On the Black Route in Gansbaai

When the weather gods turn mean Fiona McIntosh discovers an unexpected MTB trail in the Overberg

“The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry,” I muttered to no-one in particular as we drove out to our cottage on Witkrans farm near Gansbaai. We’d booked for the newly launched two-day Southern Overberg Mountain Bike Trail, hoping for a weekend of fresh but perfect, windless days to relieve a spate of soggy, grey weather.

Climbing out of Flower Valley.
Climbing out of Flower Valley.


The previous week had been glorious. The sun shone for five days in a row, the temperatures so high we’d been to the beach several times. But in the week before our departure to Gansbaai we studied the weather forecast with increasing dismay as sunny and showery weather changed to 80 per cent chance of heavy rain.
On the Wednesday I contacted Sean Privett, the trail developer. “No, it’s not looking promising,” he agreed, “but I have a back-up plan. Why not stay the weekend in the cottage and ride the Gansbaai MTB trails. There are two different route options that I know you’ll enjoy – a fairly strenuous, moderately technical Black Route and an easier Red Route largely on gravel roads. The rain is only predicted to start late morning each day so if you start early you should be able to ride them in that time. And, in any case, if the weather turns foul there are easy escape routes back to base.”

Riding through stands of the long-leafed sugarbush Protea longifolia.
Riding through stands of the long-leafed sugarbush Protea longifolia.

It was a sensible compromise. Riders embarking on the Southern Overberg MTB trail spend the morning of the first day riding part of the Gansbaai Black Trail before continuing on the overnight trail to the finish at Cape Agulhas, but I was still disappointed. Our group of keen mountain bikers and non-riders had planned the weekend carefully. We would spend the first night at the start of the trail and on Saturday morning the active members of the party would hop on bikes and head over the hills via Baardskeerdersbos to a villa in Wolvengat, where we’d be reunited with the rest of the group for the night.

Ready to set off from Witkrans.
Ready to set off from Witkrans.


I’d thought it a stroke of genius when I booked. We’d score two days of fabulous riding while the family enjoyed many adventures, from easy cycles to cheese tasting near the farm on day one, followed by the grand finale of the Cape Agulhas lighthouse.

Cover*Story continues in our November 2014 edition.