Shorter than you think, tougher than imagined.
The Iron Line is a there and back route hugging an active railway line that is perfect for train spotting. You will travel 99.9% gravel roads with some single track, water crossings and four gate jumps. The starting point is at the town of Heidelberg Gauteng, South Africa, a short drive from major cities. From here you travel through Balfour, to Greylingstad and then arrive at Val where tents are erected for the overnighter.
Heidelberg has played an important part in South African history acting as a capital for the Boer republic during the war with Great Britain. During the First War of Independence, Heidelberg served as capital of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek under the Triumvirate of Paul Kruger, P.J. Joubert and M.W. Pretorius, from 1880 to 1883.
We decided to look around, take pictures and sometimes stopped just to listen at "nothing". Although the route has no talked about scenery the change from city life pace made me appreciate just riding my bike "free". Free from the bike park crowds, free from traffic, free from entry fees... you get the picture.
Around 35 km we made a river crossing and enjoyed the shade of a train bridge before we headed towards the first town on our way to Greylingstad, our first stop.
As unexplored ideas go we had to adapt and look for alternative routes. We are planning to ride this way again in a month's time to have a complete map. A short distance from the bridge we found a low water bridge, jumped a gate then bushwhacked underneath the train bridge to again follow the service road.
When we arrived at Val we quickly set up camp. It was just before 5 pm and in time to sit down and have a beer before dinner was served. We prepared for a cold night and early morning, at least that was the plan! BUT we had to adjust and give tents time to dry in the morning sun delaying our departure a bit. No complaints as we now had time to enjoy a WARM farm breakfast.
One night, two days and 165 km of bikepacking fun. We have eight trips planned over the next few months and are excited to share the journey and those small things that make a trip special...