THE U RECCE 2020 Piket-Bo-Berg Trails – OPEN Weekend 31 October & 01 November

Words and Images by Shayne Dowling

Venturescapes Events CEO Paul Sainsbury and Dr. Greg Webb get ready to start the Recce

I have been broken by the U on every occasion I have been there.  The private trail network that is opened on two occasions a year – the U being the crown jewel event – is brutal.   Don’t get me wrong, this is mountain biking as it should be.  Tough, exhilarating, exceptionally beautiful, rugged oh and did I mention TOUGH!   There are no free miles on the PBB Trails, this is single track heaven – as Rickus Jooste (Farm manager and driving force behind the trail network) tells everyone – “even when you’re going down you’re going up!” – and as impossible as it seems it is exactly that.  You work all the time – you cannot afford to lose concentration – damn it’s a rush!   The trails are a true test of your fitness, technical ability and skill.   DON’T attempt the U if you are a granny on the downs and scared of rock gardens, sketchy feeling berms, loose gravel, brutal short heart wrenching climbs and gnarly knife-edge trails! (Doesn’t it sound just perfect!)

So what’s the reward if all you seem to do is shit off?  Well besides all of the above, Piket-bo-berg is a secret little piece of heaven.  Set high above the wheat-lands of the West Coast, above the little town or Piketberg is this piece of geographic wonder.   You will not believe your eyes as you crest the short, steep, switchback Versveld Pass (read more about the wonder here:


The beauty is unsurpassed and so different to the rest of the region.  Then there is the beauty, serenity, the stillness on the bike trails themselves.  Not another soul but you and your mates – if you are lucky to be invited or to get an entry into the U – on the trails.   Hardly a bike track and you HAVE to stop, not only to rest but also to take in the vista’s, make sure you have hundreds of photos to show the unlucky buggers that may never get to ride these trails and believe me even the pics don’t do the scenery justice – this is quite literally seeing is believing.

5 star facilities around the Starke’s private dam

I really do suggest being fit or checking if your hosts will allow e-bikes if you aren’t up to your peak.  The rewards of riding these magnificent trails and being able to wax lyrical after makes for a much more rewarding ride.  You won’t believe what the owners Eric and Michelle Starke, with the help of their staff, neighbours and of course the Buchu teams (this is another interesting story but for another day) that maintain these majestic bike paths that snake through this mountain bike nirvana.  The beauty of the farm’s private camp, which serves as the trailhead, with its 5 star facilities, on the banks of their private lake and enveloped by their working farm’s citrus orchards is jaw-droppingly spectacular.  A private playground that these exceptionally warm folk share with the public twice a year:  The Piket-bo-berg Cycle Challenge and The U MTB Stage Race.  Both will be happening in 2021 so make a plan and enter now and hit these trails – I promise you won’t regret it!

The hosts Eric and Michelle Starke




The rugged beauty of the Piket-bo-berg Trails

The Piket-bo-berg resident association and community will be opening the private trail network of Piket-Bo-Berg for one weekend this year.  Anyone can enter but spaces are limited number of riders while ticking all the COVID protocol boxes.  Lekker!


  • It’s not a race, bru…Not even an event, it’s just a lekker ride!
  • Passes are highly limited
  • MTB only – for sake of control and safety, regrettably no trail runners will be allowed on the trails.
  • There are three distances (45km, 30km, 25km) available with different starting points on three separate farms, offering you the opportunity to tailor your mountain adventure.
  • If the longer distance is sold out, simply buy a pass for the shorter route and do that first and then move on to the next farm and route. You can even do the same route twice should you wish to.
  • The price is the same for all three routes. (You can purchase a ‘DAY PASS’ or a ‘WEEKEND PASS‘ which allows you to ride Saturday and Sunday)
  • You will have to be self-sufficient on the trails, there will be no food stalls or waterpoints, but the local Farmers Market will be open from 09h00 until 14h00 (on Saturday only)  selling breakfasts, lunches and other local produce.



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