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Bikepacking Mid-Week MicroAdventure

by | Mar 25, 2022 | CYCLE — General, Hiking, TALES FROM THE TRAILS, TRAVEL | 0 comments

We all need a microadventure every now and then. Just a quick escape back to nature to blow away those stress cobwebs from living in the city. With our daily schedules starting to return to a new kind of normal post-pandemic, we are yet again consumed by our day-to-day obligations and crazy schedules.

So how do you squeeze in a bikepacking mid-week microadventure when you only have a single day to spare?

Great adventures are to be had when your daily work schedule, personal life and some free time all align, allowing you to pursue an outdoor escape on some epic singletrack trails. If you need advice on what to bring on a bikepacking adventure, we have 8 tips on how to prepare for one.

They say – “always surround yourself with like-minded people from the same tribe” and in my case lately I have been surrounded by some great people that also share the same amount of enthusiasm for the outdoors when time allows for it.

What is a Microadventure?

There is a growing trend in the ultramarathon and bikepacking community known as micro-adventures. These adventures are usually short, simple trips that can be done in a day or less with minimal gear or planning. They basically consist of getting out for a quick adventure with friends, family, or solo.

Basically, the idea has been around since long before social media when people would leave their homes to go on small adventures from time to time for fun and exploration

Defender and bikes before microadventure

Recently while having coffee with a mutual outdoor fanatic (friend), we were discussing some ideas and concepts for a couple of microadventures.  Of course, we both would like to pursue it before the end of 2021.

While discussing a micro-adventure idea, it seemed that we would be able to squeeze in a little adventure in no less than 10 days’ time. All we had to do was contact the trail operators to gain access to their trail, inform them of our plans, and then our microadventure stars would start to align for an epic little escape.

Where to go for a bikepacking adventure?

Our plan was that once we did get access from the Trail operators, we would head out to Muratie Wines. For one thing, they have one of the best singletrack routes constructed by Dirtopia. These trails, in particular, I have run multiple times before with my son. 

Most recently, I participated in a time trial event, on the same marked routes while under level 3 lockdown in South Africa. If you want to visit safe and well-marked trails, then this is the place to visit. These routes will most definitely blow your trails socks off…lol

What would our microadventure challenge consist of?

The plan was to run/ cycle Loop 1 which is roughly 7,4km’s and complete as many loops as possible. Next, to spice things up, we invited a cyclist or two along for our little outdoor mid-week adventure. Basically, our motley crew consisted of one lady cyclist (Kamin) and two gents (Dirk & Rusty). Of course, I was the only trail runner for our “#WorkdayChallenge”

Our midweek challenge would consist of the following. An 8am start in the morning (as you would for a day at work) and push hard to complete as many loops as possible of Loop 1 on Muratie Wine estate.

MicroAdventure Execution!

Our date was set for September 30th2021. We left home early on Thursday morning, with two vehicles, bikes racked, and snacks packed. In the event that we wanted to relax between your loops, we loaded camping chairs.

We left early morning so that we would miss most of the morning traffic. and to be ready at the start of Loop 1 at Muratie Wines to commence our #Workdaychallenge

Dirtopia and the owners of Muratie Wines, were gracious to give us access right at the start of the marked trail. Therefore, this allowed us to conveniently set up camp near our vehicle. We rolled out the vehicle awning and placed our camp chairs under the awning. While the camping fridge was purring away in the back of the Landrover, keeping our food and water chilled for our day, we got busy out on the trails.

Packing List for a Microadventure:

Tailwind Grab-and-Go Endurance Fuel Single Serve Assorted Flavors (Pack of...ICECO GO20 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator, Separate Control, 21 Quart/20...Nathan NS4196-0015-00 QuickStart Hydration Vest, Black, 4 LNew Balance Men's Fresh Foam Hierro V6 Trail Running Shoe, Light Rogue...
Bledie Lekker Biltong Droewors Bundle (8oz + 8oz) real South African styleLedeak Portable Camping Table, Small Ultralight Folding Table with Aluminum...Helinox Chair Zero Ultralight Compact Camping Chair, BlackSUUNTO 9 Peak, All Black
Swiftwick- PURSUIT FOUR Ultralight Trail Running and Cycling Socks, Merino...Under Armour Men's Tech 2.0 Short-Sleeve T-Shirt , Royal Blue...Under Armour Adult Run Shadow Cap , Pitch Gray (012)/Black , One Size Fits...Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Baby Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Babies -...

Ready, Set, Go Countdown – Let’s do this!

At 8am we lined up at the start of Loop 1. Straightaway, we synchronized our watches, to start with our day out on the trails. On our first loop, I as the trail runner set out pushing as hard as I could. Basically, I had the 3 Mountain bikers breathing down my neck.

To be honest, I think they could have passed me from the word go. Since they were true gentlemen, they allowed the trail runner lead the way. 

But after loop 1 was complete, they all waved goodbye and left me on my own. Luckily, I would always see them somewhere on the trails during the course of the day. 

Muratie Wine Trails

Being a trail runner, you work hard at every kilometer. But when you cycle, you do tend to get some rest for your tired legs on the downhill sections. The reason for pushing hard on the first leg, of course, was to set the segment time of Loop 1. Most importantly, this data can be viewed on Strava. 

Once the segment was created, I dropped my pace right down. Next, was to chip away at the trail and mileage that was lying ahead of me for the rest of the day. My aim personally was to run an Ultra on my microadventure today.

Willie Richards running trails at the Muratie Wines

I was feeling strong on the initial 4 loops around Muratie wines. But once I started venturing into the 30km range, the real work started. Especially, when the mid-day heat starts to set in. 

Roughly just after midday, I pulled into our little pit stop area located at the start of the trail. Dirk, Rusty, and Kamin were busy refueling, for their next loop out on their mountain bikes, and they asked – How many km’s completed? 

Trail Loops

I looked down at my watch and out of stupidity/ tiredness, I stopped my watch and saved the activity. An absolute rookie error by me. “Things you do when you are tired” Just after 12 pm I completed 38km’s. But my Ultra run was far from over. I came with a goal today. So, I started a second activity for the day on my Suunto watch.

During our little challenge, we crossed paths with the odd trail runner and cyclist that came out for the day. They all were, as a result, making use of the network of trails, skillfully crafted by the Dirtopia team.

Undoubtedly, their trails are just the perfect combination of singletrack, switchbacks, climbs and the sweetest downhill sections.

Refueling and Hydration

“Wonder what the other trail users were thinking seeing our vehicle parked at the start of Loop 1”. It looked like we had set up camp on the trail.

The wonderful thing with our transition spot was that for every loop you completed, you could sit down and have a snack. Therefore, it was easy to refuel before heading out for the next loop on the trails. I sat down for an (early lunch) which consisted of dates and fruit. 

Half an hour later I loaded up my Hydration pack and started soldiering on again. The short rest and sitting down, for the most part, did not do my legs any favors.

Singleback trails

In fact, I was as stiff as a board from my little lunch break. But this is what a challenge is all about. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and rolling with the punches. In this case, rolling with the hills.

The best part of our entire day was sharing the trails with my close friends. Certainly, they were all pushing themselves and having a wonderful time in the Simons Berg. By and large, they have the most epic singletrack routes available in this region.

On each lap, my friends would climb to the lookout point, look and turn right, then charge back down the trails. Then, they would ride downhill, all the way to the transition spot. 

The best part of Muratie Wines, was making use of the beautiful trails, being that most are mainly singletracks. There are very few places that mainly consist of singletrack trails.

Puff adder
Puff adders are venomous viper species found in savannah and grasslands throughout Africa, except for Sahara and rainforest

Trail Dangers

Leading out on my following lap and running to my own thoughts, I noticed a peculiar branch/ stick in the trail. It was roughly 2 km’s from the start. But this was no branch or stick. As I was about to cross this peculiar stick, I noticed that this was actually a Puff adder (Snake) crossing the trail. 

I think we were both surprised to see each other. I jumped into the air with my stiff legs and the snake darted up the hill. Probably the biggest Puff Adder I have ever seen, but so beautiful and bright in color. 

Luckily without any incident, my newfound friend also greeted Dirk later the day on the trail. These bad boys will most definitely start to come out more. Especially, now that our warmer weather is starting to show its face in the Western Cape.

Chasing the ultramarathon 50km

The rest of my microadventure of Ultrarunning started to slow down. However, I knew the next lap meant I would get a Trail marathon in the bag, and venture into Ultra distance range. It’s been a while since I have ventured into an Ultra the distance range.

I first chased down the 45km mark. Next, the 50km mark. Finally, I wrapped it all up just after 14:00H with 54.2km’s completed in 7 loops.

Cycling at Muratie Wine Trails
Muratie Wine Trails

The afternoon was an absolute scorcher just touching 30 degrees with hardly any breeze to cool us down. As I came in on my final loop, I caught up with the cyclists at the transition point. They all looked a bit hot and bothered, sides covered in dirt. 

With faces covered in sweat, we made a joint decision that we were all happy with our loops/ km’s achieved for the day. 

Willie Richards completes microadventure ultramarathon
Willie Richards strong finish to another ultramarathon

Dirk and Rusty completed 61.7km’s of 8 multiple loops on their MTB’s and Kamin bagged 54.2km’s. We all had a monster day of elevation gain. I think we all achieved the most elevation gain on our activities log for the day.

Showers and Cold Beers

The Muratie trail center is ideal for these little mid-week escapes as they offer great showers on site. We all showered, washed away the dirt and grime from our micro-adventure, and met back at the transition spot.

The fridge came in handy after our long day out on the trails. We pulled out a round of ice-cold beers to wash down the last bit of dust in our throats.

It was the most perfect setting, sitting under the awning and reflecting on our day, overlooking the trails.

I am so stoked with how our day ended up! I personally came with a plan to run an Ultra and left with my microadventure bag filled to the rim. 

So next time if you want to escape your crazy schedule head to your closest trail and see how far you can push yourself. 

No need to stay indoors. #GetOutThere

Last update on 2022-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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