If you had said to me just more than a year ago I would put into print, actual words, anything about me cycling, I would have bet you my life that would never happen.
But you know what they say?
Never say never, and here I am, about to tell you all about a brilliant weekend I just had in the Karkloof region of KwaZulu-Natal with Land Rover SA, mountain biking and testing out the first of many planned Gear Packages with their convenient Cycling Pack for the new Discovery.
They loaded a few cycling writers and hardcore cycling motoring journalists, all their gear and bikes – and myself, who is by no means diminutive – into the vehicles, and we hit the road for some exercise in a very pretty part of the country.
Some useless background information: my cycling journey started on June 1 last year.
I wasn’t happy with my fitness levels and weighed in at 113kg, so I took to pedalling whenever I could get a gap instead of, perhaps, ending up dead from a heart attack.
Just over a year later and even with 10 weeks off recently recovering from serious, non-cycling related, injuries to my shoulders, I now weigh a much healthier 93kg.
I took on the challenge presented by super-cyclist Kevin Benkenstein.
For what it is worth, this man cycles about 400km to 500km a week for fun, has completed a host of the world’s longest endurance races, and has covered more distance on a bicycle than most people have driven a car in their lives.
Although the route was just short of a very gentle 60km, I had to exit at 40km due to a lack of riding fitness and taking a proper tumble on to my still-healing right shoulder when coming down a rather tricky and rocky section of the route.
I still enjoyed it thoroughly, and it gave me a chance to see just how effective and easily this new Cycling Gear Package worked first hand.
Land Rover caters to a wide variety of lifestyles and sporting interests with a large catalogue of accessories, officially known as “Gear”.
But now Discovery customers who enjoy adventuring on two wheels as well as four have an option to equip their vehicle cycling-oriented accessories handpicked from the Gear range.
The Cycling Pack includes a choice of a roof-mounted bike carrier for two bicycles together with the required roof rails, or a towbar-mounted bike carrier for two.
The package adds a rubber mat set for the first and second seating rows and a waterproof loadspace liner tray to protect the cargo area floor from the mud and grime picked up during a long day out on trails.
We used Gear, especially the loadspace liner, thanks to the rain that kept us company.
The pack also enhances the exterior of a Discovery with a set of front and rear mudflaps and a choice of black or silver wheel centre caps.
A requisite of any sporting activity, a first-aid kit, is also included in the deal.
The cost of these Gear items would add up to R28 791 if bought individually but bundled together, cost R22 500.
The package is available to existing Discovery owners or can be built into finance agreements. One of the benefits is that all items are factory-approved and covered under standard vehicle warranty periods.
The new Discovery is still the most versatile premium SUV, with seating for seven, up to 2 500 litres of luggage capacity and class-leading all-terrain capability.
All three seating rows are available with heated seats (heated and cooled in the first two) while massage seats are available for the driver and front passenger.
A dual-purpose powered inner tailgate provides a practical load restraint when raised, but when lowered, the 285mm overhang doubles as a useful bench, ideal for changing muddy cycling shoes or performing mild bicycle maintenance or repairs while under the shelter provided by a onepiece tailgate.
Additional storage includes a deep cubby in the central console, capable of holding a pair of two-litre bottles, a second central armrest binnacle large enough for five iPads and a concealed small-item stowage nook behind the flip-down climate control panel.
With ground clearance rated at 283mm and a maximum wading depth of 900mm, the Discovery can take mountain bikers to the start of even the most remote trails.
When tackling particularly challenging terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can be programmed to autonomously maintain a suitable crawl speed chosen by the driver.
The clever technology allows the driver to concentrate solely on steering as he negotiates obstacles, without the distraction of operating the throttle or brake pedals, and can also be used from a standstill to help when pulling away on slippery surfaces.
Land Rover’s multimode Terrain Response 2 system also optimises a range of settings, from throttle sensitivity to gear change characteristics to suit driving conditions at the turn of a rotary controller.
Gear and Land Rover seem a perfect fit and this premium combination made for a great weekend out.