The bus got rolling at 04:45 after an excellent breakfast prepared by Ria. The first couple of kilometers was easy riding until we started Swartberg Pass. It was quite an interesting experience cycling up the pass in the dark. It probably is less intimidating than doing it in the day because you can not see what is still coming. It took me about 2 hours to cover the 17 km from Prince Albert to the top of the pass. We then had a gentle down hill to the Gamkaskloof turn off. At the turn there is a sign which reads "37 km but allow 2 hours for driving". This is because of the difficulty of the road! Initially the road is quite undulating and after a number of smallish climbs and some down hills, you start the last major climb after 21 km. This climb is about 7 km and is as difficult as the Swartberg Pass and this is followed by a difficult and scary descent into Gamkaskloof. I arrived at our midmorning stop at 10:15. Here we had a good meal, freshly backed bread and coffee. We got going again at 10:45.
A 15 km ride up the valley brought us to the foot of "die leer". This was the only route in and out of Gamkaskloof before the road was built in 1962. The people used donkey the bring goods in and take produce out. It is a virtual vertical path up the side of the mountain. It took me 70 minutes to cover the approximately 500 meters! Total ascent was 385 meters.
How strong are you? @Philipler conquers 'The Ladder' in 1:15 at age 65. pic.twitter.com/yDvlPBJUVb
— Leon Kruger (@PopsEL6) July 16, 2014
After we had a breather at the top, we had to first tackle the 10 jeep track which took us to the district road which goes past the entrance to Seweweekspoort. This jeep track is in such a poor state that it took us 90 minutes to cover the 10 km. the initial 7 km of the district road consisted of gradual climbs until we got to the top of what is called Horlosiekrans. This was followed by some wonderful downhills and sone more manageable climbs up to the Rouxpos turn off. The last 10 km to Rouxpos was also a number of gradual climbs followed by some minor downhills up to the last climb, which was a bit of a sting in the tail. From the top of this nasty little it wax all downhill to Rouxpos, where I arrived at 17:35.
Total distance: 123.94 km; total time: 12:51:18; total ascent: 3,385 meters: total: descent: 3,387 meters.