Regardless of whether you are in fact, a cyclist who has to leave Plett at "Sparrows Fart" or not, it's still a most beautiful place in the world to wake up in and experience. We were told by Malcolm, aka The Head Master to be ready to leave at 5am, so awoke as groggy as ever (as you do at that hour) to do final breakfast, ablutions, etc and was ready to rock and roll by 5...which is, of course, never the time you get to leave. After final "Team Pics" with the Plett vista in the back ground, we set off on our adventure, time 5.32am. The other two have got energy drinks, hydration drinks, post ride recovery drinks, pre dinner drinks, nightcap drinks, etc...(do you get my point?), whereas I have water and some PVM bars Caro's brother gave me for xmas, do you get my point now? I have a horrible feeling I'm under prepared in every aspect, except in one department...I have done a shit load of riding in the last month...so I hope that will carry me. To be fair, it is a mountainbike RIDE we are doing.
We set off as the sun was appearing over the trees to the east of Keurbooms river exit road and headed over the river and turned right towards Wittedrift. For those of you who don't know that road, it's flat for about 8KMs then it goes skywards, nice start. It continued in that vein for the vast majority of the early kilometres, but the tar ended after 14KMs and the gravel began, which was cool, afterall, we are all riding mountainbikes, so there was no stress there. Tom, the roadie we rode up the first hill with, wasn't upset he had to turn there though, I realised he knew what lay ahead for us, what, with Prince Alfred's ascent still to come. We saw it rearing up in the very distance as we crested another hill and headed towards the skew junction heading to either Avontuur/Uniondale or left to Knysna. The pace was pretty chilled, which is good given that we have about between 800 and 1000KMs to ride. It's great that nobody really knows how far it is either. The Head Master is the most jacked up oke I have ever met, except for his distances...today was meant to be 100Kms according to him, but maybe that's a blessing.
We got down to the Keurbooms river at De Vlugt. I watched a guy chasing an escaped lamb down the road (very funny) and had a welcome sandwich and an ice cold coke out of the Heads fridge in his car. It's a 4 Motion VeeDub, which has been jacked out just for mountainbiking, and is such a cool automobile, it rocks hard. I might steal it at the end, if I make it. The keeper of De Vlugt tea garden served up some "bikkies" and tea for Vanessa and Ed (our brilliant seconders) and also had some grapes casually soaking in "Witblitz" next to her till on the counter. I joked we should all have some before taking on the beast which was about to hit us. Prince Alfred's Pass. It's a mere 13.6KMs long @ 5.4% gradient & 730m ascent, which in laymans terms, is about the same average gradient as Red Hill, to the look out point, from the Simon's Town side.
It was a fabulous climb and so pretty. It took an hour to get up, what an awesome training hill. And as they say, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger", and that certainly is one of those ascents. So, down the other side to the support vehicle and another cold coke it was and then along the last stretch on tar to Uniondale and the Townhouse guest house. Trish the hostess, has very kindly already washed our riding gear for us, there is a pool here, the rooms are cool and comfortable and all round a highly recommendable place to stay if you pass through Uniondale. I always look forward to food after a good days ride, and tonight will be no exception as I try and continue my eating reputation which I have now firmly established as "The Hoover." I just wish Sharon was here so I could have her's too. Sabie X joke!
Looking forward to tomorrow, into the Karoo we go, no letting up now, lets get dusty and hot, bring it on...
Billy aka The Kid (age 39)