GRINDROD BANK UMNGAZI PONDO PEDAL

Bicycling (South Africa) - - STORIES -

WHAT

A three- day moun­tain- bike ride, through un­spoilt Wild Coast ter­rain. Fea­tur­ing goat tracks, dra­matic ocean vis­tas, man­grove swamps and weed- smok­ing lo­cals, the Pondo Pedal is the most unique MTB race on the lo­cal cal­en­dar.

LAST YEAR’S EVENT

I re­ceived an in­vite to this ride com­pletely out of the blue. Up un­til that point, I’d never heard of it. To get there from Cape Town is a hel­luva schlep – I drove to Gra­ham­stown, spent the night there, then car­ried on to Umngazi – but after rid­ing the event, I can con­firm that the ef­fort is worth it. The route in­cludes goat track with ac­tual goats on it, district roads, hand- built sin­gle­track, and jaw- drop­ping ocean views that pop out of nowhere. I have to claim this as my ride of the year – mainly thanks to my part­ner and me com­ing sec­ond over­all, and win­ning the third and fi­nal stage!

BIKE

Can­non­dale Flash – in hind­sight, a dual- sus would have been bet­ter suited to the rough ter­rain.

WHERE

Umngazi River Bun­ga­lows & Spa, Port St Johns

WHY DO IT?

It’s wild and un­tamed; and the dis­tances are short enough that if you can han­dle your­self on a bike, you’ll be back in the pub by 10am, en­joy­ing your first round of G& Ts for the day.

The beauty of this event is that it’s a clover­leaf for­mat from start to fin­ish. Each day be­gins and ends at the ex­quis­ite Umngazi River Bun­ga­lows & Spa re­sort – with ac­com­mo­da­tion in­cluded for the fi­nal day, too. That means there’s no manic rush­ing to pack and leave when you fin­ish; just a slow de­scent into boozy gid­di­ness, as you sip fine wine or gin on the banks of the Umngazi River. The Day 3 beach­front fin­ish is also jolly good fun.

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