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Road Riding PMB/Hilton/Howick


NickGM
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Hi, looking for a bit of advice from some KZN midlands roadies...

I will be in PMB for 3 weeks over the festive season and am thinking about bringing a bike. My question is a bit vague I guess, but I'm trying to work out if it will be worth it and which bike to bring (Road or gravel). Note, MTB is not an option - long story. I will be based in Clarendon/wembley area of PMB, so it looks like I'd be able to take the old howick road out of town and then do some decent rides on the quieter roads up around howick and hilton.

I lived there about 15 - 20 years ago but much has changed in that time, especially the quality of the roads. Is the old howick road safe to ride on from all perspectives? ie: vehicular traffic, road quality, rider security? Would I be better served with a gravel bike to allow access to quieter roads and accommodate for some of the general lack of hard shoulder on a lot of those roads? Any other suggested routes?

And lastly, are there roadie groups that ride in PMB? Might be nice to join one.

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Hi Nick, 

get hold of Charles from Howick on 082 9010187. He can help out with all the info you require. Tell him Derek Taylor put you on to him.

 

regards

Derek

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Hi Nick, bring your gravel bike, unless you are able to get out wartburg side or drive up the hill towards hilton you aren't going to have a pleasant experience. 

There are major road works on town hill, much of the traffic has been diverted down old Howick and sweet waters, and even at the best of times this road surface is not fit for road bikes and has claimed plenty rims and collar bones for riders coming down. 

 

The dards route you may have been familiar with has stop go's and has heavy traffic and again, construction from lynfield Park to camperdown. 

Rather pack the gravel bike and explore endless km of rolling hills towards Impendle, Otto's bluff, Albert falls, Karkloof, Dargle, Notties, Loteni and plenty others. 

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15 hours ago, erikt123 said:

Hi Nick, 

get hold of Charles from Howick on 082 9010187. He can help out with all the info you require. Tell him Derek Taylor put you on to him.

 

regards

Derek

Thanks!

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12 hours ago, Dunnit said:

Hi Nick, bring your gravel bike, unless you are able to get out wartburg side or drive up the hill towards hilton you aren't going to have a pleasant experience. 

There are major road works on town hill, much of the traffic has been diverted down old Howick and sweet waters, and even at the best of times this road surface is not fit for road bikes and has claimed plenty rims and collar bones for riders coming down. 

 

The dards route you may have been familiar with has stop go's and has heavy traffic and again, construction from lynfield Park to camperdown. 

Rather pack the gravel bike and explore endless km of rolling hills towards Impendle, Otto's bluff, Albert falls, Karkloof, Dargle, Notties, Loteni and plenty others. 

Thanks - this is just the sort of info I needed. Would Old Howick and Sweetwaters routes still be my best way of getting up the hill to the relative calmness of hilton and beyond? We will actually be staying in Impendle for 3 nights so might be nice to cycle out there while the others drive.

Also, contrary to my original message, I technically can bring an MTB, it just needs some repairs done to it. I'd be a few kms away from Cascades. I've never ridden there but was under the impression it was mostly downhill. I don't have the skill or inclination for downhill, although I'm comfortable on technical singletrack. Is there a lot of that at Cascades - enough to keep one busy for multiple day trips?

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Take a gravel bike, there are so many more options if you have a gravel bike. 

I have avoided trying to ride up Old Howick Road since they started the road works on the highway, because I'm sure the amount of vehicles has increased dramatically.

Old Howick and Sweetwaters Roads are really the only options to get from PMB to Hilton.  You can go up through the forests, from The Wykeham Collegiate, through World's View, up into Winterskloof, but the quality of the forest roads is not good at all (At least the last time I tried it)

You can also go up past Albert Falls Dam, and then up the Crammond Road, to the Karkloof Club, but that is a very long way around, if you're just trying to get to Hilton.

I've found that following Kevin Benkenstein on Strava gives me lots of ideas about where to ride around the Midlands: https://www.strava.com/athletes/1528061

Here is a loop through Bisley Reserve, that I did a few weeks ago: https://www.strava.com/activities/5946127486 (I got this one from Kevin's rides :D )  You can cut out the part along Old Howick Road.

You could also ride parts of the Burra500 route: https://www.strava.com/activities/5826823035

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Some amazing routes around pmb with a gravel or mtb, so if you say you have access to an mtb then you have so many more options than just cascades, some may take a bit of driving to but are no more than 40km away. There are brilliant networks of smooth trails absolutely free of charge around Grace School maintained by Berg Wheelers, Cedara also has the same, karkloof is R80 day pass and you have a myriad of marked routes to explore of every skill level. World's view has some old tracks, security may be an issue here though. 

Long and short of it is... Stay off the roads as much as you can, surfaces are really bad, traffic is worse than its ever been and at the end of the day, it's silly season, risks are higher for that reason alone. 

Midlands cycling club and berg wheelers should have some out rides, shova cycles will also have some planned rides, stay safe and enjoy yourself. 

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34 minutes ago, Dunnit said:

Some amazing routes around pmb with a gravel or mtb, so if you say you have access to an mtb then you have so many more options than just cascades, some may take a bit of driving to but are no more than 40km away. There are brilliant networks of smooth trails absolutely free of charge around Grace School maintained by Berg Wheelers, Cedara also has the same, karkloof is R80 day pass and you have a myriad of marked routes to explore of every skill level. World's view has some old tracks, security may be an issue here though. 

Long and short of it is... Stay off the roads as much as you can, surfaces are really bad, traffic is worse than its ever been and at the end of the day, it's silly season, risks are higher for that reason alone. 

Midlands cycling club and berg wheelers should have some out rides, shova cycles will also have some planned rides, stay safe and enjoy yourself. 

Thanks, much appreciated. Yeah I bit the bullet and am getting my mtb fixed. Still haven't decided between that and gravel bike (1st world problem I guess) but will make a call in the next few days. I generally prefer long rides on my gravel bike but MTB might give me more options. Thanks to some nice route options suggested by @tux26 and yourself I've got quite a lot to work with. I wont have a car that I can use reliably. Will be staying with family and ideally need a scenario where I can just ride out the gate and go. Mtb might be my best bet.

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