Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to go cycling in snow. Living in South Africa that is a rare probability! Recently after a substantial snow dump, I decided it’s better to put the mountaineering gear away, and get the trusty old steed out of the garage! Of course a fatbike would have been ideal, but we make use of what we have, so I took my KTM Tazer2 with a 26 inch wheel setup.
My destination was Matroosberg Private Nature reserve in the heart of the Hexrivier mountain range. From previous endeavors I knew the terrain is rough, rock gardens that will swallow you and your bike! Having taken this into account, I justified it – what is the worst that can happen? If I fall its only on “soft” snow, and besides, the 1km vertical gain over 7km’s is great training!
The climb up the 4×4 jeeptrack was incredibly steep, so steep that some parts are renowned for cars flipping over! Hike a bike scenario, calves burning, lungs screaming for air! After the initial climb, the road leveled out and it’s a fun and easy cycle to the nek of Groothoekkloof. Due to some pesky 4×4’s the “road” was covered with compressed snow, creating a layer of the most slippery stuff imaginable! By choosing your line carefully, you can still keep your ego intact, luckily!
Cycling on the white stuff is weird, your tires compress the snow and it sounds as if someone is eating a bowl of cereal almost! CRUNCH. CRUNCH. CRUNCH.
Reaching the top in a complete whiteout, the fun was about to start! The top section was rough, even more with all the obstacles covered with snow. Everything flew by, it took almost 2 hours to reach the top at 2245m, but it only took a couple of minutes to wind my way down! Better trust your brakes as there are some big drops next to the road!
In all it was a great adventure, not taking things to seriously, laughing it off and pushing myself physically. I don’t know what was more exhausting, the actual climb or comments from 4×4 enthusiasts.
Gear Used: Other than the normal bib and shorts, I covered up with some Capestorm Tights, wore extra warm socks, used my waterproof gloves almost the whole way as the air is nippy, and you want to be able to use your brakes. A proper windproof outer shell and buff. One thing, the snow reflects the suns UV rays, so pack your sun cream lotion even if it is cloudy.
Access: Matroosberg is convenient in the sense you can drive there with any care, access is easy. The cost is R50 for a day permit or you can overnight in the reserve for an earlier start.
So watch the weather, and next time go try something different!
Article by Henko Roukema