Riding up a new, steep, challenging climb is one of the most rewarding experiences in cycling.
As you rise higher above the earth, those views slowly emerge, helping you remain motivated to the summit, despite burning legs and sweat-stained glasses.
Cyclists are attracted to climbs like bees to a flower, and while South Africans might not have extreme road riding ascents like the Tourmalet, Madone or Mount Ventoux, there are still some pretty notable gradients in our backyard.
Climbs like Groenlandberg, Rusty Gate and the beautiful Bainskloof have become icons of the Cape Epic. Capetonians are undoubtedly spoilt with options and can often be seen on Strava chasing KOMs up the Tokai mast or Hans’s se Kop.
Cycling goes hand in hand with exploring. There are many climbs with terrific elevation gain and length are waiting to be ridden regularly in all nine provinces.
I have kept a casual record of many of these climbs as they pop up in conversation or late night trawling of Google Earth for a long time now. This is the year I would like to start making a concerted effort to experience these climbs for myself.
Pretoria is relatively flat in terms of topography. The nation’s capital has two notable summits: Klapperkop and Tom Jenkins. Both are relatively short in length and elevation gain.
However, I had heard murmurings of a climb so steep that it had been named the Muur, in tribute to Flander’s own Kapelmuur. After some sleuthing on Strava and a bit of asking around, we had the directions.
Pretoria’s Muur rises 203m, along a distance of 1980m, on a paved surface. It routes towards a variety of communication installations. These statistics make it comparable to the original Kapelmuur, one of cycling’s most famous climbs, which rises just 92m in 1075m.
What this climb lacks in relative length, it makes up for in steepness. It starts with a 17% gradient while still in the suburbs and flattens to around 10%, as you head through the access gate. The gradients then flattens a bit, before it slowly starts rising again, averaging about 13% through a series of switchbacks.
The combination of steepness and a good surface allows one to concentrate on keeping your front wheel down as you lay down the power needed to rise to the clouds. You never have to worry about that rear wheel spinning due to over-torque and a loose riding surface.