We had arrived late in the evening and I was dead tired. If I had felt bad last night, I was a walking zombie the next morning. I woke at 5.30 remembering I hadn't charged the GPS, hadn't washed my bike and recovery drinks...what are they.
Thanks goodness for a late start as I was having difficulty in getting going. The routine of the last couple of days paid off and I managed to get it all together. Malcolm was also feeling really tired so the two of us made a sorry pair. Billy left early to do his own route and we would only see him at Anysberg - a Cape Nature reserve.
We said goodbye to Ronel and Gerhard at about 8.30. The day was to be a 77km ride. Eddie and Vanessa were heading to Laingsberg to top up on supplies as we would be self catering at Anysberg.
We left the little jewel of a valley tucked against the tail end of the Swartberg. Gerhard farms fruit and seeds for carrots and onions. With only an average of 170mm of rain per annum, it is ideal for these crops as there is no risk of fungus infections. They get their water from the mountains and it is sweet and pure. Ronel travels to Laingsburg to teach maths in the week and they were very generous hosts.
The Freedom Challenge route turns off the main road to Laingsburg and heads through a farm called Wagendrift. This was the first bit of navigation required as per this route and part of the tour.
Behind the farm, we found a jeep track which headed into a pretty desolate valley. It was starting to get hot but the breezes that had kept us cool were still floating there. Gerhard had said that it was set to reach 30 degrees so that was relatively cool. In my zombie state, I had left my camera in the car so there are no route pics although I have this image in my head of a mouse in a tree eating the mimosa blossom. Much of this ride was in a dry river bed, the type prone to flash floods but we were pretty certain this wasn't about to happen but it was tough going in places. Lekker to do a bit of real off road riding though.
13km later we emerged at a pretty farmhouse where we sat under a gum tree and studied the map. Moral : it is good to be kind to yourself. We decided to take the direct route to Anysberg which would cut out 15km and would in all probability be easier riding. It was a good decision for two tired bodies and we entered the reserve feeling more upbeat than a couple of hours earlier.
On our left was the range of mountains, harsh with great rents and gouges out the rocks. In fact, there were mountains all around this reserve. Finally, after a herd of gemsbok, we could see a grove of trees and our mileage told us we were there.
Having wandered around the office for a while, we spotted a totally unexpected and unique swimming pool. High above the ground was a pool deck with loungers and a reservoir filled with clear mountain water.
No question. Dumped the bikes and plunged in. Cold and life giving. We had ridden about 69km, got in at about 12 and relaxed at the cute, newly renovated cottages. There was no sign of Eddie and Vanessa but we expected them to get there after us. So, we did the next best thing - slept. Eventually, I was woken by the foreman who had come to check on us. Oops, it was already 3pm and no vehicle and no cell reception. The guy kindly took me to the office to try and phone - no answer. Now we were a little worried. Could they have gotten lost - almost impossible. Could something have happened - nah. So there we sat, scanning the horizon for a white delivery van.
The foreman came back at about 4pm to tell us they were on their way and sure enough, a short while later, a very harrassed and stressed Eddie and Vanessa pulled in. Lost they got, overshooting the turnoff by 70km, then heading back to Laingsburg to the police station to get directions and then coming all the way back. When we had calmed them down, we all got settled into the usual routine. We were braaing and soon the coals were glowing, the meat was on the fire and the beautiful soft tones of the setting sun in the Karoo gave a fitting end to this day.
Several Captains and Coke later, everyone was mellow and headed for bed - in the middle of nowhere.