South Africa’s very own Mont Ventoux!

This weekend, a friend and I decided to tackle the iconic Jonaskop Mountain climb located between Villiersdorp and Worcester in South Africa. The climb has been dubbed “the hardest road climb in South Africa”, a title which once again held true on Saturday.

The climb was extra tough this time around due to my lack of fitness. I have done very little training this year. My yearly mileage currently sits around a measly 1000km, the lowest it has EVER been this far into the year since I started cycling in 2016.

In December last year, I contracted covid-19 and even though I was able to recover from the virus in most ways, I have been struggling with breathing issues ever since. It is getting better, but the process is excruciatingly slow. That is why I have not been riding much this year. I think I will talk more about my recovery from covid in a future blog post.

Despite my lack of fitness, this was my favorite ride up Jonaskop mountain to date!

It is not every day that one is treated to this type of scenery in the Western Cape. While it is common to see snow on the tips of the surrounding mountains, to experience it up close is still a rare opportunity that might arise once or twice a year.

Remember that 40% ramp I wrote about in my last post about Jonaskop? It was completely covered in snow. We walked up it just to say that we made it to the summit, but it was definitely not rideable. Well, maybe on a fat bike with an incredible gear ratio it would have been!

A lot of other people also decided to seize the moment! I have never seen the mountain so busy. I saw tons of cyclists and vehicles both on the way up and on the way down. Even more reason to take it easy on the narrow a tricky descent!

I remember in 2018 when I did the climb for the first time, I and my group of friends saw small patches of snow near the summit. The mountain was basically unheard of back then. I recall being one of only a handful of riders who had completed the official Jonaskop segment on Strava. The only car we saw that day was one on its way to do construction at the Sentech connection tower at the summit. How times have changed! I guess a lot of people enjoy going up the local Mont Ventoux.

It was my friend Willie who made the comparison on Saturday between Jonaskop and the famous Mont Ventoux. I can understand why. The barren landscape near the top of the climb bears a stark resemblance to the “Giant of Provence”. Also, the connection tower at the top of Jonaskop and the weather tower on Mont Ventoux teases you for a long way up the climb. You will be forgiven for thinking the summit is just around the corner, even when your cycling computer tells you otherwise. To Willie’s surprise, I told him that Jonaskop is actually more challenging of a climb than Mont Ventoux. Mont Ventoux is iconic due to its history in professional road cycling, but there are many climbs in France and a few hundred in the world that are more challenging, including Jonaskop.

That’s all from me! I hope everyone is staying healthy and keeping fit. Au revoir!



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