The location and sheer beauty will fade all cognitive dissonance into oblivion. If Meatloaf wrote a song about this place, it would be called Flaming Eagle out of Hell. Rupert von Tutschek

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The steep and tight, off-camber rocky trails can be pretty tricky to get right. If you do get it wrong out here, help will take some time to get to you, so it's best to take it easy and get out in one piece.

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Some more of the locals going about their daily routine.

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With an unprecedented dry summer this year, the greater Cederberg area is as barren as can be. But somehow nature still manages to provide us with crystal clear, ice cold water to make sure we stay alive.

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Cederberg is the perfect place to spend time out of the civilization - no cell phone signal, no noise except birds and baboons. The trails are a perfect mix between slow technical sections and fast single tracks at the middle of an incredible landscape - the best I've ridden in South Africa. Matthieu Hamel

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Most of the dams and reservoirs have dried up completely, and it's clear to see it's been long since the last drops fell from the sky.

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We looped back to our cottage for a spot of lunch and some time to chill before heading back out for another run.

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A massive wilderness area sporting crazy rock formations, technical trails and loads of sun mean that the Cederberg is a very special place to ride. Throw in starry night skies, braais and beers with friends and you're guaranteed a perfect weekend mountain bike getaway! Daniel Dobinson

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Late afternoon, dusty, fast and flowy trails. Check.

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Last rays of the day before we head back for a braai and some beers.

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One more advantage of getting away from the city. The Milky Way at its finest.

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Goodbye Cederberg. Until we meet again.

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Riders: Matthieu Hamel and Daniel Dobinson

Experience your own Trail Daze with iRideAfrica.


29 Comments

Tumbleweed, May 27 2015 11:07

Nice pics!  :thumbup:

 

...well, apart from the wee one... :whistling:

NixM, May 27 2015 11:08

That's amazing, would love to that soon.

 

Did they really need the pic of the guy peeing?

iRide, May 27 2015 11:32

NixM, That picture of Rupert peeing was his punishment for his crazy antics the whole weekend. Sorry!

Kranswurm, May 27 2015 05:35

Great pics

Love the place.

(Deon), May 27 2015 05:54

Roo cannot help himself.

 

Great write up, awesome pics and it sucks that it's not Friday yet.. Cedarberg, I'm on my way!

Eddy Gordo, May 27 2015 06:33

Nice article
Been wanting to ride out there for a while now but the riding buddies dont wanna go that far :-(

Trance Dance, May 27 2015 07:32

Great pics! Which trails are these? I love the cederberg but have never really ridden there. We once road the donkey trail from pakhuis to heuningvlei which was cool, but not really single track.

Are these the sandrift trails? If so, have they added some more single track?

cat-i, May 27 2015 08:55

Are these the sandrift trails? If so, have they added some more single track?

 

Some of them looks very much like Sanddrift trails. 

 

Great pictures!

Mntboy, May 27 2015 09:10

While visiting the Cederberg mountains in 2014, I quickly realized this uniquely beautiful and surreal vast landscape would lure me back to try and capture its magical atmosphere through photography. The emphasis being on try, as the sheer size and unlimited features of this area would make that impossible. It was this same atmosphere, and the idea of simple, uncontested riding and exploring with a couple of friends, without time limits, that inspired the whole Trail Daze project to begin with.

Click here to view the article

Saw it on Pinkbike. Absolutely fantastic outlay and presentation. Also enjoyed your interview with Needles, was lekker to see such Saffer centric material making it on there! Keep up the good work!

Gandalf, May 28 2015 10:16

Damn that looks awesome! Great stuff! 

iRide, May 28 2015 11:52

Norman, these are the Sanddrif trails. There are a few other mtb specific trails in the Cederberg but Sanddrif has the most (and the best quality, IMO). They have added quite a lot of new trail to the loop on the Western side (Maltese cross side) which make it's far more interesting (though the switchback climb is brutal in the heat!). I still need to update my maps on my website to show the new trails but they are well marked.

 

Anybody keen to join iRide for a weekend tour out this way in the near future? Planning on a brilliant weekend of riding, skills clinics and bike mechanic courses.

cat-i, May 28 2015 11:57

Norman, these are the Sanddrif trails. There are a few other mtb specific trails in the Cederberg but Sanddrif has the most (and the best quality, IMO). They have added quite a lot of new trail to the loop on the Western side (Maltese cross side) which make it's far more interesting (though the switchback climb is brutal in the heat!). I still need to update my maps on my website to show the new trails but they are well marked.

 

Anybody keen to join iRide for a weekend tour out this way in the near future? Planning on a brilliant weekend of riding, skills clinics and bike mechanic courses.

 

From joBerg, so just any old weekend may be difficult. But with same advance notice and careful planning it may be possible to make a plan ... rode a bit there in December, and would love any excuse to go back there.

Mntboy, May 28 2015 12:04

Norman, these are the Sanddrif trails. There are a few other mtb specific trails in the Cederberg but Sanddrif has the most (and the best quality, IMO). They have added quite a lot of new trail to the loop on the Western side (Maltese cross side) which make it's far more interesting (though the switchback climb is brutal in the heat!). I still need to update my maps on my website to show the new trails but they are well marked.

Anybody keen to join iRide for a weekend tour out this way in the near future? Planning on a brilliant weekend of riding, skills clinics and bike mechanic courses.

Would a Hard Tail survive out there or would I need a full sus? Other than that all I'd need is for you to do one trip/skills session during my leave period.

iRide, May 28 2015 12:22

A hardtail is fine (anywhere really!), but there are some technical sections that are tough. Mostly low speed technical stuff though so if you have the skills, you can make it! I'll get back to you hubbers with dates for a proposed trip and we can see what the interest is.

Mntboy, May 29 2015 12:37

A hardtail is fine (anywhere really!), but there are some technical sections that are tough. Mostly low speed technical stuff though so if you have the skills, you can make it! I'll get back to you hubbers with dates for a proposed trip and we can see what the interest is.

Well that would depend on what you mean by low speed tech sections. And is it like anything I'd previously would've encountered at Tokai?

SeaBee, May 29 2015 08:06

Saw a piece on the trails there in trail running mag as well - itching to go do that as well! Same trails, different speed...  :thumbup:  And less hassle (packing) if we pop over there just for a weekend.

KarlvN, May 29 2015 08:11

This is a trail I am now putting on my to-do list...

 

But how about those pics of the night sky...I am completely blown away by the sheer magnitude of the heavens.

BikeHub Plus, May 29 2015 10:26

for those who are wondering...there are a lot of cottages at Sanddrif and awesome camping

 

and a winery!

 

(there's also a new brewhouse in a valley close by, but since this is sponsored by CBC I'm going to have to let you find that on your own)

Mntboy, May 29 2015 12:15

for those who are wondering...there are a lot of cottages at Sanddrif and awesome camping

and a winery!

(there's also a new brewhouse in a valley close by, but since this is sponsored by CBC I'm going to have to let you find that on your own)

If we were to ask nicely via pm will you divulge the information on the brewery? Or do we need to use some (positive) form of bribery?

SeaBee, May 29 2015 03:38

Save yourself the wait, save yourself the bribery...

 

Google is your friend.

Mntboy, May 29 2015 04:25

Save yourself the wait, save yourself the bribery...

Google is your friend.

Uhh but Google is American and by definition untrustworthy [emoji185] [emoji13]

I suppose I could do that but sometimes it's more fun to get the info from someone in the know and to find a place on their directions even at the cost of a pack or two of good beer.

flyluis, May 30 2015 11:44

What an awesome article and photos. Great job!

iRide, Jun 04 2015 12:40

Hi Hubbers,

As promised, we've put this 3 day riding package together for those that are keen to ride technical trails in the Cederberg. We've called it a 'wild weekend' because we plan on offering them in the more remote areas we know of. First one is on the 28-30 August.

 

The basic idea is to have fun and experience the beauty of our country, while improving your riding and learning how to service your bike through skills clinics run by myself (Daniel Dobinson).

 

It'd be great to know if you hubbers are keen to sign up because then we could run a few more throughout the year in our favourite riding destinations.

Trance Dance, Jul 12 2015 09:05

So after reading this ride report I got amped to try these trails for myself. We left the midget with the grandparents and convinced a mate to get in the action.

We hit houdenbek first,last Friday morning. They don't really let day visitors ride the trails, but fortunately made an exception for us. To say we were blown away by the trails is an extreme understatement! Proper mtbing was the concensus. But little did we know what was in store later...

We camped the night at sandrif in the southern cederberg. About an hour from farm houdenbek.

Day two started slow, lots of coffee and rusks while the bikes defrosted, literally.

As the day warmed up, so did the riding. The trails were fast and technical. Smiles all round. Probably the best riding I've ever done! Beware though, some of the the caution signs we read as speed up, only to discover later, some of them mean caution! We made the same mistake with the portage signs...

Day three was super fun! It involved shuttle runs on the trail that starts at the top of the pass above nuwerus campsite. A great, fast rocky descent that has a convenient Road right next to it for the shuttle back up to the top.

All in all three quality days of riding. Anyone looking for a three day biking adventure,this is it!

droenn, Dec 09 2015 10:20

heading up to Cederberg for a few nights soon. I'm only cyclist in the group, wondering if crazy to ride it by myself since there is no cell reception..