Let’s make it OUR thing
I’m going to be honest and say that one of the things I love about cycling is that I am by myself for most of it. One bike. One saddle. One sufferfest. Being a parent to 3 children and 2 fur babies is the joy of my life, with an intensity that requires me-time and that time, is bike-time. When I recently suggested to my family that we go on a cycling holiday together, I understood their initial surprise. “Uh…Isn’t that your thing, mom?”
It’s a challenge to every serious cyclist to say to your family, let’s make it our thing.
I thought it would be a tall order to find a place to stay where we could rent bikes, NOT camp (one step at a time!), not have to get in a car to access safe trails, and not spend days getting there and back. Oh, and affordable, because I am perpetually saving up for a new bike.
So I headed over to Bicycle South to see what the options are for Bike Friendly getaways.
Where exactly is family-bicycling Shangri-La?
It’s 45mins from my house
Trail’s End in Grabouw (just 60km from Cape Town) is “Africa’s First Bike Hotel” and as Bicycle South members we could access an awesome discount on our stay! Cost really matters when you are touring with a team of 5 riders, I discovered.
Equipped with our discounted rates, a cooler box of snack food, rented bikes on arrival and the promise of good weather, we headed to the pine plantations and apple orchards in which the hotel is nestled.
“Trail’s End is fashioned on the concept of a ski lodge, for bicycles” explained hotel owner, Peter Silberbauer. This really helped me to understand the layout and facilities on offer, which are perfectly suited for families and groups. It’s not a regular hotel by any means. The service is 5-star while careful attention has gone into reducing unnecessary expensive luxuries which would no doubt make this a less affordable family holiday.
When we were not on the trails, we shared a family dorm room; we watched the Proteas one-day cricket squad wallop Pakistan on the big screen in the communal lounge area and we shared early morning breakfasts with families of suncream and nervous giggles. Ski lodges are by their nature a communal house, centered on ensuring a successful day outing in the mountains, and Trail’s End Hotel matches this concept perfectly.
How good are the trails?
Teenagers willingly waking up earlier than on a regular school day to get outdoors is a happy mom moment for me. That’s how great the trail offering is. Just 50m from the hotel entrance, the adventure begins with an option of 4 marked trails. On arrival day we smashed out an afternoon 10km trail run on the Green Route, which served as a reccie for the following days bicycle adventure. I highly recommend a reccie if you have younger children or less experienced riders, to decide for yourself what is challenging and technical. After a good first effort on feet we decided on a less technical bike route for the next morning.
Our rented bicycles were brilliant. I was a bit nervous to be honest, but while munching on breakfast I heard a lyrical “..tuck tuck tuck” freehub song ring out and saw our bicycles being wheeled out and set up for us. Helmets, water bottles filled, permits all organized, it was no-fuss experience.
The Blue Route offered up a memorable, family friendly loop with about 15% of the 4 hr trail walked or pushed. Markings were reasonably easy to follow, with good landmark meeting points and a water bottle fill up point to have a snack and catch up. Everyone had a brilliant ride, including some tough moments where resilience was built, and that’s where bicycling became our thing. That’s the hallmark of a good trail.
The family favorite was by far the flow track at the hotel where we could build confidence, work on getting some air on the jumps, and or course attempt to beat the track record!
Our weekend vacation included an outing to the Cape Canopy Zip Lining and repeated trips to the vegan bliss of snacks on offer at the Peregrine Farm Stall. All in all, an adventure that required a few days of recovery, so a job well done!
A family cycling weekend was not something we had considered before. It all needs to go well, and there are many needs, differing skill levels and nuances to be considered so much so that the default would be to rather ride alone. Trail’s End was magnificent, and my hesitations went from wondering if it was possible to bike together, to it becoming a priority for us to plan more family biking holidays for the future.
Cycling is an important part of my life and life is best shared with those you love. A shared biking weekend offers a very special kind of adventure-based reset for families.
We need these to become stronger.
*Huge thanks to the Nico, Shannen and the staff for all your care and attention to detail*
Become a member of Bicycle South’s Adventure Collective and get 10-15% off your stay at Trail’s End!
Kirsten Wilkins goes in search of the ultimate family biking getaway… and discovers that you don’t have to travel far to share great adventures with the people who matter most.
A journey to challenge all of us. For nine days, twelve cyclists traversed the mostly un-tarred back roads of the central Karoo. Braving +40 degree temperatures, all in opposition to hydraulic fracking in the Karoo.
9 Days | ⇔ 1 100 km | + 8 961 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel
Q: What happens when you mix bikes, wine and a bunch of strangers? ANS: A whole lot of fun and camaraderie.