The idea of doing a cycle tour has been in my head for a long time. I did not find the right degree of challenge and manageability for our plan until a few months ago.
M and I were cycling in Grabouw and loved it. A plan was coming together for our December holiday. I love this time of year when you can forget your work routine and return to the basics. Bike, eat, sleep, repeat. In many ways last year’s big bike week was prep for this adventure.
Day 1: Groenlandberg 60 km 7h
Villiersdorp was the obvious staging point. We left at first light and followed the tar road to Twaalfontein: Our access point to the big green mountain. It was crucial to get navigation right here in order to avoid unnecessary effort on our first (and most likely hardest) day. A short push through soft sand led onto a long straight jeep track into fynbos fields. Sean had warned us of a portage section
higher up due to the path being washed away. But soon enough that was behind us and we knew we had cracked the worst. A celebratory snack at the top and down the long jeep track to the top of the Viljoen’s Pass.
More sunscreen was applied and we
headed through the forest. With filled up water bottles. Into the heat of mid day. Thankfully it was mostly down so we did not have to work too hard. Exit the forestry gate and roll into a town stocking up on festivities.
Refuel at Peregrine and cruise to Belfield wines just down the road. Our hosts were superb and the Acorn Cottage offered the perfect shelter for two tired bodies.
The owners had sourced braai packs for us for dinner and those went down a treat. We quickly had to readjust our energy consumption as there were no left overs for the next day.
Day 2: Highlands 60km 5h
Starting with fresh filter coffee is always a treat.
The morning was not too hot and we made good time to the base of the pass. Views were spectacular. Iona farm on top has the most stunning position and a very inviting looking dam. We will be back.
The long down towards Arabella. We practiced building sand castles on the new single track starting at the Arabella gate. Well done on the resort to set this up. Certainly improves your sand riding skills! Lunch under the trees. (We won’t be that leisurely when we do the Total Sports Terra Firma in a few weeks time). Tar into Sandbaai. Shop at the Engen and roll down to the coast and the Sandbaai Country House. Luckily they had tv and this kept us amused.
An early night.
Day 3: Chocolate and Beer is all you need: Hemel en Aarde 70 km 7h
Our host had packed us sandwiches to die for so bags were heavy as we signed in the the logbook at Euodia Cycles. Up the black route we went into the super pretty valley. Can only recommend this! At the top we hit the district road and continued through dust clouds. A lucky water stream by the side of the road and we continue on to Tesselaarsdal. The hidden gem.
Super pretty surroundings but the hamlet is a bit disappointing. We find a bottle of liquid gold to refresh and we are off on the last bit to Caledon. Watching blue cranes a plenty.
Little Lotta Cottage was certainly spacious and the cracked tiles add to character.
Day 4 Sonderend 60 km 5h
We leave the windmills behind and head for the hills. Chasing herds of sheep and guineafools. Finally down to the Sonderend Rivier. Huge and impressive. The heat saps our energy as we climb the final pass. The freewheel all the way into Villiersdorp. Celebratory coffees and cake!
Well done to M who rode really well and always smiled even when things got hard.
Thanks to all other friends and supporters who encouraged us along the way.
The only logistical glitch we had was at Nature Conservation who only accepted exact cash for permits on the day. This is just infuriatingly annoying. Especially more so after we phoned several time to confirm details and visited the office the week before.
I can only recommend this trip to all. We had an absolute blast and it is very doable with minimal logistical headaches.
- Arabella will put you in the saddle (iol.co.za)