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Two mature cyclists and the Cross Cape Cycle Route

Mr Legs

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A friend and I have recently done the Cross Cape Cycle Route from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch. We are both in our early sixties and we decided to do the trip over 10 days and also to make use of a support driver. The two of us met about 45 years ago at a lifesaving camp. We also met on the rugby field at school. I went to the navy and he went to the infantry and again we played against each other during the Defence Force rugby weeks in 1980 and 1981. The next year we landed up in the same class at varsity and eventually in the same study group. We then both married Stellenbosch girls, the two girls were friends since school days. It was therefore easy to stay friends. During the years the two of us had some fun together, a trip to Kilimanjaro, I sort of remember of night in Barcelona fuelled by Jaegermeister, there were trips to the Richtersveld when it rained and we got stuck in the mud, there were many hikes and mountain bike races and the annual Cederberg weekend. In short we knew each other well.

We slept in Knysna in an apartment just across from the Waterfront for the first two nights.

On Day 1 we loaded the bikes on the car and our driver Mario dropped us just outside Plett on the eastern bank of the Bitou River. We cycled via Diepwalle, Gouna and Kom se Pad. Beautiful forests, mountains and rivers. The last part of the route follows the last few kilometers of the Karoo to Coast, a race that the two of us did a couple of times. This time I cruised up the hill to Simola. I remembered the 1999 or 2000 K2C when a heatwave and 39C temperatures obliterated the field and many cyclists had to push their bikes up that hill. In those days a 6 hour K2C would have put you in the first half of the field, nowadays it will be at least an hour faster to be in the same position. From Simola it was downhill on the Old Cape Road and into Knysna for a braai and an early night. Distance 72.6km.






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We had an early start on Day 2 and cycled along the lagoon to the Red Bridge Road and then over the famous Red Bridge and up the Phantom Pass. We passed the villages of Rheenendal, Karatara and Homtini and went along the Seven Passes Road. You will struggle to find a route to match this day. Again forests, mountains, rivers and old bridges. It was a humid and muggy day and I did not drink enough fluids and by the time we took the long uphill from Saasveld into George, I was not at my best. But once we reached George and I had a couple of Steri Stumpies, a litre of good old Game and a droë wors, I was well on my way to recovery. It would however take another day of serious hidration to feel 100%.

We booked into self-catering chalets in George and as the Stormers were playing the Bulls we decided to hit the Spur for a beer, T Bone steak and rugby. The ultimate South African combination. The steak wasn’t bad and I drank more water than beer. Distance 76,3km.






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Day 3 had us heading out of George up the beautiful Montagu Pass. The pass currently closed to vehicles, it is badly washed out, rocky with cricket ball sized stones in places, so one cannot just sit back and pedal or spin up the hill, you really had to work. But the reward was immediate: again beautiful scenes and views right down to the sea. I was a bit cheesed off when a young, thin, athletic couple raced past me on e-bikes, while I was plugging away at 6 or 7 km/h. Montagu should certainly appear on your bucket list, steep but stunning.

On the other side of the hill we freewheeled down to Paardepoort and then on to the rolling Klein Karoo hills. I punctured on a rocky downhill river crossing, speed and weight was the cause. Fortunately we had an extra bike and I rode the last 10km to Oudtshoorn on my buddy’s gravel bike. It was warm and I was still feeling the effects of the dehydration of the previous day and I was glad when we reached the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. We stayed in a cottage on the farm Berluda in the picturesque Schoemanshoek valley. I attempted to plug the tyre, but it was still leaking after I inserted a second plug and I changed the tyre and refilled the new one with slime. I will give info on the bikes and tyre choices when I report on Day 4. Dinner was a braai and again we had an early night.







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Great !! we also did this last year April and its was amazing over 10 days - we are so lucky to have these routes and places to ride (for free)

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We woke up to a breezy Day 4, the north westerly was pumping, two thirds of the day was into the wind. We took the Groenfontein / Kruisrivier road on the Southern flanks of the Swartberg. We could see the Swartberg Pass were I did the To Hell and Back a few times. The first time I did the two day trip into The Hell I was on my Gary Fisher Hoo Koo a Koo with thin smooth Continental Town and Country tyres.  This brings me to our bikes. I am on a hardtail Scott Scale, I have a Spark as well, but, for me,  the Spark is too heavy for long gravel roads. I added broad ergonomic handlebar grips and I fitted new Pulse 28 rims and Maxxis Rollers. The Rollers rolls (!) very easily on tar and good gravel roads, but as I found on Day 3 and again today, it is not wide enough for bombing down uneven or rocky downhills, as I again had a small puncture, fortunately the sealant did what it is supposed to do and I could finish the day without having to do repairs. My buddy had two bikes, a gravel bike and a Scott Spark. He did Day 1 on the gravel bike and found it was too bouncy and too light to safely descend and, with the exception of the last day, he rode the rest of the way on the Spark.

We saw Kudu, Eland and springbok along the way, also some smaller animals such as caracal. At Kruisrivier the wind was pumping, at times it was an effort to stay upright. Somehow despite the conditions, we enjoyed the route. The last hour was with the wind sort of from the back and we flew into Calitzdorp. We had to stop just before the Calitzdorp Dam, as a tree was blown over and blocked the road. But the farmers were already busy with a chainsaw and cleared the road in no time.

We booked in at Soeterus, just outside the town on the St Helena Road. Again on a farm and a stopover to recommend. We had a quick shower and then we drove back to Oudtshoorn where Cycle Addict fitted two new Maxxis Icons with sexy caramel sidewalls to my bike to replace the thin Rollers. I will now be slower on the straights and uphills but will be able to take the downhills with more confidence. Back at Soeterus Cajun chicken, steak and boerewors were on the menu and I was in bed by 21:00. Distance 64.4km.

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Edited by Mr Legs
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On Day 5 we cycled back to Calitzdorp then south  through flattish farming areas. Then we climbed the 11km Rooiberg Pass. It is steep and there are no flat sections. The road surface was rough in some areas but all in all, the pass is very rideable.  My new Ikons passed the test and the caramel sidewalls was quickly covered with dust. We did take a break or two on the way up. At one stage we were passed by a Free Sate registered car and the rosy cheeked Free State ladies were very impressed by our exploits. They did not look like the cycling type. We took another rest at the top of the pass and admired the view of the Little Karoo and the Swartberge. 

The downhill on the southern side was fun, and here the robust  Icons  worked hard on the sweeping turns.  The road to Vanwyksdorp had a few good climbs. Our destination was Windmill Farm, just outside Vanwyksdorp. We were not prepared for the 1.5 km steep uphill from the `main` road to the farm, but every effort has its rewards, as Windmill is a little oasis. We stayed in a restored cottage overlooking a dam with geese and to the back of the house was a small hill with aloes and typical karoo plants.  Go and stay at Windmill Farm next time you need a break and time to think.

Mario did some washing of dirty sweaty cycling kit, we had a relaxing afternoon, drove by car to the Rooiberg Lodge for a Brandy and Coke on their stoep while the sun was setting and then we had another early evening braai. One glass of wine and lots of water. Distance 54.54km

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Edited by Mr Legs
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I would like to do this exact trip. This is very interresting. Looking forward to the next days.

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Day 6 saw us leaving Windmill Farm and cycle the fairly flat road from Vanwyksdorp to Muiskraal where we had to take the uphill to the Garcia Pass, it was a 5 or 6 km climb, but at this stage we were no longer fazed by any hill, we just took it in our stride.  On the other side we were rewarded with a 10km high speed rollercoaster downhill tumble into Riversdale. We booked in at Fynbos Lodge and we had enough time to have an afternoon lie down.

We usually got up at 05h00 and it took us about an hour to get ready to cycle. Coffee, rusks, talking rubbish, ablutions and packing the car. Our food during the rides was peanut butter and honey sarmies, baby potatoes and boiled egg, we had energy drinks, energy bars and the odd Gu we sometimes popped at the last hour of riding. After the ride we religiously downed a Steri Stumpie, drank lots of water and Game and ate leftovers of the previous evening. Then we had our main meal early evening, it was protein rich: Steak, chops and boerewors with salad, sousboontjies, baked potato and baked onion.

In Riversdale we had a T bone and chips at the local Spur and I think I was asleep at 21h00. Distance 67,2km.

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On Day 7 we cycled from Riversdale on a gravel road, we crossed the upper reaches of the Duivenhoks River a few times. This river is well known to us, we have done a four day trip from Stellenbosch to Blombos/Still Bay a couple of times and on the last day on the stage from Malgas one crosses the Duivenhoks just before Vermaaklikheid. We made a small navigational error and landed up in a valley in a farmers' yard. The farmer, Mr Streicher, gave directions and soon we were on the correct route through a forest and a long downhill into a valley. There was a long and steep hill to climb out of the valley, but we got to the top. We then cycled just south of Grootvadersbosch and then after another challenging climb we reached Suurbraak, the missionary town well known to those of you familiar with the Double Century route. We stopped for a Coke at a Bangladeshi owned shop and then cycled to the N2. The suggested route for the last 8  or 10 km runs on the N2, but we had no desire to dice 18 wheelers and loaded the bikes on the car and Mario took us to Appelsbosch Guest Farm, a working dairy farm just east of Swellendam. Our cottage was on the side of a big green grassed hill, overlooking the Langeberg Mountains. Late afternoon the cows returned from the dairy and walked in long lines to the meadow where they spent the night. I had time to read and finished the last few pages of Mark Beaumont's Africa Solo, an account of his record breaking cycle from Cairo to Cape Town.  Another steak braai with boerewors, potatoes and onions. Distance 81,93 km.

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Edited by Mr Legs
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love reading about these "tours" . Makes me lus to do something similar everytime I read these types of threads.


Keep the reports and photos coming.

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ya you got me hooked (inspired) now trying to get someone crazy enough to do it with me...

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