Saturday, April 4, 2015

Preparation for the 36ONE

The 36ONE is due to start in Oudtshoorn at 18:00 on Friday 17 April. In preparation for this I decided to schedule a couple of long rides.

The first was on Saturday 21 March. I asked Hennie de Clercq, with whom I will be doing the Trans Baviaans later this year, to join me in a ride from Tulbagh to Bloubergstrand. Hennie invited his friend, Roedolf, along. I asked my daughter, Carine, to go with us, so that she can bring the vehicle back. We all met at my place at 05:30 and set out to Tulbagh where we arrived at 07:00. The starting point was the entrance gates to the farm Mont Pellier, west of Tulbagh. The first couple of kilometres are all up hill and took us over the Oukloof Pass, a pass no longer in use, but which was used by the transporters of the late eighteen hundreds to get from Cape Town over the mountains on their way to Worcester. The first part on the Tulbagh side have been paved, as this is used to get to the radio mast on the hill, but the continuation of the pass is through the "nek" and down the other side to the Berg River valley. The condition of the road deteriorates drastically from where the paved road takes a left turn towards the mast. Initially one can ride the down hill part, but after a while it gets so steep and rocky that we were forced to dismount and push. Towards the end the pass "disappears" and we had to "bundubash" the last 300 meters to the canal. We also lost contact with Roedolf on this stretch! He did catch up with us after a while, complaining about a problem with his wheel. On closer inspection we discovered that he was losing air via a loose valve. After that was tightened, we got going again. We crossed the local irrigation canals and entered a "wind farm". This was not here when I cycled this route in 2013. When we got to the gate, we were told that there were 46 wind turbines and that another 54 is due to go up across the road.

We crossed the tar road, which runs from Gouda to Porterville, and joined the gravel road running towards Riebeeck Kasteel. This took us down the Berg River, which we crossed via an old single lane iron bridge.
The condition of the road was pretty good with some minor undulations. About 10 kilometres before Riebeeck Kasteel, we turned right on another minor gravel road, which took us past the local cement factory and around Riebeek West. We went onto the Riebeeck West-Mooreesburg tar road. After about a kilometre we turned left onto good gravel road leading to Malmesbury. We continued on this for two kilometres and then took another left turn onto the Riebeeck River road going over a small pass and linking up with the Riebeeck Kasteel-Malmesbury road.
We stayed on this tar road for four kilometres and then took a left turn onto a public gravel road. At this point Roedolf decided that he had enough and informed us that he is going to continue straight on towards Malmesbury and that he will get his neighbour to fetch him from there.

Hennie and myself continued via some local public back roads up to the R45 linking Malmesbury with Wellington. We crossed that and continued down some more local public gravel roads for about 10 kilometres. We then went left over some local farms, past a big dam and a 4x4 track to link up with the Paardeberg tar road. At this point Hennie was starting to get a bit frustrated with the long hills we had to traverse! We took a right turn and then left onto the R302 between Malmesbury and Klipheuwel. There was a Spaza Shop along the road, where we hoped to get some cool-drinks, but unfortunately this was closed. Two kilometres down this tar road we turned right towards Windvogel. This took us to the Cape Town Bitterfontein railway line. Here we went left again along the railway line for another 6 kilometres, before turning right to cross it. There were some labours house here where we stocked up with some water. We then took a left towards a farm called Bonnie Doon. About a kilometre after passing the farmhouse, I heard a vehicle hoot. I stopped and looked back to see Hennie talking to somebody in a bakkie. I immediately realised that this was the local farmer and that he probably was not too happy about us cycling across his property! I was right, but as we were just about to leave his property, he reluctantly agreed that we could continue. The next 15 kilometres were over private property, but we were fortunate in that we did not pickup any further problems. I only realised afterwards that this route, which formed part of the Freedom Challenge's Bokkeveld route, is no longer open to the public! After traversing these farms, we joined that old Cape Town-Malmesbury road and took a right turn onto the Botterberg road. The took us to the N7. Fortunately one of my friends knows the owner of Keert De Koe, the next farm we were due to cross and we managed to get his permission to cycle over his farm. We crossed this without incident and took a right onto the old darling tar road before going left again past some sand mines and onto the West Coast road. Here we linked up with the Duynefontein road and cycled to Bloubergstrand via Malmesbury. On this section Hennie got into his stride and cycled away from me to such an extend that he had to wait for me as we entered Bloubergstrand.

In total we cycled 145 km, climbed 1,717 meters and it took us 11:28.

As Sue was going to be out for most of the day, I decided to use 28 March for another 36ONE traning ride. I planned to do Contermanskloof, Hoogekraal, Meerendal, Spes Bona, Leewendans, Klipheuwel, Malanshoogte and then Bloubergstrand. My regular riding partner, Mike Smit decided to join me for the first have and we got going at 06:26. Halfway up Contermanskloof we took the turn
off too Hoogekraal, which I rode in 49:30, just more than one minute off by best time. We took the link to Meerendal via the Contermanskloof corridor. At Meerendal we included the big climb up Dorstberg and ended with the new single which was created for the finish of the Cape Epic. We concluded this part of the ride with a nice coffee at the Meerendal coffee shop. Mike took the road back to Bloubergstrand at the Meerendal exit, while I went left to start the rest of my long ride. By this time I had done 59 kilometres in 4:30, which included the coffee stop. I cycled through Durbanvale and onto Adderley Road, taking the Spes Bona turnoff and onto Phisantekraal township. I went down the gravel road, which leads to Joostenbergvlakte, heading for the Spaza Shop to get a Coke, but unfortunately this was closed. I then tried the nursery and found a 500ml Coke for R15! I followed the tar road running parallel with the N1 betwee Joostenbergvlakte and the R302 tar road linking Bottelary and Klipheuwel. I crossed that and took the gravel road running parallel with the N1 all the way to Klapmuts Just before Klapmuts I turned left on the Eenzaamheid road.
At the T-junction I turned right down the hill on the Agter Paarl road and took the Leeuwendans road left at the bottom of the hill. At the farm I went left on the road linking the Paardeberg/Klipheuwel road. On reaching Klipheuwel, I decided to try the local Spaza Shop for some more Coke. Great was my surpise to get a 1.5 litre Coke for R13! This shows what a ripoff the cafe at the nursery was. I turned right on the Philadelphia road and then left onto Occultdale, which took me through to Addreley Road again. Here I went left and then right again onto the Malanshoogte road. At the four-way stop I went right to take the easy way back to Bloubergstrand. Going through Riverside Industrial area, I picked up a nasty cut of about 1.5 cm in my rear tyre. After a bit of a struggle, I did manage to plug and it held fine all the way home.

Total riding time 10:12; distance 152.14 km; total ascent 2,062 metres.

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