If you had to go by the name ‘Eselfontein’, you’d never have a clue as to all the 2WheelStoke awaiting you on the Eselfontein Getaway trails near Ceres. No donkeys, no asses (except the ones on the bikes), but heaps of iron steeds … maybe Deon and Janene Malherbe should change the name to Bergfietsfontein?
It’s been way more than a decade since my last visit to this land of slip-sliding single-track, and it certainly was way overdue. As a mountain biker, one tends to move on from old favourites, always off in search for a new route or ride, and in the case of Eselfontein, all that happened is that I missed out on a good few years’ of endorphin-laden trail riding.
Deon Malherbe was one of the original untouchables on the Western Cape MTB scene, and I have a vague recollection of a few of us drunkenly jumping a dirt table-top kaalgat at a Dirtopia Festival in the days before Ballie-dom set in. The end result was a pancaked front wheel for me, as well as a monstrous babbelaas that dogged me along a 4hr enduro ride the next morning. I kakked off.
A lot has changed since then – especially my ability to drink huge amounts of alcohol – but the trails at Eselfontein is still awesome. Like good red wine, they have only improved with the passing years, and now boast that perfect balance between gravity and momentum. It is pretty obvious that the trail builder here has had three decades of experience when it comes to creating the perfect single-track fix …
The 16km Green Route and 35km Red Route is eminently rideable, and you will rarely if ever have to put a foot down if you’re a relatively fit Weekend Warrior. Languishing contour climbs, side-winder curves with just enough camber to give it bite, the occasional rock garden, gritty little drop-offs and the occasional wooden bridge … it is all there.
The 65km Black Route is going to kick your ass if you’re not on top of your game, though, but again: if you’re fit, you’ll cane it. And love it, of course. All in all, Eselfontein now boasts in excess of 100km of combined xc and enduro track, and it is clean, fast and flowing. Best of all, it is only a couple of hours from Cape Town, so pretty much erfect for either a day-ride or a weekend escape.
Go check out www.eselfontein.co.za
Click here to view the pics