Bicycling WOW Rides
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