The Wow Rides: Hans Se Kop
The only accessible summit in the Western Cape to provide 360° vistas of the greater Cape Town area and the Overberg. The views from the top are unlike anything you’ve ever seen in this country, and it could easily be one of the monolithic Hors catégorie climbs of the Tour de France. But the distant view of Table Mountain reminds you that you’re in Africa.
It’s a well-kept secret. And in my opinion there are many variables that make Hans tougher (and perhaps more rewarding) than the Tokai Mast climb – such as the extreme fluctuations in temperature and wind velocity.
The singletrack to the start of the climb was once covered in pine trees, but all that remains is charred stumps – the aftermath of a recent fire. While the pines were never going to be here forever, they added a sense of drama. But despite the desolation, the landscape remains majestic; and what the region has lost in (mostly alien) vegetation it will now gain in natural fynbos.
Dirt road quickly becomes billiard-table-smooth tarmac, spiralling up and switching back on itself a couple of times, all the while kicking up in gradient. Coming in at 6.2km, it’s not the longest climb; but the average 10% gradient rises 619m, taking you to a max altitude of 1 151m. Coming down is seriously quick.
It’s easy to see why this region is considered the most diverse place to ride. You can climb an out-of-category mountain, descend like a rabid monkey, and suddenly be on some of the best singletrack in the country. While it’s largely flowing trails, there are rockier, more technical sections higher up, such as the infamous Hole in the Wall and Xterra pathways.
It’s places like Grabouw that remind me why I fell in love with this ‘hobby’ in the first place.