WATCH I Cycle the Cederberg's rugged ridges with ease on an e-bike
All your senses are heightened. The heat. The wind. The scale of it all. The sounds of silence. Of gravel moving.
Fresh air fills your lungs as you simultaneously gasp for air, heaving your way up the steep hills that define the Cederberg mountain pass terrain. Luckily, I am on an e-bike and am climbing swiftly past a few pro-cyclists on gravel bikes on this sharp pass, their sweaty calves glistening in the sun, in the wake of my dusk cloud.
The Cederberg Circuit is a slightly daunting, 247km cycle. Do a section, or the Full Monty. But take it on preferably during autumn or winter months as these areas hit temp highs of over 50°C in summer. A cellphone signal dead zone, you'll see crystal clear rivers, citrus orchards, wine or beer taste along the ride at the Cederberg Cellars, see the area's farms, its lush nature reserves, spectacular rock formations, springs and waterfalls perfect for a dip in 40°C heat, and chase the shadows of the rippling peaks as high as the heavens, that flank you on either side.
Cape Cycle Routes, an initiative of the Western Cape Government, has crafted a route from Citrusdal onto the eastern bank of the Olifant's River and Algeria, up to the base of Uitkyk Pass before you descent into the Cederberg Park Kromrivier Resort - luxe guest houses for some much needed rest and recuperation.
Twists and turns await you on some rough and skittish corrugated gravel roads, promising shakes aplenty; so engage those arm muscles (and for those with boobs, double bra). Ending with a venture into Mount Ceder, from where the finish line is almost in sight. End strong and in good form, heading to Op Die Berg and finally, reaching home-base back in Citrusdal.
Found throughout the province, these routes aim to put the Western Cape on the map as not just a premier tourism destination, but as the best cycling destination in Africa.
"Cederberg is one of the official routes within the Cape Cycle Routes Network. The accessibility of these routes are essential; however, even for an advanced rider, a 247KM bike ride may not be a walk in the park. To encourage the general public to explore these routes, local tour operators have made an e-bike option available to anyone looking to ride this route regardless of their fitness level," says Cape Cycle Routes.
That's where I came in. Cycling with a luminous yellow Specialized e-bike provided by Vivid Bike Company made the 120km out of the 247km that I cycled, much easier. Despite a relatively high fitness level, I felt the toughness of the terrain, the elements and those bugger hills. So travelling in a pack with Vivid, who does guided packages that can be tailor-made for your needs, is ideal for a group of friends/couples, all with different levels of fitness.
You are fit, but your partner is not. E-bike! Need a backup vehicle with water and snacks? Done. Need your trip to include luxury stays and lavish, lovingly-prepared meals as you tend to your saddle sores at night? Also done! Okay, the saddle sores won't actually occur (I'm told), if you wear padded shorts. These shorts, plus sunscreen = your two most important items for a trip like this.
Point is, you want to see the Cederberg. Seeing it as you cycle through her very essence, her soil, her vastness, her sounds and wind on your skin - goose-bumping you at times, both because of the crisp breeze and the landscape's beauty - is way superior than driving it by car. Spot the creatures along the way that call her home, hear them grab, chew and exhale, the baboons and the birds and the water that flows down a stream nearby, spiking your thirst in the midday sun.
With e-bike, these rugged ridges, so full of life and beauty, can be conquered by anyone.