Rounding a precarious bend I hit an unexpected dip in the rough road and was thrown forward in the saddle. Feeling sheepishly amateur, I looked up to see the shape of the inscrutable quad biking trail boss silhouetted against the late afternoon sky, one foot up on a rock, motes of dust swirling around him as the sunlight streamed across the mountaintop.
It was a scene straight out of City Slickers, only we weren’t doing a cattle drive on horseback but an afternoon of quad biking. And our leader wasn’t the rugged, impenetrable Jack Palance, but the rather charming Brian Pickering.
We were in the Kogelberg biosphere, a 100 000 hectare reserve with the most complex biodiversity on the planet and some of the rarest plants on Earth. A pioneer in the field of organic agriculture, Brian’s knowledge of the area is pretty much unequalled. For the past 7 years he has been taking out groups on low impact quad bikes for a fantastic combination of eco-experience and adrenaline-pumping fun. The trick with any activity is to not be the worst at it.
Brian had given us each a short stream of information about gears and throttle and whatnot to which I had listened intently, nodding wisely throughout as though I had the faintest idea what he was talking about. To my delight though, after the first few stalls, I found that what he had said actually made sense, and I soon reached near-total mastery of second gear.
While we were probably not the most capable group Brian had led, it made no difference to our enjoyment. The scenery was wonderful – a mixture of pine forest and fynbos-clad mountain top, sheer rocks, wide plains and hidden valleys, all mirrored in the surface of the majestic Eikenhof dam. In winter, the streams are swollen – asking to be splooshed through on a quad bike. In spring with the fynbos in bloom it is breathtaking. And in summer, the extra altitude guarantees a freshness lacking in the city, and there are mountain rock pools in which to wash off the dust.
I stopped next to a tumbling stream, a million miles from the city, and breathed in the view and the peace.
For more information on quad biking visit www.whatsonincapetown.com/quad-biking-tours