On yer bike! Take a ride with Carrie Hampton through the Constantia Winelands.
Bike and booze may sound a bit like a pub crawl, but this is wine tasting around Cape Town’s Constantia valley on a bicycle, so I should probably call it “peddle and sip” to convey the greater sense of refinement it deserves.
Starting at Cape Town’s oldest wine estate, Groot Constantia, our little tourist group of four had all booked this full-day excursion with Bike & Saddle. It began with a speedy downhill to Groot Constantia’s tasting room and by 10am we were indulging in the first of five wine tastings for the day. Alcohol was cunningly tempered by pairing the wine with chocolate and a perfect selection enhanced both elements. The American mother and daughter duo promptly ordered a couple of cases to be sent home to Minnesota at a very reasonable $25 shipping fee. I was glad to see they were getting into the spirit of things from the very start, and they didn’t stop there!
An easy way to get up the hills…
The route was mainly flat or downhill, but I was so hopeless on anything resembling a hill – of which there are inevitably some on these lower slopes of Table Mountain – that our cheerful leader Skeezo Vicani offered me a push from behind. What joy! Suddenly I could do hills with ease, while Skeezo seemed unaffected by the extra effort.
“This is my office,” Skeezo articulated, spreading his arms to include the mountains, vineyards and bucolic scenery. He looked more at home on a bike then anyone I’ve ever seen. His lean, taut calf muscles were something to behold, while mine are more suited to yoga.
Wine tastings at Buitenverwachting, Klien Constantia and Steenberg followed, with lunch at Open Door Restaurant on Constantia Uitsig, which proved more fancy than necessary for our athletic needs. Our stop here also included an impromptu wine tasting led by A.J. Nel (normally by request only). He is one of those incredibly competent, knowledgeable and rather dashing wine fundis that populate the Cape wine industry. Whether it was the roaring fire, the genial ambience or the handsome teacher, we all agreed that Uitsig wines were some of the best we’d tasted all day.
Bag Lady on a Bike
Uitsig was our penultimate stop and since we were all looking so chirpy (or so Skeezo believed!), he took us on a detour through Tokai forest. “I thought you’d like an off-road excursion,” he grinned, looking all fresh and sporty.
I, on the other hand, looked like a bag lady! It had been raining sporadically all day and I had donned not only a rain jacket but waterproof trousers too. I was all hot and bothered under all this nylon and started to internally combust in a rather unattractive way!
Truth be told, I was under the mistaken impression that we would be using Bike and Saddle’s electric bicycles. E-bikes are an optional extra; I just forgot to ask. I had previously tested one out and it gives the same kind of assistance as when Skeezo pushes you uphill – now that’s my kind of biking!
A Return on Sweat Equity
There’s more to the sweat equity invested in your trip than you realise. For every mile you ride, paddle, hike or walk with Bike & Saddle on a multi-day tour, you automatically earn a $1 Eco-Mile. At the end of the tour you can donate your Eco-Miles to worthy conservation causes. Your donation is matched by Bike & Saddle, who contribute to their conservation partners: Big Life Foundation, Great Plains Foundation, Sanparks Honorary Rangers and other beneficiaries. October 2016 will see the first donation of $8,400 in this new and very cool initiative.
Either I must get bicycle fit, or use an E-bike in future, because I’m really keen to try their multi-day trips along South Africa’s Garden Route or the Cape Winelands, and to see the extraordinary Namaqualand Flowers and to go biking around Victoria Falls and through big game safari country.
I’m feeling inspired…are you?