Known as The Valley of Life, Val de Vie Estate is more than a luxurious housing estate. Located in the Berg River Valley, between Paarl and Franschhoek, it hosts the Grand Finale of the Absa Cape Epic and boasts a growing network of mountain biking trails. These trails lead the riders of the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race through the estate to the final finish line in March, but also provide the residents with a safe place to exercise and hone their skills year-round.
“There are currently 40-kilometres of dedicated mountain biking trails within the estate” Val de Vie Marketing Director, Ryk Neethling, said. “The singletracks and the newly constructed bike park are probably the most popular facilities on Val de Vie.” Given the popularity of the sport, the exponential growth of children taking part in the local school series races and the contained nature of the routes it is easy to see why the trails are proving so popular.
As the 5.4- 9.4 and 26-kilometre long, dedicated, mountain bike routes are entirely within the secure estate, riders can safely ride them without a cycling companion. This allows Val de Vie resident and professional rider, Catherine Colyn to use the trails for training whenever she does not want to venture onto the roads or trails of the Western Cape on her own. “Being able to ride my mountain bike, from my front door without leaving the estate is really cool” the South African rider enthused.
“The longest, 26-kilometre, route is fairly flat and fast” Colyn explained. “Val de Vie is located on the plain alongside the Berg River and as such there aren’t any climbs to speak of. But the riding is still very fun. The trails are largely non-technical with a few sandy and rocky sections, all-level of riders are able to master the trails; though riding faster certainly adds a measure of technical difficulty. At a fast pace the full loop will take you around an hour, while at a leisurely pace it’ll take about two hours to complete.”
In addition to the mountain bike trails, the estate recently built a pump track and skills area. “The pump track is pretty cool” Colyn added. “It’s really impressive how it’s been built. Both the pump track and the skills area have really added to Val de Vie’s riding offerings, you can now go for a good ride and then finish up with a play on the pump track or by working on your technical riding skills.”
“As a lifestyle estate Val de Vie aims to offer its residents facilities to make the most of the beautiful environment in which they live,” Neethling explained. “Many of our home owners are avid mountain bikers and as such creating dedicated mountain biking trails for them to ride within the safe confines of the estate makes total sense. These trails compliment the running and horse-riding routes in Val de Vie; and, as Catherine Colyn mentioned, were recently boosted by the construction of a pump track and mountain biking skills park.”
In 2021 the Absa Cape Epic will once again culminate in Val de Vie. After nearly 655 kilometres of racing and 15 550 metres of climbing, the final few kilometres will wind along the estate’s trails. The relatively non-technical nature of the tracks has, in recent years, set the final stage up for a sprint finish and provided the non-competitive riders with a chance to reflect on the previous eight days before receiving a hero’s welcome and etching their names into The Book of Legend alongside those brave enough to successfully take up the challenge of the Absa Cape Epic.