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Cape Town and the Western Cape as a Cycling Destination

by Holly Blades

ZA Flag

It can be hard for European cyclists to maintain enthusiasm for training over the winter months. Even those making a special trip to the warmer climes of the Mediterranean can't be guaranteed good cycling weather as Mallorca has suffered snow and cold temperatures as late as February in recent years. Now is the time to start planning your Winter/Spring cycling holiday for 2018 - and here's Cyclosport's suggestion: It's time to head further afield and have we got a destination for you!

One particular region is at its prime in February/March and that's The Western Cape in South Africa. Just looking at the esteemed cycling events that take place there throughout March, you'll see that The Western Cape is home to one of the largest and most important cycling months in the calendar.

The Cape Rouleur; 4-9 March 2018
The CT Cycle Tour; 11 March 2018
The ABSA Cape Epic; 18-25 March 2018

The HotChillee Cape Rouleur

The HotChillee Cape Rouleur is an endurance road cycling event set over several days. It features rolling road closures, as seen in pro-races, and full support. Based in Franschhoek, home of world class restaurants and wine production, the Cape Rouleur uses the format established by the hugely popular LONDON-PARIS. Now on it's 7th edition, the HotChillee Cape Rouleur consists of 80% international riders (over 20 nationalities) and an average of 20% female riders.


Franschhoek Pass in the Wine Lands - image by Craig Kolesky

The HotChillee Cape Rouleur is also a chance for local development riders to encounter European style racing conditions, and a platform for them to further their racing experience with invites to Europe for the summer. Whether you're riding to finish, riding to prove yourself, or riding to win a jersey, the opportunity is there for you.

There is also a social ride program for non-racing partners who will be given the chance to experience the local sights, food and wine.


Incredible Views - image by Craig Kolesky

The Cape Rouleur will give you the chance to ride along the most spectacular coastal routes in what we think is one of the most scenic cycling stages in the world.

The event comes to an end in Cape Town with a non-racing Festival Ride and finish line drinks and canapes hosted by the Tsogo Sun Cullinan, in the shadow of the world famous Table Mountain.

Cape Rouleur entrants also have the option to have a seeded VIP entry to the CT Cycle Tour, an opportunity of which most entrants take advantage.


Ample Climbing Opportunities - image by Craig Kolesky

Sunday 4 March 2018:
Sign On
ITT prologue

Monday 5 March 2018:
Stage 1: Franschhoek - Franschhoek

Tuesday 6 March 2018:
Stage 2: Franschhoek - Franschhoek

Wednesday 7 March 2018:
Stage 3: Franschhoek - Somerset West

Thursday 8 March 2018:
Festival Ride: Somerset West - Cape Town

Saturday 10 March 2018 (Optional):
Social Ride, Cape Town

Sunday 11 March 2018 (Optional):
Seeded entry to the Cape Town Cycle Tour, followed by VIP finish line hospitality


Stunning Scenery - image by Craig Kolesky

Entries for 2018 are open with limited options still available.

For more information visit http://www.hotchillee.com/event/cape-rouleur/

The CT Cycle Tour (Argus) 

The Cape Town Cycle Tour (formerly the Argus) is in its 40th edition and is the largest timed cycling event in the world

The Cape Town Cycle Tour, formerly known as the Argus, is now in its 40th edition and remains the largest timed cycling event in the world. Set over a single day and featuring 109km of the beautiful Cape Peninsula, the CT Cycle Tour is your chance to join 40,000 riders and ride to around 300,000 spectators.


Riders who have also tackled the Cape Rouleur will get seeded entries, and may lead to a faster overall time. This could prove useful as the event is taken seriously by locals and can be extremely competitive - Doing the ride in less than 3 hours is a badge of honour and you can be expected to be repeatedly asked what your "Argus" time was!

For more information, visit  http://www.capetowncycletour.com/

The ABSA Cape Epic

Not for the faint of heart, or indeed the unfit, the ABSA Cape Epic is a tough week long Mountain Bike event. 2018 sees the 15th edition of a route that typically features technical stages with 17,000 metres of climbing over 600km. This is an event for teams of two people with over 650 teams entering. The Cape Epic is undoubtedly the best MTB event in the world, and probably the hardest, so if MTB is your thing, this is a must


Entries for 2019 open after the event in March 2018.

For more information, visit https://www.cape-epic.com/ 


Cross Cape Cycle Routes

In a collaboration with tourism authorities across the region, the Government of the Western Cap launched "Cape Cycle Routes" back in May 2017.


The first route launched was The Cross Cape which stretches from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch over a distance of just over 700km. Riders can spend the day tackling one of several sections of the The Cross Cape or make a holiday of it and stay in the many beautiful towns and villages along the route which spans the length of the province and passes through varied and majestic landscapes.
Taking place mainly on well-graded gravel roads, the ride is suitable for gravel and mountain bikes, and riders can be sure to receive a personal, welcoming and authentic experience as they put their cycle touring prowess to the test. A true chance to meet locals, embrace the region's culture and of course sample the local food and wine, taking on any part of The Cross Cape will ensure a fantastic experience and a real sense of achievement. More routes are to be announced in April 2018.


More information can be found at https://www.capecycleroutes.co.za/route/cross-cape-route

What else can you do in the Western Cape?

Travelling to the Western Cape needn't just fulfill your cycling requirements. March alone sees over ZAR 750 million spent by tourists in the region, so much is the draw to this fabulous area.

Wine Tasting / Gourmet experiences

Any wine aficionado knows that South Africa, and in particular The Western Cape is blessed with some of the finest wines and international wine makers in the world. Much like American vineyards, the wine farms have become more sophisticated over the years and it is rare to have a bad experience. "John Platters Wine Guide" will give you an overview of 'what's hot and what's not' but a must do is a visit to Graff Del Air on the Helshoogte Pass between Franschhoek and Cape Town - home to fantastic food and wine, alongside some of the best art, sculpture, architecture and views in the country.


Image by Cape Town Tourism

For a totally organic wine and food experience, try Boschendal, or even create your own by visiting a local supermarket and choosing some of the classics from the region.

Table Mountain

One of the most famous sights in Cape Town, no trip would be complete without a journey to the top of Table Mountain. The views are as stunning as you would imagine and the reserve itself provides the ability to ramble and explore, keeping the most serious horticulturist or nature lover busy for hours!


Image by Cape Town Tourism

Robben Island

For anybody with any political understanding of the country's history, a visit to Robben Island to see the prison cell that held Nelson Mandela during 18 of the 27 years of his incarceration is a worthwhile and emotional experience.

Sunset Cruises

Numerous evening boat trips of many sizes are available to see the sights and enjoy some 'sundowners' on the water.


Image by Wesgro

Garden Route

The Garden Route is 300km of coast stretching from Mossel Bay to the Storms River, and is one of the most stunning coastlines in the world, with beautiful B&B stopovers. Hire a car and set off to places like Swellendam, Plettenberg Bay, George and Knysna. Even better, if you have your bike, take it with you to do some extra exploring!


Image by South African Tourism

Blue Train / Rovos Rail

If you've always fancied a trip on the Orient Express, the Blue Train or Rovos Rail are a fantastic alternative. Offering a chance to see further afield in luxurious and stylish surroundings, The Blue Train has diesel locomotives whilst the Rovos Rail is a steam train, straight out of a movie set! With 5 star food and accommodation, be prepared to regain all the weight you lost whilst cycling.


Image by Wesgro

Deep Sea Fishing

Taking a boat 50km off the tip of Africa and catching a huge Yellowfin Tuna is an experience you will most likely never forget! 

Shark Diving

Unsurprisingly not for the faint hearted, Shark Diving is an increasingly popular experience. Scary but fascinating, it's your opportunity to get face to face with the Great White sharks off the coast of Africa and see these amazing and terrifying creatures in their natural habitat. 


Image by South African Tourism

Surfing / Sailing / Kiteboarding

The huge amount of coastline in the Western Cape means that water sports rank highly on the list of things to experience. Cold water in the Atlantic and warm water in the Indian Ocean mean there is something for everyone.


Image by Cape Town Tourism

Philanthropic

Local charities often host guests as part of an experience, giving you deep insight into the challenges a continent like Africa still faces. These include everything from wildlife protection and preservation, AIDS awareness, education, nutrition, water, green and environmental issues to charities specialising in providing bikes for locals to travel to work or school.

Getting There

The regional minister Alan Winde, who is responsible for the drive to increase cycling tourism, believe that with more airlines starting a route to Cape Town, 2018 prices will be even lower than they have become in the past two years. 
The current exchange rate is about 17.5 SA Rands to the British Pound which means that the cost of living is also significantly cheaper once in the Western Cape. With a flight time of 11.5 hours and a time difference of only two hours, overnight flights are popular - you can eat dinner at Heathrow, and be eating breakfast at a sun soaked beach side cafe in Camps Bay the next morning!


Image by Wesgro

Most regular airlines are bike friendly with an extra bike bag (up to 23kg) typically costing around £40-£60 per leg. We recommend avoiding Emirates (via Dubai) as their policy has significantly altered over the past few years and it's possible to be charged £500 per extra 10kg on their flights, with no leeway given.

Recently voted the best airport in Africa, it's not unheard of to land, pick up your bags and be in your car within an hour and fifteen minutes at Cape Town International. Your luggage is typically on the belt by the time you've cleared passport control, and there is a separate pick up point for outsized baggage including bike bags and boxes.


Image by Cape Town Tourism

Getting About

The most straight forward way to get around is to hire a car. However, if you're simply taking your bike, a great alternative is to contact Sport24 (http://www.sport24hrs.co.za) who will be happy to help transfer and number of bike boxes, or indeed unboxed bikes. As partners of both the Cape Rouleur and the Cape Epic, they are more than used to looking after cyclists!


The ABSA Cape Epic

Where to Stay

There are such a huge array of brilliant hotels and B&Bs to choose from, it's hard to narrow it down to recommendations. However, if you want a cycling focused hotel, with a little bit of luxury (and a great wine cellar!) than the Tsogo Sun Cullinan is the place for you. It's not co-incidence that as well as being partners to The Cape Rouleur, ABSA Cape Epic and CT Cycle Tour, they're also the host to World Tour Team Dimension Data and their annual training camp - so expect to see a who's who of cycling.


Image by Cape Town Tourism

During the week of the Rouleur and the CT Cycle Tour, the luxurious lobby transforms into a bike park along with resident mechanics. As well as being able to feel comfortable in lycra and cleats whilst eating breakfast, it never hurts to be asked upon check in whether your bike needs a service, lube or wash.

Book well in advance! For more information, visit https://www.tsogosun.com/the-cullinan





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