Day 00 – Johannesburg to Kathu

18 February

Saturday dawned overcast and a strong wind, Freda and I made our way to Park Station and managed to get the bike and baggage box to the departure point through the controlled chaos in and around the building. The bus arrived and left about an hour late and being weekend it was a fast get away out of town. Unfortunately I had another 30 minute delay due to road works on the South side of Soweto, but after that no problems. It has been an interesting ride on the bus and seeing the country side from a different perspective. The strong wind and overcast conditions has been constant all the way, but the excellent condition of the veld after good rains, displayed it all their beauty. About 15km outside Vryburg the skies got darker and we had some drizzle. My more than gracious host for the night in Kathu, Pieta Hattingh and his family advised that the heavy load equipment have been organised in anticipation of my arrival. Bike and baggage box weighed in at 58,3kg, somewhat heavier than what I wanted, but food and snacks, as well as everything needed for the next 3 weeks on the road all added up. After arriving in Kathu I have to assemble the Kruzer for my start of the ride at about 09h00. Hopefully it has not been damaged during transit. Arrived safely, transport to overnight stay ready and waiting and within minutes on a tour of the town on the way home. Unpacked,  assembled bike and enjoyed  a great evening with Pieta, Amanda and their family, discussing the intended route and previous rides. Before finally settling down for the night I unpacked box 2,  packed the panniers and bags, ready for the ride.

That’s it for now, until next time when communication is possible.

Kathu to Cape Town 2017

Sunday 19 February I start my next adventure riding from Kathu in the Northern Cape,  to Cape Town in the Western Cape and finishing the ride by participating in the Cape Argus Cycle tour on 12 March. It’s going to be interesting and a challenge, as I will be riding through the Kalahari desert, but, looking forward to see a part of South Africa where I have not been yet. Estimated distance to Cape Town is 1,200km, 15 to 16 riding days with a couple of rest days as well.kathu-to-kaapstad-01

Saturday I travel by bus to Kathu and Sunday morning the ride starts. Kruzer is packed and ready to go.

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Update on the cracked Kruzer frame

After completing the Cycling for Sight-Border to Coast ride, I spoke to Simon Henderson from Super Stoked Cycles, regarding the cracked frame on my Silverback Vida 2 and it being out of warranty.

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Simon suggested and offered to contact Silverback Cycles on my behalf. Within a day I was asked to take photos of the frame and it was sent to Silverback by Simon. The next day Simon informed me that Silverback will honour the warranty and replace my frame at no cost. I’m now the proud owner of a Silverback Sola 2, 2016 edition. Thank you to Simon from Super Stoked Cycles, for going the extra mile. This is what service, customer satisfaction  and dedication is all about in the service industry.

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Johan from Silverback, you and Silverback have shown the value of your brand name in terms of commitment and after sale service to your customers. That  proves your commitment to cycling and your customers. You have my custom and brand loyalty for life.

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Simon, you and Super Stoked Cycles have my custom and word of mouth advertising as the best bike store that I ever dealt with. Thank you.

Day 23 Avontuur to Knysna via Prince Alfred’s Pass

After a great afternoon and evening in the company of Jimmy Zondagh,

it was back on the bike for the final ride of the Cycling for Sight – Border to Coast ride. With mixed feelings I started the ride towards Knysna, as I realised that it was all over and for the first time it dawned on me, that I have cycled a long distance from the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe in the North, to the coast at Knysna. Met wonderful South Africans, seen and lived the beautiful, the ugly, the good and the bad, of modern South Africa. If I bring my March tour into the equation, from the most Northern part of South Africa

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to the most Southern tip of Africa and South Africa, Cape Agulhas and Cape Point.

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Most Southern Lighthouse on the African Continent, Agulhas

Went through the sleepy village of Avontuur and headed up and towards the pass, with flashbacks of the Karoo to Coast Challenge and the intimidating climbs ahead. Doing it solo and not as a race is a complete different ride, stopping to take photos, looking at the awesome scenery, talking to the people living there, makes it so much easier and not slower as I thought. Unfortunately the mentality of give me has set so deep into the South African culture that as you go up and through the pass, comments like “Give me chocolates, give me money” from children and adults are heard. One of the children looked at me direct and said “Where’s my chocolate”. I stopped and asked how old are you, and was told 10. I asked her name and it was Kleintjie. I looked at her and said, “Kleintjie, I will not give you anything, you need to go to school, get an education and be able to go anywhere and be able to buy what you want, you cannot live in the mountain and expect that everything must be given to you”. It is a sad state of affairs currently in SA. On the ride from start to finish, everyone wants, and stand with an outstretched hand, but not prepared to work for anything. The ride continued through the magnificent pass, built by Thomas Baines and it is one of the passes that need to be travelled to really appreciate the wonderful scenery and workmanship of the pass.20160530_092215 At some point, the Karoo was left behind and the coast started, different trees, plants and smells and more down than up and with emotions running high at one of the highest points, there was the Knysna heads in all their splendour and the reality sank in, it is done, now it is downhill home.20160530_132601 George took me on some final climbs to a certain spot where I noticed a traffic police car move off at speed as I approached, stopped next to George, who told me to follow them as it is my escort into Knysna. The last part of the ride into Knysna, also part of the Karoo to Coast Challenge route and with the assistance of the Police escort, managed to better my time to the finish, as traffic was stopped for me all the way to the end at the Lions of Knysna place.

Stopped after 1,634km’s, 303,449 pedal strokes, 77 hours and 36 minutes of riding the bike and burning 63,713 calories, the ride was done and dusted. Today’s ride, 87,74km, time 04h13m and avg speed of 20,1kph and climbing 1,129 meters. What an awesome, life changing adventure and experience it has been. Life is Good. Now the mind start asking, What Next?

Day 22 Willomore to Avontuur via Uniondale.

Started riding somewhat earlier than other days to a very pleasant Karoo morning. Again, the ride started with a 10km climb out of town and then it all turned in my favour, with a nice continual 10km downhill and the wind from behind. The mountain ranges were showing off in all their splendour and glory in the early morning winter Karoo sun. I had such a great ride and good time that suddenly and unexpected the ride down into Uniondale happened. It was a great ride down into the town, again very clean and well kept Karoo town, recalling the start and festivities of the Karoo to Coast 100km MTB Challenge as I rode past the camping ground and starting point. Got some needed supplies and got going to Avontuur. This was the highlight of the day making my way through the beautiful rockfaces of the Uniondale Poort and 12 km later, turning towards our stop for the night at Jimmy Zondagh, founder of the Karoo to Coast MTB Challenge. Tomorrow is the final day of the ride from Avontuur to Knysna over the intimidating Prince Alfred’s Pass, part of the Karoo to Coast route. Today’s ride, 75,42km, riding time 03h24 and avg speed 22.1kph .

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Uniondale Poort

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Jimmy Zondagh - Karoo to Coast founder member

Jimmy Zondagh – Karoo to Coast founder member

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Day 21 Steytlerville to Willowmore

After a bigger than normal breakfast at the Karoo Theatrical Hotel, started the ride crossing the old steel bridge and through the very clean and well kept town. Again, as for the rest of the ride, a climb out of town, but with a difference, this climb ended in Willomore and a strong headwind all the way. Lots of Springbok, the 4 legged version along the way, as well as Angora Goats and sheep. Saw 2 Kudus running away into the veld, as well as all the other animals, the rumbling/humming of the bicycle tyres must be annoying and strange to them. At about 50km the tar road give way to a single width cement road all the way to Willomore. Some idiots driving at very high speed and not really giving way as per the numerous signs along the way. Road condition not bad and some deteriorating patches of the cement surface. It was a hard, long ride with not a lot on the scenery side of the veld but always framed by mountain ranges. Distance for the day 89,43km, riding time 04h34 at an average speed of 19,6kph

 

Day 20 – Jansenville Farm to Steytlerville

Got up to a spectacular sunrise, packed, loaded the car, lubed the bike, thanked our host Allan Froneman for having a rest day and place to stay and got underway to Steytlerville. Again the Karoo surprised me with it’s silent beauty and harsh environment. Trees, 1 to 2 meters tall, twisted and bent by the wind and weather, Kudu skeleton with the one leg still twisted into the wire fence,

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meerkat families curiously looking at the bicycle humming past, sheep running away as the music angel blares opera into the silent Karoo, broken windmills and deserted houses.

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Aloes with their bright orange flowers, feeding humming birds against a backdrop of a majestic mountain range, rocks bent and twisted by the forces of nature many years ago when our earth was formed. Suddenly, in this dry dusty semi desert, after riding through hundreds of dry riverbeds, a mid calf deep crossing with ice cold, crystal clear water, to again surprise and make you appreciate the Karoo. Turned at the Baroe road railway crossing and onto the tar road towards Steytlerville and not long into the Waaipoort Pass with the road passing through massive rocks and cuttings, again showing the incredible forces of nature pushing these mountains out of the earths core.

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Words fail me in attempting to describe the beauty and wonder of nature in this part of our country. Not long and another poort on the outskirts of Steytlerville and on the rocks next to the road, flags dating back to 1652, of all the countries and powers who ruled in South Africa. Steytlerville is one of the cleanest and best looking towns of the ride and well kept houses and businesses along the road leading through town.

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Eugene and Susan from Ermelo surprised us by sponsoring our sleepover at the Karoo Theatrical hotel in Steytlerville, and a huge big thank you to these wonderful people for their generosity and very special treat. They also recommended the coffee shop and car museum which we visited and met a 6 week old orphan kudu called Katie and the permanent resident Batear fox. Dinner at the Royal hotel, delicious Lamb curry stew and Malva pudding with custard closed another awesome day in the Karoo.

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Distance for today 73.41km, time 03h33, avg speed 20.7kph. Number of photos taken, 250. Tomorrow to Willomore, then Uniondale and Knysna.

Day 19 Ebenezer Farm to Jansenville

Had a great evening on the farm, staying in the Stone Cottage and after a short walkabout on the farm, it was back on the road in cold, to cool and overcast conditions, temperature starting at 8c and the highest was 15c. Gravel road conditions not to bad and initially I could maintain a decent pace until the uphills started, not to steep, varying between 3 and 6%, but the wind started picking up, adding to the climb difficulty and slightly stiff and lazy legs after the previous days ride. It was great to see lots of game, from Kudus to Dassies along the road. Unfortunately some of the people using the road drive like absolute maniacs and at breakneck speed, I counted 5 road kills, Batear Fox, rabbit, dassie and other unrecognisable species. I don’t easily get a fright, but one idiot in particular came past me at a very high speed, I would estimate in the region of 140kph on a dirt road. I did not hear, or notice him approaching from behind until he zoomed past me, that was my scariest moment up to now, as in general, all the other road users have been very courteous. Veld in a good condition and animals shy and skittish and would run and hide when approaching, wonder if the opening of hunting season the coming weekend could be a contributing factor. Joined up with the tar road towards Jansenville for the last couple of kilometers, bought supplies and waited for an ex colleague, Allan Froneman to lead us to his farm, situated about 22km into the Karoo veld towards Steytlerville, the next destination on the ride. Tomorrow will be a rest day before heading out to Steytlerville and beyond. Farm a quiet and peaceful place for a rest day to catch up with the washing of dirty clothes, service the bike, check the car, repack the car and bags for the last couple of days through the Karoo and on to the coast. Managed to take photographs of the Karoo night sky at Ebenezer and on the farm, will only be able to see the full results once I have downloaded them to the computer as the small view screen on the camera does not allow for the view.

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Day 18 – Cradock to Pearston

After a good night’s rest, we headed into town for supplies and made our way to the gravel road leading to Pearston. Nice warm morning and took off my long sleeve shirt, starting the ride in short sleeves. The road is in fairly good condition and some nice farms along the way. Not long and a road sign indicated the start of Swaershoek Pass. I pedalled along the gentle climb again passing nice farms, lots of sheep and some cattle. Trucks loaded with sheep passed on their way down and the climb now started in all earnest as the pass got steeper and steeper. The views of the mountains and surrounding area changing with every turn going up. Looking up you can see the road winding up the mountain side and disappearing out of sight. Fortunately I stopped to take photos and in the process rested, got my breath somewhat back to normal and managed to ride all the way to the top. Going down the other side was adrenaline stuff as the road was badly rutted and big rocks scattered all over. The temperature and weather changed and it started getting cold and clouds moving in. Temperature dropped to 10c and the wind picked up to a healthy blow from the front. More ups than downs, with scenery changes around every turn. After 43km, we turned towards Pearston and now the wind was really pumping from the front and cold, I put long sleeves on and continued climbing away. The sheep does not enjoy opera as they ran away as I got closer, the Angora goats again would follow me to the end where the fence stopped them. As I rounded a bend, the landscape dropped away and it was a downhill run of note, all the climbing of the day turned into a magic carpet ride down the mountain. Stopped to take photos and heard baboons barking, leaning over the side I saw the sentinel and not a happy baboon as Jean-Michelle Jarre was pumping out of the Music Angel. The landscape ahead was the flat Karoo view and made it a great ride for the next 20km into the nice little town of Pearston. Loaded the bike and travelled by car to the Stone Cottage on Ebenezer farm for the night. Experienced one of those magic Karoo sunsets. Tomorrow it’s on to Jansenville. Today’s ride 87km, time 04h40, avg speed 18.4kph and avg heartrate 118bpm. A great ride, but not easy, enjoyed the last part. When I rode into Pearston, something in me said that I have arrived home. Life is good.

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Karoo Folks doing an honest days work

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Karoo mountains

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Swaershoek Pass going......... up

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Sunset in the Karoo

Day 16 – Aliwal North to Molteno via Burgersdorp

Had a good rest in Aliwal North and started the ride with the intention to ride to Burgersdorp. Cool to cold with the starting temp at 7c and not getting above 18c. Very good road all the way to Burgersdorp with hardly any traffic on the road. Farmers in their bakkies heading towards Aliwal dressed in their Sunday best, going to church.

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Open veld and many kilometers of peace and quiet with only farm animals curiously looking at me passing. Hopefully there will be a starting point where I do not have to start the days ride with a climb out of town. Going towards Burgersdorp it was a continual climb with the wind varying from the nose to the right shoulder and fairly strong. About 9km out of Aliwal I noticed that Strava is not recording, but fortunately good old Garmin was on duty. Reached Burgersdorp and tried to find accommodation, rude awakening with the prices and decided to continue on to Molteno. Burgersdorp central very clean and streets well marked and painted, but heading out south, a complete different side.

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The road towards Molteno very bad, no shoulder, hardly any markings and many potholes. Stopped for lunch consisting of Sardines and crackers, Coke and Chocolate milk and started the rest of the ride to Molteno.

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At last as we turned towards Molteno and the wind started assisting allowing a good speed and cadence to be maintained. Again, open veld and kilometers of nothing but silence, peace, silence and freedom. Arrived in Molteno and managed to get accommodation at Olive’s Cottage, unpacked the car and now relaxing in front of a roaring fire.

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Unfortunately I now have a broken bicycle frame as it is badly cracked at the seat post and I don’t think rideable, or safe.

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Will check out the setup on George’s bike and take it from there for tomorrow and the rest of the ride. Good ride today, 124km, avg speed 22.8kph and riding time 05h26, avg. heart rate 113bpm and Cadence 65pm.