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Found 10 results

  1. Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 DI2 The recently released Canyon Grail CF SLX was Erik Kleinhans' eye-catching steed for this edition of Tour de Braai. The Hover bar is a unique design and the bike's most noticeable feature. It is a completely integrated carbon cockpit with a double bar system designed to offer front-end damping without the additional weight of a suspension fork or active suspension system. Canyon claim that the hover bar adds only 120 grams to a conventional cockpit setup. The thin flattened portion of the top bar allows flex, absorbing gravel chatter particularly when the rider has their hands on the tops or the hoods. The bottom bar is integrated with the stem and mounts to the steerer tube. The Grail also features Canyon's S15 VCLS 2.0 CF seatpost which has a leaf spring design to absorb vibrations and improve rider comfort. This model comes with the Shimano Ultegra DI2 11 speed drive train, disc brakes, and Reynolds Assault ATR Disc carbon wheels wrapped in Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres. Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Bite, 700 x 40C, Tubeless Specialized Diverge Expert The Specialized Diverge Expert was the bike of choice for braaimaster Jan Braai (although he did also spend some time testing the S-Works model as well). The Diverge Expert is the second from the top in the Diverge range, and features a full carbon Fact9r frame, SWAT box tool storage, and the FutureShock front suspension system with 20 mm of travel for vibration damping and rider comfort. The Diverge Expert is specced with SRAM's Force hydraulic disc brakes, and the Force 1 drive train, with a 42T chainring and 10-42T cassette. Jan has chosen to wrap his Roval SLX 24 Aluminium wheelset in Specialized Sawtooth tyres instead, of the stock Trigger Pros. Tyres: Specialized Sawtooth, 700 x 42C, 120TPI, Tubeless Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2 The Giant TCX SLR 2 was piloted by Leonardo van Onselen of Flandria Cycles, Stellenbosch. This model has an Advanced-grade Composite frame and fork in a striking orange colour scheme. The TXC Advanced Pro 2 is specced with the SRAM Rival 1 eleven speed drive train, with 11- 32T cassette and a 40T chain ring. Stopping power is supplied by Rival 1 HRD Hydraulic Disc brakes. Leonardo swapped out the stock Schwalbe X-One tyres for 38c Panaracer GravelKing SK's on the stock Giant P-X2 aluminium wheelset. Tyres: Panaracer GravelKing SK, 700 x 38C, Tubeless Custom Niner BSB 9 RDO This was my steed for the five-day adventure, and the Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo the weekend before, courtesy of the legends at Bike Mob. The stock carbon fork was replaced with a Lauf Trail Racer, for extra comfort and compliance at the front, while the stock Niner CX Alloy front wheel was swapped out for a Stan's ZTR Crest rim laced to a Chris King hub to accommodate the fork. A SRAM Red 2x mechanical groupset with 11- 36T Shimano XTR cassette and 50/34T chainrings provided much-needed gear range for climbing. The Vittoria Terreno tyres were chosen for durability and were bomb proof throughout both events. Tyres: Vittoria Terreno Dry, 700 x 40C, 320 TPI If you'd like to drool over more of the gravel bikes of Tour de Braai you can take a look at last year's bikes here and here.
  2. Riders are supplied with two full sets of tour cycling kit, and a warm jacket. The event is not timed, which means you can amble along at your own pace and enjoy the scenery, although there is a daily Strava segment for those wanting to race Erik Kleinhans for the Yellow jersey. In addition to the joy of not having to stay in tents, and use portable toilets, the ‘start’ time is 9 AM, which means no scrabbling in the dark trying to find socks, or squirming into bibs hunched over in a tent. In fact, the only real rule at Tour de Braai is that no lycra is allowed at breakfast, saving us all from the usual sausage fest over coffee. After suffering from pretty serious envy when Matt joined the November edition of the Tour de Braai last year, I was lucky enough to crack the nod for this round and experienced what I think might just be the future of ‘stage riding’ in South Africa. It's all about the gees Day 1: Fancourt, George to Surval Lodge, Oudtshoorn Distance: 77 km Elevation: 1110 metresWe spent the first night at the luxurious Fancourt Lodge in George. After being shown to our rooms (I’m pretty sure the room was bigger than my apartment) riders were welcomed with sundowners and snacks, overlooking the golf course and Outeniqua mountains. As the last rays of the sun disappeared, the braai got going, and the team cooked the biggest steaks I have ever seen. These were served up with braaibroodjies and salads while the wine flowed. The sun rose the following day, accompanied by a hot, dry wind, which followed us around in the form of a headwind the entire day, leaving our mouths and throats feeling like sandpaper. Luckily the food and scenery were so spectacular that it was possible to forget about the wind and enjoy the experience. After gorging ourselves at the breakfast buffet we assembled at the start point for a “briefing” and Bootlegger espresso before the Tour de Braai was officially unleashed on the roads and gravel of the Western Cape. Montagu Pass: definitely a bucket list climb A few kilometres into the ride we hit the Montagu Pass climb, possibly my favourite of the whole event (you might hear this more than once). This was the Strava segment for the day, and the pack quickly split as the joust commenced. Brunch braai? That'll do. After the red mist cleared, we all reassembled at the summit and rolled down to the first Braai stop at Herold Wines where we were treated to a spread of chops, salads, and the exceptional Herold Pinot Noir.The remainder of the ride was a brutal slog into the bone-dry headwind through Oudtshoorn to the green oasis and cool swimming pool of the Surval Boutique Olive Estate. Aero was everything Day 2: Surval Lodge to The Queen of Calitzdorp Distance: 88 km Elevation: 1341 metresOnce again we set off in a strong headwind. Fortunately it was no longer hot and dry: instead, it was just a cooling gale. The first 38 kilometres were on tar, which took us over a series of rollers along the base of the Swartberg Mountain range. This was familiar territory after the Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo the previous weekend and I was grateful we were not tackling the looming Swartberg Pass. Our first braai stop was at Swartberg Country Manor where we enjoyed the best boerie rolls I have ever tasted: served on fresh homemade rolls with a tomato and onion smoor. I had to be prised away from the table and shoved reluctantly back onto the bike. This soon became a pattern, and the hardest part of many days for me was getting back on the bike after a particularly restful or tasty braai stop. The route remained undulating, and the headwind brisk, so we made our way slowly and steadily to Calitzdorp through a mixture of farmland and aloe dotted kloofs. We spent the afternoon at Boplaas Cellars, sampling their world renown port with a late lunch of lamb burgers and potato wedges, and shortly thereafter headed to Karoo Life for a supper of braai pizzas. Day 3: The Queen of Calitzdorp to Rooiberg Lodge, Van Wyksdorp Distance: 45 km Elevation: 1142 metres After a comfortable night at the Queen of Calitzdorp, we started our day a little differently. We headed to Calitzdorp High School where the team from Qhubeka handed 60 brand new bicycles to learners. It was interesting to see the handover process and understand a little more about what Qhubeka do. We helped as many learners as possible with getting set up, and adjusting loose or rubbing brakes before regrouping and heading out towards the main climb and Strava segment of the day: Rooiberg Pass.The pass climbs about 480 metres in 6.6 kilometres. At last, we had no wind to contend with, and the gradient is steady and comfortable, although the rocky terrain adds to the challenge. The views are absolutely breathtaking, making it another one for the bucket list. At the top, we were treated to Lamb sosaties on the braai while soaking up the sun and incredible views of the valley below. The descent was definitely a highlight (I can’t keep saying my favourite, but it definitely was): it was fast, rutted and sketchy, and provoked many sound effects (and about five dropped bottles), which I suppose is a good measure of entertainment value. A few more rollers took us to the turnoff for the Tour de Braai’s best-kept secret, Rooiberg Lodge. An unexpected sanctuary of green in the dusty grey of the Karoo landscape, with a verandah overlooking a rolling lawn, swimming pool, and farm dam. The ideal spot for a soothing post ride gin and tonic, with a slice of the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. Day 4: Rooiberg Lodge to De Doornkraal Boutique Hotel, Riversdale Distance: 77 km Elevation: 1038 metresLeaving Rooiberg Lodge was heartbreaking: I could happily have spent the next three days on the verandah with a book. We were soon on the rolling gravel roads that would characterise the majority of the ride. The Strava segment for the day was a power test: Utah se Bult, a fairly flat 1.9 kilometre stretch with 58 metres of climbing, and this emptied what was left in my legs for the rest of the day. Luckily there was very little wind, and the riding was faster than previous days. Soon the terrain began to change from the flat dry plains of the Karoo, to the signature green fynbos of the Overberg and we hit the tar towards the spectacular Garcia’s Pass which winds through the Langeberg Mountains to Riversdale. At the top of the pass, fresh lamb pies from Delish Heidelberg were waiting for us. I can't do justice to these pies with words, but know that they were, as the name suggests, delicious. The descent down Garcia’s was another for the “best ever” list. Fast and flowing tar, with a flat run through farmlands into Riversdale to our overnight accommodation at De Doornkraal Boutique Hotel. Day 5: De Doornkraal, Riversdale to Suurbrak Distance: 77 km Elevation: 1212 metres Our final ride took us from Riversdale to Suurbrak just outside Swellendam. Another day characterised by rolling gravel roads, this time through lush fields, with the Langeberg Mountain range towering to the right. The Strava segment was a killer kicker, creatively named the N2 climb, with 110 metres of ascent over 1.8 kilometres on some fairly slippery gravel. After about 38 kilometres we stopped for a braai next to the Duivenshoks Rivier, and again it was with great reluctance that I left my comfy camping chair to get back on the bike. Once again the headwind had picked up, and we made our way slowly, and for me, painfully towards the finish at Suurbrak where curried mince Roostekoek was waiting. We were then shuttled to our final overnight stop: the spectacular A Hilltop Country Retreat in Swellendam. This was the perfect venue for a final braai and kuier, giving us a chance to make sure that not a single bottle of the Klein Constantia MCC was left behind. I have not experienced an event quite like the Tour de Braai and I can’t think of a better way to spend time with a good crew, on a bike exploring the Western Cape. The riding is perfectly balanced: it is by no means a walk in the park and you need to be fit to properly enjoy it, but it will not leave you too broken to appreciate your surroundings or enjoy each evening. The gravel format is very inclusive, as there is no technical terrain to negotiate, so roadies and mountain bikers alike will enjoy it: especially with a gravel bike, which really is the perfect tool for the job. In short: if you enjoy good food, great wine, excellent company, and riding your bike, put the Tour de Braai on your to-do list. I'm not sure if I can look a stage race tent village in the eye again. For more detail on the bikes, take a look at the Gravel Bikes of Tour de Braai.
  3. Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race Erik Kleinhans' eye-catching Canyon was his pick from their lineup for the event. It's a cyclo-cross race bike with more aggressive geometry than the other bikes on tour, but given the generally good condition of the Klein Karoo gravel and Erik's abilities it was well suited. This top end model was suitably kitted out with Reynolds Assault LS carbon wheels, SRAM Force CX1, and a beautifully integrated handlebar and stem. Tyres: Maxxis Rambler 700x40C SilkShield TR, 120TPI (Tubeless) Momsen R355 Jan Braai's Momsen R355 threw in a bit of a twist with some 29" mountain bike wheels and tyres. The Momsen offers good clearance and versatility being able to accommodate the 2" Continental Race Kings on Stans Arch rims. Jan certainly had an advantage on the bumpy, loose downhills, and in maintaining traction on the uphills, however the broader contact patch and meatier tread made for a less efficient ride. Given the predominantly smooth surfaces we encountered, the bike was a bit over-equipped for the route, but that didn't seem to slow him down. Tyres: Continental Race King 29x2.0 (Tubeless) Cannondale Slate Ultegra My steed for the week was the plush Cannondale Slate rolling on 27.5" wheels with some semi-slick 27.5x1.75 tyres. Had I done a bit more forward planning and arranged the bike earlier I'd have fitted something with a bit more tread. Thankfully though the road surfaces were quite accommodating and the tyres faired well until the road got bendy. On turns with loose marble like stones on a hard surface, it was very skittish and I had to slow right down to keep the bike upright. The turns aside, the tyre width and volume did make for an incredibly comfortable ride (and I'm sure the Lefty helped here too). Tyres: Kenda Koast Sport 27.5x1.75 60TPI (Tubeless) Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Tim Brink's Santa Cruz Stigmata CC was equipped with the same Maxxiss Rambler 40c tyres as on the Canyon and both had a hassle-free ride. The Stigmata is no stranger to our shores as one of the earlier gravel bikes to hit the market. Tim can usually be seen riding all sorts of typically "mountain bike only" terrain on this bike so naturally, the smooth roads of Tour de Braai offered little challenge for him (and the Stig). Tyres: Maxxis Rambler 700x40C SilkShield TR, 120TPI (Tubeless) Momsen R355 Another Momsen R355 was piloted by David Moseley, but this one featured a more conventional 700x40c wheel and tyre setup (the same bike which we reviewed earlier this year). Based on the feedback over the week, the general consensus was that 700x40c was the sweet spot for the Klein Karoo gravel providing just enough volume to give comfort while still a fast rolling tyre. Tyres: Clement X’Plor MSO 60TPI 700x40c Folding Bead (Tubeless) IF Bikes Custom Titanium gravel / touring bike To a casual observe Kenny Scheepers' understated bike might not garner a second look, but one look at the head badge and you realise it's no ordinary machine. This is a fully custom Titanium Independent Fabrication frame hand built in the US. Kenny opted for 38c Challenge Gravel Grinder tyres and as the only rider with tubes was also the only rider to puncture over the five days. All the punctures were a snake bite and all happened at speed as we headed downhill. In order to run the tyre pressures that we found to be ideal for comfort on these roads (2 - 2.5 bar) a tubeless setup is mandatory to avoid snakebites. Tyres: Challenge Gravel Grinder Race Series 700x38c, 120TPI (Tubes) To find out more about the Tour de Braai visit the website: http://braai.com/braaitour/tour-de-braai/The next tour takes place in May 2018.
  4. After four days of riding my legs had started to come alive and I frantically clung onto Jan and Erik’s wheels over a mixture of punchy rollers and seemingly endless, but gradual climbs which characterised the day. The upside of all that climbing was some seriously fast and fun downhills which, thankfully, were all void of any aggressive turns. The condition of the roads through the week through largely remote, rural areas has been impressive. The harsh corrugations I’d anticipated were few and far between. By and large the surfaces on flatter stretches have been smooth and hard packed while a handful of the climbs and descents have offered more of a challenge. Overall my semi-slick tyres have faired impressively well. With the benefit of hindsight (and some better planning) I would still opt for something with some tread to help keep traction and speed through turns. After forty kilometres of rolling climbs in steadily climbing heat our intersection of the Duiwenhoksrivier was the perfect opportunity beer stop. Shoes and helmets off we all found a rock perch in the stream to cool off and allow the back markers to catch up. It took a bit of will power for us to depart this idyllic impromptu rest stop for the final half of the day. Once again I clung onto faster wheels as we powered over two of the bigger climbs of the day in searing thirty-five degree temperatures. A tailwind was helping us along at a good pace, but meant there was little escaping the radiating heat. From the sixty-two kilometer mark it was largely downhill to the finish in Suurbrak where we enjoyed some ice cold beers and super sized chicken mayo roosterkoek. After a few rounds of “cheers” with fellow participants we jumped into the shuttle bound for our final overnight stop in Swellendam. What a privilege to have been part of this wholly unique experience. As a rider I’ve not needed to worry about a thing week short of turning pedals and (over)indulging in food and drink. The crew, who seamlessly form an integral part of the experience, have kept all the wheels turning as we migrated across the Cape. Look out for a "Bikes of Tour de Braai" feature next week where we'll take a look at a selection of the bikes on the Tour. To find out more about the Tour de Braai visit the website: http://braai.com/braaitour/tour-de-braai/The next tour takes place in May 2018.
  5. Erik Kleinhans's Canyon Exceed CF SLX Erik Kleinhans arrived with what must be one of the cleanest monster cross builds we've seen. Erik has fitted drop bars to his Canyon Exceed 29er carbon hardtail mountain bike. The drivetrain is also a mix and match with a SRAM XX1 Eagle crankset with a Force derailleur and brakeset. Erik retained the RockShoc RS-1 fork but custom fitted the remote lockout to the drop bars. The wheels are DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline with Maxxis Icon 2.2 front and Aspen 2.1 rear. Jan Braai's Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Jan Braai, the imagination behind the race, rocked up in style with this Santa Cruz Stigmata. As is customary with a Santa Cruz, the wheels are from Enve fitted and wrapped 38c Vitorria Adventure Trail tyres. The Zipp handelbars, stem, and seatpost polish off a well-rounded bike. Rob Gilmour's Lynskey Cooper CX The supple, shock-absorbing ride that titanium provides makes it an ideal material for endurance gravel bikes. Even the most ardent steel or titanium rider will concede that carbon forks are the way to go on a rigid setup, and on this bike Rob has elected Lynsky's Pro Carbon CX. The SRAM Force1 drivetrain powers American Classic Race wheels with challenge Gravel Grinder 38c tyres. Leonardo van Onselen's 3T Explorer Leonardo's white carbon 3T Explorer certainly stands out in a crowd. 3T say this purpose built gravel bike boasts aerodynamic frame tubing that benefits the rider on fast tar sections and headwinds. This particular build is fitted with Easton EC90 carbon wheels along with a SRAM Force1 groupset with a Rotor 3D crankset. David Moseley's Trek Crockett 5 The Trek Crockett 5 represents a more attainable option for the everyday rider, but is just as capable as the exotic bikes above. The bike arrives from the factory with a Shimano 105 drivetrain with FSA crankset while braking is taken care of by a set of Hayes CX 5 mechanical disc brakes. Bontrager cockpit components and wheels complete the bike. The one change on this bike are the Vittoria Adventure Trail 38c tubeless tyres. Found this interesting? Take a look at the 2017 edition of Bikes of Tour de Braai here.
  6. As we made our way toward the mountains the fast rolling roads and occasional tail wind guided us along swiftly. The stark landscapes of the Klein Karoo hold a unique beauty which we been in awe of through the week. The riding pace today in particular offered ample time so soak in the surroundings. At the forty-five kilometre mark we joined the tar R323 which links Ladismith and Riversdale. With the change in surface the steady ascent of the Garcia Pass began. The pass was built as a gateway between the coastal region and inland Klein Karoo in 1877. The climb from the Ladismith side was roughly twelve kilometres long with the first six of those a gently rising approach. A head wind made for slow progress, but also gave time once again to admire the beauty of the surrounding mountain range. Atop the pass we were rewarded with incredible chicken pies from Delish Restaurant in Heidelberg, fresh out of a roadside fire oven. Along with a sampling of braaied steak with Chimichurri sauce and a dash of Chenin Blanc. Bellies full and bottles recharged we set off down the fun, twisty descent for the final sixteen kilometres towards our second last overnight stop in Riversdale. To find out more about the Tour de Braai visit the website: http://braai.com/braaitour/tour-de-braai/The next tour takes place in May 2018.
  7. Knowing that we had a seven kilometre Rooiberg Pass and the prior evenings festivities to negotiate with on the day we had anticipated a gentle start. But the high levels of gees and boyish enthusiasm within the first group resulted in a flurry of mock attacks which suitably awoke the legs and lungs, all in the name of a bit of foolish fun. A short section of tar delivered us onto the now familiar gravel as we approached the slopes of the Rooiberg Pass. The road begins to rise gently for six kilometers before it kicks up in ernest where the true climb starts over the next seven kilometres. The summit of the pass at 797m above sea level saw a number of firsts for the day: our first stop, the first glass of wine and first braai, all before noon. After a mountain top gourmet chicken burger and a glass or two of chilled De Krans Moscato we made our way down the somewhat sketchy descent on the other side of the pass. On semi slicks the few sharp and loose corners made for some exciting slippery moments as I watched those with any form of tread more confidently tackle the turns (Note to my future self: give more thought to tyres). A few testy rolling hills over the next eleven kilometers took us to our next overnight stop at an oasis tucked away in the middle of nowhere - the Rooiberg Lodge. A dip in the pool, grapefruit gin and tonics, mind blowing chocolate cake and an early afternoon massage… there’s not much more you could ask for.
  8. Day Two - Oudtshoorn to CalitzdorpAfter spending our evening at an Oudtshoorn local a few of us had agreed to tag along with Erik Kleinhans for a 45km “warm-up” ride to our breakfast spot and official start point for the day at the Swartberg Country Manor. The more responsible among us chose to use the early morning hours wisely by sleeping in and enjoying the comfort of a shuttle ride instead of mildly suffering on Erik’s wheel. After a hearty breakfast at Swartberg Country Manor we set off towards Calitzdorp. The 50km route was predominantly downhill as we dropped off the foothills of the famed Swartberg Pass. A few kickers and short climbs tested the legs after our morning warm up efforts, but the long sections of fast sweeping roads had us all grinning from ear to ear as we passed through some of the most incredible lush farmlands tucked away at the foot of the mountains. Having made some last minute arrangements for a gravel bike I hadn’t put too much thought into my tyre choice. The semi-slick 27.5x1.75 tyres on the Cannondale Slate are superbly good rollers and have handled the gravel roads well, but I did need to shave speed today to stay upright through the loose corners. Thankfully I kept the rubber side in contact with the gravel and had heaps of fun racing down descents in full aero-tuck mode despite the lack of traction. With just a few kilometers to go we stopped off for a quick gin and tonic and a obligatory flag shot overlooking the Calitzdorp Dam. Arriving in Calitzdorp we spent a relaxing afternoon at the Boplaas cellar sampling their award winning port and tucking in to a lunch braai. What’s up with the Jersey colours?Although the Tour de Braai is, as the name suggests, a tour rather than a race you may have noticed the multicoloured jerseys donned by participants. All participants get the orange version of the jersey in their race pack, but there are some special jerseys. Here is Jan Braai’s explanation: We chose orange to match the colour of a perfect flame. The design is inspired by Eddie Merckx’s jersey of the 1970s. Erik Kleinhans, being a real pro, insisted on a yellow jersey for the best strava segment. Tim Brink couldn’t fit into the smallest Bioracer jersey, so we made a special jersey for him. The fact that the light baby blue matches Tim’s eyes is a pure coincidence. The truth is, the colour of all the jerseys was chosen simply to look cool. Still coping with the FOMO? Stay tuned for daily updates through the week.
  9. At the summit of the Montagu Pass Day One - George to OudtshoornAfter a festive night of free flowing beer and wine, Karan beef steaks and curious conversations we set off on our first day of Tour de Braai. The route for the first day took us over roughly 70km from George to Oudtshoorn via Montagu Pass. Some light overnight rain dampened the roads just enough to settle the dust and keep the temperatures down as we hit the slopes of the pass within the first thirty minutes. The iconic Montagu Pass runs between George and Herold climbing approximately 410m over 4.6 kilometers at an average gradient of 9%. First opened to traffic in 1847, this gravel throughway has since been replaced by the tar Outeniqua Pass which runs roughly parallel. This meant almost zero vehicle traffic and ideal conditions for bicycles. While not too long a climb, the gradient jumps up to 14-16% in some of the steep sections which test the legs. Over the top of the climb we moseyed on to our first stop at Herold Wines where, naturally, we sampled some of their fantastic wines and then enjoyed some incredible chicken sosaties prepared by Jan Braai. After a hearty early lunch and plenty of wine “tasting” we set off for the remaining forty-five kilometers to Oudtshoorn. The combination of the fuel stop, a steady tailwind and the power of Erik Kleinhans on the front, we made quick work of the remaining section as we rolled through the dry roads of the Klein Karoo. Arriving in Oudtshoorn a more little sun kissed than when we began we settled into our guest house, kicked up our feet and shared stories from the day. If today is anything to go by we’re in for week filled with fun and inspired taste buds. Stay tuned for more...
  10. German participant Ralf Stapela conquers the mighty Rooiberg Pass on Day 3 of the inaugural Tour de Braai. Photo credit: Craig Kolesky. The five-day ride is the inaugural Tour de Braai, an antidote to South Africa’s obsession with gruelling mountain bike stage races, tents and smelly communal toilets. The Tour is the brainchild of Jan Braai, the man behind the National Braai Day initiative and the National Braai Tour. Photo credit: Craig Kolesky. Riders on the first Tour have come from all over South Africa, with one participant from Germany and another from Switzerland also dipping their toes into the braai and bike trek. The Tour de Braai started in George last Monday, with overnight stops during the week including daily luxury accommodation and fine braai dining in Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, Rooiberg Lodge in the Klein Karoo, and Riversdale. On Friday afternoon, the Tour will reach its final destination of Swellendam. One of the pioneering gravel riders on the Tour de Braai is elite South African mountain biker Erik Kleinhans, a man with multiple stage race wins under his belt, as well as being a former South Africa cross-country champion. On hearing about the Tour de Braai, Kleinhans was intrigued by the concept of a stage event where the main aim is to have fun. After four days of gravel riding and the best braai meals in South Africa, he’s convinced that this is the way forward for cycle touring. Photo credit: Craig Kolesky. "It's great to combine my favourite food pastime - braaing - with the sport that I love," says Kleinhans. “It's been amazing to be out in nature and cycling through such fantastic areas. Everywhere we have been is renowned for good food and stunning scenery; it’s made the Tour de Braai very special. The week has been incredible.” The idea behind the Tour de Braai is to showcase the incredible countryside of the Western Cape and to let people experience it on their bicycles in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. "We have enjoyed excellent Garden Route and Klein Karoo hospitality in our first four days of riding," says Jan Braai. “On the first day, some riders were still keen to come to breakfast in their cycling kit and ready to race, but that is not the ethos of the Tour de Braai. We are here to see beautiful scenery and to enjoy ourselves. So far, both those objectives have been achieved. “Everyone has enjoyed the Tour highlights of the Montagu Pass, the port in Caltizdorp, riding up the Rooiberg Pass and braaing at the top, then crossing into the Overberg via the picturesque Garcia Pass. It’s fantastic to see people enjoying themselves on and off the bike and to show them parts of the country that are very special.” Photo credit: Craig Kolesky. German participant Ralf Stapela, from bicycle company Bergamont is riding his Bergamont Grandurance cyclocross bike. Many of the first-time Tour de Braai riders have taken to gravel bikes to participate in the Tour, another unique aspect of the experience. “It’s been amazing,” says Stapela. “The whole week has been very special, but especially today (the fourth day). It was a bit windy and cold, but the ride was an experience you won’t forget. I’m from Europe, so the conditions were perfect! I’m so glad I did it; I would definitely come back for more.” Today the first ever Tour de Braai concluded with the final ride, Riversdale to Swellendam, with an en route lunch braai in Suurbraak. Entries for the November edition of the Tour de Braai are open, and can be found at http://braai.com/braaitour/tour-de-braai/
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