A beautiful, entry-level 7km (4.34 mile) route just north of Simonís Town, with views of False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, this ride is most enjoyable in winter when the tracks are less dry and sandy. The sign at the Pinehaven entrance at the top of Red Hill indicates no mountain-biking, but, thanks to the MTB Working Group that is made up of Pedal Power Association members and conservationists from the Table Mountain National Park, this route was opened in 2002 as part of the Environmental Management Plan for Recreational Cycling.
It forms part of a longer route from Black Hill on the Glencairn Express way to Red Hill Road via the Lewis Gay Dam, but much of the Black Hill section is so sandy it is enjoyable only to the masochistic, even in winter. Fitter riders could get a good 5km (3.10 miles) of challenging uphill warm-up by parking on Main Road just before Simonís Town and cycling up Red Hill: 3.5km (2.17 miles) of winding tar to the viewing site and another 600m (1 968ft) to the Pinehaven turn-off.
Alternatively, take the steeper cement track just before the main Red Hill road for 1.5km (0.93 miles) of small chainring through Navy property amongst camouflage-painted World War II lookouts and cannon placements. Turn left at the T-junction and head on up to where this road joins Red Hill road just before the viewing site. Park at the Pinehaven houses and follow the tar road to its end, watching for puff adders sunning themselves on the tar in summer.
Turn sharp left (continue straight to go to Black Hill) through the gate and follow the gravel road as it S-bends up onto the saddle. Just before the reservoir wall, look for the sandy jeep track to the left. Continue along this in a southerly direction, until a singletrack forks to the right to follow a small stream† onto the flat top of Red Hill, with its views of the Atlantic and the intersection with the walking trail down to Scarborough. Follow the path as it bends east, zigzagging quickly through stands of restios to the tarred Red Hill Road.
For great views of the City Bowl, not to mention easy post- or pre-work ride access, Deer Park is hard to beat. The gravel roads below Tafelberg Road on the entire front face of Table Mountain from Kloof Nek to Mowbray Ridge are generally open to cyclists, with many entry points clearly visible along the length of this road. In fact, a gravel track begins at the parking area at the eastern end of Tafelberg Road and, following the same contour, is ridable all the way to close to the Kingís Blockhouse at 436m (1 430ft).
Other Deer Park access points are from the top of Derry and Pepper roads in Devilís Peak Estate, Deer Park East drive in Vredehoek, Molteno Road in Oranjezicht and Glencoe in Higgovale. Though access from the City Bowl is easy, the steepness of these tracks necessitates a good warm-up beforehand and a fair level of fitness. The area has no shade and is north-facing, making it extremely hot in summer. It nonetheless offers some good riding that, it is envisaged, could connect with the tracks on Groote Schuur Estate to provide a longer route, starting from Signal Hill and ending at Rhodes Memorial.
Not overly technical or challenging, the 5.2km (3.23 mile) circular route around Plum Pudding Hill is a great option for families or inexperienced riders. Plenty of parking is available, as are toilets and restaurant facilities. Starting on the tar road leading to Rhodes Memorial, follow the well-marked path for panoramic views of the Cape Flats, with Table and False Bays on either side and the Hottentots Holland Mountains in the distance. The route offers a variety of terrain, with fynbos, forest and streams and only one steep section, the 100m (328ft) of vertical height gain required to ascend Plum Pudding Hill itself.
Best Mountain Bike Rides of South Africa by Jacques Marais; Susie Mills, Struik.
For all the information and inspiration you could possibly want on South Africaís top rides, this book is unbeatable. Tokai features strongly, with beautiful visuals of downhillers doing their wild thing, but more important for your average rider is the detailed information you simply wonít find elsewhere: route gradient profiles, clear maps and detailed route descriptions.
The Western Province Pedal Power Association is an extremely active organisation promoting every facet of cycling in the region. Though more focused onevents than on social riding, their website offers an excellent entry point to all things cycling.
The Dirtopia brand is synonymous with mountain-biking in the Western Cape. Meurant Botha and Arina van der Vyver stage events, build and maintain hiking and biking trails and assist other organisers with the routes and management of their events. Seemingly tireless in his passionate dedication to the sport, Botha has not only been actively involved in organising the opening of many of Table Mountainís trails to mountain bikers, but has built and maintained many of them himself.
City Cycling Club - Tel: 021-943-4700
Pedal Power Association - Tel: 021-689-8420
Peninsula Cycling Club - Cell: 082-417-8419
Did you know?
The Tokai Arboretum is a national monument maintained by Safcol. The aim is Ďto provide an educational and recreational resource by preserving, growing and displaying forest treesí. The 1 555 individual trees represent 274 species. Each oneís location is indicated on a large map at the entrance to the area, prompting visits by botanists from around the globe. Among the other regular visitors are Capetonian foodies with baskets in hand, who carefully select the edible mushrooms found amongst the 15 fungus species that are represented.
Cyclists on the Peninsula are accustomed to the sight of baboons, so might find it surprising to learn that after they have lived here for more than a million years, their existence is now endangered. Road cyclists will be very familiar with the Smitswinkel, Plateaux Road and Slangkop troops, with mountain bikers often finding themselves watched by the Tokai troop in the plantation, or the Da Gama Park and Klein and Groot Olifantbos troops en route to the Red Hill, Black Hill and Scarborough rides.
Those baboons with the distinctive red, swollen buttocks are the females in oestrus, prompting much fighting amongst the males. Their sharp teeth, however, are only used for fighting amongst themselves and they are unlikely to attack riders unless provoked. Do not, however, try to retrieve stolen items from a baboon. Baboons feed mostly on plant parts, such as fruit, shoots, roots, bulbs and flowers, small animals such as tortoises, and bird eggs.