Bicycling (South Africa) - - WOW RIDES - By Aaron Bor­rill

Whether it’s be­cause of the lo­ca­tion (about an hour from Cape Town CBD), or the sum­mer tem­per­a­tures, Welvanpas doesn’t get the credit it de­serves. One thing’s for sure though: the trails are in the same league as (if not bet­ter than) any­thing else in the West­ern Cape.

Each route (blue, yel­low, black and white) starts at the Welvanpas farm, lo­cated be­tween the beau­ti­ful Hawekwa and Groen­berg moun­tain ranges, near Welling­ton. The place is known for its heat, and can eas­ily hit fig­ures in the up­per 40s (that’s degrees Cel­cius) in the sum­mer months. While the black route is more shel­tered than the equally chal­leng­ing white, the hu­mid­ity in the forested sections is pal­pa­ble.

The no­to­ri­ous Aap d’Huez switch­back climb and its 9% av­er­age gra­di­ent con­fronts rid­ers al­most im­me­di­ately. Though it’s not a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult climb, the switch­backs (es­pe­cially near the top) are tight to ne­go­ti­ate. There are 21 of them, and each one poses a unique challenge, whether by roots, ruts or steep kick­ers.

The black route com­prises roughly 27km, with 1200m of ver­ti­cal gain. While it never feels like tough work rid­ing, you do have to earn your de­scent; but the re­ward is su­perb.

The Full Monty is that re­ward. This sin­gle­track de­scent is fast and flow­ing, but also pretty tricky in places – washed out, and rut­ted by brake marks.

There’s more tech­ni­cal rid­ing per kilo­me­tre at Welvanpas than on any other trail in the West­ern Cape. Fact. The ter­rain here is some of the most test­ing you’ll find any­where in the world, and it’s the per­fect place to bench­mark not only your fit­ness and skills, but your bike’s re­silience, too. It is to moun­tain bik­ing what the Nűr­bur­gring is to mo­tor­sport, a test bed to gauge just how fast, fit and ag­ile you are as a rider. –


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