WORDS BY AARON BORRILL /////// PHOTOGRAPHS BY DESMOND LOUW
There’s something very special about riding your bike just before dusk. Perhaps it’s the warmth of the light or the crisp chill in the air but there’s no denying the magic this time of the day brings to all who embrace it. We’re at Meerendal Wine Estate this evening for a quick trail blast and coffee. Meerendal has become a popular riding destination over the years offering an array of trails for all skillsets – it’s a beautiful place and its trails are world-renowned having featured extensively in the Absa Cape Epic.
It appears as though we have the trails all to ourselves – there’s not a soul here and apart from the various fauna prowling around incognito (there are many snakes and caracals that call this place home) we’re all alone, just the way we like it. Joining me today for a golden-hour trail jam is Neill Ungerer. Hailing from George on the Garden Route, Neill knows how to ride a bike and has achieved a string of quality results over the years. For Neill however, his achievements are a byproduct of spending time on the bike.
“The trails at Meerendal Wine Estate have it all – from stunning climbs such as Stairway to Heaven and Dorstberg to the bermed magic that leads down to the car park. There are also nice little jumps and doubles to keep you on your toes.” – Neill Ungerer, Morvelo ambassador
Like Neill, Morvelo very much embodies this ethos. While there’s nothing wrong with training or racing for that matter, you should never lose sight of the true essence that embodies cycling and the simple pleasure that comes with riding your bike. Neill and Desmond our lensman, are smiling at the thought of what lies ahead – an interconnecting ream of corkscrewing downhill flow trails. To get to the magic however, we’ll need to make our way up the many vineyard climbs that categorise the Meerendal trail network. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, that’s what we’ve been telling Desmond at least. The poor guy has all his photographic equipment to lug around while we dart off into the distance… The view from the top of Stairway to Heaven – an 800m switchback climb averaging 8 per cent – is quite sublime. Table Mountain looms in the distance. Like a sentinel it watches over Table Bay guarding the Peninsula like it has for thousands of years. We use the moment to absorb the good vibes and take in the spectacular views which are still quite spectacular despite the on-going drought here in the Western Cape. But no sooner do we bank some Instagram goodness than Neill barrels into the downhill dash to the car park. Desmond and I are quick to chase but Neill’s doing a bit of showboating for the camera which gives me a moment to catch up. Still, the accuracy at which Neill stitches together every corner borders on Scalextric-like…
“Morvelo Cycling Apparel is all you need to feel good on the bike,” says Ungerer. “From head to toe there’s something for all occasions and it keeps you looking and feeling classy and stylish with its comfortable and racy fit.”
Hearts still racing from the downhill chase, Neill and I can’t seem to wipe the ridiculous grins from our faces. “Now that was awesome dude,” quips Neill. Our BPM read-outs on our bike computers confirm the adrenaline teeming through our veins but that doesn’t stop us from ordering a brace of caffeine-laced Americanos.
“I’ve been coming to Meerendal Wine Estate for years now – ever since I started riding in late 2013. What keeps me coming back is the variety of trails on offer. From tough, steep climbs and exhilarating flow trails to jumps and doubles, it’s superb. For me Morvelo is the perfect fit. I feel stylish and now have the show to match the go.” – Aaron Borrill, Morvelo ambassador
As we grab a seat to enjoy the last few rays of evening light over a cup of Meerendal’s famous coffee, Neill brings up a pertinent point: “You know what? Maybe we should have left our computers in the car.” We all agree. Our focus as cyclists is often based more around the outcome or destination instead of the journey. Next time we’re going to leave all distractions behind, take it all in and Ride Everything.