Gysmanshoek pass

Distance: 123km

Climb: 2,200m

COST: Free, public roads.

TECHNICAL: Open dirt road with some extremely steep climbs.

START: This route starts and stops at the Suurbraak information parking area, next to the historic church almost in the middle of the town on the main road passing through Suurbraak. The route goes counter-clockwise.


12km - Grootvadersbosch Farm KOM: 3.3km, 182m climb, 5.5% avg grade (ignore the first two results - that is at least 10minutes of climbing).  

34km - R322 climb (local name is Alp2Hez): 3.5km, 378m climb, 10.5% avg grade

56km - Coast to Karoo bastard: 0.6km, 93m climb, 13.3% avg grade 


23km & 31km:  You will cross low water bridges here, but your water bottle will still be full. 

56km: Just before the last steep climb to the top of Gysmanshoek pass, there is a stream where you can fill up your water bottles (but this might be dry).

100km: Barrydale 

105km: Tradouw Pass

123km: Suurbraak


This is a tough route, the trip should take between 6-8 hours. But some people enjoy that. The first 10km from Suurbraak towards Grootvadersbosch is on tar road. After only 5km of gravel road you will come to the Grootvadersbosch Farm signs and your first big climb of the day. Even if you feel like Superman (you probably are not) don't go too fast - this is only the first 20km of the 123km route. After this hill there will be two turnoffs to the right - do not take them. You will pass the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve turnoff and go down a steep hill.

The route will wind past farms on gravel roads. You will get to river crossings at three spots which is dry in the summer, but might have flowing water after heavy rains. If you suspect that the route might have wet sections take some chain lube with you on the ride. At 34km you will turn left at a climb the locals call Alp2Hez. If after the Grootvadersbosch climb you realised that you might be Superman you will find a chunk of kryptonite halfway up this climb. The KOM's time is 17:37minutes, set by none other than Christoph Sauser. Total climb is 3xTradouw Pass in 3.5km. Lekker.

After another steep down hill you will go up two more climbs. The scenery and farming in this area are beautiful. Even though I grew up in this area, these roads make me feel like I am in some far away destination. These roads have more cows on them than traffic. 


At 56km you will turn left to Gysmanshoek Pass. You will take photos here. The last 600m to the top of Gysmanshoek pass will make you consider pushing your bike - 13.3% grade. The valley below stretches from Barrydale to Ronnie's Sex shop. Be extra careful when going down this section, you will be tired and going quite fast. I repeat - take extra care. At 64km you will come to a T where you must turn left towards Barrydale. 

You are now in the Klein Karoo with very different, dry climate and vegetation. One of the farms you will pass belongs to Wilbur Smith. Because you have been on the bike for quite some time by now the long outstretched dirt road will make you feel very alone and far from home. You might consider crying. Please do not, because at 83km you will be on tar road again and getting closer to civilization. If you feel that the tar road shoulder is too narrow - use the gravel on the side.

At 100km you will reach Barrydale. You can make a quick stop and buy a coke at one of the cafes or do a decent re-fill at any of the great restaurants. Diesel&Creme and The Maker's Brew deserves a mention.

From here you only have to conquer Tradouw Pass. Interesting fact: Diesel&Creme and the top of Tradouw Pass are at the same height above sea level. But the road is not flat. After Tradouw Pass you will turn right towards Suurbraak. You can celebrate your Epic ride at Paradise Organic in Suurbraak.

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