Discover South Africa's cities through these cycle routes that will connect you to the streets. (Photo: iStock)
Sometimes the best way to discover a city is not in a car or by tour bus - a ride on a bike gets you connected not only to the buildings but also the communities that pump the heart of its bricks.
You also don't have to live for that road rash either to enjoy a bike tour through a city, and a city also doesn't mean that you have to travel deep into the countryside to find your mountain bike thrill.
Whether you're a cycling enthusiast that need your adrenaline injection while on holiday, a tourist looking to experience the streets of a city or just a local looking to explore unknown parts, we've got a few routes around South Africa's cities to get you started.
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You'd be had pressed to find a Cape Town Instagram account without photos of bikes along the famous Sea Point Promenade. The promenade starts at Mouille Point and meanders along the coast until Saunders Rock's Beach. There are a few bike-hire companies on this stretch as well.
Around Cape Town's famous monolith there are various routes where cyclists can get great views of the city while feeling like they are in nature. This includes routes from Newlands to Constantia Nek, Upper Tokai, from Jonkersdam to Red Hill and routes around the Western Seaboard. Note that you will need a My Activity Permit to ride within Table Mountain
Bicycle South has a great inner city route that goes past cool cafes and museums for cyclists looking for a leisurely cruise. You can start out on Buitenkant Street and make your way towards Bree Street which has its own cycle lane. You'll eventually hit the pedestrian bridge - or the original Fan Walk from the 2010 World Cup - and finally make your way towards V&A Waterfront via Dock Road.
You can decide to add the Promenade route if your calve muscles are strong enough.
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If you're new to the city and want to ride through an urban renewal landscape with the right guide, check out East City Cycle Tours that runs on Saturdays and Sundays. A local guide will take you on a route that starts in the trendy Maboneng Precinct through Doornfontein and Troyeville, and you'll see public art, interesting architecture and discover the city's colourful past.
On the last Friday of every month, you can join other urban cyclists on a night ride with Critical Mass, meeting at Dunkeld Shopping Centre in Braamfontein at 18:00. It's a 25km route through neighbourhoods like Fordsburg, Newtown, Marshall Town and Hillbrow. It's completely free and safe!
Nestled in Bryanston is a mountain bike haven for those who like a little thrill with their riding experience. PwC Bike Park's trails are set in a wetland and are of varying difficulties for all riders - you can even make a day out with picnic sites and playgrounds for the kids.
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Soak in the sun rays on Durban's most iconic beachfront - the Golden Mile. You can start at one of the hotels in North Beach and peddle along the mile up to Emgeni river, where you can make a turn towards Durban's beautiful 2010 World Cup stadium. You can make your way back down the Golden Mile past the birding paradise of the Blue Lagoon.
Demarcated cycling lanes provide a commute route you could try out from Waterkant Road in Durban North towards Umhlanga central, going through Fairway Drive, Kentucky Drive and Forest Drive. You could even link up the route with Umhlanga's promenade all along the coast and make a stop at The Lightroom Bar at the Oyster Box Hotel.
- Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park
In Pinetown you'll find the Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park has over 30km of main trails which you can tackle any way you want. Starting at the Trail Centre where the staff will direct you on where to start, the park also offers hot showers to get the dirt out your soul, BMX tracks for the super adventurous and even horse riding trails for those who enjoy an old-school form of transport.
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If you want to explore Port Elizabeth's public art scene, start off your route at the pyramid of Donkin Reserve and wind your way past the Freedom Line through Route 67 - a homage to Nelson Mandela's 67 years of struggle for freedom. From the end of the route at the Campanile you can head all the way to North End Lake for a truly urban experience by bike.
For a proper few kilometres on a bike, you can ride the city's coastline from PE Harbour, down the Beachfront Promenade and past all the beaches until you get to Cape Recife Lighthouse. On the way you can stop for a swim or even a drink at the famous Barney's Tavern.
If you really want to test your mettle, you can take a gander at the Ironman route, one of the most scenic routes in the competition franchise - which starts out on Marine Drive. From here, you will make your way to Schoenmakerskop, Sardinia Bay and Seaview villages. You can also just take it slow and see how far you get.
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