The Western Cape is home to some of the best road cycling routes in South Africa. What I like about this part of the country, is that you have access to a wide variety of different scenic cycling routes. Depending on where in the Western Cape you live, you could choose to ride next to the coast, through vineyards or over epic mountain passes on any given day. This is really special! I have compiled this list of my favorite road cycling routes in the Western Cape. This is also somewhat of a farewell post for me, because I have just bought a gravel bike. So, after riding tens of thousands of kilometers on the road in the Western Cape, I will be exploring off-road routes… at least for the unforeseeable future.
Road Cycling routes in the Western Cape
7. Botrivier Boomer
This cycling loop starts in Strand (or Somerset West) and will take you over Sir Lowry’s Pass during the first 10 kilometers or so of the ride. I like to get the Pass out of the way as early as possible, because there is only a small verge for cyclist to ride in and traffic does get in tense later on in the day. Once over the pass, you will follow the smooth and relatively flat N2 road until Botrivier, where you will turn off to head towards Kleinmond. From Kleinmond, all the way back to Strand you will be treated to some of the best scenery that South Africa has to offer. In fact, when famous Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett visited the area, he remarked that it must be the most beautiful stretch of road in the world!
6. Cape Town Cycle Tour Route
The Cape Town Cycle Tour is a road cycling race which takes place annually. It broke the Guinness World Record for the largest bicycle race in the world, when over 31 000 participants completed the event in 2004. The good news for you is that you do not need to enter the race in order to ride a route that is almost identical to that of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, any day of the year. The only difference is that you have to bypass the first section of the race route that takes place on the national road. It is illegal to ride a bicycle on the N2 in and around Cape Town, but an exception is made for the Cycle Tour once a year. What I would recommend is that you ride on the Main Road from the city of Cape Town and join up with the Cape Town Cycle Tour route just before Muizenburg.
The route will showcase all of Cape Towns most iconic sites, the most noteworthy being Chapmans Peak.
5. Bloukrans Out-and-Back
This ride starts and ends in Plettenberg Bay, which is not far from the border between the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. I might be cheating here, because the official border is the Bloukrans River, which you have to cross for a few kilometers before reaching the turn around point of this ride. Do you think it is fair of me to add this ride to this lift of the best road cycling routes in the Western Cape? It is such a beautiful route I did not want to leave it out. This route will take you through Bloukrans Pass. The Pass is technically closed but you can still ride there. Just be careful, because there has been no maintenance done on that road for years and I have noticed that it is in increasingly worse condition every time I go there. It is being over run by grass and tree trunks! Plus, there is a section of the road that is completely covered in green moss. At this rate it will be a mountain bike route within the next 5 years!
4. Groot-Brak Ride
Here is another cycling loop you need to do in the Garden Route. It will take you over two big mountain climbs. If you do the ride clockwise, the first of the climbs is called Robinson Pass. It is 11km long and has an average gradient of 5%. The second is Outiniqua Pass, which is not much of a climb from the side you will be doing it, but the descend is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It is without a doubt the highlight of the entire ride. This is a long cycling route and if you do it in the direction I did, you will hit Outiniqua Pass at 125km into the ride. It will give you the energy to keep going until the end. I compare this Pass to a scene out of the French Alps. Having cycled through the French Alps myself, I feel it is a more than fair comparison.
3. Two Passes
I was riding for years in the Western Cape, before I finally discovered this cycling route. I think I was at a mate’s house and this route was in a cycling magazine he had. It soon became one of my favorite training routes. As the name suggests, it features two mountain passes. You can probably tell by now that most of the cycling routes in the Western Cape are based around mountain passes. I especially like this route, because of how lite the traffic tends to be on these roads. South African drivers are not the most accommodating of cyclist and I am always happy when I can find incredible training roads with only a few cars. There is a short section on the N1, leading up to the Du Toits Kloof Pass turnoff, that will be full of cars, but fortunately there is a massive shoulder to ride in.
2. Double Century Cycle Race Route
The double century is an annual event that takes place in Swellendam. Unlike the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the entire Double century cycling route is open to the public to do at anytime of year. It will also give you the opportunity to explore Swellendam, the third oldest town in South Africa. The town has over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture. It is not a place where I would organize a training camp, because there is not a huge variety of routes to do, but if you have never cycled in Swellendam before you should seriously consider it. Even if you are not up for the full 200km double century route, at least ride up and down Tradouw Pass.
1. Four Passes
I have saved my personal favorite cycling route in the Western Cape for last! You will want to bring your climbing legs with you for this one. I have done this cycling route more times than I can count, and I am still not sick of it! My wet dream is that they organize a road cycling race on this route. A friend, who is much older than me, says that there used to be a Four Passes road race back in the 90s. Can they please bring that back?
If you feel I left out any spectacular road cycling routes in the Western Cape, then please let me know! I would love to increase the list to 10 best cycling routes in the Western Cape in the future.