Montagu traces its origins back to 1851, when the town was founded on a farm known as Uitvlugt. As far as location goes, you don’t get much better. Access from the north is via the Koo Valley, famous for its orchards of apples, pears, apricots and peaches. From the south, you cut through the Langeberg along the dramatic Kogmanskloof Pass: 6,5km of snaking tar beneath cliffs of warped rock that runs through a 16m long solid rock tunnel! The best gravel roads for riding loop away from Montagu into the Klein Karoo to the east of town, where you’ll also find vineyards, a brandy distillery, welcoming guest farms and more eye-popping scenery. Besides cycling, the crags of Kogmanskloof are world-famous among rock climbers. There are also hiking trails in the hills for all levels of fitness.
CYCLING ROUTES & MAP
The majority of cycling routes around Montagu feature a mix of quiet gravel farm roads and some tar – perfect for a gravel bike or for mountain bikers who prefer scenery over rocks and sand. That said, there are a couple of steep, tricky mountain bike loops, as well as easier rides for the whole family to enjoy. Zoom in on the map below and click each route to find out details and access gps tracks, cue sheets, voice navigation and offline maps!
Many of the routes are featured in the Montagu Tourism cycling pamphlet that you can pick up from most B&Bs and guest farms around town, and at the tourism office. Please note that many of these routes are not marked or signed.
• Ashton Klaasvoogds Route (24km) is a gentle touring route, ideal for families (with a few climbs that are rideable for moderately fit). There is much to see and do on this route from a 90 year old vineyard to honey tasting, a cactus nursery, olive tasting and more. Tours can also be arranged via the Tourism Office.
• The Ashbury Loop Route (14km) is for riders who want something quick and pretty. There are great views when you get above the vineyards and orchards. Carry on for another 2km up Joubert’s Pass if you want to see a dam wall that collapsed at the same time as the Laingsburg Flood in 1981. Backtrack to rejoin the route.
• The Jeep Track via Joubert’s Pass (37km), is a more challenging route with a stiff climb from town to the highest point on the jeep track, but the view of the Langeberg is worth it. Be careful coming back down because there are a number of water-runoff humps.
• The Ouberg Route (52km) is for cyclists who want some hill training. It’s a circular route featuring an ascent of the Ouberg Pass – a beautiful gravel climb onto a desolate plateau. Be careful on your way back down.
• The Bobbejaans Bult Route (38km) is a proper MTB trail for advanced mountain goats. The main feature is Bobbejaans Bult itself – a 3km climb with gradients reaching 17%. You’ll have earned your coffee back in Montagu!
• The Baden & Pietersfontein Dam Loop (43km) is a lovely gravel road ride through the farming district of the same name north of Montagu. At the half-way mark, there’s an option to extend the ride by 5km to the Pietersfontein Dam (10km return) where you can climb the steep steps onto the wall for an incredible view.
• The Talana Route (41km) is a flattish and fast option with a decent amount of tar (wide shoulder) that loops south-east of town with a section along the famous Route 62.
• Eroica South Africa 2019 routes: Kingna (45km), Kogman (91km), Keisie (135km) and Nova Eroica (155km). Kingna is an easy loop with a fantastic breakfast at a brandy distillery of the same name; Kogman follows the same route as Kingna for its first half, then heads into the mountainous Baden area to a lunch stop next to a farm dam; Keisie is a full-day excursion into the Karoo proper, with a fast descent back to town on the tarred R318; Nova Eroica is long and tough, with timed segments for racing snakes.
Cycling further afield. Montagu lies on the Karoo to Kleinbaai cycle touring route which runs between Worcester in the west and Kleinbaai in the South. About 40km South of the town you will find the Cross Cape Cycle Route that runs between Stellenbosch and Plettenberg Bay!
Throughout the year various cycling events take place in Montagu and surrounds – from road cycling events like the Coronation DC and Cape Classic 380 to various mountain biking events. With excellent tourism infrastructure and an enviable network of country roads, it’s no accident that Montagu was also chosen to host the first Eroica South Africa in 2016. Just like the popular original event in Tuscany, Italy, it’s a fun but challenging day out, riding vintage steel road bikes on gravel roads. Eroica SA has been held in Montagu every year since and has become a highlight on the town’s calendar. It’s a chance to dust off your old bike and get back to basics, celebrating the joy of riding and the panache of the early heroes of the sport. There are three routes of varying distance and difficulty, plus a Nova Eroica category for modern drop-bar gravel bikes. The food stops along the route are legendary and the party carries on long into Saturday night.
GUIDED RIDES, BIKE SHOPS & RENTALS
Flying Feet offers guided tours of Montagu’s art galleries and historical attractions on Dutch-style town bikes, each hand-painted by a different local artist. You’ll get the lowdown on significant architecture, learn about Montagu’s history, taste muscadel and chat to local residents and artists – all with the wind in your hair. Walking tours can be arranged, and the bikes are also available for hire.
There’s also a bike shop in Kohler Street if you need some last-minute chain lube, or if something goes wrong with your bike during your visit. William Swanepoel will sort you out!
STAY, EAT, DRINK & EXPLORE
There’s something for every taste and budget in Montagu, whether you want to pitch your tent, spoil yourself in a luxury B&B, get away from everything at a guest farm outside town, or soak in the famous hot springs. Explore our directory of of bike friendly accommodation venues, that welcome and cater for cyclists.
There are a number of great restaurants in town serving everything from thin-crust pizza to Karoo delicacies like lamb shank and malva pudding. There are coffee shops, too – for that all-important post-ride flat white – and farm stalls where you can stock up on dried fruit and preserves.
Off your bike, there is so much to explore from bird watching, hiking and star gazing to getting your culture fix at museums, galleries & Montagu Village Market (held every Saturday). Montagu’s cultural background and love to maintain it’s heritage values, offers you a chance to travel back in time. The relaxed atmosphere, clean air and friendly town folk make it the perfect place to escape the bustle of the city. Find out more about Montagu’s attractions and events.
Montagu is about 220km east of Cape Town, either via the N1 and the R60, or via the N2 and the R317. (Both routes should take about 3½ hours but do check for any road works especially on the Kogmanskloof Pass as this may cause delays). While you’re in the area, it’s also well worth exploring Barrydale, further along the R62, as well as Swellendam and the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy – both on the greener, southern side of the Langeberg.
© Photographs by Eroica South Africa
The historic farming town of Montagu lies at the intersection of the dusty Klein Karoo and the Cape Winelands. There are mountains in every direction and quiet country groads that will make cyclists drool. Use our travel guide will to discover the best cycling routes, adventures and bike friendly places to eat, drink, visit and stay.
What does it take to make your workplace bike friendly?
Discover how South African businesses are embracing a bike friendly culture and reaping the rewards of happier and healthier employees.
Bikepacking is like hiking, but on a bike. Give it a try – it’s less intimidating than you think.