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INTRODUCING THE NEW ORANGE MTB ROUTE

There’s a new route at Summerplace Game Reserve that’s instantly broadened the riding options to a greater range of mountain bikers. The 22km Orange Route is ideal for lesser skilled recreational riders, but it also adds great value to experienced riders and wild-life lovers.

Already a premier mountain biking destination, Summerplace now offers even more to mountain bikers. During the summer, trailmaster, David Baber and his team added more than 25km of new mountain bike routes to the reserve’s trail network. Most of these additional kilometres went into the new Orange Route, which explores a fresh section of the reserve.

As you drive into the main gate at Summerplace, the land to your right, which includes a decent sized hill, now has many kilometers of engaging mountain bike trails. You need at least -4% gradient to create good flow and this slope ranges from -4 to -25%, which means plenty of flow.

We’ll get back to that hill in a bit though. It’s important to know that the Orange Route is a route that’s ideal for most mountain bikers. It’s got a couple of steep bits that might be a bit intimidating for some, but these are quite easy to dismount and portage. Ninety percent of the route is unintimidating and ideal for most mountain bikers.

The Orange Route starts near the Bike Village on the road that heads to the main gate. It hugs the side of the hill on a trail called Spook Huis, where many rocks have been cleared to ensure as smooth a ride as possible before it joins onto Drop to Gulley trail.

This piece of trail rolls gently down the slope in the direction of the main reserve road for a few hundred metres before it takes a left onto a trail called Old School. This is a completely new trail that winds its ways gradually in a northerly direction down to the low ground and then up the opposite slope, which is very slight in terms of gradient. It then turns east and takes you on an engaging path before turning north to join a gravel road.

You follow the gravel road for a while until you reach a boundary fence, turn right and then right again to begin the first of three ascents of the large hill that dominates this section of the reserve. David has masterfully crafted trail to make the most of this elevation, which delivers a moderate climbing challenge and stunning views.

The first descent is on a trail called Mountain Oak, which starts off steep, but which eases as you reach the gravel road where you can take a drink, chat excitedly to your mates about that cool descent before turning onto a long singletrack trail called Easy Going, which lives up to its name and allows you some freedom to enjoy more game-spotting.

The second ascent is more direct and on a jeep track road, which has some steep pitches but is superbly rewarding once you begin the second descent, which takes you about halfway down the slope before tackling the final ascent. This ascent brings you to the top of the hill again where you can appreciate some superb vistas to the south and west before dropping down the final descent on a trail called Ball Itch.

The name may be uncomfortable, but the trail is a delight! It drops 100 metres in 2km, has an average of -4.6 percent gradient and delivers some classic David Baber flow! This is sure to become one of the new favourite trails at Summerplace because no matter what your skill level, it’s so much fun.

The fun does end though, right in the dip, but you do get to take a steady pedal back to the end of the Orange Route on the gravel road, where you can process what you have just ridden or contemplate a second lap!

The Orange Route is mostly rideable for newer mountain bikers, but expect a couple of short portage bits. It’s all part of the adventure and it does allow you to pause and take in the natural beauty around you. For Intermediate and Experienced mountain bikers, the Orange Route is an absolute gem! The balance of climbing, descending and singletrack is just right and, like a small slab of your favourite chocolate, leaves you feeling both satisfied and craving more…

The Orange Route can also be considered a Mountain Biking Safari. A wide range of game can be encountered on this route, including Giraffe, Zebra, Roan Antelope, Impala, Kudu, Sable Antelope, Eland, Tsessebe, Warthog and Reedbuck, partly because the route covers a large area and partly because the vegetation isn’t too dense, which makes it easier to spot wild animals from your saddle.

For experienced/fit riders, the Orange Route is a great start or end loop as either a long warm-up or cool-down to a longer ride. It’s a highly engaging way to add another 20-odd kilometres of distance without too much toil.

To experience the new Orange Route – and all of the other mountain bike routes and trails at Summerplace Game Reserve, book your accommodation here. https://summerplacegamereserve.com/accommodation/

SUMMERPLACE MTB TEAM SETS SIGHTS ON 2024 GOALS

Following a successful launch year in 2023, Summerplace Game Reserve is pleased to confirm the continuation of its mountain bike racing team for 2024. There will still be a firm XCO racing focus, but the team members will also add some stage racing for variety and to gain experience.

The team members are Inus du Preez, Lilian Baber and Respect Ramashia, all of whom raced for Summerplace Game Reserve last year. They’re all employed by the reserve but are supplied with bikes, gear and the appropriate support required to train and race in pursuit of their goals.

Respect Ramashia

Respect will once again focus on the regional marathon races including those in Limpopo, North West and Gauteng. He secured a few podium positions at Limpopo events last year and will be looking for improved performances at the larger events this year, particularly the Ford Trailseeker Marathons.

Lilian had a very successful final year as a Junior last year, where she focused primarily on XCO racing. She was dominant in local events, including winning the South African Championship, the African Continental Championship and South African Cup Series. She also contested several international races in Europe and the World Championships in Scotland.

Lilian Baber

“This is my first year in Under-23 so I don’t have any significant goals. I will do a variety races, but XCO is still my main discipline. I will use this year to find my feet and see where I am in relation to the other Under-23 and Elite racers. I plan to gain more experience at international races in Europe and it’s also a chance for me to get more settled in marathon races, which I haven’t done many of,” said Lilian.

“I feel my base training in the off season has been good and has helped improve my strength and stamina. I’m so fortunate to live at Summerplace, which is the perfect place for mountain bike training. Not only is there more than 100km of singletrack ranging from tame to technical, but there also surrounding gravel roads,” added Lilian.

Lilian Baber and Inus du Preez

Among the races planned for Inus and Lillian in 2024 are: The Tankwa Trek, Cape Pioneer and Wines2Whales stage races, the South African XCO Champs, the African XCO Champs, the World XCO Champs (based on qualification) and four UCI XCO World Cups in Europe.

“Being supported by Summerplace to be able to travel around South Africa to race as well as compete in Europe has given me so much and I’m looking forward to making the most of that in 2024. Last year was my first full year of racing and I improved so much. I learned to race smart and my power improved significantly over the course of the year,” said Inus.

Inus du Preez

“My main focus for this year it so see how well I can do at the four UCI World Cup races in Europe and also to qualify for the South African Under-23 team to compete at the UCI World Champs in Spain. I have other races on my schedule, but those and the relevant South African qualifying races will be priority,” added Inus.

The Summerplace MTB Team do all their training at Summerplace Game Reserve. With an established trails network that includes more than 100km of singletrack, an altitude of 1400m above sea level, a wide range of trail types, several measured routes and beautiful bushveld scenery with wildlife, it’s the ideal destination for mountain bikers.

It’s easy to book your own mountain biking stay at Summerplace Game Reserve. Check out the various accommodation options here.

SIX REASONS YOUR KID SHOULD ATTEND OUR MTB TRAINING CAMP

The seventh annual Waterberg Training Camp will take place at Summerplace Game Reserve in January 2024. Based on the popularity of these camps, they have proven to be a great way for families to experience a weekend away and for kids to improve their skills knowledge and confidence on their mountain bikes. Here’s why you should book soon!

In a world where electronic screens are more attractive than ever, the importance of kids finding balance and having fun outdoors away from screens is growing. But how do you get a kid to leave his/her highly engaging screen attraction and spend time outside. By making it fun, that’s how. A kid that’s in control of his/her mountain bike is going to try more things, have more fun and spend more time riding.

We live in a country with a generally temperate climate, ideal for outdoor activities all year round. So, it makes sense to ensure your kids have healthy outdoor time. School sport plays a big part of this, but during school holidays, riding mountain bikes is a great way to keep kids engaged outside. Our Waterberg Training Camp is designed to give your kids an increased level of competence on a mountain bike. Here’s what you can expect:

A fun weekend away

Starting on Friday 12 January and concluding on Sunday 14 January, the Waterberg Training Camp includes two nights and three days, which means a weekend away. This usually sees the whole family embrace the opportunity to have a final summer holiday excursion. We offer a range of self-catering accommodation – from camping to luxury lodges – to suit all budgets and Summerplace Game Reserve is only a 2hr15min drive from Pretoria and less than 3 hours from Joburg.

A structured programme

The Waterberg Training Camp at Summerplace follows a structured programme. This ensures that each rider gets equal amounts of time learning each skill as we rotate the groups between the main skills that are on the roster. While there is a pre-set programme, it does include down time, which allows the kids to ride freely too and implement what they have learned.

Qualified instructors

The Waterberg Training Camp has multiple qualified skills instructors. They have completed one or more of the PMBIA courses to a global industry certification standard and each has experience in skills instruction and ride-guiding, so they are able to quickly identify any poor form and help the riders work on improvement. Our instructors all have experience working with youth.

Meals are included

There are three daily meals included in the fee for the Waterberg Training Camp – breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are simple, but wholesome meals prepared at the Summerplace Game Reserve Bike Village and are available for youth camp participants and their families. A separate meal-only fee is payable for those not doing the skills camp training.

It’s social

Our Waterberg Training Camps attract kids from various provinces. Being placed in small groups helps the kids make new friends and form shared bonds with others. This social interaction is important for kids, especially in a post-Covid world where in-person engagement was restricted. Friendships started through a shared passion such as mountain biking are enduring.

World-class MTB venue

Summerplace Game Reserve is a world-class mountain biking venue. The trails are built, marked and maintained by a full-time crew. There are trails to suit all levels of mountain biker and the skills area in front of the Bike Village has been designed specifically to help develop confidence and progression on popular trail features, such as rocky roll-downs, small drop-offs, small jumps and berms.

To find out more, or to book for the 2024 Waterberg Training Camp at Summerplace Game Reserve, click here.

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