On the 2nd of January 2018 David le Roux, Andrew Robb and Seamus Allardice set out from Stellenbosch for the Klein Karoo on an epic four day mountain bike ride. Following gravel roads whenever possible the trio traversed the Western Cape from Rustenberg Wine Estate to Opsoek, a small farming community near the mouth of the Seweweekspoort. Here are the best images from their trip.
Seamus, Andrew and David prepare to set off.
Day 1: Stellenbosch to McGregor
Distance: 165km (With no back-up driver they each took turns driving, so ended up riding ±110km each.)
Day 1 – Leg 1
Dave makes a final pre-ride tyre pressure check while Andrew looks on. Dave and Seamus rode the first leg, while Andrew drove the back-up vehicle.
Bakkie packed and ready to roll with all the essentials for four days of riding and three nights of camping.
Heading out the Rustenberg Wines farm gate.
Despite the early start Dave and Seamus elected to head up Old Helshoogte to avoid traffic, rather than ride up the new pass out of Stellenbosch towards Franschhoek.
The magnificent Franschhoek Pass was the first significant obstacle to be overcome during the #RideToOpsoek. Photo by Andrew Robb.
Water stop near the top of the Franschhoek Pass.
David’s rear tyre scraped a hole in his seat post-mounted water bottle within the first 2km, forcing him to ride with it upside down for the rest of the first day.
Top of the pass selfie.
Day 1 – Leg 2
At the change over, near the bottom of the Franschhoek Pass, Seamus took on the driving while Andrew joined David on the bike.
Brunch in Villiersdorp: Roosterbrood with cheese and jam.
Villiersdorp had been the planned starting point of the trip, but with no way of getting three men, three bikes and three people’s gear into the NP200 there was no option but to ride from Stellenbosch instead.
Back on the road, Andrew and David picked their way through the quiet streets of Villiersdorp on their way towards the Rooihoogte Pass.
The Rooihoogte Pass is a straight drag up a steady gradient from the Villiersdorp side.
The descent towards the Breede River Valley is a whole lot more fun.
Unfortunately there is no public access route out of Boland towards the Breede River Valley that does not make us tarred roads.
Doornrivier and gravel to the riders’ right.
The first taste of gravel on the #RideToOpsoek.
Day 1 – Leg 3
For Leg 3 of Day 1 David took over the driving and Seamus joined Andrew on the bike.
The first gravel pass of the tour. Somewhere near the Breede River.
Andrew taking in the views.
Catching a sneaky tow.
A failed attempt at a swim ended with Seamus and Andrew cooling off, as the temperature reached the mid-30s, under the spray from a broken irrigation pipe.
McGregor – first things first, an ice cold coke.
Bottle returned for deposit.
Campsite number 1, and probably the best one of the trip, Uitvlugt – just outside McGregor.
Post ride dam swims.
The camp from the dam.
The Uitvlugt farm dog surveying his turf.
McGregor at sunset.
What could possibly go wrong?
Supper of champions.
Moon rise. The 2nd of January was the first full moon on the year and with it falling so early in the month January 2018 will boast a blue moon too.
Day 2: McGregor to Montagu
The arrival overnight of Seamus’s father, Rory and his girlfriend Claire, meant that all three the guys were free to ride Day 2.
Day 2 promised much more gravel.
But after a night in the signal black hole which is McGreggor the first priority was a stop to communicate with the outside world.
Taking the Strykhoogte road past Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve the trio were heading for Montagu via Bonnievale on Day 2.
After the 110km each rider completed on Day 1 the legs took a little while to get going.
Finding a rhythm.
The Strykhoogte Pass will be familiar to riders who have taken part in the Ride2Nowhere stage race as the event’s route skirts the pass on its second day.
Gravel road descents, the not-so-secret joy of the trip.
You know you are on a back road when you pass through a grid-gate.
Breede River Valley views.
The quiet country gravel roads are perfect for riding two abreast and chatting away the kilometres.
Taking the scenic route meant a wrong turn or two.
Bonnievale had yet to reawaken from the Festive Season and no coffee shop was open so after riding the length and breadth of town the guys stopped to refill bottles at Spar.
Back on the road and looking for gravel once more.
From Bonnievale they took a back road towards the R60 which links Aston and Swellendam.
There’s a devilish little gravel pass on that infrequently used stretch of road.
Andrew stretching his legs as he crests the penultimate climb of Day 2.
With the gravel pass conquered only the Boesmanspad Pass and the Ashton/Montagu road works separated them from the day’s finish.
The old English fort, between Ashton and Montagu, marks the gateway to the Klein Karoo.
The benefits of navigating road works on mountain bikes…
The De Bos campsite in Montagu’s finest feature was undoubtedly the pool.
One of the many De Bos locals keeping an eye out for snacks.
The back-up team braai’ng at De Bos.
Day 3: Montagu to Ansyberg Nature Reserve
The pre-dawn start of Day 3 which promised temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.
Rolling out of Montagu.
The predicted temperatures meant that hydration packs were the order of the day.
David checking the Klein Karoo views.
The first 26km climbed from 226m above sea level to 1 008m at the top of the Ouberg Pass.
David taking on the Ouberg Pass with exuberance.
Andrew was a bit more circumspect.
The sweeping switchbacks of the lower sections of the Ouberg Pass.
David flying up the Pass.
The 4.3km long Ouberg Pass climbs 364km at an average gradient of 8%.
Andrew grinding his way to the top.
Top of the Pass selfie number 2.
The roads from the top of the Ouberg Pass to Anysberg Nature Reserve are absolutely fantastic.
The sun was steadily creeping up the sky and the thermometer followed suit.
Dead straight roads trending downhill.
Taking a break for a photo and to admire the views across the planes.
Andrew taking a video of one, of a pair, of bateared foxes which were startled on the road to Anysberg.
Getting back into formation mode.
Dave acting up.
Pace line selfie.
The Kruisrivier farm provided an oasis at the 54km mark.
The canopies of willow trees provided welcomed shade before the arid Anysberg stretch.
One of the Kruisrivier Farm residents provided the guys with chilled water and ice for their nearly empty bottles.
Andrew contemplating the challenges to come.
Heading back out into the sunlight.
Touwsrivier 40km | Dorningkloof 1km | Anysberg 27.1km
Grinding past the Kruisrivier cottages.
Into the reserve.
The Anysberg Nature Reserve gates are unmanned, one just has to report to the office at Vrede in the middle of the reserve.
In the reserve the climbing started once more and the road surfaces worsened gradually.
It was getting hot.
Climbing in the sun.
The green sliver of veld in the background is usually watered by the Touwsrivier which was entirely dry during the #RideToOspoek.
Snacks in the shade.
Andrew keeping an eye out for Gemsbok on the ridges above the road.
Photo stop as the support team caught up.
Dave had a near miss, while his forearms were resting on the bars and he plowed into a sandy patch, which left him with a painful shoulder.
The back-up vehicle caught up just in time to provide hydration and nutrition at the day’s finishing point.
Another end of the ride dam swim.
The support crew: Clair, Jasmine and Rory relaxing in the shade at the Anysberg pool.
Andrew contemplating his donut choices.
Packed and ready to drive out of Anysberg rather than suffer in the sun. The guys drove from Anysberg to the day’s campsite at Zandrivier, near the summit of the Seweweekspoort.
Day 4: Zandrivier to Opsoek
The campsite packed up for the final time.
Rolling out of Zandrivier.
With only 36km ahead the guys started later on the final day.
Andrew taking photos of a mare and foal.
Spirits were high as they made their way towards the descent of the Seweweekspoort.
Cruising towards the Seweweekspoort.
Heading for Opsoek at the bottom of the Seweweekspoort.
Top of the poort photo stop.
Dave pointing out the highest peak in the Western Cape, the Seweweekspoort Peak.
The beautiful Seweweekspoort road.
Andrew reveling in the knowledge of a long descent ahead.
Stopping at the Seweweekspoort sign.
With no pass the guys had to settle for a poort selfie on the final day.
Out of the poort and onto the final stretch of the #RideToOpsoek.
Taking the scenic route.
A fun few final descents to end on a high.
Arriving at Opsoek.
Done and dusted!