The Outeniqua Mountains run along the Garden Route coast in an east, westerly direction, their name said to be derived from the Khoikhoi language and means "they who bear honey”. Typically they have very steep northern slopes and “gentle” southern slopes (gentle is relative - perhaps “less steep” would be a better description) and rise up as high as 1 578m (Cradock Peak). Fynbos abounds, with lovely cool green patches of indigenous forest to be found in the kloofs and gorges, while patches of commercial forestry interrupt the beauty of the range of mountains in places. There’s a honey of a ride that’s become known as The Ride to Cliffy’s Corner and it all begins at Ground Zero Bike Park.
Ground Zero was set up at the northern end of Jan Van Riebeeck Park in George by Riaan and Yolande Barnard and consists of a small pump track, a few jumps and other tech stuff and a delightful little restaurant. Restaurant may be overstating things - kiosk may be better but what ever it is, it serves the most fantastic pizzas, breakfasts and other lovely pre or post ride sustenance. It’s the ideal place to base yourself, not only for this ride but also for rides into Witfontein, Montagu Pass and the Garden Route Dam.
The route takes you through the leafy, well groomed suburb of Heatherlands and out onto the N12 for a few hundred metres before taking a right onto the road leading to the historical Montagu Pass. After a few km you cross the N12 and head up to the contour path on forestry tracks. There’s quite a bit of climbing initially but things soon level out (well kind of) as you head towards Jonkersberg. The contour path is generally good and you wind your way through the forested kloofs and open, fynbos covered slopes offering great views of the coastal plans, the sea and, in the distance, Mosselbay.
Just when you thought you had everything sorted, the route takes a right off the main track onto an overgrown little path. This soon clears but the climbing continues and the views just get better and better. We normally call it a day when we reach the turn around spot at Cliffy’s Corner but, if you are of an adventurous nature and you have the legs for it, there are a myriad of forestry roads in the valleys that are waiting to be explored.
The route back to Ground Zero takes you past ArendsRus Country Lodge (a great place to stop for a cappuccino) and then down a steepish farm track. Great fun this, with lots of airtime on the numerous bumps in the road. Go carefully as you pick up traffic again when you head past Fancourt Golf Estate in Blanco.
Route Distance: 52km
Route conditions: Generally speaking the gravel roads and tracks are in pretty good condition. There is little in the way of technical riding, save for a few water furrows across the roads. You do, however, need to be reasonable fit for this one as it’s quite long and there’s a total of 1 150m of elevation gain. Also, some parts of this ride are quite remote so best ride in a group or with a riding buddy.
Ground Zero: S33° 56.812' E22° 27.446'
Cliffy’s Corner: S33° 54.508' E22° 16.605'
ArendsRus: S33° 55.905' E22° 19.509'