Sunday, April 11, 2010

Space to be Free

The photographic record of our ride on the weekend says more than the words. We all rode as we felt on the day and there was no pressure to keep together or even do the same routes.  Some photos were taken to illustrate the route for Freedom Challenge wannabees. (For a fee of a cafe mocha - I'll share).

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So here we are at the turnoff to the Weltevreden Farm, maps out and much gesticulating. As we headed off the the Stormber portage, Andre and I tried another option which came out too high and a steep scamble down to the blcokhouse, disturbing a duiker from the bush. We had a birds eye view of the other riders as well as the goods train hissing quietly in the siding while waiting for the passenger trail - Shosholoza Meyl - to come through. We scampered across the line just in front of the incoming train.

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The Plaas Kombuis (Farm Kitchen) was closed but it is the venue for the Molteno mountain bike race and we rode some of those routes on our meander around the the Stormberg. It sat in the shadow of the second Blockhouse and it was amusing to see all the old sheds and outhouses converted to showers and toilets for the riders. There were some ancient farm implements lying around harking back to a bygone era.[[posterous-content:pid___7]] This is the infamous blockhouse as mentioned on the narratives for the Freedom Challenge. The walls are almost a meter thick and the outer layer of sandstone is pockmarked from bullets fired in the Boer War. It was built to protect tyhe railway line which was the main supply line of troops and supplies.[[posterous-content:pid___6]] If you see this sign when crossing Aasvoelberg, you know you're on the right route. Say no more other than hope that you are faster than your fellow riders when it counts.

[[posterous-content:pid___1]] We discovered in the light of day that we had made an error when entering Elandsberg during the race. We turned too early and wasted at least an hour of precious light getting back on track. It was only know that we saw how simple it actually was. However, during the race, we were able to find the faint wagon tracks fairly easily making up for the ealier blunder. The tracks lie directly behind Andre (third from left) and in the mist beyond him is the Elandsberg mountain. Once over the mountain, we split up all over the veld looking for the quickest way to the jeep track. (Hint: walk 90 degrees to the fence and you should reach it within 200m). That is assuming you, as the rider, have remembered to cross over the fence![[posterous-content:pid___3]][[posterous-content:pid___2]] Once over, we headed on some very fast dirt roads to Cradock. Renato had yet another puncture and the group split at this point. Derek, Doug and I took the tiger line to Cradock while Alex and Renato headed over two tar roads in the direction of the Stuttgart Support station before turning back to Cradock and the tandem took the middle route.  The wind pumped into our faces for over 20kms into town and we were glad to see the Wimpy and our backup vehicle.[[posterous-content:pid___4]] I forced the others to stop at the laybye so I could look at the Fish River - the scene of my many canoeing epics. Then we headed to our accommodation which was absolutely picturesque. The Tuishuise are all original cottages that have been restored in the style of the era (circa 1890) and we spent some time wandering the length of the street admiring them.[[posterous-content:pid___8]][[posterous-content:pid___9]]

Posted via web from Go Cycling

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