Starting in the Garden Route town of Knysna to Franschoek in the Cape Winelands, the route for 2018 TransCape, driven by Volvo from 4-10 February, includes some of the oldest towns in South Africa as well as 9 historic mountain passes, 12 historic bridges and various national monuments. Many of which are not publicly accessible.
BRIDGE OVER THE KNYSNA LAGOON
The first stage starts with the railway bridge over the Knysna Lagoon. The 1 metre narrow gauge railway line which spans the river 2.5 km from one end to the other was inaugurated in 1928 with the introduction of the famous steam train popularly known as the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe.
It served the people of Knysna, Sedgefield and of Wilderness until the disastrous floods of 2007 stopped all activities on the railway line between George and Knysna. Nobody knows for sure if or when the train will ever cross the railway bridge at Knysna again, but on 4 February the field of TransCape will traverse this beautiful landmark.
The first stage also goes along the famous Seven Passes road between Knysna and Wilderness. This was the first road constructed between the two towns and for 70 years it was the only road linking them. Before that there was no proper route and travellers often had to bundu bash through dense undergrowth.
Built piecemeal between 1868 and 1883 by master road-builder Thomas Bain, the road crosses seven rivers – the Goukamma, Karatara, Hoëkraal, Touw, Silver, Kaaimans and Swart – and passes through indigenous forest and impressive river gorges as it winds along the foot of the Outeniqua range, its meandering course dictated by the terrain.
OLD OX WAGON BRIDGE
The old ox wagon and national high way bridge near Swellendam, crossing the Breede river on stage 4, was built in 1892 by the British, who pre-manufactured the structure in England and brought it over in sailboats and transported it from Cape Town with ox wagons (over the historic ox wagon Gantouw and Stormsvlei Passes, the latest also being part of the new route).
It is the oldest, longest and highest bridge in SA and the Transcape organisers have secured special permission from the two farmers on both sides of the river, allowing riders to cross over the bridge during the event.
THE HOUWHOEK PASS
The historic Houwhoek Pass comes on the sixth and pen-ultimate stage. The Houwhoek Pass was first built on a limited budget in 1831 and then rebuilt 15 years later in 1846.
Entering the Houwhoek Pass from the Grabouw side, one encounters the landmark establishment, the Houwhoek Inn where TransCape spends our final night before embarking on the final stage from Houwhoek to Franschhoek. The pass itself is short and stocky and it’s the last climb towards the Houwhoek Inn’s Finish on day 6.
Some famous bridges feature on these passes and the event also includes the oldest bridge still in use in South Africa – the Jan Jouberts Gat bridge on the back-end of the Franschoek Pass, which riders climb on the final stage.
Source: ASG Sport