I recently read an article by Mike & Laura and thought, hmm, let’s find the best cycling spots for the December holidays. Below is 20 such places to get you started: 20 places in South Africa where you can take your bicycle this holiday. In no specific order…
Cycling in CPT over the December holidays is a no-brainer. It’s beautiful, you have miles of coastline at your disposal, and it is a great opportunity to sample the CTCT Cape Town Cycle Tour route. Or just do the stretch passing the Twelve Apostles, Llandudno and Suikerbossie to return for a Bootlegger coffee stop. And when you are done cycling in the city bowl you can head over to the Western Cape Winelands. See Stellenbosch below.
Nothing beats the warm waters of the Zulu Kingdom. Except completing arguably, the best Half Ironman® 70.3 in the country, or starting and finishing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium during the Tour Durban. And how can I forget crossing a valley of a thousand hills during the Amashova Durban Classic Race from PMB to DBN (did you know it is the oldest road classic cycle race in South Africa)?
Mountain biking through the endless forestry in Wilderness. Wow. Famous routes include the Farleigh MTB trails, Harkerville right next to the ocean at the end of the Outeniqua hiking route between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Then there is also endless fun on the Homtini MTB trails and Petrus-se-Brand through Diepwalle and the Garden of Eden. The name says it all. You owe it to yourself to come and cycle here. Check out George trails.
What a coincidence, I am typing this just as we are about to leave for the Karoo to Coast MTB race this weekend. The K2C is one of SA’s largest timed 1 day MTB races and you can think of it as the offroad cousin of the Cape Argus. What’s more, getting to or from Knysna using the Cross Cape cycle route from Stellenbosch to Plettenberg Bay is one of the best gravel bike packing adventures you can have locally. Go for it.
Welcome to the wild coast. When you say Coffee Bay then I say Imana Wild Ride. And we have sent oh-so-many bikes to and from the Morgan Bay Hotel before that we do know where (and where not) the mobile phone reception spots are. and now you can also choose to do the Transkei Trek which is a 3-day MTB ride from Coffee Bay in April every year. Why not?
Welcome to my hometown and little piece of cycling heaven. Whether you are a European pro rider or swallow coming to enjoy the SA summers, Stellenbosch has got all the MTB trails you can dream of. and when you are done training for the ABSA Cape Epic or playing in Jonkershoek on the Specialized trails, grab your road bike and head over Helshoogte pass to Franschhoek for a spectacular coffee ride. We really are fortunate to stay here.
Blyde River Canyon
Welcome to the Panorama route. You can stay in Pilgrem’s Rest (which is a real treat) and do the Crystal Springs MTB trails. Or overnight in Sabie and tackle the York Adventure Club MTB routes. I also remember passing through Graskop, Hazyview and doing a Saturday morning MTB bike race in Witrivier. We’ve collected many bicycles from Bicycle Boyz at Halls, and I am glad so see the Jock Classic by H&A Toere is in full swing.
I haven’t been to Hogsback in ages, last when we were there to hike the Amatola trail and stay in the Away with the Faeries backpackers that remind you of something from Lord of the Rings. The banging Home Alone MTB trail in Hogsback has been described as the closest you will get to Canadian BC (British Columbia) trails, right here in South Africa. And that is high praise. Or you can rent a bike in town and visit the Eco Shrine, Labyrinth, Crystal Corner and The Fairy Realm.
Kruger National Park
Did you know that you can cycle in the Kruger National Park? And I don’t mean just taking along your little ones’ tricycles for the camps; nope, you can book an organized MTB ride for up to 6 people with 2 guides for a 3-to-4-hour game viewing experience on your bicycle. Hire a bicycle and gear from them or bring your own. No under 16’s allowed and there are also full day MTB trail options available from Olifants Rest Camp. For a truly different mounting biking experience.
Cycling in JHB. According to 702 the 5 best cycling roads in Jozi include the Hennops trails, Vlei park, PWC bike park, East city cycle tours from Maboneng and cycling with Robbie Mcintosh from the Old Parktonian sports club through Braamfontein Spruit and beyond. Out of these 5 I have only done the PWC bike park and can attest that it was great fun, right inside Bryanston. Why not add the Cradle of Humankind for some great on and off-road riding. And if you fancy JHB’s version of the CTCT then be sure to enter the 947 RideJoburg, which is in November each year.
Struisbaai and Agulhas is one of my favourite flat road cycling spots, not only because we’ve visited it many times before on our 600km Audax routes, but also because we just pop over there on our mountain bikes for an impromptu weekend, cycling over Franschhoek pass and via Greyton. While you are there, take one morning to cycle from Struisbaai to Arniston for breakfast and see the cave at Waenhuiskrans. Oh, and go up the L’Agulhas lighthouse (the 3rd one to be built in SA, and the 2nd oldest still operating).
The last time I was in Clarens for a weekend there was snow outside. And I loved the Art for Ewe gallery by Ann Gadd. And the last time I passed through Clarens on a bicycle was during some or other Gauteng long distance Audax ride – oh my, how spectacular is the Golden Gate. Check out options of where to ride on MTB routes, Bicycle South and Trailforks. You are welcome. In the Free State.
Have you ever heard about the Misty Mountains Mountain Bike Trail in Natures Valley? It is in the Misty Mountain Reserve, part of the Tsitsikamma National Park, and features routes from easy to difficult, including the 8km yellow, 15km orange, 30km blue and 65km black routes. No helmet, no ride. And those who prefer both feet firmly on the ground can rather opt to hike the Dolphin Trail. A perfect ride includes a stop at Storms River village for coffee and pancakes.
The Holla MTB Trails are synonymous with cycling in Ballito and is situated on Collisheen Estate with nearly 300 kms of marked and signed trails. The varied tracks and spectacular scenery will keep you occupied until it’s time for a shower and lunch on the terrace. Plus, you can also spread your wings as 50km out is the wonderful Giba Gorge MTB park and 100km out is Karkloof MTB Trails near Howick. We also often collect and send bicycles from the Specialized concept store in Ballito, Concept Cyclery powered by Burry Stander.
The first thing that comes to mind is the Sani2c and that magical day or two before when you have time to ascend the many switchbacks and hairpins turns of the gravel road into Lesotho that is the Sani pass. Now you can become the Basotho of Lesotho. On your bicycle. And according to the Smithsonian it is one of the most dangerous mountain passes in the world (especially when covered in snow)! Non-4×4 vehicles are not allowed after the border crossing. But this is no challenge for the Freedom challenge manne.
More than just a brilliant cycling spot, you will be treated by a host of other activities when you have time off the bicycle. Including Tsitsikamma canopy tours, kayaking, or hiking the majestic Otter trail (book well in advance). And to get the adrenaline pumping you can jump off the highest single span arch bridge in the world – with strings attached. At 216m, Bloukrans Bungy holds the Guinness Record for the Highest Commercial Bungee Jump from a bridge, in the world.
Yes, it can snow in Oudtshoorn in December – remember that epic To Hell and Back from a decade ago where Eugene from Sedgefield Cycleworx had to drive back to the shop and fetch all his warm winter clothing stock? Oudtshoorn is a place of extremes, both hot and cold, plus stunning natural beauty. And if you want a great experience without having to do any planning yourself, enter one of John Swanepoel’s excellent events or race the Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo. Hel, man.
Yip, lots of sand, so best bet is probably to take along your fat bike or hire one from Mseni beach lodge, or we can send your own bike there instead. Did you know that iSimangaliso is the largest natural World Heritage Site on the planet? Or that it is 230km in length from north to south, and forms 8% of SA’s coastline? 75% of the year is summer over there and you can experience some wonderful solo riding. Just be careful of the hippos, crocodiles, pythons, and leopard. Checks with the park. TIA.
While Sun City may be more synonymous with golf than with cycling, there are numerous stellar MTB trails in and around the park. You can book in the Cabanas, SOHO, Cascades or the Palace and enjoy the best that the resort has to offer. Trying your luck at the casino is optional but cooling off in the valley of the waves after a great MTB ride is (or should be) compulsory. Enjoy.
I was born in port elizabeth an have very fond memories of the area. The climate is perfect and the route along the coast towards Seaview is pure magic (as any Ironman athlete would attest). Oh, and if you ever need to pop into a local bike shop in Port Elizabeth, do consider visiting Ewan or Arno or Quintin at Coimbra cycles in PE – they friendly bicycle shop in the friendly city.
Over to you…
Which of these have you been to, or what would you like to add to the list? Let’s get you out there. With your bicycle 🙂