Tour de Braai

tdb10tdb12Our Goal

  • We are delighted to present you with a new concept: Tour de Braai – Travel on Gravel, the easiest and most relaxed multi-day cycling stage ride in South Africa.
  • Tour de Braai aims to give cyclists a few great days of touring, holiday, braai and riding a bicycle through beautiful parts of South Africa.
  • Our main goal is to have fun.
  • Our intention is not to be all things to all people, or even some things to some people. We aim to be something specific.
  • Below you will find an honest introspection of what it is we are selling, at cost. Decide whether this is for you.
  • Entries  are extremely limited and should you make the decision to enter and be awarded a spot, we look forward to sharing this unique experience with you!
  • Please read the below with care, attention and a pinch of braai salt.

tdb14General Overview

  • With its trademark slogan Travel on Gravel, the Tour aims to take participants on gravel as much as possible. Where necessary or more scenic, we travel on something else, for example tar. Our first choice is to stick to publicly accessible gravel roads. We might occasionally deviate from this rule to braai, to have a casual drink, take a photo or to reach our overnight destinations. If during the Tour you find yourself on single track, you are either lost or walking from dinner to your cabin.
  • Tour de Braai and its participants will adhere to many cycling traditions but wearing a race number is not one of them. Nor is it a race in the sense that you will you wear a timing chip. Riders are encouraged to use Strava as that is how you will be timed on each stage. Way more importantly, you need to use Strava to log segments and hunt KOMs on the big climbs and on obscure and remote platteland stretches of gravel. If you’re not on Strava you are still quite welcome to enter but if you’ve never heard of Strava and have no idea what Strava is you might want to reconsider entering Tour de Braai.
  • In essence, the function of the Tour de Braai organisers will be to facilitate  your guest house and hotel accommodation; transport your luggage between venues; catering three meals a day; catering on the route; and various ad hoc enjoyable and entertaining perks during each day.
  • To get yourself in the correct frame of mind you should view the organisers more as facilitators of you having fun on your bicycle holiday tour than thinking of us as cycling event operators. In the latter case you will be bitterly disappointed as there will be no medal at the finish.  

tdb7More specific itinerary details

  • Firstly, please keep in mind that this is the first Tour de Braai open to the public entries, so think of it as a beta version. Some finer details might change for reasons unknown to us now.
  • On the whole your experience will be as described below but if you don’t like small and unexpected changes, please do not enter Tour de Braai.
  • Until now, Tour de Braai has been a fun and incredible cycling holiday with mates. Everyone loved it and nobody complained. If you like to complain or last minute changes to an itinerary irk you, perhaps reconsider entering the Tour de Braai.
  • Registration and rider briefing for the 2017 Tour de Braai will take place in George during the late afternoon of Sunday 7 May 2017. This will probably involve a braai. Any serious stuff you actually need to know will be emailed to you beforehand and whether you choose to read it is entirely up to you. We will operate the Tour assuming you read it. Stupid questions on the Tour will be dealt with severly.
  • The daily routine will probably follow a pattern like this: Breakfast at hotel or guesthouse and then get into your cycling kit (no cycling kit allowed at breakfast, we are not savages).
  • The ride starts at leisure after the sun is up. At roughly the point on the route where two water bottles should be empty there will be a water refill point and later on a braai and drinks. Once we reach our destination, an afternoon of leisure, including a sports massage, a swimming pool if weather is good or fireplace if weather is bad – possibly both. After that, it’s sundowners, dinner, being social and then off to bed.

tdb3The Stages

  • Stage 1 of Tour de Braai 2017 on Monday 8 May will start with a lap around the traffic circle at the top of York Street, George. We got this idea from Tour de France riders going around Arc de Triomphe in Paris. From there we will go up Montagu Pass, braai in Herold, traverse Perdekloof and marvel at the changing landscape before a casual stop in Oudtshoorn. A few easy kilometres gets us to the overnight stop at Surval Lodge on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn.
  • Stage 2 starts where Stage 1 finished and from there we take the R328 via the entrance to the Cango Caves, past the bottom of the Swartberg Pass (we don’t go up the pass but if you are a pro on holiday with us you are welcome to). Next follows a true champagne part of the Tour as we ride through Kruisrivier, via Groenfontein and the banks of the Calitzdorp Dam into Calitzdorp. The stage finishes at Boplaas in Calitzdorp with a braai and port tasting. We overnight at the Queens Hotel in Calitzdorp, walking distance from Boplaas.
  • Stage 3 starts in Calitzdorp with the route going through ostrich farms with – for our international entrants – real live ostriches! The ascent of Rooiberg Pass promises to be a highlight for every rider on Tour and the braai at the top of Rooiberg Pass will be one of the most scenic braais of your life. Remember that the Rooiberg Pass Strava segment ends at the very top of the pass, a few metres further up the road than our braai stop so go there before you open your first drink. This will make an hour difference to your Strava segment time of the climb. The descent is probably the most technical part of the Tour (especially on a gravel bike) and after that it’s easy sailing to Rooiberg Lodge outside Van Wyksdorp, our oasis for the night.
  • Stage 4 rolls gently through Van Wyksdorp and then a changing Klein Karoo landscape all the way to the bottom of the Garcia Pass, where we hit tar. Lock and load for a serious Strava segment. Once over the summit and on the way down, we stop at the very scenic lookout point on the descent and enjoy a magnificent view of the Overberg. We then continue down past the outskirts of Riversdal to Kweekkraal, our lodgings for the night.
  • Stage 5 on Friday 12 May is the last stage of the tour and we ride on the foothills of the Langeberg mountains. This section includes one fake serious and one very serious hill. Thereafter it’s the beautiful Duiwenhoks river crossing and a braai on the banks of the Buffeljags River in Suurbraak. Once in Swellendam it’s typical post stage activities, followed by prize giving and a farewell braai on the Friday night.
  • On Saturday morning we all depart (or you stay in Swellendam for a few extra days of holiday at your own leisure).

tdb6Entry fee for Tour de Braai 2017 is R20 000 per person and includes:

  • Shuttle from George Airport to registration on Sunday 7 May
  • Shuttle from Swellendam to Cape Town airport on Saturday 13 May
  • 2 Tour de Braai cycling shirts
  • All event photographs
  • 30 minutes sports massage for each of the 5 days of riding
  • All hotel and guesthouse accommodation (6 nights) on a shared room basis from Sunday 7 May up to and including the night of Friday 12 May
  • Transport of 1 suitcase or bag weighing no more than 23kg per person from one overnight stop to the next
  • All food – breakfast, lunch, dinner – including wine, beer and cider. If you have any special dietary requirements, firstly, reconsider entering Tour de Braai. Secondly, if you do enter, please tell us beforehand and we will quote you a reasonable surcharge for the additional ingredient and personal cost we will incur to look after your special needs.
  • All catering on route during the rides. Please note that there will not be extensive sugar and carb fuelled stops every few kilometres on route. Every hour or two there will be the opportunity to fill your water bottles and perhaps eat an apple. Ride at a pace you can handle and stay in your fat burning zone and you will be fine until the braai stop. As circumstances dictate, the braai stop can feature any combination of food, water, coffee, beer, cider & wine.

tdb13Non rider / supporter packages

  • There are a limited number of non-rider entries available for non riding spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends or friends at R15 000 each. Non rider package include everything except the daily sports massages, cycling shirts and shuttle services. Non riders are expected to have their own transport and are welcome to join us for the en route scenic stops and braais. An SUV/bakkie type of vehicle with some gravel road credentials is advisable but not compulsory.

tdb8Bicycles that would work for Tour de Braai

  • In short, gravel bikes with at least a 32mm tyre or mountain bikes. During the December 2016 Tour de Braai there were three participants (friends). Two of us used Cervelo C5s with 32mm Continental Gatorskin Tyres. The other used a Cannondale Flash (a 29er hardtail). All three of us had a fantastic week and all three of us thought we made the right call on our choice of bike.
  • On the flat sections of gravel the Cervelo C5s were much faster. On the downhills the mountain bike was much faster. On the uphills our speed matched our relative abilities and fitness. On Tour de Braai there are no technical sections and no single track whatsoever but if you are technically challenged or worried about running out of gears on the hills, bring a mountain bike and you can grind it out in the granny gear on the uphills, freewheel on the downhills and focus all your energy on enjoying the scenery.
  • Going up Montagu Pass on Stage 1 as well as up and down Rooiberg Pass on Stage 3 are incredible experiences and will be highlights of the Tour for everyone. On a gravel bike these will be the moments where you will be tested, in a good way. You will need to focus on managing your cadence, body position, weight distribution on the bike and choosing the right line. It is physically challenging and mentally engaging but one of the better and most pure experiences you will ever have on a bike.
  • If you are a fit and able cyclist and own a gravel, cross or adventure bike or you’re looking for the perfect excuse to buy one, Tour de Braai is your opportunity.
  • “Any mountainbike or gravel bike will work. For the 2017 Tour de Braai I will use a Cervelo C5 or something similar but will investigate options of fitting it with tubeless rims and tyres before then. Having said that, 32mm Continental Gatorskin Tyres served me just perfectly in December 2016.” – Jan Braai

tdb11How fit do you need to be?

  • Tour de Braai – Travel on Gravel is not designed to be the toughest challenge of your life. It’s designed to be the most fun week of holiday on a bicycle of your life. Arriving reasonably fit is not only a good excuse to get in shape but means that you will enjoy the week as it’s designed to be enjoyed.
  • To put it in the most South African context possible, if you can ride a sub-3 hour Cape Town Cycle Tour (Argus) you are 100% there. If you can ride a 3:30 Cape Town Cycle Tour you are definitely there. If you can ride a sub-4 hour Cape Town Cycle Tour you will be absolutely fine. If a sub-4 sounds challenging to you, you will find Tour de Braai doable, but challenging. Not to worry, that is why a daily sports massage and the healing qualities of free wine and beer are included in your entry fee.

tdb1Dress code off the bike

  • None

Dress code on the bike

  • For many participants of a classy, prestigious and bespoke event like Tour de Braai part of the fun is the fantastic photos you will have real time access to, free of charge; photos to use for memories, but also to make your friends and family jealous by posting them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. A poorly dressed rider spoils the photo and the fun for everyone. As such, there are certain style guidelines that you are expected to adhere to out of respect for your fellow riders:
  • Cycling shorts – Under no circumstances are you allowed to wear branded cycling shorts that clash with your shirt of the day in colour, design or any other visual quality. It is advisable to stick with plain black cycling shorts and you may only deviate from this if your non plain black shorts are part of a sponsor, club or tribe kit and is part of a set that matches the shirt you are wearing on the day.
  • Socks – No long, knee-length socks of any colour and similarly no long ‘compression’ socks. Socks may reach no higher than the bottom of the calf muscle and can be any colour or colours that fits, accentuates or compliments the overall look of your kit on the day. Irrespective of length or any other criteria above or below, absolutely no red socks are allowed on Tour de Braai. It spoils the saturation of photos.
  • Buffs – Absolutely no ‘Buffs’ or similar neck or headscarf cloths. If you want to accessorise, wear a casquette.
  • Should you have any doubt regarding the suitability of the clothing you intend wearing on any particular day, simply tweet a photo of yourself wearing that kit to @njclelland who will advise whether it’s acceptable and whose decision is final and binding.
  • It is entirely acceptable, in fact advisable to settle on one look for the week. You do not need to look different every day. Two of the three riders on Tour de Braai 2016 managed the whole week with one set of kit by acting like professional tour riders of the 70s. Straight after each stage you take a complete shower with soap and shampoo whilst still wearing your kit. Then rinse your kit and then rinse yourself. It worked for the legends of the 70s and it will work for you. You will receive 2 pro cut very high quality Tour de Braai cycling jerseys at registration so you will be fine, really.

Roommates

  • Due to capacity constraints all accommodation is on a shared room basis. On the entry form you are very welcome to tell us which other participant (whether that participant is on the rider or supporter package) you would like to share a room with.

tdb4What next?

  • Firstly complete the entry from below. We will review it and give you feedback on your successful entry within hours (or days, but probably hours as we know you are excited).
  • Please note that space is extremely limited and your spot on the 2017 Tour de Braai is not guaranteed until we’ve notified you of your successful entry.
  • Next you will be sent banking details via email and will have to pay the entry fee.
  • Once that is done you’re officially in. It’s time to dust of the bike or buy a bike, braai often to make sure you are braai fit and we will see you at Tour de Braai registration in George on 7 May!

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