Whenever friends spoke about van Gaalen’s they said, “It’s tough” We chose the Greek Church trail because the guy who sells the tickets told me it is the easiest.
The first part is beautiful you go through these long reeds and it is like cycling in a tunnel. The pathway is broad and if I could whistle, I would have whistled while cycling Miss Daisy on the very easy but pretty track. Then you hit a few easy dips, nothing major, still cycling calmly thinking, “What is the fuss?” After this you start climbing up to Greek Church and it is semi- tough climbing but still not technical. The last 6km, you realise what the fuss is about, there are hair raising dips, cliffs with steep drops to the side and then you approach the floating bridge and there is no chicken run. I had quite a few electronics with me so I chose to push across, I was knee deep in the water. My advise is put all your electronics in a water proof bag before doing Van Gaalens.
We cycled van Gaalens, Sunday 27 December 2015.
19.69 km – Greek Church route
Elevation: 205m – It felt like a lot more!
The venue is lovely. Van Gaalen’s is a cheese farm and located in the beautiful Magaliesburg area.
Van Gaalens is a great place to take children for the day. There is a lovely big play area. Children can cycle the first part of the trail which two way and easy. They can also see how cheese is made.
Because Van Gaalens is a cheese farm first the facilities are better than usual and the food is excellent. Most MTB venues only have boerewors rolls and hamburgers, it is great to come back from a cycle and have a good menu to choose from. There is a wonderful deli shop with all the different cheeses. Unfortunately there was only one person working in it and around 20 people waiting to buy. I was too tired from cycling to wait in the queue.
Van Gaalens is on the side of Magalies closer to Johannesburg and it is quite a straight forward trip.
Van Gaalens charges the going rate currently which is R40
The Trail Itself:
Security on trail:
As with any other trail do not cycle alone. I have never heard of security issues at Van Gaalens but it is better to not be alone.
Traffic and obstructions:
Although we did not come across any vehicles there could be farm vehicles at certain points be alert.
Fun & Variation :
I like the long cycle in the reeds, it feels as if you are cycling in a tunnel. Van Gaalens has a bit of everything, dips, climbs, floating bridge, rock gardens and berms.
I am a bit of a scaredy cat, I found Van Gaalens very hectic at the end. Michael enjoyed it , he does say it is a rather technical ride but he managed everything. I got off and walked quite a bit. There are plenty of technical challenges. The floating bridge is doable but I did not want to risk it because of having quite a few electronic devices on me. As I said earlier there is no chicken run so seal your devices in waterproof bags.
The scenery is amazing. The Greek church is very pretty. I forgot to take a picture of it.
Maintenance & Trail Marking:
There were one or 2 spots where we were not sure which way to go the markings were missing but we fortunately chose the right way. Most of those spots joined up again. Maintenance seemed good on the trail.
Going up to the Greek Church feels like a lot of climbing, I was surprised to see that we only did 200m.