Closest Town: Fouriesburg
Grading: Easy to Intermediate | Duration: About 90 minutes
Location (Area/Province): Central Free State and Free State
Configuration: 15km return ride
Start Point: The Fouriesburg Country Inn
Beware of: Be vigilant if riding alone
Facilities: None en route, various accommodation options in town; good cell phone reception
Against the majestic backdrop of the soaring Maluti Mountains with the Lesotho border only 10km away at Calendonspoort, this is a place custom made for cycling.
On your bike
There is a demanding road ride with incredible views from Fouriesburg to Clarens over the formidable Surrender Hill but for off-road fans, a fascinating 15km ‘out and back’ ride along tarred road, dirt road and jeep track awaits. Puncture proof your tyres.
Just ask any local Fouriesburg resident about the Dorpsdam and they will direct you past the police residential quarters as you ride parallel to the R26 to Bethlehem. The tarred road disappears as you start ascending the ridge it skirts, up along a rocky jeep track which may tempt you to get off and push. Continue straight along this jeep track and pause for a while to take in the stunning scenery. Then plummet down to the dam over the ochre and white of exposed natural rock. Using the foot or vehicle bridge, cross over the outlet river below the dam wall. This water runs down a natural narrow chasm gouged into the sandstone, before cascading into the valleys below via Meiringskloof Resort.
Saddle up again, and ride for about 3km along the same jeep track up past the inlet mouth to the dam. Look out for a track on the left which goes back down to the spruit. Here you will find a little-known geological wonder; a series of huge natural water tunnels, carved through many years of abrasive action out of underlying sandstone bedrock. Leave the bike at the top or portage it down with you for a remarkable photo opportunity before heading back the way you came.
Off the bike
Fouriesburg is a typical, quiet little dorp where you can stroll down dirt road streets while the kids ride their bikes. Admire pretty gardens and sandstone architecture while greeting residents on their stoeps. Enjoy a day walk with some rock-climbing up to Dorpsdam from Meiringskloof Resort. The resort has camping and self-catering facilities and playgrounds for children. Phone (058) 223 0067.
GPS: S 28° 37′ 20.1″ E 28° 12′ 22.4″