Did you know that the Cape Town Cycle Tour, taking place this year on 10 March 2019, is the biggest timed bicycle race in the world? With views so beautiful they hurt (quite literally), it is no wonder why thousands flock to the Cape to don their chamois and join in the fun each year.
If you’re planning on cleating up for the big event, we wish you the very best of luck! But, you don’t have to be a pro to take part in some of the two-wheeled action. We have broken down one of our favourite cycle routes below, along with some key coffee stops along the way. Your saddle awaits!
Stage 1: V&A Waterfront to Bakoven
Head off from the V&A Waterfront and cruise along Beach Road, taking a moment to appreciate the views of the famous Sea Point Pools and the historic Green Point Lighthouse along the way. Climb up Camps Bay Road and along Victoria Road until you reach your first stop: Bootlegger Coffee Company (about 9kms from the start).
A favourite haunt for cyclists, Bootlegger is the perfect place to fuel up with an artisanal coffee and banana bread pre-or post-cycle. Down your coffee of choice and clip in once more to tackle the thigh-burning rise to the top of Llandudno.
Stage 2: Bakoven to Hout Bay
While the rise to the top of Llandudno is no laughing matter, with another good 8kms to get to the top, the view of the coastline is superb. The wind is always gusty around the bends, so though you may be tempted to look around at the lavish homes and sparkling sea, do keep your eyes fixed firmly on the road at this point and jump off your bike if you feel like you might get blown about more than what you can handle.
The descent! It is well-earned and glorious, the cruise down into the seaside town of Hout Bay a welcome relief for protesting calves. By now, you would have done over 20kms (very respectable), so another coffee (and maybe one more snack) is definitely in order. There a multitude of cycle-friendly options, including Hout Bay Coffee, The Vine and Dario’s, all of which have great spots to park your bike.
Stage 3: Hout Bay to Chapman’s Peak
Feeling energetic? The Chapman’s Peak drive is listed amongst the most scenic in the world, but the ride? A little more challenging! The undulating curves of the historic road, fondly known as ‘Chappies’, is for more advanced cyclists, the 9kms to the pinnacle a seemingly unending battle. However, as it is a popular route, you are just about guaranteed to get some much-needed encouragement from fellow cyclists along the way.
Once at the top, you might suffer wobbly legs but will, without a doubt, feel invigorated by your victory and sorely tempted to belt out a hearty rendition of ‘We Are The Champions!’ The top of Chapman’s Peak is a social stop, so pop off your bike, snap some selfies against the backdrop of The Sentinel – the peak marking the Western end of Hout Bay and Seal Island below it, enjoy big gulps of water and the picturesque vistas.
Stage 4: Chapmans to Noordhoek
Those in it for the long haul, could hop back on their trusty steeds and head for Noordhoek, a beautiful village with some lovely breakfast options. If that sounds appealing, take the 8kms downhill and pull into the Noordhoek Farm Village for breakfast at the Foodbarn Tapas and Deli.
Poached eggs, stacks of bacon on a rosti, fresh fruit salads, homemade breads with jams, and all manner of baked goods await hungry athletes, so take a load off and load up on whatever catches your eye (you will need it for the return).
Stage 5: Noordhoek to Suikerbossie
It is a tough climb up the so called ‘Little Chappies’, as what goes down, must after all, come back up at some stage. Hopefully your breakfast of champions has given you what you need to make the return journey home, but remember to stop and hydrate and pause when you need to.
Stage 6: Suikerbossie to V&A Waterfront
The beast known as Suikerbossie Pass is unavoidable should you wish to get back home, but does eventually come to an end. It can often be fiercely sunny and windy, so make sure you are prepared by adequately hydrating beforehand.
The descent back into the Atlantic Seaboard is a breeze by comparison, and from then on, it is a freewheel ride back into the strip where more restaurants and coffee shops await.
All in all, this route is about 90 km including the return home.
Lunch at Cape Grace
A long ride deserves a hearty and balanced lunch, so make sure to book your seat at Signal. The ala carte lunch menu ranges from the super healthy (think salmon salads, and quinoa bowls), to the satisfyingly carby (burgers, risottos, steaks, and pastas), so whatever the craving, you are in for a treat!
Top tips for cycling in Cape Town
- Stick to the left of the road
- Wear a helmet, sunglasses and loads of sunscreen
- Try to leave early (between 5:30 and 6am) to avoid busy roads and the heat
- Keep a water bottle or Camelbak on you and hydrate often
- Be very mindful of others on the road- fellow cyclists and motorists alike, and use hand signals to indicate when you indeed to turn
- If you’re inexperienced, rather go with a guide or company like Bike & Saddle
Blog post by Tarah Darge