The Cradle of Humankind, according to the advertising gurus, is one of the places in the world where life began. For cyclists on the West Rand, it’s the place where all cycling begins.
By Jon Gericke
Five years ago, the cities of Johannesburg and Mogale spent plenty of money and tarred what used to be old country back-roads. For cyclists, the only real place to do long distances was out towards Rand-fontein. With the tarring of the roads to increase tourism to The Cradle, things changed. Just a 20-minute drive from Sandton or Fourways and you were in the country, with farmland as far as the eye could see. Recently the roads had a second tarring, a smoother and cleaner tar that makes cycling in The Cradle a pleasure. And for cyclists coming in from the north, the massive Lanseria development has widened roads and improved infrastructure to make that side of the ride an easier transition.
For years, The Cradle area was known as a wedding area. There are tens of wedding venues from which to choose. Now these wedding venues have opened their facilities for cyclists in the mornings. It is at one of these venues that our journey begins.
There are two ways to get into The Cradle. You can ride there from your starting point, or you can drive. Most of the Johannesburg-based elite teams will ride out to The Cradle from a meeting point on the trashed Hendrick Potgieter road. The main arterial road that heads west has a wide shoulder, and with enough caution is not too bad a ride. Getting to The Cradle by car is easy, with more than enough parking at the venues scattered around the area. Most open early, and an early coffee before your ride is a must.
The Cradle has a two-metre-wide bike lane with ample signage warning passing cars that cyclists will be on the road. In some areas, large reflectors have been put up to mark the cycling lane and to prevent cars from crossing over into the lane.
Security-wise, as always, be cautious of traffic. The Cradle roads are not a cycling free-for-all. At the weekends, clubs from all around Johannesburg will be riding the roads, so look out for fast-moving peletons of yellow and white. There have been rumours of drawing pins on the lanes put out by residents of the area, but this author hasn’t seen any. As in all cycling, a little friendliness, being polite and respecting the rules of the road go hand-in-hand with safety.