1 Jan 2007

Cycling in the Eastern Cape

Phew! Just came back from a hectic holiday in the Eastern Cape. Hectic in the sense that I tried to cram in as much cycling as I could in just a week. But it was beautiful.

Very interesting indeed for me to see was the hundreds of people taking their bikes on holiday. We passed cars with bikes on the roof, on their trailers, strapped on the back of their cars with wheels racing in the wind. So it does seem that people are keen to keep fit during their holiday as well. What a good sign that is for health in SA!

I stayed in a beautiful village called St Francis Bay (
www.stfrancisbay.co.za) and did day rides from there. Day 1 was a mountain bike ride to the next little sea village named Oyster Bay. Here I just feel I have to quickly add that I'm not a technical mountainbike rider, so if a road is untarred with ups and downs I think that is fantastic. Of course I do other rides as well, with technical bits and pieces, but I do find that with those I tend ending up with a whole lot of new scars adding to the existing ones. So lesson nr 1: get your shoes out of the cleats if you feel like your leaning dangerously in the wrong direction!

The ride to Oysterbay was stunning. Basically it is all the way farm roads, meaning the road is untarred, but wide enough for cars to pass you. So while puffing up a hill, you can breath in fresh farm air, watching cows grazing, listening to the birds calling, and when you do get to the top, stop to take in the beautiful view. A panoramic view includes sand dunes on the one side and farmlands on the other. Amazing! Not too many hills, wonderful downhills which I like to fly down so that the hill on the other side is halfway won. In all it was about 43km ride. Worth the outing because of the scenery.

Day 2 was a longer ride to Aston Bay and back. The first 10km is on tar, and then turning onto the gravel road to Paradys beach. Also very scenic through some farmlands also ending at the sea. The road at some places are very cobbly stoney so get yourselves ready for a bumpy ride. Also quite corrigated at times but beautiful. At the turn around I wanted to explore a little more of the surrounding areas, and was sure that the road followed will bring us out at the main gravel road. Well it didnt and with a companion's face saying: "I told you so" we had to turn around and head back the way we came. We had quite a wind to struggle against on the way back so we deserved the pub crawl afterwards.


Day 3 was a short ride to Cape St Francis, following a single track and jeep track on the beach, bringing you out on the main road again. Very isolated and times very difficult terrain, deep sand, single track through bushes crowding in on you and rocky beach. Nice, but I think for the more advanced cyclist. Overheard a conversation from a group of riders passing us coming from the opposite direction: "See, you're not the only woman cycling". Needless to say, she didnt look impressed at all. Only about 23km. So, not far but a bit technical at places.

Day 4 was a 59km ride to Jeffreysbay and back. A road bike ride as it was tar road all the way. Taking the road from St Francis Bay to Humansdorp. At Humansdorp we turned onto the Jeffreysbay road and went out all the way to the Stop sign. I picked up a bit of glass so had to fix a puncture. The road out was a breeze at 46km/h with the wind in our back. Ok, so you've gathered the turn around wasn't fun. The wind full frontal and then turning back to St Francis a side wind that nearly blew me off my bike. Very tricky riding indeed. I first thought it was only me suffering, but was watching other cyclists at the end also looking "blown". Good training for the Cape Argus Cycle tour! Talking about the Argus, how's your training going? There are some training tips on the site,
www.cycletour.co.za so check them out.

5 comments:

Spanner said...

Bulla is the BEST!!! Take this "old girl's" advice - she knows what she's doing. And sure knows how to make you have fun even when your legs and lungs don't agree. If you get to join her for a ride, just keep watching Gluteus Maximus...

Gerda said...

AAhhh Spanner. I do remember the good rides we had together. Seems like everyone else too shy to comment. Maybe they dont know how to, hehehe. Got your spinning bike yet?

Spanner said...

No spinning bike. Had second thoughts about the price. A thought struck me today - bike and indoor trainer. But now - MTB or road? MTB will allow me to put the little guy on the back and will be fun to play around on. Probably also a good start after 15 months of no exercise. Don't think I'll be able to breathe in the drops of a road bike! Although not much beats cruising down a hill at 70km/h with the wind in your face...

Gerda said...

MTB. You can always add a road bike later on. You can still go down at 70km/h on a MTB, just get a steaper hill

Spanner said...

For those who are wondering, Gluteus Maximus is actually the name of the teddy bear attached to Gerda's saddle bag!! ;-)