Monday, September 20, 2010

The first day

An unbelievable day's riding - not easy but rewarding.

We set off after a huge meal prepared by Lamei Lodge. It was a five star buffet, with cappuchino muffins straight out the oven and the best crispy bacon in a long time. Tinka had made us a beautiful sandwich pack as well - too nice for scruffy mountainbikers.

We heaved ourselves away from the table and rode down to town to meet with Dylan (our late addition to the group) outside the Haenertsburg Village Hall for the official start. And then we were out of there.  We rode along some pretty forest track for about 10km until we reached a well established pedestrian path which was the tiger line to the upper forestry levels. It took us about 20' to reach the contour and to get our first views of the magnificent Wolkberg mountains and gorges.

Some winding roads and gnarly downhills brought us onto the district road which would get us to the Wolkberg campsite - a well cambered fast descent.

We had a short break, filled up with water and paid for the permits before heading out again.

A jeep rack undulated around the mountains before dropping us steeply to the Mhalpitsi River. The descent was white knuckle stuff with a few sideways skids but we all made it safely down and then began the umpteen crossings of the river - what a surprise. It was beautiful - spring flowers, green trees and a winding river under a canopy of tall trees. The butterfiles were there in droves too.

All to soon, we emerged on the dusty road that signified the start of the Orrie Baragwanath Pass.  The gradient wasn't bad but it was hard going because of the rocky outcrops and loose stone. It was also getting really hot.  We had met Glenn at the base of the climb and had topped up with water, coke and sandwiches but we all had to stop in patches of shade to cool off and catch our breath.  The gate to Legalameetse Reserve popped out of nowhere and it was time for another water stop before heading off for the last of the climb which was only about 7km in length before we hit the equaivalent of the Serengeti plains - a wide open valley teaming with zebra and eland.

The road undualtes here and the views were vast.  At one point some 4x4 enthusiasts stopped and offered us drinks. We accepted coke and ice which had a distinct brandy flavour but we were past caring. We shared some good laughs with the guys and summoned up enough energy to reach the top of the pass a short while later. Bizarrely. at this point there is a stretch of tar road leading to the main gate. 

It was a wicked descent down this road and gave a huge shot in the legs for recovery. We stopped at the waterfall, ate some bananas (supplied from Glenn) and flew to the gate.

From there it was 12kms to the campsite on a really good surface but by now it had been a long day. With all the stops, we'd been out for 10,5 hours and had ridden about 7 of those. The legs, body and mind felt the 90kms.

But sitting on the deck of the chalets in the warm summer air, eating piles of food and sharing war stories brought the day to a super civilised end.

Posted via email from Go Cycling

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