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Amazing Grace – mountain bike facility in Gauteng

Words and photos: Andrew ‘Average Andy’ Steer. Article from Ride Magazine December 2015.

Mount Grace Country House’s spiffy new mountain-biking facility is a great offering for its guests, as well as riders from all over Gauteng. Average Andy was more than happy to go and check it out…

Ride

After years of hosting arguably one of the best corporate MTB events on the calendar (the Brait Grace to Grace) in the lush Magaliesberg countryside, the African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa added The Cog & Sprocket MTB Club to its already impressive array of attractions late last year.

The trails

Ride MagazineThe Three trails on offer are  5km, 7.5km and 12km. The technical level of all of them is intermediate; so to get the most out of it, you need to be comfortable on your MTB. You don’t have to be some skills rock star – just stable on your two-wheeled steed and capable of holding a simple line, and controlling your speed in accordance with your abilities.

There is very little in the way of flat terrain, so the climbs present a decent physical challenge, 250m-odd of climbing per 12km loop, and the fast descents can be treacherous if you let their sultry curves entice you into exceeding your capabilities.

There is, however, nothing obscene or overly difficult on any of the routes – quite possibly the biggest consideration is a short, steepish switchback climb that requires a bit of power and challenges the turning circle of a 29er. The aim of all the routes is to be rideable and, most importantly, enjoyable.

The 5km

RideA short, simple descent takes you away from the parking lot before the main climb of the day, a long drag on a dirt road up onto the higher slopes of the ridge overlooking the hotel. Beautiful panoramas delight as you meander along You’ll also note the start of production of an impressive-looking new downhill/ enduro line that certainly looks like it will get the heart rate thumping

Around 2km in, you’ll get the option to hit the 7 5km trail (more on that later) Take the 5km split and head across the ridge for a fast descent with some lekker bermed switchbacks From here to the finish, it’s a good 2km rollercoaster ride that takes in some great berms, a few darts through thickets, a couple of enjoyable switchbacks – and it will no doubt eave you smiling from ear to ear

The 7.5km

An additional 2.5km loop has been added to the 5km loop on the south-eastern side, which takes riders out on lovely singletrack into a beautiful bushy outcrop Some fun switchbacks down off the ridge take you across to a little switchback climb that will require a bit of oomph to get back up You | then head back again to the 5km route and charge on to the finish

The 12km

Here, an additional 4 5km joins up with the 7 5km route on the north-eastern side You will find the turn-off point about 500m after you rejoin the 5km oop from the 7 5km loop.

A gradual climb takes you up towards a small water tower before you head downhill on some fast jeep track, some of It pretty rocky and great fun to fly down

You’ll run along a perimeter fence| and have some splendid views of the Magaliesberg mountain range and even Breedts Nek You’ll ride along a beautiful rocky ridge covered in indigenous trees and gradually head back towards the start A fast, rutted jeep-track descent deposits you on some great switchbacks complete with berms, which ultimately takes you back onto the 5km route and a rollercoaster to the finish

At the clubhouse

A five-star facility, the clubhouse has everything you could possibly ask for from an MTB venue, and it’s easy to see why it’s become a very popular starting point for quite a few mountain-bike races.

Fancy toilets and showers, cool cycling decor, ample parking, plenty of luxurious space – inside and outside, large-screen TVs, basic bike tools, great coffee, bike wash bays, a kiddies’ jungle gym,.. In fact, the only thing missing is more patrons!

It was sad to see just a handful of peopjejmaking use of the facilities. With plenty of mountain biking in the,, , area, and even great road cycling {Flekpoort is a short ride away), it’s a great base for cyclists to park “themSlves for the morning.

Future additions

As good as the 12km track is (it’s a pleasure to ride two laps to get up

the distance), there’s definitely a need to expand the trails up towards the 30km mark There are some great route options in close proximity that would work well if the permissions could be put in place to link them up.

It’s a slow process, but with a few possibilities on the burner, the longer- distance ones will hopefully soon be in place to complete what is already a fantastic offering.

Mount Grace Country House & Spa

The world-renowned Mount Grace did not disappoint – from its incredible hospitality to the endless list of things to do, you won’t want for anything If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford to stay for a weekend, it’s likely to be.a visit you won’t forget.

After your rides, you can spend the afternoon at one of the many pools, enjoying a picnic or ordering out from the restaurants. Your partner or you (if it’s your cup of tea) will love the world-class spa. The kiddies’ club offers a massive range of activities, so it’s not a case of stealing a moment to spend with your better half – you might actually struggle to get your kids to spend time with you!

There are two top-class restaurants to choose from (the buffet at Twist is about the best spread I have ever sampled). As good as your time on the bike will be, it will be fighting with many other attractions to make it onto the highlight reel…

A stay is obviously not for everyone’s wallet, but with prior arrangement, it’s possible to organise a day visit to the pools or spa and restaurant, or book the kids into the kids’ club while you head off on your ride.

The fast descent can be treacherous if you let their sultry curves entire you into exceeding yor capabilities

Directions:

From the Airport/East Rand

Ride1. Upon exiting the airport, keep to the right, following the signs for the R24/Johannesburg. This road joins the highway

2. Continue straight along the R24 (N3)/Johannesburg.

3 About 9km after the airport, move to the centre right lane.

4. You will merge with the I\I3 highway. Follow the signs for the N3/l\l1/Pretoria. Take the fork to the right

5. Immediately after this fork, turn left onto the interchange and continue following the I\I3/I\I1/ Pretoria signs.

6. Proceed past all the Sandton and Randburg off-ramps From here follow points 2 to 11: From Johannesburg and Gauteng

From Johannesburg and Gauteng:

1. Head west along I\11 (the concrete ring highway) just north of Johannesburg

2. Exit from N1 at 14th Avenue off-ramp

3 Turn right under the highway, then right again at the second set of traffic lights. You are now on the M47 to Krugersdorp/ Tarlton (you will pass Hillfox Value Centre)

4 Proceed along the M47 through 15 sets of traffic lights. After 14.4km, you will reach a main intersection with traffic lights, distinguished by a Sasol petrol station on the left-hand side

5. Proceed straight across.

6. Continue along the M47, which now becomes the I\I14 (to Ventersdorp) for 10.2km until you reach a T-junction. Opposite is an Engen petrol station.

7. Turn right onto R563.

8. Continue on this road for 8.5km.

9. Turn left on the R400; the sign states (R24) Magaliesburg/ Maropeng (pass Maropeng on your right) and continue for 11 7km, until you reach

a crossing

10. Turn right, continue along the R24 to Rustenburg/ Magaliesburg for 5km before reaching Magaliesburg Village. 11 Proceed through the village; on the far side, keep to your right and continue along the R24 for 2.4km where you will see the first Mount Grace Country Flouse & Spa sign 12. At the second Mount Grace sign, turn right. It shares an entrance with Girls’ & Boys’ Town Cross the river and proceed for 2km up the mountain to the hotel.

From Pretoria:

1. Get onto the N14 (old R28), which is the freeway from Pretoria to Krugersdorp.

2. Proceed for 60km, where you will reach a main intersection with traffic lights, distinguished by a Sasol petrol station on the right hand side.

3 Turn right onto the M47 to Tarlton From here, follow directions 6 to 11 as above.

More info

Opening hours

Public visitors: weekends and public holidays from 6am to 2pm

Mount Grace guests: Open 24/7

Weather

With most of the trail open and exposed, take care with protection against the harsh African sun – that goes for all year round in the generally hot North West. Summer rainfall can clog up the routes a bit, but plenty of effort has been put into good drainage, aided by the natural slope of the terrain, so it shouldn’t interfere with your ride too much.

Security

There is a secure parking lot that takes up to 300 cars, and the area is well patrolled. All the routes are on private property, but as they expand into the neighbouring trails, it may become something to consider For now, you needn’t give your safety a second thought.

Riding Rates

R40 for day visitors Free of charge for Mount Grace guests

Address

Old Rustenburg Road, Magaliesburg, 1791 Gauteng, South Africa

Facilities

Coffee and snack bar 1 \

Ablutions Showers

Big-screen TVs

Jungle gym

Other Activities

Trail running

Bird-watching

Walking/hiking

Contacts

The Cog & Sprocket MTB Club:

https://goo gl/giJ2Vb

gavin pelser@proteahoteis.com

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