What is apparent is this ride is what I term "soul riding". There was no rush so there was time to absorb my surroundings and get in touch with why I ride. I felt my insignificance on this timeless planet when I contemplated the grandeur and expanse of the land around me, and I fed my soul with the beauty and the experience of it all.
Too philosophical for you? - no matter. The experience was overwhelmingly positive and something I will never forget.
So now, I feel I can take on 2009!
I have uploaded photos to all the posts which really help add to the story of the journey. The route data and hopefully google earth links will come this week.
Some random thoughts....
Thanks to Leon Evans (of Cape Epic fame) for his assistance on the first four days. It was through his routes that we made our way from Plett to Prince Albert.
The rest of the routes were courtesy of The Freedom Trail. I am in awe of the planning that went into creating the links between remote spots, the detailed maps and narrative and the very comfortable accommodation at the end of each stage. If you ever get a chance, tour some of these sections. They are very special. Go to www.freedomchallenge.org.za for more information on touring or racing the trail. It was quite strange to open the Visitor's Book at the Oestervanger Cottages and see an entry by Dave, Rob and Ian Waddilove in July 2004 as they traversed the route in the early days of its formation.
The time of year was too hot but we managed. If ever I thought I couldn't handle the heat, this proved me wrong but it was not ideal. We put the tour together in about 3 weeks which was only possible with an existing trail route. We plan to do another version next year but with more planning. We self catered where possible and this was where the back-up vehicle was so vital. The VW Transporter had a fridge which allowed us more flexibility in how and where we ate. It was also the great provider of a contstant flow of ice and cold water/drinks.
I rode a Santa Cruz Blur with Sram rear derailleur, cassette and chain - no problems. But we were religious in cleaning the drive chain daily. My saddle was a Selle Italia transam XO held together with some green duct tape.
- Factor 50+ sun lotion but still have the horrendous cycling tan
- Helmet with peak - essential for extra shade
- Blue Steel chamois cream but I prefer the bog standard milking cream.
- Anatomic UV sleeves - priceless
- Perpetuem (Hammer Nutrition) but changed to USN Carbo Load
- A variety of Jungle Bars
- Bactroban Antibiotic ointment every night to prevent infections
- Anithaine anesthetic cream for numbing the chafe
- Animal Pack vitamins - difficult to measure but I reckon they helped in a big way
- USN Muscle Fuel as a pre-ride or post ride recovery drink
- Lots of mosquito repellent
- Re-hidrate sachets primarily in the first half of the tour
The cost of the trip is still to be worked out. Fuel was probably the biggest single item. Accommodation ranged from R150 pp to R250. Food was drawn from a central kitty with the odd meal out and I think we each contributed about R700 for the duration. For the 11 days, this will work out to be a pretty cost effective tour.
Where to from here? Not sure as my next major event is the Ride 2 Rhodes - the first 6 days of the Freedom Challenge race in June. Inbetween? Well, I think I need to do some racing to do some intense riding but am not excited about anything yet. Will have to study the calendar for something different.
This was a superb experience perhaps made better by the speed at which we made the decision and did it. No time to dwell on what ifs. Thanks to Malcolm and Billy - my riding partners and especially to Eddie and Vanessa - a couple in their late 70's who are not afraid to step out the box and be adventurous with us.