New route to woo cy­clists

Cape Cross a world-class bik­ing fa­cil­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - YOLANDE STANDER

PROGRESS on the epic cy­cling route between Plet­ten­berg Bay and Cape Town ratch­eted up a gear yes­ter­day with the launch of the first sec­tion of the mul­ti­mil­lion-rand ini­tia­tive.

Dubbed the Cross Cape, the route will in­clude worldclass trails through some of the Western Cape’s hid­den gems. It was started in an at­tempt to boost tourism and cre­ate thou­sands of jobs in the prov­ince once fully op­er­a­tional.

The first 5km of the 600km route was of­fi­cial opened yes­ter­day at the Gar­den Route Trail Park between Knysna and Sedge­field, with MEC for Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­ni­ties Alan Winde and sev­eral other en­thu­si­asts un­der­tak­ing the maiden ride.

Lo­cal tourism body Knysna and Part­ners chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Vogt said the sec­tion was on a par with world-class sin­gle track trails and would carry the stamp of ap­proval of the most dis­cern­ing in­ter­na­tional rid­ers.

“The goal is to at­tract 100 000 in­ter­na­tional cy­clists to the re­gion ev­ery year, and leave them want­ing to come back for more. So we want our trails to be up to stan­dard,” he said.

Winde said his vi­sion was to see the route be­comes a “bucket- list” ac­tiv­ity for cy­cling en­thu­si­asts.

The de­vel­op­ment of the new route is be­ing driven by the Western Cape govern­ment, Wes­gro, lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and pri­vate sec­tor stake­hold­ers in the re­gion.

In the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, the Western Cape govern­ment will in­vest more than R4 mil­lion in the ini­tia­tive, which will in­clude road track, moun­tain trails, jeep and for­est tracks.

“This ini­tia­tive stands to de­liver a ma­jor eco­nomic boost for the Western Cape and es­pe­cially for the small towns along the route,” Winde said.

Through projects like the cy­cle route the depart­ment wanted to cre­ate up to 100 000 jobs.

“The in­creased eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity the route will bring into our re­gion will drive new eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents.”

Winde said some of the job op­por­tu­ni­ties would be cre­ated through ac­com­mo­da­tion es­tab­lish­ments, bike servicing ser­vices, restau­rants and trail parks.

He added an ex­am­ple of one of the com­mu­ni­ties set to ben- efit from the ini­tia­tive was Keurhoek.

“The com­mu­nity there re­lied on forestry, an in­dus­try which no longer ex­ists in the area, for sur­vival. So the route would cre­ate a new op­por­tu­ni­ties that weren’t there yes­ter­day.”

The first leg of the route – about 160km between Plett and Ge­orge – is set to be com­pleted by March. The en­tire route is sched­uled for com­ple­tion in about two years.

“The suc­cess of the Cross Cape to date, and our abil­ity to launch the first 5km, is due to the drive, sup­port and lead­er­ship shown by the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, tourism of­fices, landown­ers, cy­cling com­mu­ni­ties, tech­ni­cal teams and busi­nesses along the Gar­den Route”, said Wes­gro spokes­woman Judy Lain.

“The Western Cape’s land­scape, moun­tains, long safe district roads and the fact that we are em­braced by a mag­nif­i­cent coast­line pro­vide cy­clists of all lev­els the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore one of the most beau­ti­ful places in the world by bike.” – Gar­den Route Me­dia

Western Cape MEC for eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties Alan Winde leads the pack dur­ing the maiden ride of the first 5km of the Cross Cape route at the Gar­den Route Trail Park.

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