The Weskus Fat Bike Adventure is based at the Ganzekraal Campsite just an hour's drive from Cape Town. Ganzekraal is one of those places that as soon as you arrive, you feel relaxed. The view of the ocean and continuous supply of And Union beer set the tone for the weekend.
The event kicked off on Friday with registration (with an excellent goodie bag by the way) and a very short ride through the campsite and across the closest cove. Although only 4 kilometres long, we encountered the sketchiest bit of boardwalk in the event which claimed a few victims.
The first day saw us riding inland south towards Koeberg. A few kilometres out from the power station, we turned towards the coast and found ourselves staring down a halfpipe shaped dune shute. Much fun was had "carving" the dune walls. At the end of the schute was a pretty impressive sand dune and the event's only enforced portage section down a two-metre drop. The braver of the riders bombed the steep dune after the drop while many selecting the safer option of walking down.
Once safely down the monstrous dune, we got out first taste of open beach. It's a wonderful feeling cruising along with riders scattered along an endless beach with nothing but sea, sand, and blossoming flowers in sight.
We hopped from bay to bay, crossing over rocks and overgrown access roads. The single track getting into and out of each bay presented us with some challenging technical sections with the more confident riders egging each other on.
The drinks breaks were an important part of the first day. At two scenic points, all the riders stopped to regroup and enjoy beer or chocolate milk while recounting the ride so far.
After the second water stop, our legs started complaining, despite the relatively short total distance of 30 kilometres. Riding the Weskus terrain is not easy and even with fat bikes, it's no simple task. To make matters worse, the local mole population had taken it upon themselves to welcome us with an endless supply of molehills to crush as we edged closer to the campsite (and lunch).
At the end of the day, we were very happy to roll into the camp, hand our bikes over to the great guys at the Namgear bike wash (after riding through salt water and sand, a wash is vital) and head over for a beer and lunch.
Once the day's riding was done, the other half of Weskus Fat Bike Adventure commenced: getting to know a bunch of like-minded cyclists.
Day two is the big one. You wouldn't think it looking at the route stats: 40 kilometres with 150 metres of climbing. But in fat biking, they should include other metrics, like the softness of the sand!
Riding 40 kilometres of non-stop beach sand was an entirely new experience. I quickly figured out three vital skills needed for fat biking efficiency.
- Being able to predict the firmness of the sand ahead. Often the sweet spot was just where the last wave had seeped into the sand, which presented the danger of incoming waves (destroyers of drivetrains).
- Fat bike drafting. This has nothing to do with air resistance instead you need to be able to hold your line as you follow the tracks of compressed sand left behind by faster riders.
- Tyre pressure. Soft sand requires lower pressures than the rocky shorelines we rode on day 1. In my case, I found that almost riding on the rim proved to be the most efficient setting. Unfortunately, I only figured this out with 4 kilometres to go.
A big thanks to Craig, Rudolf, and Chris for putting on a spectacular event.