Calitzdorp is a pretty little town on Route 62 in the Karoo and is surrounded by some pretty scenery. And if you consider yourself an Oenophile then Boplaas, De Krans and Calitzdorp wine cellars could get your interest going. (It certainly got ours going and we ended up spending far too much money on some good wine). The Dutch Reformed Church was inaugurated in 1912, is a national monument, and, apparently, has a very interesting steel ceiling… And it too, is very pretty if you can find the right viewpoint…
Pretty is fine – but this changes to amazing when you experience the ebike touring to be had in the area!
Previously, while staying in Calitzdorp, we’d ridden Seweweekspoort and had loved every minute of it. And then there’s a ride to the north of the town to Groenfontein which takes you up into the Swartberg mountains that looks like it may be worth doing (watch this space). And then there’s Rooiberg Pass, about 25km to the south of Calitzdorp.
After a comfortable night at the well priced and rather quirky Anna Sophia Self Catering Cottages and a breakfast in town, we set off for Rooiberg Pass, the bikes’ batteries fully charged and the temperature lovely and cool in the overcast weather. The tyres hummed a merry tune on the tar road that loosely follows the Gamka River, and Dave and I set up a rather brisk pace for which we were severely chastised by Pat and Joy some kilometres later. This is farming country – grapes, tomatoes, onions, ostriches, a few citrus trees and the occasional herd of cows.
Some 12km later the tar, cows, ostriches and just about everything else came to an end as we turned west onto a rather narrow but excellent dirt road, the countryside beautiful and serene. We were in the mountains, climbing gently every now and then, enjoying the rugged beauty of the place. Oh, the sweet serenity of the naive…
Whoo boy! Things changed a short while later. The climbing started in earnest and the road turned from a well maintained gravel surface that was a joy to ride into a gnarly climb, loose rocks and stones impeding progress. Dave and I hacked up in Eco Mode while Pat and Joy pushed the power button and really enjoyed the benefits of an ebike. In fact, Pat enjoyed them so much that she took off and it was a fair while before we saw her again. In hind sight, this is probably the way to do it, the momentum and speed (not too much) helping one over the obstacles.
That lovely cool riding weather that we so enjoyed also disappeared. From the top of the pass the view to the south was just lovely, the Outeniqua Mountains in the distance shrouded in mist, the icy blast reaching the top of Rooiberg and us! Jackets were donned and we huddled in the lee of some large bushes, munching our apples and FarBars. There was much discussion about the climb but also some real concerns about the steep rocky descents ahead of us. We took it easy, everyone retaining all their skin, and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride back into town. And the cappuccinos at Die Handelshuis Restaurant as a reward!
Check out more of our mountain biking photographs.
Route Distance: 51.5km return
Route conditions: A mixture of tar, good gravel and some rather testing ruts, and loose rocks and stones. While care is needed it’s perfectly rideable even for the 2 ladies on our ride, both of them new to mountain biking.
Anna Sophia Self Catering Cottages: S33° 31.846′ E21° 41.581′