After organising and riding Karoobaix a grueling gravel race through the Karoo, Stan Engelbrecht decided he wanted to take some time off and go bike camping with a few friends. What better place to take them than to hell?
Stan planned five day bicycle adventure from Matjiesfontein to Oudtshoorn via Die Hel. Die Hel is one of the most hidden away valleys in South Africa and not many people go there. For many years the only access to Die Hel was a steep donkey trail called "Die Leer" (The Ladder), folk who lived in this fertile valley lived largely in isolation until 1962 when a long and zig-zaggy 4x4 road was built into the valley. Today there are still only two ways in or out of Die Hell and neither of them is an easy way - all the better for a memorable bicycle adventure.
Here are some pics from what turned out to be a great little adventure to see what lay in Die Hel.
When Marchant Van Rooyen approached us wanting to build up a Grand Randonneur, we were slightly surprised as most of our customers are wanting the more modern disc brake compatible steel frames that we have to offer. We quickly learnt that Marchant was no ordinary customer and that he has built and ridden many custom bikes in the past.
So there was no need to give him any advice, he knew exactly what the wanted from a bike.
Here is what he wanted in his own words:
The objective of my build was:
I wanted a bike that fitted me comfortably, ie, could have a front end high enough and the reach not too long for me (as it tends to be with most racing bikes).
Road bike with clearance for wider tyres.
I like high quality steel frames that are not too burly.
SOMA Grand Randonneur frame set, Frame size 61.
IRD Rollerdrive needle bearing headset.
Nitto Technomic stem (100mm) and Noodle handlebars (46) Giant tape.
Soma Grand Randonneur EX 650b tyres on Pacenti SL23 650b rims.
Ultegra rear hub and Shutter Precsion SV8 front dyno hub
SHIMANO 105 10SPD Derailleurs. and Dura Ace down tube shifters.
Sram Rival OCT compact crankset with Shimano A600 pedals.
12-30 ultegra cluster.
Cane Creek SCR5 brake levers wit Tektro CR720 cantilevers.
Selle Anatomic saddle on Thompson post.
SOMA Champs Elysees mini front rack.
B&M IQ Cyo premium front with Secula Plus Rear dyno lights.
Zefal HPX pump.
King ti bottle cages.
Crane E-Ne bell.
Optional SKS 700cx50 fenders.
Bathroom scale weight +- 10 kg all in without accessories ( which could be 2.3kg)
Well done Marchant, we think its a beautiful, well thought out build and hope it brings you many miles of joy.
Teresie Hommersand is cycling on her own from Cape Town all the way up through Africa and Europe to her home in Norway! As if that wasn't long enough she decided to take a little detour down South from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas the Southern most tip of Africa. She sent us this wonderful picture of her and her Saga at the tip of Africa.
We wonder if any Soma Saga has ever been further south?
She is now heading North and we like to think that her Saga may even end up being the Saga that has been riden further South and North than any other.
We will keep you posted as she sends us pics or you could follow her story here.
This weekend we decided to join the Swift Campout, a global call to go bike-camping on June 24th for the summer solstice.
Except this wasn't one of our regular everyday summer S24o's, this was our 2nd mad midwinter microadventure.
As usual gathered at our usual meeting spot Woodstock Cycleworks then headed for the station and took the train from Cape Town to Wellington. After a pub lunch in Wellington we headed up the incredibly beautiful Bainskloof Pass to our campsite in the mountains. Once we got to the campsite we pitched our tents, made our campfires and started to enjoy an evening with lots of food, drink and friends.
After a freezing cold night, some warm porridge for breakfast some of us even braved an icy swim in the river. We then hung out for a while, swimming, fishing and chatting before slowly packing up and heading up and over the pass for lunch, some more wine and a last ride to the station to catch a train home.
All in all it turned out to be another wonderful, memorable S24o with such a great bunch of people, I can't wait to go again.
Here are a few snaps:
Here's a little video from the ride between our lunch stop and getting to the train on time.
We're so proud of Nils and his friend Tom who climbed the height of Everest on their bicycles in support of the Eyethu Hout Bay Skatepark initiative. It was a grueling challenge with over 8800 meters of climbing over a distance of 235km. Well done fellas!
We're proud to announce that Dave Mercer is now one of our official dealers.
We look forward to seeing his magnificent custom frames sporting some of the components we have to offer. He often has customers wanting a more traditional looking build with hard to find silver components. Fortunately we have access to an incredible range of unusual handlebars, tires, racks and accessories to mention but a few things that we think can help make a Mercer even more unique and special.
The bike pictured is Cameron's custom Mercer with quite a few of our products complimenting a beautiful build.
The new batch of Double Cross Disc frames are now available in a beautiful Sky Silver (it has a slight blue tinge to it). The geometry has been tweaked to accommodate slightly bigger tires, not as big as the Wolverine, but these days any tire clearance improvement is considered a good thing.
Here is a list of the tweaks:
- Sky Silver paintwork.
- The dropout and disc mount is more refined, stiffer and has more caliper clearance.
- The frame is ED (electrophoretic deposition) coated for rust protection. Most Soma models in the future will have this as well.
- The tire clearance of the frame has been increased to fit 700c x 45mm tires.
- Sizes 50, 52, 54, 56cm have shortened top tubes. Because of this we were able to get rid of the 48cm size.
Check out the April edition of Bicycling magazine, they have featured one of our bikes.
So good to see a local cycling magazine featuring a versatile steel bike that's not aimed at wannabe racers.
Thanks so much to the crazy bunch of people that joined us for another weekday S24o. As always it was so much fun. We had a night time swim in the sea (sorry no pics) and even a little rain to spice up our braai. Given the water shortages in Cape Town I think we should organise a whole lot more camping trips as it's bound to rain a little everytime :) Anyway here are some pics and if you're interested in organising an S24o or joining us someday check out our Facebook group here.
If you enjoy history, bicycles and beer, we think you should join us for the next edition of Bicycle Cape Town's Bike Abouts – a series of guided bicycle tours exploring the culture and history of Cape Town’s diverse neighbourhoods. In the Wheatfields and Windmills edition, local historian Jim Hislop takes us back in time to uncover Cape Town's earliest farm houses along the Lisbeek river. It starts and ends at the historic Annie's Arms pub that's joined to the Wild Fig restaurant.
To find out more about the event Visit the event page here.
What's there not to like about a brand new Soma Buena Vista? It's a true mixte frame with the double top tube/stays and like Sarah it's quite sporty and stylish.
Beautifully built up with IRD Alpina-d Compact Road drive train as well as Soma bars, saddle and seatpost. All these elements combined make this the perfect combo for commuting and touring.
Here are a few snaps from this weekends s24o (Sub 24 hour overnight) bicycle microadventure. These bicycle S24os are always so much fun. Especially if like most of us you have to work for a living and find it hard to make enough time to go bike touring for a few months or even a week or two. An S24o is the way to go. You leave on your bike with a few friends in the late afternoon or evening, ride to your campsite in a few hours, camp, sleep, and ride home the next morning. It's that simple, and that's the beauty of it. You can fit it in. It requires almost no planning or time commitment. We have a Facebook group here that you can join if you're interested in joining us sometime or organising your own S24os. It really is about the most fun you can have with a bicycle.
If in the future we want more people riding bikes on a daily basis, we need to get our kids into cycling. There are just so many benefits to getting kids onto bikes.
The Bicycle Cape Town CycleKiDS campaign aims to inspire and empower more kids and parents to start cycling in Cape Town!
Anyway here are some pics from yesterday's kid friendly full moon ride around Rondebosch Common. What a good turnout thanks to Zack inviting a whole lot of his friends to join him on a birthday ride. Thanks Zack!
If you'd like to bring your kids and join us on the next full moon kiddies ride, check out the events calendar on Bicycle Cape Town for details.
Lupa Latin for "she-wolf" may well be the world's first electric Wolverine! Her owner Leonie, environmentalist and founder of cycling advocacy organization Bicycle Cape Town, her e-bike represents the ultimate freedom of mobility.
What started off as a way to flatten Cape Town’s hills on her commute, has opened up a whole new landscape of possibilities - enabling her to travel further and faster - taking her far beyond the city limits on bike camping trips and off-road adventures.
Leonie kitted Lupa out with a 350W Chilled Squirrel hub motor and expandable battery solution (delivering 50- 100km a charge) – powerful enough for loaded touring and yet light enough for everyday commuting. A few notable features are Jones bars, a clever mix of Shimano 105 and SLX components, Tubus rear rack and a Nitto front rack.
It's a really well thought out, practical and good looking build, we also love how un e-bike it looks.
May Leonie and Lupa enjoy many carefree miles and lot's of adventures together :)
There is a small crowd of us who are members of a Facebook group called "S24o Bicycle Microadventures" we regularly do Sub-24hour-overnight bicycle camping trips. These S24o's have proven to be about the most fun you can possibly have with a bicycle. As a result most of the regulars have become really good friends and a few of us started speaking about extending the fun by doing a week long microadventure. We felt that it would be good to go in a group of between three and six people as any more would possibly make it a bit more tricky to wild camp, get bookings at campsites, restaurants, guest houses etc. After a few phone calls we had six people who were keen and available. A planning braai was called for and we all got together to finalise dates and plan a rough route. After two planning braais (that generally involved more eating and drinking than planning) we had a start point, a middle point for a rest day and a cottage booked for the final weekend. That was all we really wanted to plan because part of our plan was to make it up as we went along. We also thought it would be great to mix up a bit of camping with staying in the odd guest house or a motel so that we could enjoy a restaurant meal and a proper bed for a few of the nights. Basically we had rough plan that we could change as we went along and that didn't put us under pressure to achieve any goals, except have a good time.
The original idea was to catch a train to Worcester and start riding from there, as we wanted to get out of the city and onto gravel roads as soon as possible. Unfortunately the train from Cape Town to Worcester only goes in the evenings. So we had to make last minute arrangements for a shuttle to take us to Worcester. This ended up being good fun and allowed us to leave early on the Saturday morning.
Anyway what follows is a short photo essay of our adventure, hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Day 1: Woodstock Cycleworks to Worcester by shuttle, then cycle from Worcester to Montagu.
Making supper, telling stories and fixing punctures.
Day 2: Montagu to somewhere in the Karoo for some wild camping.
Day 3: Karoo to Barydale.
Day 4: Barydale to Malagas.
Day 5: Malagas to wild camp somewhere near Napier.
Day 6: Napier to the cottage we had rented in Klein Baai.
After this experience, we all just kept speaking about where to go for our next adventure. I would highly recommend that you try something similar, it really is about as much fun as you can have with a bicycle and it makes for great stories, amazing memories and builds strong friendships.
Craig with his new Wolverine on its first outing :)
This is a remarkably light build by Nils at Woodstock cycleworks. Here are a few of the specs: Thompson seatpost & Stem, Sram 1x10 drivetrain, SOMA Cazadero tires, Avid BB7 brakes, not to mention Nils' custom genuine rubber chainstay protector.
Philip with his black Wolverine ( the first in South Africa) on its first proper ride.
It's beautifully built with a Shimano XT touring drivetrain, Soma bars, stem seatpost & brake levers, TRP disc brakes, Mavic rims and Brooks Cambium saddle.