“As I’m writing this there is a nagging voice telling me to stop. A part of me doesn’t want you (or anyone for that matter) to read this. Maybe, if I’m lucky, no one will. You see I’m not sure I want any more people to hear about the Banhoek Conservancy mountain bike trails.”
The Banhoek Valley is nestled between the spectacular Simonsberg and Drakenstein mountains with their numerous streams and dramatic cliffs. Just fifteen minutes outside of Stellenbosch, the Banhoek trails are just another reason why the area has become a world renowned mountain biking destination.
The Banhoek Conservancy was founded in 2013 by a number of the valley’s landowners. In order to ride the trails you need to either purchase a R50-00 day permit or a R500-00 annual permit. It’s worth every cent for two reasons. Firstly, the money goes directly towards removing alien vegetation, conserving the natural beauty of the valley as well as uplifting the local community. Secondly, the trails offer the complete mountain bike experience.
The mean switchback climbs such as #NicksNack and Bothmaskop leave you wondering which are burning more, your legs or your lungs. These are made worth it by the fantastic, smooth flowing descents. You may have heard of the Sugarbowl, LuiperdsSeFyndraai and Skyfall. As a roadie who is busy being converted, I sometimes cannot believe people actually ride bikes down some of the turns. There is a chance you will see the tracks of the shy Cape Leopard while tackling DigBos (I’ve seen the tracks twice in the four times I have been on the trail) and you are also likely to ride alongside Eland and Wilderbees on the Game Trail. If you want to piece them together you can do more than 70km of trail.
The routes are generally fairly quiet and you can ride and ride without seeing anyone else. Many of the trails feature in a number of races, as well as the final day of the 2016 ABSA Cape Epic. So if you are a Strava enthusiast you can compare your efforts with some of the big names of the mountain biking world.
So there you have it, I didn’t listen to the nagging voice. That’s because I could not suppress the louder one, shouting out, “This is AWESOME – everyone needs to hear about it!” If you have read this, please do not like, retweet, share or tell anyone else.