HANS SE KOP

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Wow Rides -

The only ac­ces­si­ble sum­mit in the Western Cape to pro­vide 360° vis­tas of the greater Cape Town area and the Over­berg. The views from the top are un­like any­thing you’ve ever seen in this coun­try, and it could eas­ily be one of the mono­lithic Hors caté­gorie climbs of the Tour de France. But the dis­tant view of Ta­ble Moun­tain re­minds you that you’re in Africa.

It’s a well-kept se­cret. And in my opin­ion there are many vari­ables that make Hans tougher (and per­haps more re­ward­ing) than the Tokai Mast climb – such as the ex­treme fluc­tu­a­tions in tem­per­a­ture and wind ve­loc­ity.

The sin­gle­track to the start of the climb was once cov­ered in pine trees, but all that re­mains is charred stumps – the af­ter­math of a re­cent fire. While the pines were never go­ing to be here for­ever, they added a sense of drama. But de­spite the des­o­la­tion, the land­scape re­mains ma­jes­tic; and what the re­gion has lost in (mostly alien) veg­e­ta­tion it will now gain in nat­u­ral fyn­bos.

Dirt road quickly be­comes bil­liard-ta­blesmooth tar­mac, spi­ralling up and switch­ing back on it­self a cou­ple of times, all the while kick­ing up in gra­di­ent. Com­ing in at 6.2km, it’s not the long­est climb; but the av­er­age 10% gra­di­ent rises 619m, tak­ing you to a max alti­tude of 1151m. Com­ing down is se­ri­ously quick.

It’s easy to see why this re­gion is con­sid­ered the most di­verse place to ride. You can climb an out-of-cat­e­gory moun­tain, de­scend like a ra­bid mon­key, and sud­denly be on some of the best sin­gle­track in the coun­try. While it’s largely flow­ing trails, there are rock­ier, more tech­ni­cal sec­tions higher up, such as the in­fa­mous Hole in the Wall and Xterra path­ways.

It’s places like Grabouw that re­mind me why I fell in love with this ‘hobby’ in the first place.

– By Aaron Bor­rill

DNA PHOTOGRAPHY / DES­MOND LOUW

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