The Year Of My Bike
In 2017, without even trying, one casual cyclist caught stage-race fever. Dave Moseley never intended to ride all year long; but somehow, the wheels of fortune simply turned in his favour. IN 2017, MY INTENTION WAS TO CYCLE MORE. CYCLE FOR FUN, TO WORK,
For cyclists, the most common New Year’s resolution is ‘ I want to ride more’. One rider made this promise, intending to commute more regularly. Instead, he finished seven of South Africa’s top stage events! He shares his experiences from all over the country, and explains why you should do them too.
TOUR DE BRAAI & TOUR DE BRAAI II
A five- day tour of the Klein Karoo and Overberg region of the Western Cape, hosted by South Africa’s braaimaster – Jan Braai.
LAST YEAR’S EVENTS
I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in three Tours de Braai in 11 months. I was involved in the recce ride in December 2016, then did the first event in May 2017, and the second in November.
May’s ride started in near-perfect conditions, with 20- odd excited if slightly confused participants.
The start time for each day was 9am; not earlier, not later. Jan Braai had instructed riders that we don’t breakfast in riding gear, and that there is absolutely no need to be ready for breakfast at 6am. Cue stage-race robots kitted up, helmets on, and knocking on the dining room door at 6am. It took a few shakes of the head from Jan to get everyone on board, but from day two it was smooth sailing.
Every day was a highlight, but the memorable moments for me include the passes the Tour de Braai travels over: Montagu Pass on Day 1 (with your first braai and pinot noir at Herold Wines, just 18km in), and Rooiberg Pass on Day 3 (with a braai, courtesy of De Krans Wines, at the top of the pass). On top of that, the 90km ride from Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp, in the shadow of the Swartberg Pass and through the Groenfontein Valley, will in time surely become the iconic stage of this event.
May – Trek Crockett, with 700x38 tubeless tyres. A very capable bike that handled the five days of gravel riding really well. I battled slightly on the rocky downhills of Rooiberg, but overall the bike was a fun ride.
November – Momsen R355, with 700x40 tubeless tyres. A far better-specced ride than the Crockett, and the R355 only weighs in at 9.5kg. The slightly wider tyres felt like a huge step up on the ride, and are probably the ideal size for this kind of gravel riding.
George to Swellendam, via Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, Rooiberg Lodge and Riversdale.
WHY DO IT?
If you’ve conquered every stage race in South Africa, or need a new challenge that doesn’t involve porta-loos and energy gels, then the Tour de Braai is the ride you’ve been looking for. The challenge is also to tackle the tour on a gravel bike. Mountain bikes are welcome, but the Tour is squarely positioning itself as the number- one tour for gravel- grinders.
The riding is doable if you’re reasonably fit, but far more fun if you’re a wellseasoned cyclist. The days aren’t aggressively long, but the gravel roads and nighttime activities do eventually add up to make this a challenge worth training for.