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28 Aug, 2014

Trailing Avianto

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Known simply as Avianto in the cycling world, this Muldersdrift facility recently revamped its trail network to include a further 15 kilometres. Modern Cyclist has regularly visited Avianto and found the new sections superb.


A sharp ascent, then a hard left into another fairly steep section, then it tops out. With the valley and its riverine bush and forest on your right shoulder, you approach a building.

Yes, you read correctly. A building. A ramp gets you into what was probably a lounge, complete with fireplace, and you continue cycling. It’s a weird feeling, cycling through a house. Even if there isn’t a roof! A few rooms later, you get to a super sharp, right hand corner. A drop off, complete with a few stone stairs, takes you to the rest of the trail.

It then drops off again, towards the river that only a moment ago you viewed from “up there”. More single track leads you to what looks like a quarry. And with the soundtrack of nearby Syringa MotoX circuit ringing in your ears, you ride on a hectic piece of pleasure that mixes pure exhilaration with pure maxed out effort.

Push on, and the trail leads you into an eerie little forest that feels a bit like a fantasy novel. A rather hectic, semi-camel hump and you head into a tunnel. Keep your head low as this tunnel takes you to the other side of the R114.

After a short ride on the shoulder of this road and on a farm’s approach road, you turn back onto single track. Now if this trail seems a bit cross country-“esque”, it should be as this section of trail was used as a cross country circuit a few years ago. With camel humps, rock gardens and switchbacks, the technical riders will really love this single track as it snakes its way through Muldersdrift farm lands.

You return to Avianto itself via the same tunnel mentioned before and, yet more single track, until you join the property’s network of jeep track.

That is mountain biking! And Richard Beswick, the man responsible for the trails at Avianto, has assured me that 85% of Avianto’s route is single track. Which is the way it should be, after all, as he says, mountain bikes were designed to ride on single tracks and not roads.

And that is what the new sections at Avianto give to you if you give the place a chance.

Basically speaking, Avianto is a conference and wedding venue with a whole lot of sport added on. On any given Sunday, the sports clubhouse develops almost a festival atmosphere with the sound of cleated shoes click-clicking on the patio between the coffee bar and the tables and chairs.

There’s often a jumping castle and, even, a bike mechanic and a paramedic on duty for those unforeseen moments that tend to happen from time to time.

And, at an event like this month’s Eqstra Spring Classic on Sunday 7 September which recently announced its move to this venue, the clubhouse will probably have more of an atmosphere with chill zones, medal handovers and, of course, the obligatory podium.

The organisation called simply Ride Free has taken to Avianto in the same way as South Africa has taken to mountain biking. The signs are everywhere, clearly marking out the six kilometres of green route, the 32 kilometres of blue route and the “extra” sections of neck-hair-raising black route that are designed for the not-so-cautious.

If you not quite up to doing the full 32 kilometres, the blue route is split into white and red sections so you can mix and match your favourite into the distance you feel comfortable doing. If you enjoy really technical sections, don’t leave out the little section between the clubhouse and the river. With its combination switchbacks, sharp ascents, rock garden descents and drop offs, it feels a bit like a motoX track just for us mountain bikers!

Avianto’s blue route old “favourites”, like the rocky climbs and berm-enhanced switchbacks, are still there, as are the fast sections that are shared with the green route. There is a rather nice add-on though, that pulls you off the main track onto a single track that takes you over a bridge and then over a dam wall.

It then takes you back onto the dry and dusty section on top of the hill, before leading you back towards the forest and another, this time larger, dam wall which used to be in the old route, only you now do it in the other direction!

So, if you rode Avianto a year ago and haven’t been back since then, give it a try and it’ll impress with its new technical sections. Check it out at www.avianto.co.za, you’ll even find a map with directions how to get there.