There are not many climbs in South Africa that would take most people the best part of an hour to conquer. Cam and I have been lucky to ascend the mighty Swartberg pass during the Cape Pioneer Trek, (and taken a bit longer than usual) but we are also blessed with a true training gem, right on my doorstep.
The climb to the Mast of Constantiaberg is a true test of mental and physical ability. It has one or two plateaus in it but zero descent until you turn around. It rises from the car park at Tokai plantation and winds its way up and away from the tree lined jeep tracks on the lower slopes, clear of all the singletracks and into the desolate low cut Fynbos before the last half of the climb is completed on tar road.
The average grade is 10% and maxes at around 18% with many switchbacks making up it’s 9 kilometer length and just shy of 900m of elevation gain. It grinds around the back of the mountain and views that started over false bay, change to the back of table mountain and then down to Hout Bay before swinging violently around and back over to the south side where the elevation presents a view of Ou Kaapse weg below, Fish Hoek and beyond to Simonstown, Cape Point and the Lighthouse at Longbeach. Its a wide eyed wonder and I’m lucky to be able to slog my way to the top on any given day.
I have ridden up it in pelting rain, -4degree wind chill and gusting gale force South Easters. It’s always there and always looming and it’s my yardstick. My hour of pain to see how I stack up, against… me.
Today I went up in perfect weather with Cam in a race against the clock, the numbers we good for both of us and afterwards we stood silently on top in awe and exhaustion.
If you have never been, you don’t know what you’re missing, make a date, be mentally prepared and just go climb your heart out.