This is an easy ride along a network of tarred roads meandering through the most southern tip of the Cape Peninsula.
– Copy and images : Jacques Marais
Cape Point is situated in the southern section of the Table Mountain National Park and sports rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 metres above the sea and delving deep into the ocean, providing a spectacular backdrop for the park’s rich bio-diversity. Fynbos, the natural vegetation of the area, comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms.
Get stuck into this easy ride along a network of tarred roads meandering through the southernmost tip of the Cape Peninsula. This may not be where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, but it is way more beautiful than Cape Aghulhas, so who cares. And don’t moan about the tarmac until you’ve experienced the views – it’s worth it all the way.
Your starting point is right at the Cape Point Nature Reserve entrance gate, with a slight climb for the first few hundred metres before you dip down onto the fynbos plains. Pass turn-offs to your left (1.4km) and right (1.9km) to Olifantsbos; it is a gorgeous beach though, and if you have the time … If you decided to keep straight, turn right (4.9km) towards Gifkommetjie. Another option here would be to turn left just before Olifantsbos onto the only stretch of gravel in the park for a 3km jeep-track jol, thus ignoring the directions in the next paragraph.
If you stick to the tar, ignore the sign to Hoek van Bobbejaan (7.1km), rather continuing along the circular section past the viewpoint until you again T-bone with the main route to Cape Point (12.3km). Just on 2.8km later, a signboard to the right (15.1km) will indicate the turn-off to Platboom, a nice little downhill stretch to the sea (17.3km). Breathe in the fresh air and then head back up to the main drag (19.5km).
You’ll be doing a bit of up and down along the way and might feel it in your legs if the wind is pumping, but cruise on towards Cape Point. At 21.3km, hit a right towards Maclear Beach and the Cape of Good Hope (24.7km) – a part of Cape Point that most people don’t actually get to in their hurry to make it to the Point parking lot – and drink in the view. Finally, it’s time to climb back out and up to the main road (28.1km) and turn right – you’ll know you’ve arrived when you encounter the tourist buses and attendant baboon troop 3.2km later. Have a meal, hike to the lighthouse and then do the high-speed return run.
This is a leisurely cruise through coastal strandveld and fynbos plains, with occasional encounters with anything from eland, bontebok and zebra to excellent sightings of marine and terrestrial bird species, especially sunbirds and sugarbirds.
Off the bike
Hiking down rocky shores to deserted beaches is one of the reserve’s major drawcards, but many families also visit to relax at the gorgeous picnic spots or the restaurant overlooking False Bay.
The modern environmental centre and funicular up to the lighthouse are also popular. Just outside the entrance to the reserve you can seek out a working ostrich farm and an African curio market. Cape Point Vineyards are a must for anyone in search of an excellent coastal Sauvignon Blanc.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY TRAILS AROUND THE SOUTH PENINSULA
Red Hill MTB Route – Although Red Hill doesn’t quite rate up there with the likes of Tokai, it is within easy reach of Cape Town and affords beautiful views out across the Deep South. Thus, you should know where and what it is – especially if you haven’t spent much time exploring this specific neck of the woods.
Take a mid-ride dip in Lewis Gay Dam, crank the gnarly downhill and check out the Black Hill MTB track if you’re feeling adventurous. This section, should you choose to include it, is complete with butt-clenching table-tops, jumps and huge drops. In other words, it’s a whole lot of fun.
A word of advice: watch out for the extreme amount of sand come summertime; only undertake it if you’re a self-identifying masochist. Any other time of year and you should be golden (unless you run into some inquisitive baboons, that is).
Grading – Moderate, 18km return option.
Silvermine Reserve – Silvermine North offers a good workout ride of intermediate difficulty. Although you will be following jeep-tracks for the majority of your excursion, you shouldn’t be afraid to beef it up by adding the Ou Wapad to your crank after completing the 9km Silvermine circuit.
Be warned: there is some hefty climbing involved – the highest point clocking in at 775m. But, that being said, the views over the peninsula are unquestionably magnificent. The panorama to the west encompasses the full expanse of Noordhoek Beach and in the distance beyond, Kommetjie can be seen.
And now, the fun really starts. Follow the front wheel as you blast down the spiral of s-bends carving the fynbos ridge. Watch yourself on those berm take-offs, though!
Grading – Moderate with various circular options. Approximately 20km
Tokai Forest – All Cape fat tyre fundis eventually trek south in search of the single-track paradise that is Tokai Forest – a veritable mountain-biking Mecca for the more experienced riders among us. Blood, sweat and granny gears are the order of the day as you wind your way up the misty slopes of the Table Mountain range.
But, now that you’ve done the work, an expanse of trail configurations awaits you on the way down, crisscrossing through all the working plantations and indigenous forests. Basically, you’re railing a super-tube, banging across the dirt roads you just cranked up. Twenty minutes of white-knuckle single-track, and then some. What more could you ask for?
Grading – Moderate to extreme with various circular options up to 40km
Constantia Greenbelt Trails – the trails run from Tokai Park to the top of Southern Cross Drive where they link to the Table Mountain Trail networks. They are ideal for novice mountain bikers and families. The trails are shared with walkers, runners, dogs and horses, so be mindful and respectful of others. The 8km trail is clearly marked and can be ridden in either direction, starting either at the bottom Lismore Avenue in Tokai, or the start of the purpose-built cycle trail on Southern Cross Drive.
Grading – moderate
Best Time of Year:
Best is during the so-called ‘Secret Season’. Autumn, winter and early spring bring with them balmy, windstill days devoid of the summer tourist crush. Watch out for Cape Point in the summer months of November to February when the south-easterly wind kicks in – it is as wild a Cape of Storms as you will ever encounter.
Riding the Cape Peninsula is sure to occasionally expose you to the ‘Cape Doctor’, as the gale-force south-easter is colloquially known as. This hectic wind could potentially blow you off your bike on these Cape Point National Park back roads, so always be prepared, especially when on high-traffic roads. Care should be taken especially when coming around corners where you are protected from the wind, as the sudden gusts could easily force you into the oncoming traffic.
Another wind issue relates to the salt air that the south-easter will blast across the trails. The sea air is highly corrosive, but an application of SQUIRT Lubricant will protect your chain from rust and corrosion. The deep-penetrating wax works its way into the actual chain links, thus ensuring a smooth ride while adding years to the life of your chain.
More information at www.squirtcyclingproducts.com
Map, Elevation Profile & Flyover(s)
|FAST FACTS BLOCK
||Options up to 60km|
|TERRAIN:||Tarmac with a 3km jeep-track section|
|START POINT||Reserve gate|
|MAP:||Available at the Main Gate|
|GPS COORDINATES:||34˚21’24″S, 18˚29’51″E|
|ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:||Normal National Park entry fees apply. A Wild Card from SANparks must be loaded with an annual MTB permit|
||Parking with security on duty; restaurant and ablutions|
||Tourist busses, heavy winds|
||www.capepoint.co.za; Telephone +27 (0)21 780 9010|
From Cape Town city, head south via Simon’s Town or Scarborough along the Peninsula – Cape Point is well signposted and easy to find. Turn south into the entrance gate around 12km from Simon’s Town.