The Krooze – Conclusion
“The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime
You shuffle in the gloom of the sickroom
And talk to yourself as you die”
‘Pink Floyd –Free Four’
After 4 years of planning and getting ready, the “Krooze” with the Kruzer became a reality on 06 March 2016, at the age of 61 years and 11 months.
Sunday morning 06 March, I started my 9th Cape Town Cycle Tour, maybe better known as the Argus with the Kruzer, this time not as a race or time as a target, but to do a scenic tour around the Peninsula as a prelude and part of my route to include Cape Point. Doing the Argus in touring mode, puts a whole new perspective on the route and the event, you see more, hear more, feel more,
experience more, but, also spend a much longer time on the bike and route. Riding with the Kruzer, heavier than a normal Mountain Bike, all sort of comments are made, “That’s a Big one”, “That must be heavy“, “Look at that old saddle”, “ You must be a machine riding that up this hill”, “Where are you going”, etc. It’s not easy doing the route on a heavy bike, but, it is so worthwhile doing it slow, allowing more time to appreciate the scenery, smell the sea, feel the change in temperature and appreciate the support from the Cape Town community along the route. The volunteers manning the water/feeding stations should all get a special medal for the excellent work they do, keeping the cyclists hydrated, moving and motivated. This year was the first time that I stopped at any of the watering stations and enjoyed a glass of ice-cold Coke from the volunteers, all happy and cheerful handing over the beverages. Finishing with a time of 05h04m was good enough for me and satisfied on a day that was perfect for the ride and race in all aspects.
Monday was a rest day, getting supplies and checking the Kruzer, making sure that everything is still firmly attached and solid. Tuesday morning instead of starting in Fish Hoek as planned, I started from Gordons Bay due to safety concerns on the Baden Powel and other sections of the road. I was dropped off at the garage at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass on the N2, loaded the Kruzer and started the Krooze heading South towards Gordons Bay and beyond. On my training rides I tried to get into the habit of taking photos and it paid off here as the scenery is so beautiful that around every turn, it is a postcard moment.
Fortunately the lookout stops is spaced and placed at convenient distances, allowing for maximum exposure of the beautiful False Bay area and some of the best views looking back towards Gordons Bay. It took me a while to get used to the loaded Kruzer, heavier than any of my training rides, as I brought along some items for that “What If” moment, which fortunately I did not need. The cars and vehicles passing gave the heavy and wide load of the Kruzer a wide berth and my riding ability and confidence grew as I made my way along the coastline towards my first overnight stop in Kleinmond.
Rooiels popped up and disappeared behind me with the next target being Pringle bay to visit ex SAA colleagues/friends not seen for years. Turning towards Pringle Bay out of Rooiels, I was greeted by a Mother of a hill and my first walk of many started, pushing the Kruzer to the top. As I entered Pringle Bay, Sammy Schonweis was waiting for me on his veranda and directed me to his home to leave the Kruzer in his garage and drive into town for our visit. It was an emotional experience for me to see Danny Watts and Sammy, enjoying lunch consisting of excellent Calamari and a very good Cappuccino, catching up on the good times, before heading further east to my first stop in Kleinmond.
The rest of the ride was fairly flat and I made it in good time to Kleinmond with a quick tour of the town and harbour before heading to Klem and Ginoca Dunstan for a hot shower, great meal and bed, after 55,6km for day 1.
Not enough time to catch up on the years since seeing one another, way to soon it was bed time and the alarm calling for day 2 of the Krooze, after a wonderful evening of excellent hospitality.
I called Freda to let her know I’m on my way to the next stop at Uilenskraalmond Caravan Park and started day 2. Stopped at the garage, pumped the wheels and headed out of Kleinmond, my legs somewhat sluggish on the climb out of town, but the scenery soon made me forget about the legs and appreciate the passing beauty of the landscape with the sun reflecting off the mountains on my left and the hanging mist of the waves breaking onto the shore on the right. Vermont and Hawston passed by and Hermanus as my next stop for some shopping, before heading towards Stanford, my next turn towards Gansbaai. The security person was flabbergasted when I wheeled the Kruzer into the Supermarket and asked them to keep an eye on it as everything I own at that point in time was attached to the Kruzer. Questions rained down on me and they could not believe where I came from and heading to. Quick tour of Hermanus and back on the road towards Stanford and again a fairly long climb out of Hermanus.
On top of the climb I took a coffee break and enjoyed a Coconut donut, as cars sped by east and west not seeing, smelling or feeling the moment. Soon the turn at Stanford towards Gansbaai was in sight and what I thought to be an easy ride, gave me my first sight of one downhill for every 3 uphills which would become the norm for the rest of the Krooze. Again stopping and looking back was some of the best views and made me realise again, it is not a race, but an adventure. The metropolis of Gansbaai came into view and another stop at the mall for a late lunch/early dinner and ice-cold beverages at the supermarket, before making my way to Franskraal seafront for a stop and eat.
Reached the camping site and set up camp, excellent hot shower and much deserved sleep after 05h10m moving time on the road.
It was my first night in the tent and it looked like a Tsunami hit by the time I started packing up the next morning. Lesson learnt, be organised and pack away as you use. 91,3km of great riding and beautiful scenery.
What I though was going to be an early start, turned out to be 08h00 and after the start the ride call in to Freda, the ride for day 3 to Agulhas started. Somewhat overcast, nice and cool I made good time to “Die Dam” for the Bredasdorp turnoff, past Pearly Beach and my first gravel road of many for the Krooze. The road to die Dam stretched for kilometres straight, a small down to 3 long climbs.
Unfortunately the roadside has become a dumping site for motorists, as empty bottles, plastic bags, used baby nappies and food containers littered the road and as always, evidence of accidents on a straight road with pieces of the car wrecks at the crash sites.
I made my turn onto the gravel road and into the food basket of our country with cattle, sheep, ostriches and goats lining fences, staring at the spectacle passing them and farmers preparing their fields for the upcoming planting season.
Walk 1 for the day was soon done up a short, but very steep hill and with a last look at the Atlantic ocean from the top of the climb.
The next time I see the ocean it will be the on the Indian Ocean side of South Africa, near Struisbaai. As I crested a hill, in the distance I saw a huge pink patch and I thought it could be Cosmos, but also thinking that I have not seen any on the ride up to now. As I got closer the pink patch was continually moving and then I realised it was a pan covered with Flamingos and approaching them I could hear their grunting sound and it was amazing.
While taking photos and watching the Flamingos, I heard the iconic African sound of a Fish Eagle calling. Looking around, 2 of them appeared from behind and gave me an aerial display of their flying abilities that people pay a lot of money to experience. I also got caught up in rush hour traffic, as a farmer was moving his sheep from one field to another.
Past the Agulhas National Park, with small Cape style white houses, some in good condition others in a bad state of neglect and to the tar road with a right turn to Struisbaai and Agulhas.
Into Struisbaai, stop at the harbour, look at the Stingrays and the last 6km to Agulhas and a rest day, visiting family.
Riding along and coming round a turn, the most Southern light house on the African continent, pops into view and I was very fortunate to have brilliant sunshine and the blue Indian Ocean framing it all, making the view perfect. After 86,5km and 04h30m moving time it was the end of a great and spectacular ride.
About 2 hours after I arrived the weather turned real nasty, a very strong Southern wind, straight out of the ocean and rain hit the coast and I was more than glad to be in a house and well protected. I enjoyed being spoilt for the next 2 days and being able to visit family. Whilst in Agulhas and working on the route, I found out that the Pont is out of the water at Malgas due to a leak, but should be back in the water by Friday. That did not happen and fortunately, the good people of South Africa made it possible for me to get across the river by boat and also have a bed and hot shower as well as a trip down the river to a Pizza Pub, where I enjoyed one of my best Pizzas ever. Thank you Reivilo for the information and updates and Brain for the boat ride.
Saturday and time to leave the protection of a house, again, and on to the open road to Malgas via Bredasdorp, with a slight headwind I made it to Struisbaai and got some funny looks as I pulled into the garage to lube the chain and pump the wheels on the Kruzer. That done it was into the wind, picking up in velocity on the road to Bredasdorp, nothing much to see on this road, farmlands to the left and right, in the distance mountains to the north and the consistent wind racing across the open flat area, to attack me on the Kruzer. Stopped for supplies in Bredasdorp and found that my saddle was broken, the pin that pull the leather taught, was missing. I did feel some discomfort on the ride from Uilenskraalmond to Agulhas and out of there, somewhere between Uilenskraalmond and Agulhas, is a stainless steel part of my Brooks saddle.
Fortunately I had cable ties with me and temporary repairs were done and I made my way out of town towards Malgas via De Hoop,at least knowing that I will be able to get across the Bree River.
The road stretches for kilometres ahead and all one can see is the undulating terrain as it disappears and the hills after that, appearing way into the distance.
Loads of very bicycle shy Ostriches and Blue Cranes, with no shade cover along the road. Eventually I stopped at a farm entrance and had lunch, consisting of Sardines, Biltong, Dry Wors and Rice cakes, swallowed down with at least a litre of Coke, as the temperature have now moved to 38c. German tourists stopped and asked the way to De Hoop and pointing down the road, explained to them that this is the one and only road leading there. Back on the Kruzer and passing the De Hoop turnoff, feeling relieved that it’s about 20km to my next stop and rest point. At the Malgas turnoff between somewhere and nowhere, a General Dealer/Bottle store and being a Saturday afternoon, a number of farm workers outside. I stopped and introduced myself and Simson started the question session, firstly informing me that the Pont is out of the water. As usual they wanted to know where I’m from and where I’m going, shaking their heads in disbelief, touching and prodding the Kruzer and after that I was “Meneer” Barry.
They wished me well on my journey as I headed down the steep hill, into the metropolis of Malgas.
I did not know where and how I was going to eat that night, asked around and was directed to the one and only shop in Malgas, again after the question session and explaining my dietary needs, I was given 2 huge pieces of Southern Fried chicken and 2 baked potatoes, but they would not accept money, no matter how persistent I was. Again I met the real people of South Africa. Back to the Malgas hotel jetty and I phoned Brain Porter, he was about 45 minutes away, on his way back from Cape Town, told me to wait at the jetty, he will be there soon.
Not long and I was on his boat crossing the river and onto his farm. I was informed that I do not have to camp, I will be sleeping inside with a hot, well deserved shower. I unpacked showered and 30 minutes later we were back on the water on our way to the Pili Pili Boat House Bar and Restaurant, about 10km down river.
I got to bed somewhat later than anticipated after 99,8km on a hot, windy day, with loads of views and memories of the good people of our beautiful country
Sunday, normal 08h00 start for a short 34,4km ride to Witsand, somewhat overcast,
slight wind as I started the climb out of Malgas on the normal type of road, consisting of 1 short downhill to the 4, never-ending uphills of varying degrees of difficulty. Up the climbs and down the hills, the kilometres counted down and before long I was in Witsand. I was contemplating making my way to Vermaaklikheid, but, looking at the place on maps and media, a very small place and not hopeful of a camping site and not knowing where I will be spending the night, I opted for the Witsand Caravan Park for the night, checked in, set up camp and took a well-deserved rest after the previous day of sun, dust and heat. Later the afternoon I went for a ride on the beach, making single track with the Kruzer,
had a delicious dinner of fish and chips at the restaurant at the harbour and that was me for the day, 34,4km from Malgas to Witsand.
Monday Morning dawned and again, about 08h15, I was heading out on the Swellendam road towards Stilbaai via Vermaaklikheid,
with a strong Easterly wind that kept on getting stronger as the day progressed. Up, up, up, down, up, up, up and more up was the norm for the day, beautiful scenery and a scorching sun as I rode along, soon Vermaaklikheid was in view and truly, not a living person or animal in sight as I rode through and made my way through the settlement/village to a long and steep hill leading out,
towards Puntje and Stilbaai. About halfway up the steep hill, I was more than glad to stop and talk to the occupants of a Donkey cart on their way to the mobile clinic that will be visiting the Vermaaklikheid area that day. Salt of the earth and real people is what you meet on the gravel roads in this part of the country.
Made it to the top of the hill, turned east towards Stilbaai and into the full force of a 25kph wind, gusting up to 35kph. This section turned into the hardest ride of the Krooze, never-ending hills and a strong wind with an energy sapping sun beating down.
At last a fairly long downhill with a mother of a climb on the other side to the tar road and turn towards Stilbaai. As I got to the bottom of the hill, a bakkie came racing by and had I seen, or heard it earlier, I would have stopped it and asked for a ride to the top. So big walk/push number umpteenth for the day, started and with my head down, about 80% to the top, suddenly a voice out of nowhere, “Trap hom Boetie, trap hom”. I thought I was hallucinating and hearing voices, but looking up, there was Deon and Edith on their motorcycle. We arranged to meet in Stilbaai and they came looking for me, Angels of mercy they were with an ice-cold Coke, energy bar and a sympathetic ear to my complaining about the cruel earth of many more ups than down.
They lightened my load by taking some of my stuff with them on the motorcycle and with renewed energy, I managed to ride the rest of the hill and made for a good ride and speed on the last part into Stilbaai.
Stopped at Spar for food and drinks and started looking for a place to camp for the night. We were directed to a place out on the Riversdale road, about 6+km, but when we got there it was closed for camping and had to go back into Stilbaai East to the Preekstoel Caravan Park, in total adding about 12km to a hard days riding. Set up camp,
said our goodbyes, cold shower in a rundown, dilapidated place, but what the heck, at least I was clean and felt safe for the night. Phoned my cousin, asking for the best and shortest route to his farm for tomorrow and passed out. An energy sapping, difficult day of 99,5km……… Eina.
I was hoping to take a photo of the sunrise over the sea, but it was overcast, so I was back on the road riding out of Stilbaai on the steep hill for a second time, but this time fully loaded with the 45+kg Kruzer and a fairly strong wind from the front,
turn right toward Gouritsmond and the wind straight on the nose with the normal more up than down. Some steep descents with even steeper climbs, green farmlands and scattered white Cape cottages, I made it to Albertinia,
stopped at the Retirement home to visit my Aunt before heading to the farm for my anticipated stay. My muscles and joints were complaining from the previous day and it was with great joy that I accepted Ryna’s offer, to take my panniers and bags with her when they head out to the farm. Fruit and custard, a litre of Coke, my panniers and bags loaded into the bakkie, I rode to the top of Albertina to the Engen Garage, for the best Chicken Pie in South Africa, before heading out to the farm at Valsriviermond and the Gourits Guest Farm.
I was going to leave the farm on Thursday, but extended my stay to Saturday, allowing me to regain my strength and build up the reserves, as well as repairing the saddle and servicing the Kruzer. I spent many of my childhood days on the farm and it was a good feeling, “Soul Food”, to be back, recall childhood memories and able to experience the place with many stories and memories of the good times we had as family, on the farm. 71km and what a place to unpack, to be spoilt with all the good food, eats and allowing me to rest and relax for a couple of days on the farm. A very special place to me.
Saturday was to be the ride from the farm to Hartenbos, but the whole area received much needed rain Friday night, early Saturday morning, making the gravel roads a mud bath and unsafe for the Kruzer. It was decided that we would rather take motorised transport to Hartenbos as the schools closed Friday and the Buffalo Rally in Mosselbay, it will be the safest by bakkie on the very busy N2. Somewhat disappointed, but rather safe than not completing the Krooze, I settled in at Hartenbos, ready for the ride to Sedgefield on Sunday. By Kruzer 0km, except for a sightseeing ride in Hartenbos, of 8,9km.
Sunday, ready to roll at 07h00, George arrived by car and said that he is still suffering from an old knee injury and suggested that we start our ride at the top of the climb out of Klein and Groot Brak, on the way to George. Perfect morning for a ride, wind from behind, nice and cool and we set off on the last leg of the Cape Krooze, it was a good feeling to have someone riding with, after all the solo travel and some difficult sections that has been covered. Soon we were on the outskirts of George, a quick stop at George Station and back on the road, stopped for breakfast at the mall on our way out of George to Wilderness.
As we made our way to start the down run into Kaaimans, we were gestured to stop by the passenger of a passing car and what a surprise, my niece Ronel and her husband Andre, staying in Oudtshoorn took a drive in the hope of seeing us on the last leg. After a quick roadside visit, we started the fast and furious dash down the steep and busy Kaaimans pass to Wilderness. All I can say is life is good going down there on a bike, smelling, feeling nature and the humming sound of the tyres, speeding towards Wilderness.
Photo session at the Dolphin lookout, stopped in Wilderness for coffee and Carrot cake before starting the last part of the Krooze along very scenic northern part of Wilderness to Sedgefield, past lakes, river crossings and some places, using the same narrow bridges that the Outeniqua Choo-Choo used.
With an easy and slow ride through the “Slow” town of Sedgefield, we arrived home and the Cape Krooze was done. Final leg, 68km with some of the best views of the Garden Route on the wild side, away from the N2.
Total distance for the Krooze and Kruzer:
786km, climbing 8,024 meters.
Thank you to all that made it possible, you know what part you had in the success of my adventure and how much I appreciate your help and support:
Wikus Vermeulen and family.
Klem and Ginoca Dunstan.
Nico and Hettie de Kock.
Kosie, Ryna, Kobus, Francois and Ouma Loraine Sauerman.
Deon and Edith Geldenhuys.
George and Sue Fitzpatrick.
Marc and Belinda de Kock.
Monique de Kock.
Andre de Kock.