30. Kirsten­bosch

Bicycling WOW Rides - - Contents -

The pic­turesque Kirsten­bosch cor­ri­dor is more than just a gate­way from the City Bowl trails to the south­ern sub­urbs – one of the Cape’s best-kept se­crets, this hal­lowed piece of trail and the ex­pe­ri­ence that ac­com­pa­nies it bor­der on the spir­i­tual, tak­ing riders deep into pre­vi­ously un­ex­plored sec­tions of Ta­ble Moun­tain. Bi­cy­cling spent a day rid­ing and pho­tograph­ing this in­cred­i­ble trail with up­com­ing Mau­ri­tian XCO rider Ryan Len­ferna.

Us­ing the nat­u­ral to­pog­ra­phy and ex­ist­ing hik­ing foot­paths (no man­i­cured trails here), you’re trans­ported into a won­der­land of lush forestry and dense canopies, re­plete with all the au­ral del­i­ca­cies and botan­i­cal fra­grances you’d ex­pect from a place un­sul­lied by man.

The 10km route is truly spe­cial, hug­ging and me­an­der­ing its way through the sur­round­ing con­tours like a snake, with vast changes in el­e­va­tion that make for the ul­ti­mate test of both rider and bike.

While the cor­ri­dor es­sen­tially links the trails in and around the city bowl with Tokai and No­ord­hoek, riders have the op­tion of start­ing at Rhodes Me­mo­rial and rid­ing to Con­stan­tia Nek and back via a 20km/700m route. Al­though there’s am­ple park­ing avail­able at Rhodes Me­mo­rial, we sug­gest

A trail like this is a hid­den gem; dense forestry, veg­e­ta­tion and canopied paths make for a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence. There are many tech­ni­cal bits, and the steep climbs will test even the fittest rider. AARON BOR­RILL

us­ing the area at the New­lands For­est en­trance (be­low the he­li­copters) in­stead, as it’s safer, busier, and has a tap to fill your bot­tles with nat­u­ral moun­tain wa­ter.

The route is graded as an in­ter­me­di­ate trail, but is a chal­leng­ing ride none­the­less. There’s plenty of climb­ing on of­fer, with a mix of jeep tracks and short steep gra­di­ents of up to 20 per cent. While it’s not overly tech­ni­cal, you need a rel­a­tively de­cent skill set to ne­go­ti­ate the to­pog­ra­phy, which is largely rem­i­nis­cent of the Tokai trails.

That said, those who aren’t too fit shouldn’t be put off, as there are many rest stops and benches along the way for In­sta­gram op­por­tu­ni­ties and the like. The vis­tas are truly beau­ti­ful.

So take your time, breathe in the fresh air and savour the in­cred­i­ble beauty. The route fol­lows the nat­u­ral flow and lay­out of the ex­ist­ing tracks. There’s a newly­built sin­gle­track cut into the for­est at the top of the climb in New­lands that has re­placed the ini­tial portage sec­tion. It’s nar­row, if you’re rid­ing wide bars, so take it slowly and watch out around the blind cor­ners for riders com­ing up to­wards you.

Af­ter the for­est sin­gle­track things re­ally start to get tough, as you climb your way up to Con­stan­tia Nek and take on the short (but in­cred­i­bly steep) Muur de Kirsten­bosch along the way – there are many short, sharp climbs as you ride along the top con­tour. Cau­tion is key here, since the area’s filled with walk­ers and their dogs, and chas­ing Strava seg­ments is strictly pro­hib­ited. Slow down, and just en­joy the ride.

The re­ward? Break­fast or a cup of cof­fee at La Parada, across the road from the Con­stan­tia Nek forestry road, be­fore you hit the re­turn jour­ney home, or head off down the Green­belt for a bit ex­tra.

I love these trails. They’ve got some nice fea­tures, such as tech­ni­cal de­scents and portages which can be seen as tech­ni­cal drops for the more skilled rider.

- RYAN LEN­FERNA, MAU­RI­TIAN XCO RIDER

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