A Nature Reserve Runs Through it

A Nature Reserve Runs Through it
“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.”

Mark Twain, “Taming the Bicycle”: 1917

The past weekend saw the 42nd riding of the now world renowned cycling event, the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Its name has changed over the years, based on the headline sponsors, and to most old hands it is – and will always be – ‘The Argus’, named for the newspaper associated with the beginnings of the race. The perennial questions “Are you riding the Argus this year?” and “What was your Argus time?” are still to be heard nationally (and internationally, these days) during the first months of each new year when training for the 109km ride starts becoming intense. Or desperate, depending on what your prior approach has been.

The ride itself is spectacular. It’s an adventurous circuit around the Cape Peninsula.

The ride itself, as any of the participants will tell you, is spectacular. It’s an adventurous circuit around the Cape Peninsula, and as those participants will also tell you, incorporates virtually every steep climb there is in the peninsula. First is Edinburgh Drive in Newlands, which at 10km into the race is a wake-up call for the under-trained. An amble down the Blue Route and along False Bay brings the peloton (and we use the term loosely, given that 30 000 or so riders set off over a four hour period) to Smitswinkel Bay, which takes the riders past Cape Point National Park. Another bracing coastline pedal past the amazing Scarborough and Misty Cliffs areas, a turn back inland and then: Chapman’s Peak. For those who have not traversed the road before, it has its surprises. There is an initial uphill section, a respite, then the real deal as you wind ever upward, changing down into the highest possible ratio on your derailleur. Not long ago I was riding behind two upcountry (by their accents) cyclists, who on summiting the first section exclaimed that Capetonians must be sissies if that little hill scared them. We rounded the corner above Noordhoek and ahead of them stretched the long snaking uphill road, disappearing towards the stratosphere. The language that this generated from out intrepid novices was X-rated, and I passed them with an evil grin. Sadly I was not around to hear their comments when they hit Suikerbossie, the evil grandfather of all hills, but happily the last before the final trek back to Cape Town and the finish, the medal, and the war stories.

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What people don’t think about, generally speaking, it that this ride actually circumnavigates a National Park. With the exception of Cape Point Nature Reserve, the route skirts the entire Table Mountain National Park, one of the world’s most interesting reserves. Part of the UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site, it is home to an amazing variety of unique plant specimens: there are more species in this area of 221km² than the entire United Kingdom. The Cape Floristic Region is, in itself, one of only six Floral Regions in the world, and is by far the smallest. By comparison, the Boreal Region is roughly the size of the entire Northern Hemisphere. We may be small, but we are important, and also the most threatened: our small size means that the encroachment of civilisation, alien vegetation and agriculture is causing extinction of plant species at an unacceptable high rate.

You don’t have to circumnavigate the Cape Peninsula to discover that it, and Cape Town itself, is an amazing place. It combines spectacular scenery with intriguing history; is both urban and wildland, sea and mountains. Its topography lends itself to leisure activities that span a phenomenal range of interests; from surfing and angling to mountaineering, mountain biking and hiking. You can parasail off the cliffs, you can strap on an oxygen tank and take an underwater tour. You can chill on the most beautiful beaches in the world, you can kayak, stand-up paddle or surf-ski on the ocean.
And best of all: you have the widest range of Atlantic cruising options imaginable right here at Waterfront Charters. Being on a luxury boat, speedboat or yacht is the adventure that most defines our ocean-based lifestyle here in the Cape, and we have the widest possible range of options. We can take you sailing on a catamaran or a schooner; we can take you on an ocean safari eco-adventure in a rigid-hulled inflatable. You can relax aboard a motor catamaran and watch the sunset, or kick out the jams at a Clifton Party. Take a cruise and enjoy a gourmet meal afterwards in the V&A Waterfront on our Cruise and Dine option, or just chill and take in the sights on a Harbour Tour.
Waterfront Charters are an integral part of the Cape Town scene; we love our city, promote all forms of conservation, and participate in every possible event: including the Cape Town Cycle Tour, of course.
Join us for a cruise and experience the magic first-hand!