The Sterkfontein Dam was impressive in the early morning light. Photo credit: Em Gatland

To avoid some dangerous road crossings, the start point was 6 kilometres from the camp, which gave us a chance to warm up and admire the sunrise over the dam. Today, we started in batches due to the high percentage of single track making the start a less frenetic affair than the previous days.

From the start, we had several kilometres of rolling farm roads to dice for a favourable spot on the trails. It turned out that these efforts were in vain as a snaking queue of riders soon formed on the first singletrack climb. Fortunately, this was the last congestion of the day, and things spread out as soon as we hit the edge of the escarpment. I can’t do justice to the views or the experience of riding the trails that wound their way along the cliffs of the escarpment. You literally feel on top of the world with the green plains of Kwa-Zulu Natal stretched out below you. The single track undulates, giving you a chance to recover between climbs and enjoy the view.



The escarpment feels like the edge of the world. Photo credit: Em Gatland

The descent down Bezuidenhout’s Pass was breathtaking: fast, loose jeep track scattered with the odd donga and loose rocks to keep you on your toes. With all this excitment, we arrived at the first water point before I knew it.

From here, we hit some more farm roads, I managed to stick with a group for a change and the kilometres ticked by pretty quickly to the second water point.



Highlights of todays waterpoints included ice cream, and a splash pool for cooling off. Photo credit: Em Gatland.

Then we were onto some more proper mountain biking trails: not a building or road in sight. These trails form part of the Berg and Bush route, and I can see why the event is so popular. The feeling of being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a few perplexed cows for company is priceless.

The trails wound up and down: just enough down to keep the gees high with plenty of high-speed flow and make the climbs worthwhile. The final water point came and went in a flash, and then we were onto the aptly named "Long Drop". One of the most ridiculously fun trails I have had the privilege to ride in an event. Berms, jumps, fast switchbacks, and bridges resulted in well over 10 minutes of pure endorphins.

The Long Drop descent. Photo credit: Em Gatland

Still buzzing, I can't even bring myself to worry about the monster stage coming tomorrow where we will ride 123 kilometres to Clifton school, with over 2000 metres of climbing.

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