Stellenbosch Cycle Tour 2020 – So Much More than a Cape Town Cycle Tour Seeding Event!

When Cape Town was announced as the World’s Leading Festival and Events Destination at the World Travel Awards in December 2018, I don’t think any of us were surprised. It homes some of the most iconic events in the sporting calendar, and while the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Two Oceans Marathon get the international acclaim that they deserve, there are many other events happening in the Western Cape that have not captured a worldwide audience…yet!

Stellenbosch Cycle Tour 2020

One such event would have to be the Stellenbosch Cycle Tour. A fabulous 102km race throughout the Western Cape Winelands, it is a spectacular ride, and if you have already done the Cape Town Cycle Tour (previously the Cape Argus) and you fancy something a little bit different, this should be your number #1 choice.

The Stellenbosch Cycle Tour is an official seeding event for the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2020, and so it is the perfect training ride for internationals who intend to participate both events. In 2019, the tour got a new date (pushed back from December to January) and a new location, starting and finishing at the Val De Vie Estate, which is a short drive from Stellenbosch centre. While the route remained largely unchanged this year, the event organisers switched it around somewhat so that Helshoogte Pass, the only real climb of the race, came at the 70km mark, rather than right at the beginning as it was in previous years, to spice things up a bit!

On Sunday, 20th January 2019, the Bicycle Beyond Team lined up for the Stellenbosch Cycle Tour for the very first time, and it did not disappoint! The weather was beautiful, the route was challenging but very doable, and the scenery and camaraderie were simply amazing. While it’s not as big as the Cape Town Cycle Tour, it is just as enjoyable, and if you are looking to start your 2020 cycling season in style, this is definitely one for the Bucket List.

Here’s what our Stellenbosch Cycle Tour looked like…

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Packing Your Bike for Travel: Airline Bike Policies

Packing your bike for an overseas sportive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it will make all the difference on race day, and providing you have a good bike box or bag, and the knowledge to rebuild your bike when you arrive at your final destination, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take your bike with you on every cycling holiday.

Rental bikes are not all bad, in fact, some of them are very good indeed, but if you are heading to a huge event such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour in South Africa,  where demand (and prices) are high, you could end up paying a huge sum of money for a sub-standard rental bike, more than you would pay to transport your own.

All airlines allow you to transport your bike, either as part of your checked luggage allowance or for a special premium, so there’s really no need to leave it behind. If you don’t want to splash out on a Scicon bike bag or hardcase bike box, you can get a cardboard one free of charge from almost any bike shop, and providing you use plenty of bubble wrap, your bike should arrive in the exact same condition in which you packed it.

While all airlines have different policies when it comes to transporting your bike, here is an overview of the most popular international airlines:

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • With British Airways, your bike can travel as your checked baggage allowance.
  • The standard baggage allowance in Economy is 23kg, but not all BA tickets include baggage, so you should check this when booking your flight.
  • You can only check-in one piece of baggage. So even if your bike box weighs less than 23kg, you CANNOT check in another bag to make up the difference, unless you pay for it.
  • If you want to check in both a bike box and a suitcase, you need to purchase an extra piece of checked baggage, which currently costs £60 per bag per way – so £120 roundtrip for your bike.
  • Providing your bike box does not exceed the maximum dimensions listed on the BA website, you do not need to advise the airline that you are transporting a bike prior to travel. You can simply turn up at the airport and check-in as normal.

EMIRATES

  • Emirates also allow you to transport your bike as part of your checked baggage allowance.
  • This airline uses both weight concept and piece concept baggage regulations, and so you really need to find out what your allowance is before booking your flight ticket.
  • If it is on weight concept, you will most likely have a checked baggage allowance of 30kg. In this instance, you can check in both a bike box and a suitcase providing they do not weigh more than 30kg combined, or exceed the maximum dimensions listed in the Emirates website.
  • If you flight ticket includes piece concept baggage regulations, then you can only check in the number of bags indicated. So, if your ticket includes 1 piece, you can only check in a bike box OR a suitcase.
  • You need to contact Emirates at least 24-hours prior to your flight if you intend to transport your bike as checked baggage. We recommend doing it the moment you book your flight.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, have excess baggage with Emirates. They charge $160 USD for just 5 kilos extra, and upwards of $250 USD to check in an extra bag.

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Until recently, Virgin Atlantic allowed you to transport your bike free of charge, but this is no longer the case. You can now transport it as part of your checked baggage allowance, which is 23kg in Economy.
  • You can only check-in one piece of baggage and cannot pool the weight across your bike bag and suitcase.
  • If you want to check in both your bike box and a suitcase, you’ll need to purchase an extra piece of checked baggage at £65 per piece per way, so £130 roundtrip for your bike.
  • Providing your bike meets Virgin Atlantic’s size and weight guidelines, you do not need to inform the airline that you are transporting a bike prior to travel. Simply proceed to the airport and check in as normal.

KLM / AIR FRANCE

  • KLM and Air France do not allow you to transport your bike as part of any baggage allowance, you must always pay a fee for the privilege.
  • Their current long-haul rate is 100 Euros per bike per way, so 200 Euros roundtrip for your bike.
  • You have to let them know when booking your flight ticket that you want to transport your bike. If you book your flight ticket directly on their website, you should be able to do this during the booking process. If you are booking through a travel agent, let them know that you intend to take your bike with you so that they can add it to your booking.

TURKISH AIRLINES

  • Turkish Airlines allow you to transport your bicycle as your checked baggage allowance, which is generally 23kg in Economy.
  • You can only check-in one piece of luggage and cannot share the weight across your bike box and suitcase.
  • If you want to take a bike box and a suitcase, you will need to pay extra for your bike.
  • Turkish Airlines charge a per sector fee, rather than a per way fee for bikes. Therefore, if you are travelling from London to Cape Town via Istanbul, you will pay €30 per sector from London to Istanbul, and €60 per sector from Istanbul to Cape Town, totalling €90 per way, and €180 roundtrip. Complex? Yes!
  • You must advise Turkish Airlines prior to departure if you intend to transport your bike.

Please note, the above is just for reference and can change at any time. Please contact the airline for up-to-date rules and pricing.

 

 

 

 

Road Cycling Holidays Lesotho: Africa’s Mountain Kingdom

There are few places left in the world where you can really get away from it all, but the Kingdom of Lesotho is one of them.

The ultimate cycling destination for hardcore road bikers who love nothing more than a demanding mountain pass or two, Lesotho most definitely deserves its title as Africa’s Mountain Kingdom, and if you are looking for an adventure on two wheels that will push you to the max, you are guaranteed to find it right here in the heart of Southern Africa.

Lesotho is a country that has yet to be uncovered by international cyclists, but it is ready and waiting for visitors with open arms. The majority of the roads are tarred and in good condition, there is a great choice of accommodations to suit all budgets, and there are routes that even the most serious climbers can only dream of.

While gradients vary, some mountain passes in Lesotho reach an eye-watering 30%, and on an average 7-night road cycling holiday, you can expect to cover anything up 600km and 12,000 meters in elevation. But does that make it out-of-bounds for us mere mortals? Certainly not!

Lesotho cycling holidays are suitable for all international cyclists with a good level of physical fitness, but you need to be prepared to push yourself to the extreme, and also be prepared to jump on the bus if you feel you have reached your limit for the day.  Sitting on the bus is no punishment in this part of the world, the scenery is simply spectacular, and you can re-join the group at any time.

Here’s a very brief overview of a 7-night itinerary:

DAY 1: Arrive Johannesburg, South Africa – Transfer to Clarens at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in South Africa, just a short distance from the border to Lesotho. Set up your bikes and take a short ride to test the legs before dinner and overnight.

DAY 2: Golden Gate National Park – Roma / Distance Cycled: 80km / Elevation: 1,300m

DAY 3: Roma – Mohales Hoek – Tour of Lesotho Stage 1 / Distance Cycled: 130km / Elevation: 1,500m

DAY 4: Mohales Hoek – Bethel – Tour of Lesotho Stage 2 / Distance Cycled: 100km / Elevation: 2,400m

DAY 5: Bethel – Semonkong – Tour of Lesotho Stage 3 / Distance Cycled: 130km / Elevation: 3,300m

DAY 6: Semonkong – Roma – Tour of Lesotho Stage 4 / Distance Cycled: 85km / Elevation: 2,500m

DAY 7: Roma – Ride to Thaba Bosiu and Metolong Dam / Distance Cycled: 70km / Elevation: 1,100

DAY 8: Departure

Sound like your perfect overseas cycling holiday? Find out more!

 

 

 

Welcome to the Bicycle Beyond Blog!

If you love to travel, love to cycle, and love nothing more than combining the two, this is the blog for you!

 

Bicycle Beyond is a travel company 100% committed to cycling. We’ll be using this platform to tell you all about our upcoming road cycling and MTB holidays in some of the worlds most beautiful cycling destinations.

Italy, Gran Canaria, Morocco, Chile (Patagonia), Lesotho and South Africa are just a few of the destinations we have lined up for the coming months, and as our sole aim is to find the very best cycling routes in the world, you can expect to see many more exciting destinations added to that list before spring 2019.

As keen road cyclists ourselves, we are passionate about sharing our stories and learning from others who love to explore on 2 wheels, so if cycling has become your way of life, please follow us on this journey as we Bicycle Beyond…