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.
In January 2022 Seamus Allardice led a bike slackpacking trip into Die Hel (Gamkaskloof), one of South Africa’s most isolated communities deep in the Swartberg Mountains. The route would take them down a challenging hike-a-bike trail, before transversing the Klein Karoo basin.
4 DAYS | ⇔ 250 km | + 4576m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel / Hike’n Bike
The Cycle Tour Trust has launched a new gravel race in the Berg River Winelands, celebrating the legend of bicycling bugler and local mailman, Old Hermon.
Imagine for a moment that every town in South Africa was connected through a network of singletrack commuting links? If TRAILS SA has their way, this trail dream could become a reality for many a South African town in the next decade.
Meet a group of South African women who are pushing their bodies to the limit to showcase the strength and fortitude of women cyclists, and raise funds for a worthy cause supporting women’s cycling in historically disadvantaged communities.
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