This October Bicycle South and Everyday Cycle Supply Co. launched the first annual Southern Campout – bringing together adventure cyclists from across the South Africa for a night of bike camping and fun. For the Cape Town edition of the event we booked our favourite seaside campsite at Miller’s Point and were anticipating a lazy ride along the coast, followed by an even lazier day of camping and chilling on the beach.
As you can imagine, my heart sunk when I saw the latest weather prediction for the day of Southern Campout – a gale force South Easter! I wondered how many of the 40 cyclists who had booked to come bike camping with us would actually pitch. Luckily, as it turned out, a whole bunch of people proved to be as crazy as we are! The Cape of Storms lived up to her name and it was a wild and windy 50km ride, but the magnificent coastal scenery, camaraderie and secluded campsite at the end made it so worth it!
INTO THE WILD WIND
The route to the Miller’s Point campsite (near Simon’s Town) took us from the city centre, along the Atlantic seaboard to Hout Bay where we regrouped to wait for stragglers. As we began to ride up Chapman’s Peak Drive, the warning signs of wind did nothing to dissuade our enthusiasm, especially with the promise of a warm cup of coffee waiting on the other side. The climb was tough and the gusts of wind required the usually fast decent to Noordhoek to be taken a bit slower.
After stopping for a leisurely lunch at the Noordhoek Farm Village we continued our journey south and into the teeth of the South Easter. As we hit the coastal plain the head wind kicked into full gear, almost bringing us to a standstill and forcing us dig deep into those extra energy reserves while taking turns riding upfront. This section of the ride is usually the most pleasant, offering easy pedaling and stunning views. Between the gusts of wind-blown sea sand, I couldn’t help but be awed by the beauty of the coastline with its quaint fishing villages, towering mountains and wild sea.
Soon we reached the historic naval village of Simon’s Town. On more clement days we’d have stopped at one of the harbor-side restaurants for drinks or visited Jubilee Square to see the famous statue of the Royal Navy dog, Just Nuisance! With only a few hours of daylight left, we just had time to pick up some beers at the local bottle store before pushing on make it to the campsite before dark.
A CAMPSITE JUST FOR BICYCLES!
Located on the edge of the Indian Ocean just off the popular Cycle Tour 364 route, the Miller’s Point campsite is perfectly positioned for bike campers and adventure cyclists. Because of this, we selected it as ground zero for our Bike Friendly Campsites Initiative! Over the next few months we will be creating a Cyclists’ Only Campsite here with proper facilities for cyclists. This will become a flagship project for The City of Cape Town’s resorts. For now, a lovely section of the campsite with sweeping views of the bay, lush lawns and plenty of trees for shade and shelter has been reserved just for people traveling by bike!
Arriving just before sunset, we set up camp and connected with the other cyclists who had come through earlier. Some of whom (the smart ones) had taken the train to Muizenberg and Simon’s Town to skip the long climbs and gale force winds. Once the tents up and we relaxed around the campfire, watching the dusky hues of evening paint the horizon.
As darkness settled over the landscape, the night sky – mirrored perfectly by the city lights flickering across the bay, was lit up by the headlights of some late arrivals. Odon and Tash, not wanting to miss the campout, had bravely battled the headwinds along the coast in the dark! Luckily they made it just in time for dinner and desert – indulgent hot chocolate and chocolate bars gifted by fellow camper Michael of Honest Chocolate. With everyone buzzing on a choc high, we stayed up until the campfires died and the night chill sent us scurrying off to the warmth of our tents. Sleep came easily after a satisfying day of adventure, good food and company.
EARLY MORNING BREW
The next morning I woke up early to catch the magical sunrise over the sea. Creeping quietly around camp so as not to disturb sleeping campers, I photographed some scenes of the tents and bikes that we’ll be using to promote the development of more Bike Friendly campsites around the Peninsula. I can’t wait to return to Miller’s Point this summer to build bike parking and communal facilities in the designated bike camping area. Gazing at the campsite peppered with little tents, I could easily see the dream of the things to come.
Setting up my camping stove for a morning brew, I was soon joined by some other early risers who had been gently lulled into awareness by the golden light and sounds of the sea – or maybe it was the smell of coffee that had drawn them from their tents 😉 Gathering at the communal fire pit, we shared some breakfast and before long it was time to pack up, bid farewell to friends and head back to the ‘real world’.
A few of us (aka the brave ones) stayed behind to have a last dip in the wind-chilled sea, before cycling home. At least this time we would be heading North with an easy tail wind to gently push us homeward!
Let the adventures continue…
For those who missed this year’s Southern Campout, the good news is that it will back again next year! Jump on our mailing list to stay tuned. Even better news is that we have an Bicycle MicroAdventures group on Facebook where we share smaller bike camping events and adventures throughout the year! The idea of this group is for friends to get together and organise regular Sub-24-Hour overnight bicycle adventures and to connect with other like minded adventurers.
I would like to thank everyone who joined us for Southern Campout, you made the adventure even more fun-tastic! I would also like to thank David of Everyday Cycle Supply Co for helping co-create this event. Odon of NODO Packs, Tegan of Unclipped Adventure, Michael of Honest Chocolate, Truth Coffee, Finni and Trail’s End for sponsoring the awesome prizes and rewards for our campers. Last but not least we would like to thank the crew at Miller’s Point campsite for hosting us and supporting the creation of a bike friendly campsite.
Our Bike Buddies programme is taking on the Cape Town Cycle Tour! Join bicycle advocate, instructor and long distance riding nutter, Kirsten Wilkins for a series of free group training rides and fun prep sessions to get you ready for the event.
Maybe there’s a different way to win the race? Co-founder of The Adventure Syndicate, Lee Craigie gives an inspiring talk at TEDxGlasgow, sharing her life changing experience of riding the Highland Trail 550 (one of the most challenging self-supported off-road individual time trials (ITT) in the world).
Bicycle South and Everyday Cycle Supply are stoked to invite you to the second edition of the Southern Campout global bike camping event!