The Colenso Zingela Adventure Bike Tour

We received a dispatch from friend and fellow adventurer, Steve McCurrach, of Adventure Bike Safaris. He spilled the beans on a recent Adventure Bike Tour he led in the heart of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands. Looks like they had a grand time of it, read on and enjoy their journey, illustrated and writ below…

“Colenso Zingela Adventure Bike Tour
It was a fine outing and it was a pleasure for me to be working with such accomplished Adventure riders i.e. not having to hold hands and change nappies at every obstacle. You fellows rode superbly and for us to have covered that territory, with the only bike laying down, being ‘yours truly’, then it is testament to the combined and the individual skills. Well done – really.

Ryan riding ahead, with the setting sun making nice dust features. This dust was to live with us throughout, where being mid-winter and so dry, the dust was at its worst. The dust also caused some very dry throats……

Sunrise at the Colenso Carlton, where tennis is declining, but biking is growing……………

We then started off, over a vintage steel girder bridge crossing the Tugela River, through some farmlands and interacting with the Dbn/Jhb main rail line for many kms…………

The old line of ‘When in Rome, do as……” was ringing true, because whilst in The Battlefields, we paused and took in some of the history. All commented and were impressed with how well kept the sites are – freshly painted and clean.

Even if this ride was not a Battlefields historical ride, one cannot help but be moved by the magnitude of the Anglo/Boer War battles and those moving events of yesteryear.

We then descended the aloe laden and rock strewn slopes of the Klip River, having to beat a new track and going ‘freestyle’ to find a way through and down to a previously navigated crossing point.

The wet part of the Klip crossing is not a big deal, being just deep enough to wet the boots, but a little daunting from point of view of the width, leaving one wondering what lies within and where might you be the unfortunate one to find a hole.

What is daunting is the exit bank, a sharp incline of boulders and rock. Having watched Ryan make a successful but tough ascent, some ‘gardening’ was done and fellows placed on stand-by alongside each bike. Ralph seen here on stand-by to catch.

Never visited before and not mapped, Google Earth had revealed The Klip Falls as being within a kilometre downstream of our crossing and group consensus was unanimous, that we hack a route and take a look. It was an inspiring sight, with some of the guys so captivated by the falls that I eventually had to chivvy the fellows to press on with the ride.
As a gauge of the size, look closely top right in the 2nd/right image here and you will see two of the team standing near the edge.

Right there and then, I ‘banked’ a future adventure, to come back to these falls when The Klip is in flood. Our same crossing can’t happen, but there’s a back door in and I will be going there, to see what will surely be awesome to behold. An adventure biking outing would not be complete without a visit to a dinkum African trading store and the treasure which lies within – bitterly cold Black Label. We followed on to ride some of the greatest big gravel passes, in very remote country and mostly on exceptionally good gravel. The northern rim of the middle Tugela Valley always strikes me as being the home of the greatest vistas in KZN.

Our destination Zingela is always a very special place, utterly unique and run by the most amiable couple of Mark and Linda. The setting is unrivalled and the ambiance is more restful than you can imagine.

I’ll not make feedback regarding the accommodation, leaving the images to do all the talking…

Repeated in every feedback of a ZingCol Tour (because it just has to be mentioned) is the access/exit from Zingela, which is 4X4 only, including “Little Sani” and it is this attribute which stands out above all others, in making Zingela different. For most other lodges the first task, seen as very important, is the upgrading of the access roads, where conversely one of the essences of Zingela is the unfinished track. Adrian seen here, riding out of his skin, in a skilled descent of this demanding course.

The ride home took in the beautiful Middelrus territory, with its aloes, big spaces and sparsely vegetated Paper Bark trees, making it a scenic ride, on gravel which is as good as a tar road. Ralph was wing-man and we did long distances, side by side, for dust avoidance.

It was then up and over/through the Karkloof to reach the John Goodman Household memorial of flight, being the last stop on this trip with historical interests. We ended up at the Karkloof Country Club, for a celebratory ale and our dispersal in different directions to our homes.

At the Karkloof Club, as an absolute Palooka, I knocked my own bike down – whilst standing alongside the bike and pressing on the camera clip to get the camera off the helmet, I suddenly noticed the bike tipping over, where it had obviously been standing too upright on it’s side stand. In a stunt that could not be planned or re-played, the helmet somehow made it to the ground first, with the bike landing on it and destroying it. Eish! and as they say “Shi…………….” but let’s not end on that sour note.

I share here, with sincere thanks, a testimonial feedback from Adrian, for purpose of my Guiding log. Thank you Adrian.
Morning Gents,
Steve, may I take this opportunity to thank you and Ralph for putting together one of the most memorable riding trips I have ever done, and to all the other riders for the banter, laughter and fantastic camaraderie.
I would never have dreamt that I could take my bike where I did, thanks to pressure and coaching by you and other members. The info on the battlefields was most interesting and I will definitely be up for another weekend of ADVENTURE Riding, that’s what our bikes were made for.
Kind Regards
Adrian Legg”

Thank you Steve for that great record of your adventure. Our hope is that many more folk of adventurous spirit will contact you here so that they can also enjoy the feeling of freedom that only adventure biking can give you! By the way – we’re very happy that your noggin wasn’t in the helmet when it hit the deck! Hopefully Father Christmas will be around early with a shiny new helmet!

All the best and keep the rubber side down!

Bruce Houghting