Closest Town: Howick
Grading: Intermediate | Duration: 2-3 hours
Location (Area/Province): KZN - Natal and Midlands
Start Point: At Karkloof Country Club
Access: Payable at the Country Club
Beware of: Fire danger between June and September
Facilities: Toilets and Ablutions at the country club. Kiosk and a pub. Safe parking next to the club house.
Cell Reception: Yes
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Head to the Karkloof Country Club where you need to sign your indemnity form and pay for your permit before you crank off on what I promise will be one of the best rides of your life.
On your bike
There are three permanent routes to choose from, and they are all extremely well sign-posted. Before you leave, check out the map board at the club, and take a pic on your cell phone for reference purposes while along the trail. Emergency numbers can be found on the back of your indemnity/permit, so it is all pretty well organised.
The Blue 30km option offers a pearler of a ride, so head out of the club gates, over the gravel road and onto the pine forest trails which doubles back along the district road. Dip beneath the main tar strip before zooting through a grassland section until you get to the ‘Benno Boy’ sign (just on 5km) for a sharp left across the river along a wooden bridge.
You once again need to cross the district road, so hop the gate and continue up the trail on the other side, with a solid ascent along ‘Bubble & Skweek’ and into ‘Zille’, where you will pass through to the timber loading zone just shy of 10km. Now the real fun starts on the ‘Fawlty Towers’ single-track section, which joins a forestry road after the stream crossing. Keep left at ‘Mattison’s’ (look out for the homestead) and then follow the route markers onto ‘Sam’s Slide’ (around 15km).
If your adrenal glands have not gone into overdrive just yet, the mojo flow of the superb ‘Brusier’s Burn’ stretch is sure to make them kick in. Continue into a short climb onto the SAPPI/Shafton road, before ascending to your right towards the Curry’s Post tar road. Just before the tarmac starts, hit a left onto ‘Bernie’s Bundle’ and the ‘Carnival’, and let your inner kid free.
‘Back of Beyond’ is next up (just on 21km) before you blast into ‘No Balls’, the penultimate section of single-track near the top of the airstrip. Pin your ears back as you hit ‘Flatters’, taking care as you cross the tar road for the final pedal back to the club. Or you could keep going along the marked 20km route to extend your ride
Off the bike
The Midlands Meander is one of South Africa’s true countryside treasures. This constantly evolving travel experience allow you to wind your merry away through the green heart of KZN, taking in the art galleries, artisanal craft shops, mom-and-pops farm stalls, country eateries, coffee roasters, indigenous forest, canopy tours, bush pubs, exclusive getaways, rustic farm cottages and other hidden tourism gems here in the so-called ‘Last Outpost’.
Route Information: Derek – +27 (0)82 878 7251
GPS: 29°22’59.4” S / 30°13’48.8” East