Dust off your bike and start preparing
for a trip, whether it’s a getaway
family weekend in the country, the cycle tour
you’ve always wanted to tackle or
a biking holiday in fabulous France.
When you’re in a car, bus or train there’s a
big steel cage between you, the sweet-smelling
air and the lush fields. But when you’re on a bike
you’re right in the thick of it.
You’re also getting out and about with family
and friends: laughing up the hills, getting there
together. And then there’s the escape from the
daily grind. Even food tastes better and beds
are softer when you’re hungry and tired after
a long day in the saddle...
You can cycle along French lavender fields
– but you don’t have to go that far. Lavender
turns the road between Paarl and Franschhoek
into a purply-blue heaven in spring and summer.
Other parts of our country also have gorgeous
back roads ideal for cycling getaways. Here are
our favourite four . . .
- Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek
Grade Easy! Even kids aged eight will be able
to keep up.
Fitness level There’s no need to pedal more than
40 km a day and with so many great places to
stop, you’ll barely feel the distance. It will take
you about five hours a day to complete the
route if you take it easy.
Where? Through the Cape winelands, right
in the heart of the Boland.
Why? There are good directions along the way and
you’re never on a highway. Pack a rucksack with your
favourite snacks and stop for a picnic at one of the
beautiful wine cellars en route, or turn off at Fairview
Wine Estate for goat’s cheese and wine.
Distance You’ll have covered about 100 km by
the end of the weekend.
Route description Take the R44 from Stellenbosch
to Paarl. You’ll pass Elsenburg Agricultural College
and cycle about 30 km until you reach Paarl. The next
day cycle another 30 km or so to Franschhoek on
the R301. On the last day pedal back to Stellenbosch
on the R310 for the last 30 km.
Good departure point Leave from Coetzenburg
Athletics Stadium in Suidwal Street for the easiest
route out of Stellenbosch.
Contact For road maps and information on where
to stay, contact each town’s tourist bureau.
Stellenbosch: 021-883-3584, www.stellenbosch.co.za
Paarl: 021-872-0860, www.paarlonline.com
Franschhoek: 021-876-3603, www.franschhoek.org.za
- Ficksburg, Fouriesburg,
Grade You shouldn’t be totally unfit for this
route which is suitable for kids of eight and older.
Fitness level If you’re used to an active
lifestyle you should be able to complete
this ride. You don’t have to be at peak
Where? Between the stunning Rooiberge
and Witteberge where the Free State
and Lesotho meet.
Why? It’s a safe route that takes you
through the majestic mountain ranges,
valleys and hills of the Free State to the
picture-postcard town of Clarens.
Distance Adapt the route to suit your ability
and decide how many days you’ll need to
complete the trip. It’s about 110 km from
Ficksburg to Bethlehem.
Route description Cycle from Ficksburg
through Caledons Poort on the R62 for about
53 km to Fouriesburg. The next day ride along
the R711 to Clarens for 13 km, or keep on
going on the R711 to Bethlehem for 40 km.
The following day bike through the Golden
Gate National Park and back to Ficksburg.
Good departure point The town hall in
Voortrekker Street, Ficksburg.
Contact For road maps and information on
where to stay, contact the tourist bureau in
Ficksburg: 051-933-2130, www.ficksburg.org.za
Clarens: 058-256-1542, www.clarens.co.za
- Mossel Bay, Grootbrak,
Grade Easy! Even kids aged eight will
be able to keep up.
Fitness level Even after a long, lazy
December holiday without exercise you’ll
still be able to cycle this route with ease.
Where? Between the Outeniqua and
Tsitsikamma mountains on the beautiful
Garden Route along the south coast.
Why? It’s a safe route along the ocean
with some of the most stunning views in the
country. You can stop at the many farm stalls
and other tourist attractions en route.
Distance By the end of the weekend
you’ll have covered about 100 km.
Route description Leave Mossel Bay and
follow the R102 past Hartenbos and Kleinbrak
until you reach Grootbrak, about 22 km from
Mossel Bay. The next day cycle from Grootbrak
to Herolds Bay, still on the R102. After 12 km
turn right at George airport onto the R404
for a 7-km cycle to Herolds Bay.
Herolds Bay or cycle further along the R404
past George airport and over the R102 to the
Blanco residential area, where the famous
Fancourt golfing estate is situated. George’s
tourist resort is about 19 km further along on
the same road. The next day cycle to Mossel
Bay along the R102 for about 54 km.
Good departure point The Point Waterfront
area right next to the sea in Mossel Bay.
Contact For road maps and information,
contact the tourist bureau in each town.
Mossel Bay: 044-691-2202,
- Upington, Keimoes,
Grade Easy! Even kids aged eight will
be able to keep up.
Fitness level It doesn’t matter how fit you are.
Where? Along the banks of the Orange River
in the Northern Cape.
Why? You’ll get a great look at the Green
Kalahari’s characteristic landscape as well as its
endless lucerne fields and vineyards. It’s a safe
route and you can explore each town’s rich
culture and history along the way.
Distance Adapt the route to suit you and
decide how long you’ll need to complete the
trip. It’s 80 km from Upington to Kakamas.
Route description Cycle from Upington
to Keimoes on the R64 for 40 km and the next
day from Keimoes to Kakamas, still on the
R64 and for another 40 km. The Augrabies
Falls are just 36 km outside Kakamas.
back to Upington or arrange for a friend
to pick you up in Kakamas – the towns
are only an hour’s drive apart.
Good departure point The Eiland Holiday
Resort on the N10.
Contact For road maps and accommodation
information, contact each town’s tourist bureau.
Upington: 054-332-1196, www.upington.co.za
Keimoes: 054-461-6400, www.upington.com/
Kakamas: 054-431-838, www.kakamas.co.za
Cycling in Europe
You could of course hit the road
What makes a biking holiday in Europe so special
is the wide selection of well-organised cycle
tours. You can even put together your own tour.
Cyclists are respected on the road and you’re
not in danger of being run over, while trains
and most guest houses and hotels will happily
accommodate bicycles. Because there are
so many options you might be able to afford
one sooner than you think . . .
Grade Routes vary from flat and easy for the
whole family and hilly for those who are
somewhat fit, to difficult for the cyclist
who wants to conquer the mountain.
Where? Just about anywhere in Europe. You can
cycle through the flat Dutch fields; the French,
Italian and German countrysides; the undulating
Croatian and Austrian landscapes; and even
Switzerland’s mountainous reaches.
Why? Europe is geared for cyclists: the trains,
guesthouses, roads (apart from major highways)
and motorists are bike-friendly. The food,
especially in France and Italy, is out of this world
and you can really escape the daily grind.
Distance From 10 km to around 70 km a day,
depending on your level of fitness and how
many hills dot the route.
Contact If you’re considering a biking holiday
in Europe, visit www.cycling-for-softies.co.uk
for more on tours organised by Susi Madron.
Also take a look at www.hookedoncycling.co.uk
Cost The price of a cycling holiday (plane tickets
and snacks excluded but bikes, accommodation
and dinner included) can range from around
R7 500 per person for four to five days to R18 000
per person for seven to nine days, depending on
the route and accommodation chosen.
are often special packages for families sharing
accommodation. You could also organise your
own trip and accommodation – if you plan it
right, it’s possible to halve the cost.