1. Total distance of route and date of ride?
210km, 9 November 2013
2. How long did it take to complete?
You decide how long it takes. You can ride hard and finish in three hours. Or if you take it easy and stop regularly to enjoy the scenery, it becomes a laid-back day route.
3. Why do you recommend this route? What’s special about it?
For the picturesque natural surroundings, fast gravel stretches, a piece of good off-road riding and passes of jaw-dropping beauty. And with all the places along the way where you can have food and drink or stay the night, this is the perfect weekend ride.
4. Please tell us how the route runs.
Leave Somerset West on the N2 going east. Ride over Sir Lowry’s Pass and pass Grabouw. Just past Grabouw turn right onto the Appletiser Road (gravel). Keep left at both forks on this gravel road. You’ll reach the N2 again: turn right towards Botrivier. Just past the Houw Hoek Farm Stall turn left onto a small tar road and then immediately right onto the twin-track dirt road. This track goes all the way to Botrivier.
Turn left at the tar road (Hoofweg) in Botrivier. Look out for 2nd Avenue on your right and the Van der Stel Pass sign on your left. Turn left here and onto the gravel road. Ignore the first turn-off to your right and keep going straight. After a short tar stretch turn right at the turn-off and at the following T-junction, turn left. You’ll reach the R321 at the Theewaterskloof dam. Turn right and at the other side of the bridge turn left towards Franschhoek (R45). Continue on the R45 and turn off to your left on the Helshoogte Road towards Stellenbosch. Take the R44 back to Somerset West.
5. What kind of motorcycle is the route suitable for?
Dual-purpose and adventure bikes.
6. Please name points of interest along the way.
Get something to eat or drink along the road at Houw Hoek Farm Stall on the N2.
Chill out on the Botrivier Hotel’s stoep and have something for lunch.
Porcupine Hills Guest Farm between Botrivier and Theewaterskloof dam is a fantastic, beautiful overnight stop.
7. Are there petrol stations or motorcycle repair shops along the way?
More than enough fuel along the way.
There are a number of bike shops in Somerset West (Helderberg Yamaha, Iron Horse) and Donford BMW Motorrad (021 888 4200) is close to Stellenbosch, along the R44 towards Somerset West.
8. Are there any dangers along the route?
The twin–track path from the N2 to Botrivier has loose rocks and nasty ditches and you cannot always see far ahead on this track because of all its bends.
Be aware of tractors and other farm activities on the gravel road between Botrivier and Theewaterskloof dam.
9. What did the trip cost in fuel, meals and accommodation?
Just a tank of petrol and R400 for food and drinks. We paid R500 per night for a cottage that sleeps six.
10. Do you have any other comments or advice about the route?
Take your time. Leave early and have breakfast at Houw Hoek Farm Stall. Pause in Botrivier and all along the route. Take in the views of all the passes.
11. Any doctors and/or medical facilities in the area that you know of?
You will have cellphone reception almost everywhere, so keep ER24’s emergency number on your phone: 084 124. Or dial 112.
MediClinic Hermanus 24-hour Emergency Centre: 028 313 0168
MediClinic Stellenbosch 24-hour Emergency Centre: 027 21 861 2095
Ride report by Willem van der Berg. Photos by Desmond Louw