Trail Daze: The hidden gem that is Piket-bo-berg

About an hour and a half's drive north from Cape Town, lies the small, rural town of Piketberg. Used by most people only as a fuel stop, or quickly skipped on the way to other things further up the West coast, it's not well known to many mountain bikers as a prime riding spot.

But as you make your way up the high rising mountain range above the town, known as Piket-bo-berg, another world awaits - a world filled with amazing scenery and the perfect terrain for proper mountain biking. With more than 80km of marked trails (some dating back to 1864), 70% of which is singletrack, it is yet to be completed in one day - even by resident pro, trail builder and farmer, Rickus Jooste. With a total elevation of 2200m, the terrain is not flat and easy, and caters for for the slightly more experienced, and definitely fit mountain biker.

 

As with most things in life though, there is a catch. It is not open to public, and can be ridden by invitation only. The good news however is they will be hosting some events towards the end of 2016 - a one day race in September and a 2-day stage race in October, complete with braaing and camping by the dam, which is probably your best chance of experiencing all that is on offer. A select few invited riders will be taking part in this year's events already, which will act as blueprint for future events. We were lucky enough to be invited over to experience these trails and the unmistakable Afrikaans hospitality, and bring to you Piket-bo-berg in all its glory.

 

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Putting together a photo shoot that involves 4 people, has its fair share of scheduling issues. So when a date is decided, you can only hope that it doesn't rain out. Heading towards Piketberg on the N7, things didn't look too rosy.

 

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But as the clouds lift, its a gamble that pays off, as its better to have clouds than bland blue skies. The majestic Swartland in the distance.

 

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Come October month, and these orchards will be in full bloom.

 

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This incredible trail system must be the best kept secret in South Africa. The area itself is one of the most beautiful I have seen in the Cape - being high in the mountains, towering above the huge flat plains of the Swartland has a magical feel to it! The multitude of physical trails are incredibly well built and each has a neat name and a (normally) humorous story behind it. If you're keen to ride these trails take a look at iRide Africa's exclusive Piketberg Weekend. Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica

 

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The most amazing natural single track, trough a minefield of huge boulders and some hero dirt added of that. #notbad

 

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A quick hike-a-bike up stream to link up with some more trails.

 

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Trails for Daze. Heading back down towards the valley floor and a kaleidoscope of greenery by the river below.

 

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Piketberg is a place I've always driven past since I was a kid never imagining what it looked like on top let alone the trails the guys have built there. An amazing quantity of flowing single track that flows along the mountain cliffs and river valleys kept us frothing! It's amazing to see the progression of the trail building from the earliest trails, they're all marked with a named carved sign post and build date, to the newest trails that feature some rad natural gaps and super punchy berms! Definitely a good day and can't wait to ride the rest! Mark Hopkins | PYGA

 

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Up on top of the mountain on the other side of the valley, the views go on for miles and miles.

 

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Coming often through Piketberg, I never thought there were such a nice valley on top of the pass. This area is uncommon and you really feel you reach the paradise when you get there. The team did a really nice job by building only technical and flowy singletracks! Not only the ride was nice, we received a warm welcome from the locals, which makes me proud to be part of such a nice community. One day wasn't enough to discover the area, when are we coming there again? Matthieu Hamel

 

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That time the day when we get to break out some beers and enjoy the last rays coming over the horizon. How lucky are we.

 

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Afrikaans hospitality at its best - a feast after a long day of riding. #onlyforVVIP's

 

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Cheers to another epic day of riding and shooting, to trail builders that sculpt these amazing trails for us to enjoy and to the future of Mountain Biking in South Africa.

 

iRideAfrica hosts skills clinics, cycling day trips and holidays and high quality bike rentals.

 

Riders: Daniel Dobinson | Matthieu Hamel | Mark Hopkins




22 Comments

Raydek, Sep 04 2015 07:12

Looks like some lekka riding out there... Now how does one crack an invite??? 

JasonS, Sep 04 2015 08:23

Looks like some lekka riding out there... Now how does one crack an invite??? 

There's a race there next weekend - not sure if it's the same trails. Hope so!

 

http://www.dirtopia....lenge-trail-run

Super_mil, Sep 04 2015 08:57

Baie mooi Oom Ewald.

DIPSLICK, Sep 04 2015 09:02

if I knew of trails like that i wouldnt tell people :ph34r:  :whistling:

Ian PR, Sep 04 2015 02:15

I lived in Piketberg for almost 20 Years, so I am fortunate enough to know what lies beyond that sleepy 'Boland Town Facade' - in the Great People that live there, the magnificent scenery and the amount of freedom you have to ride...it is great to see what a fascinating trail network has been developed....I must get back there again.

 

Ian

NicoBoshoff, Sep 04 2015 02:22

Pity it's by invite only.

Josh0, Sep 04 2015 03:00

Those trails look bloody great! 

Man how bad do I want to move to the western Cape now! 

 

Excellent article Ewald.

:thumbup:

Matchstix, Sep 04 2015 03:21

Trails are awesome but tough. . The some spots you have climbed about 500m but feels like a 1000m. Looking forward to the piket bo berg challenge next weekend.

nox1111, Sep 07 2015 08:52

What would be the point of showing us what we can not have?  It's like a fantastic concept car - just to bring us the next Juke...

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Any way to make a day out of it - similar to what you guys did?

Skubarra, Sep 07 2015 10:26

What would be the point of showing us what we can not have?  It's like a fantastic concept car - just to bring us the next Juke...

original.jpg

Any way to make a day out of it - similar to what you guys did?

 

Agree, what is the point of promoting something that is closed to the public? What is the point of building trails when you don't want people to ride on them?

 

I can only assume that it will be formaly opened at some point in the future

iRide, Sep 07 2015 01:40

Hi Hubbers,

 

Like Brando said, there is a race there this weekend and it will include a lot of these trails. I'd highly recommend entering it if you are wanting to ride great trails and experience great hospitality! And as the articles says, they will be hosting events here in the future so keep an eye out for them. Another way to ride them is through our  'Wild weekends', where we focus on incredible rides, good food and self improvement through skills clinics. Our first one in Piketberg will only be in February 2016 due to the owners finishing off the campsite first.

 

I don't think it's fair to the landowners and trail builders to suggest that they have to give the public access to trails-perhaps in a perfect world they would gladly do so. In the real world, they would have to deal with are rogue riders, self entitled people and riders that aren't self sufficient on the trail that create more of a headache than a R50 trail entry is worth. Just my 2 cents on the subject...

Skubarra, Sep 07 2015 01:55

 

I don't think it's fair to the landowners and trail builders to suggest that they have to give the public access to trails-perhaps in a perfect world they would gladly do so. In the real world, they would have to deal with are rogue riders, self entitled people and riders that aren't self sufficient on the trail that create more of a headache than a R50 trail entry is worth. Just my 2 cents on the subject...

 

Hi iRide - I'm not suggesting they HAVE to give the public access. I just found it curious that someone would build & promote trails and then make it extremely hard for the general public to get onto. I'm no trailbuilder but I'm sure these things take lots of effort & money to build & maintain. But if that is the model that works for the owners then fine.

rickus.jooste, Sep 08 2015 11:42

Hi iRide - I'm not suggesting they HAVE to give the public access. I just found it curious that someone would build & promote trails and then make it extremely hard for the general public to get onto. I'm no trailbuilder but I'm sure these things take lots of effort & money to build & maintain. But if that is the model that works for the owners then fine.

Hi, 
 
We started building these trails for ourselves several years ago and slowly it grew beyond the point where we no longer can justify only private use. 
 
The model that the Cape Town trails use are day permits/year permits and in a short radius there are thousands of potential customers. We are however beyond the "golden circle" around CT (we are 150km from CT) - we will have no customers during the week and only a couple of people over a weekend. Therefore we have opted for a One Day Event in aid of the community and then from next year we will be hosting a two-day stage race - the profits of which will go to maintaining and building more trails. 
 
The one day event does not feature all the trails we have to offer. The stage race will feature more of the challenging trails. 
 
Often people have moaned about why they should enter a race on trails that they can ride for R50. We are "forced" to close the trails for day permits and year permits as the cost of managing permits year round for a couple of visitors over a weekend would not leave any profit. 
 
With these three models we are going for exclusive access - trying to cater for people looking for something different, something challenging and something not everyone can experience year round. 
 
The trails are fun , challenging and rather different to the rest of the Western Cape - please come visit us at this year's event: www.piketbobergcyclechallenge.com - it is this weekend so hurry!
 
Cheers
Rickus

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Sep 08 2015 11:55

Thanks Rickus, Dan has certainly got some high praise for your trails! 

Skubarra, Sep 08 2015 11:56

That makes sense, good luck Rickus  :thumbup:

T-Bag68, Sep 08 2015 12:51

Hi Rickus, I entered a few days ago and am sure looking forward to hitting your/these trails... My question would be in regard to the camping, if camping or staying in the cottages, can you pay a day rate and hit the trails...? Is the campsite open already..?  The Future is looking brit :thumbup:

Mntboy, Sep 08 2015 03:00

About an hour and a half's drive north from Cape Town, lies the small, rural town of Piketberg. Used by most people only as a fuel stop, or quickly skipped on the way to other things further up the West coast, it's not well known to many mountain bikers as a prime riding spot.
Click here to view the article

Awesome pics as usual Ewald! Julle is gelukkige ouens om die gereeld te kan doen. Jaloers verby!

Matchstix, Sep 20 2015 02:22

Some footage from the race

BenReaper, Sep 20 2015 03:59

These trails look amazingly good,will have to make a point of doing the event next year.

Beefy, Sep 20 2015 06:56

Also looks like an event without a great deal of trail traffic.

Matchstix, Sep 20 2015 07:58

Not really if there was someone in front they usually gave way. Depends where you can can can how fit you are, but enough single track to spread everyone out.

Zatopek, Oct 02 2015 01:58

 
< snip >.....

The trails are fun , challenging and rather different to the rest of the Western Cape - please come visit us at this year's event: www.piketbobergcyclechallenge.com - it is this weekend so hurry!
 
Cheers
Rickus

 

I think you have the right business model Rickus.

 

Had this on my 'must ride 2015' list since September last year, but had to miss it due to work. Send my 'nefie' & his mate in my place and ride a proper difficult route.... I hear you were looking for me (with my helmet this time :blush: )

 

The youngsters are raving about the ride.

 

Bring on 2016! :thumbup: