by Danie Nel, Sarah Sawers

Mountain Biking - Blog Entry 1

Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 1

Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 1
Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 1
On 20 August 2012 Rohan Surridge, Craig Mackrory and Danie Nel embarked on the 3500km Spine of the Dragon Mountain Bike Trail starting at Beit Bridge, at the top of South Africa and following the length of the Drakensberg Mountain Range all the way to the finish at Cape Point.

The ambitious adventurers plan to complete the trail in 42 days, in time for a celebratory dinner in Cape Town on 5th October 2012, which will also serve as the launch of a new guide book about the trail – Riding the Spine of the Dragon – written by the two mountain biking visionaries, David Bristow and Steve Thomas.

Rohan Surridge, leader of the expedition and owner of Detour Trails, explains that their impending adventure has a greater goal than just simply trailblazing:
“Through supporting this inaugural expedition it is Detour Trails’ intention to help further establish and publicise the Spine of the Dragon route to become an annual event. More importantly, we are using this expedition as a platform to highlight the need for broad-based conservation, without which, accessible land for mountain biking would eventually disappear. The current plight of South Africa's rhino population has encouraged us to take action, and so we have decided to raise awareness and funds for the anti-poaching unit of the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation (Dr Ian Player’s Foundation in memory of Maqguba, his close friend and ranger),” Surridge said.

Blog Entry 1 - 27th August 2012
Well, that's five days of riding down and another 40 to go! We are leaving the so-called Baobab Trail behind where we visited South Africa's largest indigenous tree near Klein Tshipise, aptly named The Big Tree. We then rode on to the next biggest tree, Sunland Baobab, close to Modjadjiskloof, which boasts a bar inside its hollowed trunk. The last day's riding took us through the Koedoesburg valley, climbing 1800m in just 80km! This was not the most interesting road to travel but it's the only way by gravel road to link up to Magoebaskloof. Compared to the first four days where we interacted a lot with the local population, this day was all about the riding and we did some real soul-searching along the way.

Tomorrow we are riding into Sekhukhuene, with the main objective of passing through the Bewaarkloof, crossing the Olifants River (full of crocodiles!) and then on to Appel where we plan to stay over at the local mission. The Bewaarkloof is largely unknown to us but we are confident that the tracks will lead us through the kloof for a distance of about 15km. Good news is that the weather forecast promises clear skies! We’re now moving into berg and bushveld territory with some big climbs ahead. It's such a privilege to ride through such amazing scenery and to be so close to the colourful and diverse people of South Africa.

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