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.
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.
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.
Come October month, and these orchards will be in full bloom.
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
The most amazing natural single track, trough a minefield of huge boulders and some hero dirt added of that. #notbad
A quick hike-a-bike up stream to link up with some more trails.
Trails for Daze. Heading back down towards the valley floor and a kaleidoscope of greenery by the river below.
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
Up on top of the mountain on the other side of the valley, the views go on for miles and miles.
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?
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.
Afrikaans hospitality at its best - a feast after a long day of riding. #onlyforVVIP's
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