NEW TRAIL LOCATION REVEALED!
Well over 100 riders joined us on the Saturday and Sunday mystery rides last weekend to find out where the best-kept-secret-trails were located, and I was very glad to see Neville Murray back in the saddle after his recent and shocking attack, and if his vertebrae weren’t quite right yet, his sense of humour at least was intact, as he joked about having the oldest TmtbC club shirt around.
Maybe you knew all the time and were just humouring Braam and I, but no-one talked about where we were going en route, except to guess at Clara Anna Fontein, and hopefully you were all surprised as we turned off Visserhok into Meerendal, home of TmtbC's newest trail!
We probably should have waited one more day to ride the trail, but what the heck, we were so excited to show y'all, and just couldn't hold out any longer. Over 40mm rain fell on the previous Friday, so it was with some trepidation that we led the first group around on Saturday morning. We were pleasantly surprised to see that most places had drained really well, and there was little surface water. The first few riders managed easily enough, but the uncompacted surface didn't cope too well with the traffic, and turned into a bit of a bog in places. The last riders up the switchback section 'Stairway to heaven' walked, in order not to do any damage to the trails. Some of the contour tops also were a little rutted, and it became a real test of balance to stay on the drier patches and miss the ruts.
By Sunday, when we guided another 55 riders around, most of the worst bits had dried up, and it was all rideable except the top two switchbacks.
When drained properly and dried out, the trail will be accessible to all riders, 9 year old Thomas accompanied us around on Saturday, riding 11kms of the red route. The fence crossings to the dam were not finished, so we did not complete the last 2 kms, but he finished with petrol in his tank, and was duly awarded his Club Bike Board.
Now to last Saturday’s Grand Opening to the public.
It was the perfect morning, still, clear skies, mild weather and the sunrise was magnificent. I know this, because in the typical way that things do not go as planned for trailbuilders, Braam and I had ridden the course on Friday morning to check all the signage was in place in advance of the Grand Opening. However come Friday afternoon as we were packing up to go home, the farm manager informed me that the monster tractor that had been ploughing all day had taken out our direction marker poles whilst making it's turns. Too late to fix the problem, I resolved to get to the farm early Saturday to sort it out.
Thus in the pitch dark with a warm breeze blowing and working by the car headlights, I drove over the trails hurriedly digging the poles in (or should I say, wacking them in none too prettily with a sledgehammer) whilst the sun rose over the opposite mountains beautifully showing off the white mist lying in the valley bottom, with little islands of land and trees peeking up through it. I missed two poles in my hurry, so apologies if any of you got lost or wondered where the trail had disappeared to on your ride around!
The first riders arrived at 07.30, with a steady stream of adults and kids following over the next 3 hours, some to experience the trails for the first time, others keen to do it again after the previous week’s ride. With all the bridge crossings, planks across the ditches, fence crossings and signage in place, the whole trail could at last be explored.
Feedback was very encouraging, with lots of people enjoying it so much they did two laps before joining us for a boerie roll and coffee on lawn.
Well over 100 riders attended the official opening of what is sure to become a very popular trail, lots of new members were signed up, amongst them quite a few families with kids.
Technical note;- It was a tough decision, but in a way, the initial post-rain ride up Stairway to Heaven the previous week made up our minds about whether to pave the trail there or not. Faced with the onset of a wet winter, the thought of doing frequent maintenance to the tracks to ensure they remained rideable was not appealing, and the state they were in after the first 50 riders went up suggested it would be a task of some magnitude. We had been donated a few hundred paving slabs, and although not as ideal as the grass blocks we used on Elastoplast Valley, they were several thousand rand less expensive! We decided to give them a try. As riders who went up there in the last day or two will have noted, there has been some slippage, but we will peg them to stop that and also make them blend in so they are aesthetically more pleasing, but on the whole they work well, and will be extremely durable.
You may be interested to know The Stats on building this trail;-
7,5 tons of retaining blocks
6 tons of paving slabs
300 metres planking for bridges and fence crossings
20 telepgraph poles
1600 man hours (labourers only, not management!)
Oh and about R70,000.
We are absolutely indebted to those of you who provided labour, transport or materials to enable us to complete this project, without which it would have cost very much more.
In particular I wish to thank Deon of Woolworths, Welgemoed, who kindly provided food for the Zims throughout the project (Happy Birthday from all of us, Deon!), L.O.Rall, scrap dealers in Brackenfell for wood, Sabre Paints for signage, our bridge and fence crossover-builders Brent, Grant and team, and Andre, Graeme, Stuart, Henry, Alex and anyone else who dropped by or helped move troops around, for lending a hand when required.
A special thank you goes to Braam, the principal architect of the route, whose common sense prevailed when mine went walkabout, and to the ‘suffering wives’ who thought they were widows because we spent so much time away from home. Thank you ladies for allowing us our indulgences on this giant community project! Of course, most importantly, thanks go to the Meerendal Estate, without whose agreement and co-operation none of this would have been possible. We hope it will be a long-lasting and mutually profitable arrangement.
Meerendal, a Few Simple Rules of Engagement:-
1. Entrance to the Farm is via the main gate only.
2. Members or not, please sign in at the tasting room prior to riding, and afterwards sign out, to ensure you are all accounted for!
3. Tygerberg mtb Club members ride for free, everyone else must buy a R30 permit from Wine Sales, or deposit R30 in the honesty box in the door
outside wine sales, if closed.
4. If you are not showing a TmtbC bike board, you may be challenged and asked to produce a permit.
5. The starting point of the trail is at the "Burger Hut" beside the chicken pen 50 m beyond the entrance to wine sales.
6. Stay on the trails! You are, however, permitted to ride to the top of the hill.
7. Riders are only permitted to use the trail during the hours of daylight, and must be off the farm by sunset in winter. Night riding will only be permitted
by special arrangement with the Chief Operating Officer, and which may only be granted to club members.
8. Riders who use the Meerendal restaurant are requested NOT to leave their bikes on the lawn in front. Please park them to the side whilst we plan
and build a designated bike park.
9. There are no bike wash facilities on the site.
10. Please report any strange activity you may spot on the trail to me, or to David in Wine Sales.
11. Please be courteous to farm workers and Meerendal staff, we are their guests and wish to foster good relations to ensure a long tenure.
12. Riding on someone else’s land is a privilege, not a right. Be respectful, privileges can be withdrawn!
13. NO HELMET, NO RIDE!!
Here's what they said after the pre-ride.....
'No overly technical sections, the climbs were great, a true testimony to a great route'
'A big thank you to the TBMTB for doing a great job'
' the best single track, camaraderie, and creating a safe environment in which to ride
www.meerendal.co.za 021 975 1655