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Latest News! 7th March. 2019

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World class organisation by the Rotary Club World class organisation by the Rotary Club - Photo: Cape Town Cycle Tour

*CYCLING THE PASSES

This week we take a look at the Cape Town Cycle Tour and some of the passes which cyclists ride during the event as well as an unknown and unusual pass in North West Province near Potchefstroom named after a famous Springbok cyclist.

Our man up north, Mike Leicester, has uncovered yet another wonderful bit of Africana, but this time with a more modern twist. Our featured pass this week is the Ertjiesberg Pass in North West Province - a province not very well endowed with mountain passes. With only 15 passes, it comes as no surprise that locals revere any road that resembles a pass and in the case of this particular pass they have something special and unique found nowhere else in South Africa.

Our story focuses on the redoubtable Ertjies Bezuidenhout. A superb Springbok cyclist whose skill was hill climbing. It was on this very pass near Potchefstroom where young Ertjies (whilst at university) built his strength to become a world class cyclist.

Adding heavy tools and lead weights onto his bicycle he rode the (then unnamed) pass up to four times a day and when his cousin was available, he would tow him up the pass as dead-weight on a second bicycle. His determination to become great was unstoppable. We look at the obstacles like the international sports boycott which hampered his progress and his ultimate and final (and fatal) race in 2012 at the age of 56 which took his life. This is a story of a true South African legend.

We also take a closer look at some of the passes that the 35,000 cyclists in this year's Cape Town Cycle Tour will traverse in various stages of pain and pleasure, depending on how much training has been put in!

[More lower down]

Cape Town Cycle Tour: Every year on the first Sunday of March, some 35,000 cyclists descend on the Mother City to tackle the 109 km CT cycle tour. The event is a major tourism boost for the city and environs with millions of Rands being injected into the province. The Cape Town Cycle Tour (previously known as the Argus Cycle Tour) is superbly organised and if you are a cyclist riding the event for the first time, or maybe just a spectator, look around and marvel at the incredible organisational skills of the team that run this event. Cape Town can be justifiably proud of the CTCT.

We have hyperlinked all the passes of the tour for your convenience. Check them all out and familiarise yourself with the history and folklore which will enhance the enjoyment level of your ride. Your editor is very familiar with the route having completed 26 tours over the last three decades. Cyclists might not appreciate the magnificent scenery as their weary bodies zone in one thing - and that is to finish (without falling).

The route covers a number of passes indexed on our website. The first three climbs are not official passes, but include Hospital Hill, UCT and Wynberg hills. Whilst the coastal road along Muizenberg and Kalk Bay was being revamped, the tour route detoured up to a higher contour and followed Boyes Drive, which proved to be the undoing of many a 'perosnal best' aspiration. Fortunately the 2019 route is back on the coastal road.

The first real pass makes its appearance almost halfway through the race - The Smitswinkel Road. It clings to the mountainside near Cape Point, offering massive views over False Bay. Once on the western side of the peninsula, the route follows the M65 along Misty Cliffs, through Scarborough, then north towards Noordhoek.

The next major pass and possibly the absolute highlight of the tour is Chapmans Peak Drive. Once over "Chappies" there is a lovely long descent into Hout Bay. A brief opportunity to catch your breath in preparation for the much feared Suikerbossie hill climb.

Suikerbossie conjures up scenes of cyclists walking up the steep and exposed 4 km long hill to the cheers of the crowds urging them to "Get on your bike and ride!" The problem with Suikerbossie is that it gets you right near the end of the ride, when Chappies and the previous 80km have smoothed those big expectations into a soft pulp and muscles have turned to jelly.

The final drop down to Camps Bay, Sea Point and the finish line is down Victoria Road. Most people don't know that Thomas Bain built the first version between the city and Sea Point. We wish every cyclist a safe ride and an appreciation of the stories behind the passes.

There is however, one unknown factor which can torpedo the tour and that is the likely presence of the Cape Doctor. The chairman of the race organisers, Dave Bellairs, spoke this morning about the forecast of winds between 50 and 60 kph which could well mean the cancellation of the race for the second time in the tour's history. It was cancelled previously in 2017 when cyclists were seen lying flat on the tarmac at the start area holding onto their cycles as the wind howled through the foreshore.


PODCAST - This week's radio talk is all about the legenedary Ertjies Bezuidenhout CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

TOURS UPDATE

The Ben 10 Official Tour ~ Fully booked. This major tour starts on 21st March and ends 24th March. The demand for tickets on this tour was massive, so we will be repeating the tour later in 2019. It will most certainly become an annual event in our calendar.

Great Swartberg Tour ~ Fully booked. Another popular tour centered around the Swartberg range and includes several iconic passes including the Swartberg Pass, Die Hel and Seweweekspoort. Dates are 17th to 19th May.

The Merino Monster Tour ~ Bookings have now opened. Sunday, 21st April (Easter Sunday). A one day tour through the mountains north of Ceres, featuring both the rugged Droelandskloof as well as the inaugural drive up the Waboomsberg on a private road. This is a huge climb of over 700m over a distance of 10 km producing some steep gradients, earning itself the nickname of The Merino Monster by mountain bikers. It's not a dangerous drive and we can take 4x2 vehicles on this tour. BOOK HERE.

 

* * * * *   E R T J I E S B E R G    P A S S   * * * * *

New passes added this week:

Elandshoogte (R396) - a big gravel pass north of Maclear in the Eastern Cape (Provisional video)

Grondnek (R58) - a minor tarred pass on the R58 between Lady Grey and Barkly East (Provisional video)



Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the day: " We generate fears whilst we sit. We overcome them by action" ~ Dr. Henry Link 

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Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
 

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
 

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