Not the one in Vietnam though - the one at Muratie, just outside Stellenbosch.
Driving up towards our first Trail Daze destination for 2016, passing vineyards and keeping an eye on Simonsberg in the distance, with new gear packed and ready for action, we were buzzing and excited to experience the smorgasbord that is Muratie. From panoramic views, to a variety of single track ridden plantations, to warp speed inducing, tight bush tunnels that will make you pedal back up for more... it's all there.
The heat wave we've been experiencing here in SA is by far the worst in recent history, and temperatures have soared to the mid 30's every day in the Stellenbosch area. But the need to ride will always be stronger, so we filled our hydration packs, packed the cooler and headed for the hills.
Two thirds of the motley Trail Daze crew awaiting the French flair.
A short but steep and exposed pedal away from the Muratie tasting room drops you into a lush, fern-lined pine forest with fast single track taking you all the way down into the gully. A welcome escape from the relentless heat.
The trails at Muratie offer amazing diversity - from vineyards into beautiful pine forest, to blue gum plantations, to fantastic wattle forests, and open grassland - a real treat for those of us with short attention spans! Designed by Meurant Botha, the trails are top quality and are perfect for entry-level riding, but also beg to be shredded at speed by more experienced riders. Finish off the day with wine or beers in the garden, watching the sun set over the iconic Table Mountain - there are worse ways to spend your day!
The vineyards are such a great place to ride at this time of the year - colours are perfect and the vines are full of juicy berries. Muratie offers flowy trails and a perfect ratio of climb to downhill time, an ideal spot for a sunset ride with the sun hiding behind Table Mountain. The bush tunnel trail is THE route to discover, giving you the feeling of being super Mario between two continuous and packed walls of trees. The kind of trail your eyes can’t follow so you must rely on the capabilities of your bike… That was so good, we did it twice!
Climbing up and out of the gully via some tight switchbacks on the way towards Gillooly's interchange, with Simonsberg, Stellenbosch mountains and the Muratie/Delheim vineyards as your backdrop - not bad 'ey.
This side of the gully is blue-gum central, with that distinctive smell and sometimes unpredictably slippery leaves covering the trail.
The Muratie trails are something that we've been needing in the Cape for a long time. Fun green and blue rated singletrack that are perfect to introduce beginners to the sport and give intermediate riders the confidence to go faster on trails. The bush tunnel trail has to be one of the funnest pieces of trail anywhere (if it's ridden at pace!). I have no doubt that Meurant and his team have plans to expand the network of trails and to add a few more technical trails in the mix, which will make it one of the premier mountain biking centres in the area.
Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica
The remnants of events that have plagued Western Cape trails during 2015. Lets hope this year brings better luck.
Riding out the last rays of the day, with only one thing left to do...
Happy new year to everybody! May 2016 be full of trails, dust and ice cold beers.
This project is made possible by:
Permit: R50 for a day of riding - just be out by 7pm
All images by Ewald Sadie
Riders : Daniel Dobinson | Matthieu Hamel | Harry Millar
Stay tuned to Bike Hub for more Trail Daze coming soon...