Detour on South African Expedition

Detour Trails

Sarah Sawers (Detour Trails),Dr Ian Player, Rohan Surridge (Detour Trails & Team Leader)
Sarah Sawers (Detour Trails),Dr Ian Player, Rohan Surridge(Detour Trails & Team Leader)
In mid-August Rohan Surridge, Craig Mackrory and Danie Nel leave to ride the full route of South Africa’s 3500 km Spine of the Dragon Mountain Bike Trail which was conceived, explored and set up by two mountain biking visionaries in 2011. This will see the experienced mountain biking trio start at the top of South Africa, Beit Bridge, follow the length of the Drakensberg Mountain Range and finish at Cape Point.

The ambitious adventurers are planning to complete the trail in 42 days, in time for a celebratory dinner in Cape Town on 5th October 2012. The dinner is being held to not only welcome them home, but also to launch a guide book about the trail, Riding the Spine of the Dragon, written by the two mountain biking visionaries, David Bristow and Steve Thomas. 

According to Bristow, “The idea behind the guide book was not to create another mega stage race or other balls-to-the-wall trail for the elite, or even to claim this trail as our own, but rather to establish it as The People’s Trail.” A trail repository website, Dragon Trax (, is also being set up by the authors allowing anyone to digitally explore the trail and download the daily stage GPS tracks for free. The end goal is for the site to eventually contain all public mountain biking tracks across South Africa.

Rohan Surridge, leader of the expedition and owner of Detour Trails, explained that their impending adventure has a greater goal than just being trail blazers. “By supporting this inaugural expedition it is Detour Trails’ intention to help further establish and publicise the Spine of the Dragon route and to plan what we hope will become an annual running (or should I say pedalling) of the trail. But most importantly, we are using this adventure as a platform to highlight the need for broad-based conservation without which, accessible land for mountain biking will eventually disappear. The current plight of our Rhino represents the need for us to take action, so we’ve chosen to raise awareness of this and funds for the Rhino Anti-poaching unit of the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation (Dr Ian Player’s Foundation in memory of Maqguba, his close friend and ranger)” Surridge said.

Dr Player was delighted at the news of the funds being raised by the Detour on The Dragon challenge going to the anti-poaching initiatives to save the rhinos in KZN. At the end of December 2010 the tally nationwide was 18,796 white rhinos and 1,915 black rhinos left in South Africa and at the end of 2011, Kwa-Zulu Natal’s tally of these endangered animals was approximately 3,411 white rhino and 474 black rhino. So far this year there have been 296 rhino killed so far that we know about in South Africa. The total figure of rhino that have been killed since 2007 is in the region of 2000 rhinos. “There’s no doubt that the country as a whole is totally against the poaching that is taking place, but it still continues, and anything that can be done to continue to raise the awareness of these animals and protect them should be done. I think the trail that Rohan and his team are undertaking is a wonderful idea and is a great way to encourage people to see the country. It’s a pioneering idea that I think will genuinely grow and become something special,” said Dr Player. 

 “We’re also planning to tell the rural communities we meet along the way about the trail and assess what help and support they may need in order to benefit from being part of David Bristow’s vision of the People’s Trail to make a success of this new tourism route. And in order to take our responsibility further, we are also establishing the Detour Adventures for Good Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation for the purpose of raising funds to go towards specific issues in conservation and to improve the lives of rural communities based in the areas through which we ride. Riding the Spine of the Dragon will be the first of many such adventures we’re planning to embark on to raise awareness and funds,” Surridge added.

The trio are appealing to all passionate mountain bikers and conservationists to donate to their worthy causes. Information on how to donate is available on the Detour on the Dragon page of their website ( – and donors can choose to donate a lump sum or per km ridden by the bikers. The direct link to donate funds is:

The “Riding for Rhinos” team will be blogging about their expedition on a daily basis, using various social media platforms to update anyone interested in their movements.

Detour Trails is a KZN based mountain bike adventure trail riding company that takes groups into remote areas of KZN, Lesotho and the Eastern Cape, showcasing the natural rugged trails and beauty of the South African landscape and its people.

For more information contact Rohan Surridge (0828960392) or Sarah Sawers (0795295857) or follow the Detour on the Dragon Expedition on their Facebook Page ( or on Twitter (!/DetourDragon)
For more information or visuals, please contact Janna Strang on or call 031 5024646.

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