Ride Report: Fat bike adventuring along the West Coast

The Weskus Fat Bike Adventure is a three day fat bike experience along South Africa's West Coast. With "adventure" being the operative word this event places a unique and refreshing focus on the experience rather than your start or finish time.

Less than an hours drive north of Cape Town, Ganzekraal campsite was our home for the weekend. While the bulk of the riding took place over Saturday and Sunday, Friday evening provided us with an opportunity to test out our Fat Bike legs on a short beach ride and a perfect excuse for some sundowners.

 

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_WRP0231.jpgAll above photos: Wayne Reiche
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After sunset and a beer or two we switched on the lights and meandered back to camp inland along some dirt roads. Before long dinner was served and we were treated to some serious West Coast hospitality with an abundance of perfectly prepared braai meat courtesy of Monty's Spit Braai.

 

Highlights video


 

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Ready for day two. Bikes were loaded on trailers and riders in busses, although many of us huddled into the back of the Samil20, because why not.

_WRP0352.jpgThe trusty Samil20 was our supply ship for the weekend. Photos: Wayne Reiche
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Day two: Silverstroom to Ganzekraal

 

Our route for day two would see us riding approximately 30km from Silverstroom at Ganzekraal. After some bacon and egg rolls (and/or muesli) for breakfast, riders and bikes were shuttled south to the starting point where we'd ride in a northerly direction back to the campsite.

 

Our first taste of soft sand came early and was a rude awakening for sleepy legs. Even with 4 inches of rubber it can be tough going. We were soon beyond the sandy dunes though, where a steep drop delivered us down to sea level and onto the firmer stuff.

 

Thankfully I'd had some tips from Nick who rode last year's event and had passed on his learnings. 1) Learn to look for the sweet spot of firm sand 2) Fat bike drafting - no aerodynamics here, but pre-compacted sand in the form of other rider's tracks is game changing and 3) Tyre pressure is critical, when you think it's too soft let a little more air out. I can only thank Nick because these three simple tricks flattened my learning curve and my first real fat biking experience far easier from the get-go.

 

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Dune surfing on your bike. It's a thing and it's great fun. Photos: Wayne Reiche
_WRP0500.jpgBeware: Sand cliff ahead. Photo: Wayne Reiche
©retroyspective-1405.jpgA view from the top. It is a long way down. Photo: Troy Davies

 

The route took us on and off beaches as we dodged rocky outcrops and traded beach sand for rocks or occasional gravel roads. The final few kilometers took us off the sand onto firmer hard packed ground where we were greeted by a stern headwind. Despite the short distance on paper it felt like a closer double that on the day.

 

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A relaxed sit down at our second water stop (a beer stop for most) had us gazing out over the beauty of the West Coast. Photos: Wayne Reiche

 

Winding our way alongside the coast towards the finish we had a few farm fences to negotiate and here the camaraderie of the event shone through. Riders happily reached over to grab bikes and lent a hand ensure others made it over or through at the marked areas.

 

Before long the familiar flags of our campsite signaled the end of our ride.

 

_WRP0756.jpgPhotos: Wayne Reiche
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The Steed - Titan Whopper Sport


Since many riders may not own a fat bike, Titan, a title sponsor of the event, offer a rental service for the weekend. I opted for one of these and the fleet of Titan Whopper Sport fat bikes served many of us well on our adventures. It features a light weight aluminium frame with a rigid fork and is kitted with entry level Shimano components, Shimano M315 Hydraulic brakes and a 3x9 drivetrain. Titan's own brand "Big Daddy" 26" x 4.0" tyres keep you in contact with the sand (or snow).

 

For my typical riding tastes the 3x9 is a bit of an overkill although I have to admit it saved me on occasion when sand had jammed up the rear derailleur. Thankfully on arrival back at camp the bikes were all treated to a wash thanks to Namgear and good to go for the next day.

 

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_CKK3055.jpgPhotos: Craig Kolesky
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Photo: Troy Davies

 

Another evening of great food and great company with a lamb spit braai from Monty's. The intimate nature of the event meant most riders connected with one another at some point over the weekend. Swopping stories, sharing laughs and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.

 

_CKP8239.jpgStaying warm, West Coast style.Photo: Craig Kolesky
©retroyspective-1323.jpgMy accommodation for the weekend. Photo: Troy Davies

 

Day three: Yzerfontein to Ganzekraal

 

Following Saturday's headwinds the organising team made the call to reverse the route for Sunday. Instead of riding north from our campsite towards Yzerfontein we would shuttle through to the "finish line" and ride back to camp with a predominantly tail wind. Much to the delight of all the riders.

 

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After a festive evening around the fire some coffee was needed to get the "gees" going. Photo: Wayne Reiche

 

Given the gloomy, blustery West Coast conditions we were all smiles to know that we at least had the wind on our backs for the day. With all riders layered up, many having depleted the ION team's jacket supplies, we set off on another adventure along the coast.

 

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©retroyspective-1582.jpgPhotos: Troy Davies
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Photo: Gareth Wright

 

The seemingly endless stretches of coastline offered up an array of testing conditions. A pushing high tide often left little room to ride and fewer options to avoid the softest of soft sand. As I found my rhythm and that Goldilocks like spot of tyre pressure I recalled Nick's earlier advice and scrambled across the beach seeking out fat biking nirvana in the sand.

 

With mixed success I soon shifted focus to the surroundings, spotting all sorts of unique birdlife dotted along the coast and even a lonely seal avoiding the rough swells who, much like us fat bikers, lumbered across the soft sand as it snuck back into the water.

 

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IMG_9204.jpgPhotos: Gareth Wright
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IMG_9216.jpgA Red Bull down the hatch I was ready to press on, all kitted out thanks to the team from ION. Photo: Gareth Wright

IMG_9320.jpgA bright idea? Along with the bird life, seals and ship wreckage we encountered an extraordinary array of lightbulbs washed up along the beaches. Photo: Gareth Wright

 

Despite the wet and windy conditions it was a unique treat to experience all sides of the West Coast. After around 20km of beach riding we again headed slightly inland and wound our way through the low shrubs over a mix of sand dune, hard packed dirt and a brief stretch of tar which delivered us back to Ganzekraal.

 

What a unique experience and an awesome adventure.

 

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Fat tracks in the sand. All that we left behind. Photo: Wayne Reiche

 

Thanks to the Weskus Fatbike Adventure team for an incredible weekend. Great riding, delicious food and all round good vibes.

 






2 Comments

NicoBoshoff, Oct 19 2017 07:36

At least you finished the ride...

Admin, Oct 20 2017 08:56

At least you finished the ride...

 

It was touch and go... a few more beers on the Saturday night and I may not have.