The asteroid that hit Vredefort is estimated to have been one of the largest ever to strike Earth, thought to have been approximately 10 –15 km in diameter.
Koepel Cruise Day 1
Our Destination - the Vredefort crater is the largest verified impact crater on Earth, more than 300 km across when it was formed.
It all started with an invitation to explore a new bikepacking route which starts from Potchefstroom South Africa. Johann, Gordon, Ernst and I joined the overnight adventure. The planned route would stretch 190 km over two days with mostly gravel roads in the North West province of South Africa and is only 2 hours drive from major cities Pretoria and Johannesburg.
After the formalities of pictures and good wishes we started the ride through town full of energy as we got to know each other a bit better while riding and soaking up the beautiful town surroundings. We soon reached the town outskirts heading into the unknown... replacing a faulty tire valve along the way, fortunately one of only two flat tires we had on route.
Surprised at how quick nature reacted to the recent rainfall we enjoyed the overgrown tracks along the railway as we rode the service roads. I personally enjoy the more rugged paths compared to farm roads. We had a second early stop to adjust a limp saddle bag, and greeted onlooking farm workers going about their daily tasks. They probably wondered what we were doing and where we were going.
The North West Province landscape was surprisingly flat and where there are climbs, the gradients are very forgiving. For this reason I initially classified the route as perfect for beginners. Read on to find out why I changed my mind on day two. We stopped regularly for snacks, cheerful conversation and to enjoy what nature had to offer.
As with most adventurers we were also looking to find the maximum amount of time on gravel roads. A rough gestimate is that we had a 20% asphalt | 80% gravel split as at one stage our route was barricaded by gates causing us to backtrack for about 10 km and ended up on a stretch of busy asphalt road (R51).
That night we enjoyed dinner and drinks at the local inn at Venterskroon. We shared stories, compared wounds and pondered how our painful behinds would make another day of riding.
The inn owner was excited to learn more about bikepacking and shared his accommodation options for future cycling guests.
The surrounding area has plenty attractions and activities including river rafting, zip lines, 4x4 tracks and plenty of coffee stops. Head over to bikepacking.africa for more information on this route, downloads and plan your next adventure.
Koepel Cruise Day 2
March 11th, 7:37 am, 2018
After dinner around 10 pm we headed to camp and Johann and Ernst decided to sleep on the wooden deck overlooking the Vaal river. Gordon and I chose the tent as I was still battling a stubborn cold from the week before, and also had to consider the cold gusts of mountain air that suddenly decided to accompany us throughout the night.
Waking to a misty cool morning I wished that I had some more time in bed. Mainly due to interrupted sleep caused by a continuous battle for position between me and my inflatable pillow and the occasional flapping sound from the wind against the tent.
Packed and ready we set off and soon met two tough guys on their way to run up some mountain!
20 km in and a few hills later Ernst and Gordon decided that they were loosing the battle as backside pain became their main focus and they chose to take a shorter route back to town (we are seriously considering Selle Anatomica seats for future trips).
Farewells and safe journeys were spoken and Johann and I headed on to complete the planned 90 km of day two. We soon reached the Vaal river were we stopped for food and watched the birds do the same as they jumped in and out of the small falls trying to catch a meal.
I have not seen the river this full in some time and hoped that others will also have the opportunity to experience the Vaal River in all it's glory.The next 20 km kept our legs busy with rolling hills, and just then the route changed from beginner to intermediate level. Beginners will be able to complete the 90 km day 2, but have to plan for a full day in the saddle.
As we entered civilization I contemplated over the two days bikepacking wishing for more and concluded that the route is worthy.
The terrain is varied enough, farm roads are quiet and in good, smooth nick. Accommodation is plentiful with activities that are perfect to extend into a three day adventure with one day to take it easy while doing something fun.
Thanks to Johann that created the route and for sharing, thanks to Ernst and Gordon for joining the adventure. Happy bikepacking, until next time!