Cycling South Africa – Experience The Best Of South Africa On Your Bike!
Cycling South Africa has never been easier, the temperate climate makes it an ideal holiday destination for an energetic break involving cycling. This activity will enable you to approach your itinerary with a different view, and you will be able to see and experience things that you may otherwise not have been able to. Whilst walking or hiking are admirable ways to travel, sometimes it’s just not practical to take so long to cover so little distance! That’s where riding a bike can come into its own: not only will you be out in the great outdoors cycling South Africa, you will also be able to eat up the miles a lot easier while still being able to enjoy the scenery – perfect.
Cycling South Africa – Short History
Thanks to all the bicycle races and tours available today, cycling South Africa’s trails and paths has become very popular over the last few years. The sexy gear that comes with cycling also helps to promote the sport.
In South Africa one the biggest cycling races is the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. This race had humble beginnings but it has always had a special atmosphere. In the beginning, the cycling South Africa scene was limited to a small group of competitive and highly dedicated enthusiasts. If there were eighty competitors at the race it was a lot. Now of course there are more than five hundred competitors that take part in this race every year.
There were other popular races in South Africa that also included the Rapport Tour which ended in 1990. Now the Cell C Tour of South Africa takes the limelight. Like the Tour de France, a grand tour of South Africa is a showcase of the country’s lovely landscapes and landmarks. You could compare riding in some places in the Cape to a Swiss Mountain Pass and others to a Californian beach. That is the diversity of cycling South African tours, which are definitely part of the few remarkable best organized tours in the world. There are hundreds of places to explore on the back of a bicycle and in South Africa cyclists will be spoilt for choice.
Until the year 2000, road bikes were the king of the road, but now mountain bikes have become very popular. It’s ever changing and the number of cycling shops has more than tripled in the last twenty years.
Why Cycling South Africa Not Anywhere Else?
South Africa is officially is located on the southern most tip of the continent, having vast territories and an extensive coastline which measures as much as 1,739 miles or 2,798 kilometers. That is the number one thing why one should think of cycling South Africa.
When it comes to inland of the country, you find both plains and majestic mountains. Amid all of this land and richness, there are some of the best biking trails that you can ever find, this being one of the main reasons that has made cycling South Africa so popular in the last couple of years. So many beautiful sights and breath-taking views could not remain un-ridden and cycling enthusiasts have opened up a great number of trails around the country for everyone to enjoy. Add to this a large number of natural trails created over centuries by man and beast, and you have a biking paradise.
One of the most important aspects about cycling South African trails is the fact that they provide stunning scenery and amazing views, often in difficult to reach locations where it not for the bicycle. It is hard to name one trail as the best one in the country because tastes are subjective, but here are the top choices of expert and beginner riders alike.
Cycling South Africa – Recommended Bike Trails & Paths
Cycling is not only a great way to relax and have fun, it is also a healthy way of exercising, and this is the reason why many people practice this sport all over the world. In South Africa, there are many routes and parks where people can go cycling and burn calories. The following is a sneak preview of what you get from cycling South Africa’s trails:
The Cape Winelands
The stunning winelands town of Paarl has a great network of cycle paths which radiate from its centre and are suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. You can simply stick to the picturesque tree-lined streets in town, or venture out along paths through lush vineyards; stopping to sample the vintages along the way. The Cape Winelands are the true jewel when it comes to cycling South Africa, you can cycle gentle, undulating country paths interspersed with picture-perfect villages and historic country estates. This region is ideal for packing a picnic lunch on your panniers, picking up a bottle of local wine and exploring at your own pace.
Braamfontein Spruit trail
Those looking for an adventure should try out the Braamfontein Spruit trail, which was initially created by the municipalities of Randburg, Sandton and Johannesburg as a hiking trail, but has fallen into disuse years back. People passionate about cycling South Africa consider this region as the true gem of Johannesburg because of its wonderful landscapes. Johannesburg has in fact more than two thousands parks inviting both locals and tourists to explore the nature with their family and friends either on foot or on bike. All the green areas in South Africa are impressive especially in the eyes of a foreigner not used to the flora and fauna here. It is really inspiring and comforting to follow the trails in the heart of the nature after a stressful week at work. Cycling South Africa but especially on the greenbelts of Johannesburg offers people the possibility to explore nature and leave all their stress behind.
Hogsback – the Eastern Cape
By bike is far and away the best way to experience the breathtaking scenery in this region. You can hire either mountain bikes or normal cycles depending on how energetic you want to be and there is a huge network of tracks to head out to. Some trails you may want to attempt are the gentler (and shorter) Holy Cyrus Loop at 8km; the medium length Deodar Loop and Madonna Loop, at 14km and 22km respectively; and for the very experienced and super fit, the Complete Trail at a thigh-wobbling 28km. This last one certainly requires dedication but, if tackled, is bound to be the highlight of your cycling South Africa adventure.
Cycling South Africa is not complete without biking the Spruit. It is in fact a small river in South Africa and the region where people enjoy mountain biking was named after this small stream. The river passes through Sandton, Emmarentia, the Delta Park, Greenside and Melville. The green belt is perfect for cycling and locals usually jog and walk their dogs along this trail, besides going for a ride. In South Africa, cycling on trails that are also public land is free of charge, so you can take your time admiring the beauty of nature, if you choose the Spruit trail. Contrary to expectations, even though public space, the trail has no litter issues as it sometimes happens, because the space is maintained by private companies. While its popularity has increased greatly over the past few years, the Spruit has been getting bigger and bigger. New tracks are being added every year making a bike ride in this place even more interesting. Discovering the extra loops transforms cycling from a daily routine into a great adventure. More than that, you can stop and enjoy a cup of coffee and eat along the way anytime you wish. There are many places along the tracks where you can stop for a break and safely leave your bike to eat or to admire the scenery.
The Spruit is indeed an interesting region to go cycling. However, tourists interested in cycling South Africa should be aware of the fact that cycling alone and even in pairs is not advisable. While litter and other problems are very well handled by private institutions, safety continues to remain a great issue along the Spruit track. There is a safe place where you can park your bike called Fratelli located in the Blairgowrie area at the intersection between Conrad Drive and Hillcrest Avenue.
Soweto Town Tour
For those who prefer to cycling South Africa only in the urban areas, you can’t beat a day tour around Soweto by cycle. Join one of the professional tour companies or buy a map and strike out on your own! You can set a leisurely pace as you cycle by Nelson Mandela’s and Bishop Tutu’s houses (both in South Africa’s most notable residential street, Vilakazi Street); or take a breather at the fascinating Hector Pieterson Museum. If you take a professional tour, you will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel and offered a running commentary along the way; but if you prefer to go solo, it’s a reasonably easy city to navigate and you’ll find it hard to get lost if you follow the landmarks.
The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail has been in existence for less than five years and already it’s a fully serviced trail with accommodation points typically 3-4 hours apart. This trail is the one of the most fascinating ways of cycling South Africa. The accommodation included nature reserve cottages, village guest houses, refurbished caves, farm houses, country hotels, game lodges even a occasional Boer War block house. With a little advance planning and reservations you can ride secure in the knowledge that a warm meal and comfortable bed awaits you at the end of each day. And since all accommodation stops are fully serviced, providing bedding and towels, there’s no need to carry tents or sleeping bags.
Meals along the way generally consist of South African traditional fare such as marog (wild spinach), wildspastei (venison pie), babotie (curry), potjiekos (pot food) and they easily meet the basic dietary requirements (and the appetites) of multi-day cyclists. In the morning you’ll also leave with a packed lunch and ample water to keep you going. Water is available at all accommodation stops and about every 2-3 hours at points between the accommodation stops.
For those who are not sure when they want to go cycling South Africa, no worries…the Freedom Trail is open to the public throughout the year. However, there are sections where it goes through privately owned land as well as proclaimed protected areas. Here you need to obtain a Traversing Permit in advance so that the respective land managers will be notified of the dates that you will be riding.
There are many other paths options for cycling South Africa’s cities and regions as the country has a wonderful infrastructure in place to cater to cyclists of all abilities. If you are heading out on your own however, it is advisable to ask around before setting off, as many of the roads can be treacherous in terms of traffic. But use your common sense, wear a helmet and experience the best of South Africa on your bike.
Recommended Gear For Cycling South Africa
This is some essential gear that you will need to get comfortable with your road bike tour, whether it be when cycling South Africa or elsewhere.
- The frame of your bicycle should be your number one priority when choosing your bicycle. Try the Giant TCR 2 CD20 which not only looks pro, but also rides like a dream.
- Protect your eyes from UV light and suicidal bugs with D’arcs Meridian Glasses.
- A Silverback Scandi helmet features good looks and very good protection with a double in-mould process and Detox 2 retention system. This helmet also has multiple air channels to keep you cool.
- Olympic meteor shoes and ryder pedals are one of your first steps to looking pro. Rigid soled shoes and clip-in pedals mean that you are not only pushing down hard, but are pulling up too.
- Volotex Red Label Bib Shorts are a good investment and your bottom will thank you later on those long rides. The Bib Straps also keep the Velotex’s tope quality pad firmly in place to avoid chafing.
- And Finally the Schwinn Moab Comp is one of the best mountain bikes on the market at the moment for beginners.
If you are making a long weekend of it, then you have to go to ride in the KZN Midlands, with Karkloof, Hilton, Howick, Cedara and the world cup venue of Cascades all within a 40 km radius.
In order to draw a conclusion, we all know that the most famous sports in the Republic of South Africa are rugby, soccer and cricket, but few realize how popular and in high demand off road cycling has become nowadays. With more and more clubs or dedicated communities forming online and even websites appearing with offers of financing and bicycle rentals, there is no doubt that the above mentioned South African trails will be seeing and increasingly larger number of visitors in the years to come.
Happy cycling South Africa everyone!
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