Mountain Bike Trails Eastern Cape

Mountain Bike Trails Eastern Cape Rhodes

Story Telling Time!

One of the “Rhodes visionaries” dating back to the “Hippie era” in Rhodes eastern cape , the late Raymond Samuel Hallatt, took it upon himself to establish one of the first mountain bike races in the country, known as the “Rhodes Mountain Bike Challenge”. Often referred to as the grandfather of mountain bike races in South Africa, it was first pedaled on the 29th of October 1994.

At that time, telecommunications were by means of the original “windey-windey” systems complete with a telephone exchange in Barkly East. This placed enormous limitations on organizing an event of such magnitude from Rhodes.

Hallatt accordingly undertook to set up and organize the event for a period of five years. He did this with great success evidenced by the fact that almost 600 riders were the highest number of entrants in 1997.

Hallatt also netted the artistic skills of Susie Mills who did the artwork for each of the five-event posters during Hallatt’s period of tenure. Signed copies of all five posters can be seen at the Thankshjalot Bar at Walkerbouts Inn.

Best Mountain Bike Trails In Rhodes Eastern Cape

And The Sorounding Area

The race started in Rhodes and headed out along R396 to the Naudesnek Pass. On the watershed where the descent into the Maclear district begins, the route left the R396 and followed the road to the Cairntoul Police Station.

From there, it continued along the border patrol road to where it joined the road from Rhodes to the Tiffindell Ski Resort and meandered across the Ben McDhui plateau to begin the descent via the Carlisleshoek Pass.

The top section of this pass was concreted to limit erosion and was conducive to the top racers reaching speeds of up to 60km/hr. The route descends by 320m over a distance of 2.2km by which time, it is a gravel surface. It then follows the contour to a final descent into the valley and continues to Rhodes.

The total distance is 84km. Starting in at 1820m and the highest point en route is 2668m, a difference of a mere 848m. This pales into insignificance when compared to the total vertical climb of  …. !

When part of the Mazda Series, the race attracted the top mountain bike riders in the country who completed the route in less than 3 hours!

Family Mountain Biking Eastern Cape

Initially, the border patrol road was indeed a road albeit with minimal maintenance. It has subsequently been completely ignored by the authorities so is more of an eroded track than a road nonetheless, it is still eminently rideable but not for the faint-hearted or, from a safety point of view best not attempted on one’s own.

But Rhodes is NOT only about race routes and the like. It is, in fact, an ideal venue for family mountain biking expeditions or for younger children, merely peddling around the village is a pleasant option. The R396 allows access to nearby valleys such as the Kloppershoekspruit, Maartenshoek and of course, the Carlisleshoek valley, each of which has a charm of its own.

Apart from these “out and back” routes there are several circular options that can easily be plotted on the diagrammatical map that includes distances but, at this stage, no vertical climb data!

Last but by no means least, Hallatt is one of the least acknowledged “village fathers” whose boundless contribution played an immense role in the development of Rhodes.

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