Flat? The Free State?

That is a malicious rumour, and those riders who’ve explored Moolmanshoek or Golden Gate (up in the northeastern corner of the province) will be first to counter this ‘flat earth’ fallacy.

The ‘Vrystaat’ does rate as one of South Africa’s Cinderella provinces when it comes to tourism, though, despite its central location within South Africa. A fresh take on the great outdoors – especially as far as mountain biking is concerned – is luring more adventurers to this place of wide-open plains and forever skies.

Regions not to miss include Bloemfontein, where some superb singletrack has been developed. Head east to Thabo Mofutsanyana, and you’ll face off with gravity where the steep foothills of the Maluti ranges rise up to meet the highlands of Lesotho. Clarens – often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’ – and the Golden Gate region should not be missed.

The Gariep Dam also rates as a personal favourite, with the extensive nature reserves surrounding this man-made lake serving as a treasure-trove of note to mountain bikers. Plus there is the Dome Conservancy nestling up against Gauteng to add to your riding list, so best you book an extra week! Visit www.freestatetourism.org for more info.

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