Pedal through the Eastern Cape’s alluring landscapes

EVERYONE knows Hogsback for its walks, which vary from the easy to the arduous. And anyone who has been to this charming village is fully aware of its beauty, but there’s even more further afield – and now there’s a new, novel way to explore this pristine part of the world.

It’s slow riding and it’s a cycling experience you will never forget – and there’s the added bonus of the adventure holiday stimulating job creation in rural areas where work is often hard to come by.

The brainchild of Alex Frankel, the concept is open to both experienced, professional cyclists and those who like to take life at a slower pace.

It’s child-friendly in that children from the age of 12 are welcome, but, bearing in mind the distance travelled over the three days, they have to be fairly experienced cyclists and have a reasonable level of endurance.

“While the aim is to take a leisurely ride through the countryside, the keener cyclists can zoom off at their own pace while us slow cyclists take the course at a more leisurely pace,” Frankel says.

While they wait for the slower riders to catch up the pros can play on the single track provided at the different destinations. With slow riding flexibility is the name of the game.

If you can’t manage three days you can make it one night or two.

If you don’t like bikes you can experience the adventure on horseback.

The only firm stipulation is that the minimum number of participants is 30 with a maximum of 50, taking the total group to 70 with support staff who are drawn from locals trained as tours guides and support personnel for the cyclists.

But training tour guides is not the only form of job creation. Local crafters are also being brought into the loop by making wire cycles and the famous Hogsback clay hogs as a keepsakes of the cycling holiday. They also make wooden tags for the luggage and bikes and route markers from local trees.

The journey with a difference begins with dinner and an overnight stay in Hogsback before setting off for three days of pedalling through the amazing landscapes of the Eastern Cape Amathole region.

The slow riding adventure will take you along country roads, past fields of flowers and on bridges over chuckling streams, through the indigenous forests where the rare Cape parrots, samango monkeys and Knysna loeries call as they all play along the tree highways.

After the first day’s cycle you will stay at the Old Thomas River Historical Village, enjoying a fun evening in the railway station pub and restaurant.

The next day continues your country ride through the Kubusi indigenous state forest at the foot of Mount Thomas down to Gubu Dam and on to the next overnight stop at Cata – a traditional Xhosa cultural village that has become a thriving tourism destination.

After a night at their hilltop tent village and a spit braai in their starlight lapa, participants finish their tour riding past the magnificent Sandile Dam back up through the indigenous cloud montane Forests to Hogsback Village.

The really good news is that you ride your bike carrying just the bare essentials – your helmet, your camera, sunscreen, and maybe even throw in your birding book! The on-road support will organise your luggage transport, provide security, medical assistance and any bike mechanical maintenance you may need on the road.

Slow riding offers something for every cyclist who wants to hit the open road under a wide sky, while feeling safe and relaxed knowing that the support team is there to cater to your every need.

The next Slow Riding Adventure will be held from Saturday April 27 to Wednesday May 1.

For more information e-mail slowriding.za@ gmail.com, phone Alex Frankel on 076-693-5138, or visit their website www.slowridingza.com

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