When Schoone Oordt phoned me to inform that a mountain bike blogger was coming to Swellendam for the weekend, I was excited. But when they told me his name is Erik Kleinhans I almost popped a wheelie. Erik is known as The Lion King of South African Mountain Biking. The one reason for this name is his hairstyle which is something to behold, resembling a lion's main with gravity defying properties. His hair is truly beautiful. But the main reason for this name is because he is one of the best mountain bikers in South Africa. This visit to Swellendam came just after Erik won the Amaraider 100-Miler and before he left for Europe to take part in the Mountain Bike World Championships.
The Friends of Marloth (FOM) group had recently completed marking 3 mountain bike trails in Marloth Nature Reserve and Erik & Reinette's visit coincided with the first official FOM social ride. Erik and Reinette were staying at Schoone Oordt Country House and we agreed to meet them at Old Gaol Coffee Shop & Restaurant (just up the road) at 9am. Even before we started the ride Reinette had a problem with her back wheel's valve. The hand-pump connector had broken off - still stuck to the valve. Luckily almost half the group of riders were farmers and the one quickly got his farm tools out of the bakkie to fix the problem. The fixing included a "waterpomptang" and a hammer (see photos below) and we quickly proved that these should not be used on fancy Cannondales. Erik then went into Epic mode and fixed the problem himself. "Boere" = 0 | Erik = 1.
We had an AWESOME morning of riding in Marloth Nature Reserve choosing the 28km Red Route which includes some genuine mountain bike trails, single track and beautiful views as you climb up along the mountain face. It was great to hear how impressed Erik and Reinette were with the work done on the trails by FOM and CapeNature management.
After the ride we had coffee and lunch at Old Gaol Coffee Shop and Restaurant. This is the perfect place to end a ride, with an open deck, more than enough place to put your mountain bike and bicycle friendly owner. Over lunch we discussed Reinette and Erik's next visit which included hiking 12'o clock peak , riding the mountain bike trails at Grootvadersbosch Conservancy and Oom Hasie's (alleged) Witblits stock.
On the Sunday Erik and Reinette went for a 40km ride in Bontebok Park, taking a great close-up photo of a Bontebok. Swellendam is on the border of Marloth Nature Reserve and Bontebok National Park, which puts them within cycling distance from wherever you are staying in Swellendam.
The highlights in Swellendam that Erik and Reinette enjoyed were:
Check out Erik's experience in his own words: Swellendam Surprise
As a Local, I love the words with which he ends his account of his and Reinette's visit to Swellendam:
"With all these activities and great places, we were mostly blown away with the friendly community. All the staff we encountered were well spoken and a delight. The people that live there, that we got to deal with, are so proud of their town, they stand together and it is heart warming. Thanks Swellendam for a stunning weekend! Cant wait for our next visit."
Check out the hair (main) :)