This year my friends and I joined adventurers from across South Africa for the first Southern Campout on the 20th October – with a bike camping trip to Rivierplaas campsite on the Breede River!
As fate would have it gale force South Easterly winds greeted us as we gathered in Franschhoek for the start of the 70 odd kilometre ride to the campsite. Not really keen on carrying all our gear into a headwind, there weren’t any objections from the group, when we decided to take the easy option and rope in a support crew 😉 Luckily Jacques’ girlfriend, Imke Booysen, was on hand to drive all the camping gear, cold beers and other odds and ends to our destination!
As it turned out battling the cross winds on the Franschhoek Pass was intimidating enough even without the additional drag of panniers, backpacks and frame bags. Still any day spent on a bike is a good one and by setting a leisurely pace the wind didn’t dampen the group’s spirits.
From the top of the Franschhoek Pass we rode into the teeth of the wind along the banks of the Theewaterskloof Dam, stopped in Villiersdorp for an early lunch and then descended the pass into the Raterivier Valley, on the road to Worcester. Here we diverted off the tar and onto the quite gravel roads. Striking out through the vineyards we passed Doorngrivier – which is basically a bottle store and post office in the middle of nowhere – after having conquered a fantastic gravel road pass through the foothills of the northern marches of the Riviersonderend Mountains.
The final few kilometres to Rivierplaas were mercifully flat but once again straight into the teeth of the wind, which was rising as the afternoon wore on. Somehow Google Maps had foreshortened the total distance of the ride by over 10 kilometres, so the lack of climbing in the closing kilometres were appreciated by Jacques in particular. He was even happier when we rounded a bend in the road to see Rivierplaas campsite on our left.
After some faffing with tents, ground sheets and post-ride beers we were set-up for the night. And the relaxing could begin in earnest… content in the knowledge that unlike our fellow #SouthernCampout’ers we would not need to cycle home the following day. Lazy? Most certainly. But sometimes taking the easy way is just a little more fun.
Seamus Allardice shares his Southern Campout adventure – a bike camping trip that saw him and friends, Andrew Robb and Jacques Rademan climb Franschhoek pass into the headwinds of a South Easter and transverse the gravel roads of the Cape Winelands – their destination, Rivierplaas campsite on the Breede River.
OVERNIGHT | ⇔ 70 km | + 962 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel
With a massive storm predicted, and promises of snow, Seamus Allardice heads off for the Matroosberg, in search of a mid-winter adventure. Covering more than 1000 hectares of stunning mountain terrain, the Matroosberg Nature Reserve boasts one of the highest trails in the Western Cape and is a popular winter playground for skiers, hikers and snow seekers.
Seamus Allardice and Zane Schmahl take on a 10-day bikepacking adventure following the Bikamino route through the most sparsely populated but exceptionally hospitable region of South Africa – the Namaqualand. Seamus shares the journey that would take them from hidden valleys to icy oceans, through dirt, sand and snow.
10 DAYS | ⇔ 473 km | + 5 900 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel