Early morning start from “Tannie Evita’s” town of Darling and a fairly fresh wind, which kept me awake for big part of the night. Loading the Kruzer and getting ready for the last leg of about 90 kilometers to Cape Town, I got some funny looks from the locals making their way to work in the Darling Metropolis and surrounds.
Not far out of town and the 12km climb to Mamre, into the much stronger wind started, but, as I have said before, I have not found a hill or mountain that I cannot walk to the top.Going down the hill towards Mamre, to keep the speed above 20kph, I had to pedal hard and consistently. Mamre is a small place, if you blink twice, you’ll miss it. Turned right towards the coast and now had the full force of the wind on my back, and that was good, like after Smitswinkel on the Argus, a real speed demon and highest speed of the day. Got my first glimpse of a cloud covered Table Mountain, way off in the distance, as I crested the last hill before the West Coast road.Onto the West Coast road, traffic and full on into a much stronger wind now, I would say consistent at between 30kph to 35kph, gusting up to 45kph, working hard to keep moving and stay on the road surface as I was blown off the road 3 times. One by one the kms ticked down and Blouberg Strand was my stop for lunch and drinks, a welcome respite from the constant wind trying to push me back to Langebaan. A huge hamburger, washed down with a double chocolate milkshake, gave me the energy to tackle the last part into the city, via Paarden Eiland and the traffic.The last part into Cape Town Town was hectic, wind, traffic and navigating as the cycle lanes are completely ignored by the drivers, either parking in them, driving halfway into them and stopping/blocking them when crossing streets with complete disregard to the cyclists.Made it safely to Green Point Stadium, after stopping at the Castle of Good Hope, collected my number for the Cape Town Argus Cycle Tour and that was it, my Kalahari adventure done and dusted.I had one final slow ride back into Cape Town to collect a rental car and transport. Suddenly my Kalahari/Bushmanland Safari adventure by bicycle was over, sitting in Seapoint watching the sun set, waiting for the traffic to dissipate before driving to Fish Hoek, home for the next couple of days and Argus.Thank you to all for your messages of encouragement and sharing the ride with your comments.
Did not happen!One thing I have learnt on this adventure, make plans and use them as a guideline, be prepared to change them and be flexible. What you plan and what happens in reality are 2 different things. Sunset at Velddrif makes one appreciate life and it’s offerings so much more.Next leg would have been to Paternoster and camp at Tietiesbaai, but, local information and advice, that it is not safe and a number of unwanted persons will relieve you of your belongings, made me change plans, skip that part of the ride and head towards Uilkraal farm via Hopefield. Leaving Velddrif on a clear West Coast morning.Windy ride, again but good views eventualy brings you to the metropolis of Hopefield.
Town very busy as the church is having a fete and people from all round the town attending and having fun. Passed by the huge wind powered generators,turned onto the gravel road towards the farm, nasty surprise, conditions similar to the “Toll Road”, some places even worse. Three times I had to get off and walk through the deep sand, couple of near falls, but managed to get through and with tired, heavy legs made it to the farm and a couple of rest days with sight seeing by car of the places I missed due to safety concerns.One more ride “down” the West Coast road and I will be in the Mother City, or, so called civilization.Moertoegepomp and me nearly “Moertoegetrap”
Rest days on Uilenskraal Farm.
My route as planned for the next ride, and what it turned out to be. Light rain and heavy mist greeted me for the next leg from Lambert’s Bay to Velddrif. After waiting 45 minutes, I decided to fit the rain covers and get on the road hoping the rain and low cloud will burn away. Misty morning towards the harbour leaving Lambert’s Bay. A stop for photos at Muisbosskerm and back on the Kruzer.At 10km the drizzle stopped, I took the covers off and back onto the “Toll Road” towards Elandsbay, looking forward to a late breakfast/early lunch. Clouds and mist disappearing fast as the day progressed, I had a 5 minute wait at a rail crossing, waiting for about half the train to rattle and rumble by, again looking in wonderment at the train, 2 locomotives up front, 2 at various distances as part of the train and one at the end, total length of train, 3km.Road condition as the previous day, absolutely terrible with deep loose sand, deep corrugation and sand filled holes. Drivers speed by at high speed covering you in dust, fine sand and being sandblasted by small stones in their wake.Made it to Elandsbay with only the bottle store and general dealer open, had a quick look at the beach and town and on my way to Velddrif. Would like to have lunch, but the Lobster was not on the menu.A nasty climb rounding the mountain and then at last some downhill towards the coast, but, the wind will not allow me any rest and I had to pedal to make good progress at some descent speed down the hill.Stopped at Draaihoek for lunch and leg stretch and back in the saddle, fighting the wind and sun.Outside Dwarskersbos quick stop for drinks and snacks, about 12km from Velddrif. Back on the road, straining against the strong wind, eventually Velddrif came into sight, stopped, replenished supplies, takeaway fish and chips dinner and made my way to the camping ground for a well deserved shower and rest. Pitched my tent next to Manfred and Doris from Munich and their Hobo, touring Africa on their way to Cape Town.
Again, “Life is Good”.
What would have been Day 10 of riding, now Day 07 and a much shorter ride.After a good rest and catch-up time with dear friends Chris and Charlene,the adventure continued with them warning about my intended route, regarding road surface and heavy trucks. We loaded the Kruzer and bags on the bakkie and made our way to Doringbaai, where the ride started. As I was assembling the Kruzer on the “Toll Road”, next to the Sishen Saldanha Railway line, a 3km long train, hauling iron ore from Sishen to Saldanha came past, empty, on its way back to Sishen.We said our goodbyes and I made my way towards Lambert’s Bay on the “Toll Road” next to the railway line, one one of the worst riding surfaces ever. One day, I might go back to collect my fillings, kidney stones and whatever else I might have dropped. I had to stop and tighten the quick release on both the front and back wheel, check everything else that was vibrating and shuddering loose and coming undone.By now the early morning mist lifted and the Atlantic ocean made brief appearances, cool sea air and the constant rumbling of the waves pounding the beach in the background. What I anticipated as a long day turned into a 34km ride and into Lambert’s Bay.I stayed with Hana van Zyl for the night with a view of the railway line and vlei with loads of birds. I had an exploratory ride of the sleepy village, to late for lunch and to early for dinner at Muisbosskerm, 5km out of town, but enjoyed the views on a misty afternoon of the West Coast.Sunset at the harbour after a good day along the coast, heading South.
Planned routes and distances changes on a daily basis and whilst on the road. What you think is going to happen and what really happens, two different things, like being loaded on a bakkie 40km from Loeriesfontein and taken to town.Early morning in Loeriesfontein, overcast, a fairly strong Westerly wind and I’m on my way to Vanrhynsdorp via “Nieuwoudt ville”, on all the road signs, the “s” have been removed. Slight climb out of town on a good riding surface and then into the many climbs and very few, slight downs on the roads between rural towns. Hardly any small traffic, but quite a few big trucks hauling stuff towards the windfarm being built. Veld very dry with no trees or grass in sight, small shrubs and some Quiver trees along the way.Stopped a couple of times along the way, taking photos of the scenery and Quiver trees and inspecting the road kill. I saw 4 Cape Bat Eared foxes and some other unidentifiable species that did not survive either crossing the road, or eating insects on the road and then hit by a vehicle.I reached the Gannabos Quiver Tree Reserve and spent about an hour amongst time and patience, looking at the wonder of how and where these wondrous plants survive.The wind picked up in intensity and have become a factor, making it more difficult up the hills and the pass. Eventually, 4km from Nieuwoudt ville, I could use my phone and let the people know where I am. I did not go into town and headed towards Vanrhyn’s pass, another one of legendary pass builder, Thomas Baines’s majestic works. At the top of the pass and escarpment, the full force of the strong, hot Westerly wind hit you, as one look from the plato down into the flat desolate Namaqua plains and beyond, towards the Atlantic ocean.Good run down the curving, twisting 8km Vanrhyns Pass road and then the hard, difficult slog, up and down and into the hot strong wind started in all earnest, with a vision of milkshake and pancakes at the road stall some kilometers away. Arriving at the road stall a major disappointment as it has closed down, saddle up, head down and carry on, arriving at my destination Clear Water Oasis, late afternoon after a very hard 114km and a long day in the saddle. Thank you Chris and Charlene Bessinger, for a great stay at your Oasis.
Not knowing the availability of water and food, I stocked up on supplies and headed out from Brandvlei to Loeriesfontein on a good rideable gravel road. Veld not in a good condition due to the drought in this part of South Africa. The morning quickly got warmer and hotter and the sun was beating down. Time to stop for drink and snack, but the only shade around is me and my bike. Lunchtime and like a mirage, suddenly a farm house and a bit further the outbuildings, not a person in sight, but I found a shady spot and break from the 40c temp, got comfy and enjoyed my lunch and drinks. Undulating road all the way and as mentioned, nowhere to hide from the sun and heat. My intention was to do about 80km and find a spot to sleep and still working on this, in deep thought I did not notice or hear a bakkie approaching, until he pulled up next to me and started talking. Loeriesfontein was 40km further and I was offered a ride into town and a comfy bed, which I graciously accepted. Arriving in town, I unpacked, showered and did a tour of the town, visiting the Windmill museum and talking to the people about the wind farm for electricity generation, being erected near them and the impact and change it has on a small rural town when big money comes to town.Another good day in South Africa, far away from the big city hustle and bustle.
Route changes, being “Farm Jacked”, my initial route planning changed drastically and started the ride from Kenhardt to Brandvlei. Farm life in the Kalahari starts before sunrise, enabling them to get the work done before it gets to hot. By 06h30 I was on my way, as promised by Stephen and CP, to Kenhardt with a neighbour speeding along the Kalahari gravel highway, past farmsteads and a stop at the famous “Putsonderwater”.Yes, the place does exist, unfortunately falling apart now, but it used to be a major connecting point and water station for the steam locomotives.I started day 04, about 10km outside Kenhardt, at the Quiver tree forest. Unfortunately and for what reason I do not know, but, it was locked and I could not walk amongst the beautiful Quiver trees and had to do long distance photography.Change in terrain from Kalahari to Bushmanland, from hills, mountains and dunes to flat wide open spaces wit huge big black boulders and rocks forming hills and outcrops.The weather and wind was kind to me and I kept going to Brandvlei, arriving at 16h00 in the town. Not much happening, 4 bottle stores, a money lender, hotel being renovated, small shops, a church and that’s about it.Had a good night’s rest, although the take away mosquitos carries one outside for a meal. Poverty and lack of progress are truly killing the small towns of South Africa, everybody ask for money and some tells you “Give me money”.
Mr. Zuma, where is your promised jobs, when last have you been to a truly rural little town, dying a slow death?
Woke to the sound of farm life, quickly finished packing my bags and joined Sybrand and Lenie for breakfast and was told that the road is to bad for me to ride on the Kruzer, or, even attempt to ride it. Sybrand will take me to the tar road, where I can cycle from and make my way to Groblershoop. It was so easy riding on the tar after 2 days of mud, sand and big pools of water. Hooked up to the mighty Orange river making its way to Upington and beyond, with lots of vineyards all the way to town. Arrived in town and stopped at the one and only garage, asked Andre the owner about accommodation and not long, I was directed to Leopard Tree guest house. I decided to go to the police and ask information about my intended route, but could not get any. I made my way to the Agri-Farmers Co-Op, if anyone would know, the farmers would. Asked and met CP, discussed my route and was told that I will be staying at his farm and it was closer than the planned route. I then got “Farm Jacked” and stayed an extra day. Again I met wonderful people and enjoyed my time on a huge game farm.
Got woken by the horse at 05h30, dressed and walked to the road for an inspection, decided to get going on a “fairly” stable road surface, but, it was not easy and I managed to do 40km to my nightstop on a farm, about 9km South of Witsand Reserve.I knocked on the door, asked if I could put my tent up in a protected area and was given a luxurious room with pure white linen.Had a great cup of coffee with home made rusks and after a well earned shower, I felt much better after one of the hardest, most energy sapping 40km rides ever, fighting huge areas of mud and sand, water running across the road, water at times covering the road fence to fence and washed out roads.
I managed to finish at my intended route stop after walking, riding, slipping and sliding, stuck in a “Wag ‘n Bietjie” tree that drew blood, on the farm Platvlei, where Sybrand and Lenie de Beer are the current farmers. The family have been farming here since 1906, salt of the earth people and I once again experienced and lived the well known South African hospitality.
Started on the gravel road to Witsand reserve and initially the going was very good, then the waterholes and some mud started. I crossed the Sishen to Saldanha railway line, knowing that it will be many kilometers before we meet againHad a minor fall after slipping and sliding in the mud that was around a water hole spread across the whole road and had to do some adjustments on the front derailleur whilst watching storm clouds building.By 13h00 a major storm was approaching, thunder, lightning and nowhere to hide. Rain clothes and covering came out and I continued by trying to ride, walking, slipping and sliding in this major downpour of rain,icould see dry roads turning into rivers. I don’t know after how many kilometers, but at 16h30 there was a farmhouse, made my way in and asked to stay for the night and shelter from the rain and storm. Got shown to the garage, put the tent up and into dry clothes. Shared my humble accommodation with 3 mangy dogs and a horse with, rain and wind continuing well into the night. By 19h00 I was asleep.