Thursday, January 15, 2009
959kms, leather butts and nut brown legs
We're here - sea to sea, plett to cape down, niggle by niggle, laugh by laugh. Its just a little weird. Just a few hours ago, we were wrestling our way into Blouberg into a typical Cape South Easter. Now I am sitting on a comfy couch (my butt loves me) in Hout Bay trying to get my head around a journey of 959km.
However, reflections are for a later post. Let's get through today which was longer than we expected for a variety reasons. As I said, the accommodation at the top of Bains kloof was horrendous. I opted to keep Vanessa company while the others went for a "quick" drink at the Bain's Kloof Lodge. Many, many hours later they rolled in and I should have gone too. I had lain for those hours feeling every possible bed bug, mite and any other unsavoury thingy biting me. Eventually, I lay on top of the bed with a long sleeve shirt and my towel for a blanket. When Malcolm returned, we layered ourselves in kick arse insect repellent. But mostly, I lay awake cursing the fact that we hadn't just upped and got better accommodation when we arrived. Poor Eddie and Vanessa - they were also desperately uncomfortable.
So despite a very late and disturbed night, we were all more than ready to leave at 7.30. Urgh - horrible, horrible.
But, it was the last day and apparently 89km to look forward to. Soon after beginning the descent from the top of Bain's Kloof, we peeled off onto a short 4x4 track which plunged into the valley ending in a stunning wine farm. We headed on a round about route to Wellington to avoid traffic and eventually turned off the tar to ride along the course of the well-known Berg River (one of the long distance river canoe marathons). Our route narrative told us one name for this road but the sign clearly said another.
Luckily (and boy, have we been lucky with help from locals), a famer's wife came along and assured us it was the same road. Off we set for a 5 km stretch. We came across two farmers chatting in their bakkie on the side of the road and we double checked our destination - Ongegund Farm.
Yes, they said. Another 5km. Were we going to have tea with Farmer Visser as we would need protection. ?? Turns out Farmer Visser loves a chat. But they added: "Pretty girls like you can also come and have tea with us rather" (All of this in afrikaans) Excusing ourselves, laughing helplessly, we rode off to find their instructions were spot on.
We avoided Farmer Visser and headed south west of the Perdeberg on our journey. Along the way, we passed the estate of David Frost, the golfer.
By now, our distances were about 10km out so we really were not sure how long this day would be. A coke stop was needed and when we came across the only store on the whole journey, they had no coke!
Now, we were far from the big mountains but at about 48km on a jolting corrugated dirt road, we suddenly could see Table Mountain, and yet we still had by our calculations another 45km to go. It was pretty exciting to see this world famous landmark and our ultimate destination.
More tar, more dirt and finally we could see the sea and some shiny buildings which seemed to say "Over here, over here!"
But, there is always a sting in the tail. Heading across some farm land, we got lost. Back and forth over a 800m stretch before climbing a beeg hill to finally ask some vineyard workers where we were. The temperature had climbed and we hadn't seen a shop since the last time. Malcolm's tire was starting to play up again and enthusiasm was low.
Eventually, we picked up on a tar road which would take us to a major highway and we would be back on track. Riding through a beautiful gum tree plantation gave a little shade but it was also a shady part of the area. Malcolm finally decided to change tubes so he and I pulled over and unfortunately, Billy and Nikki rode off. Unfortunately as they were local Capetonians and knew the area and also, we would not finish as a group which disappointed me after all we had ridden.
Our luck was still in as 50m further on was a quad bike track with a clubhouse. I left Malcolm on the side of the road and went to buy water and coke. I stuffed by jersey pockets with liquids and got back to him where I was surprised to see a police van.
The kind cop had stopped to look after us as apparently this was a big prostitute pick up area and there had been a spate of robberies of potential "clients". He waited until we had finished before driving off. Thank you very much for that who ever you are.
We were able to piece our route together again from the race narrative and were soon back on track. However, as we turned for Blouberg Strand (about 20km from home), we turned into a monstrous head wind.
Hell, it made the last kms hard but we were on a mission to get to the pizzas and beers and our friends and family who were waiting for us. Finally we rolled down to the beach front 107km later.
Locals sitting at the outdoor pub must have wondered at our excitement at finishing but then, how were they to know where we had started and how long it had been. A couple of beers and pizzas later we headed off in different directions to contemplate on what had been.
I will add more to this blog as I remember details and of course, I am desperate to add the pictures.
I have to end by recounting an anecdote I had quite forgotten when we left Rouxpos. That was zombie day - the one after my two rides in one day and Malcolm having been sleepless since Plett. You go by routine on day's like this and none of us were any exception. Every morning, Malcolm goes to the back of the van, lubes his chain, does the sun tan lotion and the chamois cream. On this day, he used the chamois cream as sun tan lotion on his arms and legs - he smelt quite nice and his skin was soft, but I think he got burnt.