If ever Murphy decided to show up uninvited and try his utmost to ruin what should be a fun weekend outing, this was the one he chose.
The plan was to depart Pretoria around 09:30 on Friday morning, to be sure we arrive at Verlorenkloof well ahead of the rest of the group and make sure everything was ready for check-in. Fortunately, the team at Verlorenkloof, Lockdown restrictions and all, we’re on the ball, and a quick phone call to sort out the finer details was all it took, to ensure that our guests would find their way to their homes, and check-in would run smoothly, as it became obvious, we would be arriving very far behind schedule.
The first issue became apparent as I arrived at the rental car company to collect the Van that we would be using for the weekend. We specifically requested one with a tow bar, but none of the available choices was fitted with one. Initiate plan B. I went back to the office to collect my car, to tow the trailer, and on the way called a shuttle company from Nelspruit to arrange a transfer to get the group from Verlorenkloof to Dullstroom on Saturday Morning. Finally, it would seem things were heading in the right direction. Trailer attached, bikes loaded and finally ready to hit the road, only an hour or so behind schedule. But then, a faint hissing sound, coming from one of the tires of the trailer, stopped us dead in our tracks again. The valve had completely failed, and a “quick” stop at a tire shop, set us back another hour. But, by just afternoon, we were finally on the road, just in time to catch all the weekend traffic, but at least we were moving in the right direction.
With the trailer catching all the wind, and the traffic at the tollgates doing its best to hold us up, we eventually arrived at the resort just before 17:00. It had been a rough day, but at least we had made it, and it could only get better from this point on. Those that arrived on time, had the chance to explore some of the great riding on the property already, and after a drink and a round of greetings, we could all settle in for a delicious dinner prepared for us by the Food space team at Verlorenkloof. Spirits were high, and everyone was excited, albeit a little apprehensive for the ride that lay ahead tomorrow. By 22:00, everyone had called it a night.
The early morning started with some Coffee and Rusks, delicious fresh farm yoghurt and muesli. By 07:30, all 12 bikes were loaded into the trailer and ready to go, but Murphy had reared his head again, he wasn’t quite done with us yet. The shuttle was nowhere to be seen yet……a quick call to the driver revealed they were not far out but had underestimated the road conditions, causing a slight delay. All in, by 08:00 we were all loaded up, and on route to Dullstroom to start the days riding by 09:30. Without going into too much detail (there is a fair bit), After running into potholes the large enough to swallow a truck, headwinds, tire blowouts and fuel shortages, all in the space of 80 odd KM, by 11:00, we had all the bikes, and all the riders at the start of an epic 60km ride, that would end back at Verlorenkloof. Luckily, the weather was playing along, and a relatively cool day lay ahead, which made the late start less of an issue.
The group got going, and as some of the faster riders charged ahead, so much so, that they were not seen again until the finish, the bulk of the group carried on a respectable pace, and by the time they reached the top of the first of two big climbs, around the 12km mark, spirits were still high. Water bottles were topped up, and some snacks handed out. From this point, the group started splitting up into batches based on pace, and by the time the mid-paced riders reached 40km mark, and just before the second major climb, the first two speed demons had already arrived back at the lodge and were kicking their feet up.
We refilled bottles and handed out some fruit and nuts, and a few energy jellies, before seeing to it that everyone made it up the second big climb. From here, there was about 15km to go, starting with a magical high speed, white knuckle descent, where one of the riders in the group managed to rank 3rd overall on Strava, followed by a leisurely ride across beautiful sunkissed fields of corn and maize, before taking a gentle climb back up along the Crocodile River, and then returning to the lodge.
The fastest riders in the group managed to cover the 60km ride in just under 3 hours, whilst the last batch made it in just over 4 and a half. All in all, we are very proud of all the riders, many of whom had not ever done a ride over 40km before this. All in, even with Murphy trying his utmost to ruin the day, everyone was in high spirits, sore butts and all.
After some well-deserved showers, a few cold ones, and some general banter, the whole group got together around the boma and enjoyed a lekker chicken braai. After dinner, some opted for an early night, while others stoked the coals and kept the fire going till just after midnight.
Sunday morning was a morning at leisure. For those that wanted to, there were some optional rides to do around the resort, ranging between 10 and 20 km, while others choose to rather sleep in. Those that decided their butts were just a little too sore from the previous day’s ride, rather opted for an easy morning hike up to the waterfalls. Around 10:00 we served a big brunch, with home-baked trout pies, roast veggies, frittata and more, to fill the bellies, before packing up and checking out around midday for the drive back home.
All in all, no matter how hard Murphy tried, he simply couldn’t ruin the weekend, and a great time was had by all. For some, it was just a relaxed riding weekend, for some an opportunity to push their limits and improve their riding. Most importantly, for all involved, it was some good healthy fun in the sun.
There are still places available on the November Escarpment Escape tour, the last one for this year, to book your spot now for November (Max of 8 riders for this trip) click here
- Editors Note: Since this weekend, we have been in touch with other landowners in the valley, and now offer a similar ride on Saturday morning, without needing to shuttle to Dullstroom first. The ride now starts and ends at Verlorenkloof, and traverses some beautiful areas along the upper reaches of the crocodile river, all of which is generally off-limits of the public.