Saturday, April 30, 2016

BB2BB Day 29

It turned out to be quite an interesting day, although I did not think so after 12 hours in the saddle, but more about that later.

I did managed to get going at 04:20 in the hope of beating the wind! My hope did not materialise as there was s breeze going as I left. Initially I made good time, but once I got to the turn off take me west, the climbing started and the breeze was in my face. The wind was not too bad and once I got to the top of the climb, I managed to maintain an average speed of around 14 kph. This continued for the first 30 km.

When I started, I could see a number of stars, but there were some clouds in the sky. Once dawn broke, I noticed that the bad weather tended to move to my left. This did not last and eventually the rain caught me. it did not rain that hard and my windbreaker and warm top kept most of the wetness off my body.

I had my first stop at sunrise (07:07) and was not disappointed. It was quite spectacular! I had my second stop at Patatstivier, out of the wind after 5 and a half hours riding. The rain was coming and going, but never became a real problem. The wind was in my face, but not too strong. My average speed came down to about 12 kph. During this time I had to negotiate a number of gates. The Patatsrivier then linked up with a large, well kept district road.

The going on this initially was good, but then the wind picked up and I was labouring along at 8-10 kph. To make matters worse, the road had a steady incline. This continued from km 86 to 121  when I turned right on the R355. Now the wind was on mu back and I was crusing along at between 20-30 kph. The 11 km to the Kareekloof turn off was completed in no time.

My brother arranged for me to stay with Karel and Susan at Kareekloof. On my way to Kareekloof, I passed the dwelling of Rooifontein. Further up the road was a rock with Kareekloof written on it. Next to it was a board indicating Uitkyk. I continued up this road, which went up and up and up! There were no houses, but the scenery was breath taking. After quite a while some unoccupied dwelling appeared. In the meantime the road continued to climb. Eventually I got to the last house where a 4x4 was standing in the yard. A guy came out of the house and I said I am looking for Karel. He informed me that Karel was in the first house as I came up from the R355! I therefore rode about 7 km up some very steep inclines, to be informed that I have passed the hone if my hosts more than an hour ago! I had no option but to go back. Along the way I met Ross from Rondebosh, who was out on his mountain bike, exploring the local jeep tracks! He agreed to take me to Karel's house. The ride down was much easier and also considerably quicker. This ride added about 2 hours to my days riding time, but the beauty of going up this valley more than made up for the extra time spend out on my bike. Ross took a selfie of us and was on his way back to Commando, one of the cottages let by Karel. I finally arrived at my hosts after a ride of more than 13 hours!

Data for the day: started 04:20; time 13:08:47; distance 151.72; average speed 11.54; total ascent 1,309 meters; descent 1,247 meters.

What a day! It also what a human being is capable off. When I turned off the R355, I was exhausted and ready to turn off at the first house. In the end I spent another two hours on my bike, riding an additional 14 km and climbing nearly double of what I did during the rest if the day, during this little "excursion"!

Total distance after 29 days: 3,023 km.

Môre is my enigste rusdag aan gesien ek een dag voor skedule is. Hennie de Clercq en Mike Smitvkan eers 2 Mei saam met my ry, dus bly ek twee dae oor op Rooifontein(Karee Kloof). Indien my gewasde firtsry klere betyds droog raak, nag ek by die Tankwa Padstal 'n draai gaan maak.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

BB2BB Day 28

I had oats and coffee for breakfast. Daniel boiled eggs for the road and made two egg and mayonnaise sandwiches for each of us and after we bid fair well to our hosts, we got going at 05:10.

The road out of Prince Albert was in an excellent condition and we constantly lost elevation with the result that result that we made very good time for the first hour and a half. We then left the main road and had to continue on farm roads, some of which were just two faint tracks through the veld.  We also encountered lots of sandy patches, with the result that our average speed reduced markedly. Sunrise was due at 07:03 and we stopped for some beautiful photos. Although the road was a farm track through the veld, I did downloaded it from Track4Africa and there were telephone poles, with lines, next to it. So this must have been a well used road.

After a while I noticed that correspond 100% with the track, but it was along side and we were following the poles! It then started moving away and we realised that we needed to move left. This relatively easy in the Karoo and after half an hour we were back on track. In this little excursion my front wheel got stuck, I lost my balance  and fell over. Nothing serious. When we got back on track I noticed something peculiar with my rear brake lever. It seems as though something broke. It was still working but I had to keep it in place with my hand. I later managed to keep it in place by putting my wrist band around the lever assembly.

Yesterday the wind came up at 10:30. Today it came up at 08:50! The elevation of the road also did not count in our favour. The general direction was up. The hills were not very steep, riding up an incline against a wind is not conducive fir a good average speed, which came down to 10.2 kph. Poena Jordaan, a farmer from De Doorns came past and stopped for a chat, commenting "julle ouens ry darem lekker"! I thought afterwards that our ride against the wind was not that pleasant!

We eventually reached a district road and noticed a sign indicating 53. I realised that we had 53 km to the R329 tar road to Lainsburg. This was quite a taxing road. It had umpteen hills followed by a small dip and another hill, a dip and another hill and so it went on. With each hill we were also gaining elevation. With wind and these elevations, we were traveling at between 8-10 kph! This continued up to the point that there was 23 km left. We then encountered our first reasonable down hill. We thought(hoped) that this would continue up to Lainsburg, but no such luck. The hills continued, but at least they were now followed by nice down hills.

We passed below the dam wall of the Floriskraal dam and had to go up the steepest hill of the day. Still it was not the end but due to the good descents, we were making good time and our average speed was moving up to over 11 kph. We eventually reached the tar road, only to be confronted by another little monster and when we hit a flat section, the wind tried to blow us off the road!

Olof de Villiers agreed to pick Hoffie, who had to be in Cape Town on 29 April, up in Lainsburg and take him back home. He came looking for us and found us about 8 km out of Lainsburg. He waited for us on the edge of town and showed us the way to the guest house where I wad booked in. We spent some time chatting, he went to get us something to eat and drink while Hoffie disassembled his bicycle to get it into the back of Olof's vehicle. Once Olof was back with our refreshments, Hoffie loaded his bicycle and shortly afterwards they left for Cape Town.

I settled into my room, had a shower, oiled the chain, arranged a breakfast pack for the morning, settled my bill and went for supper at Cafe Hart, the restaurant of the Lainsburg Country Hotel. One of the items on the menu was "lamb afval" and I just could not resist the temptation to order it, with vegetables. The meal was good and I was back in my room at 20:00.

I think I will start a little earlier in the morning to get more riding time without wind. The weather do not look to promising for tomorrow with a 50% chance  of rain. I will be North of the N1 abc can only hope and prayer that I encounter the dry 50%!

Data for the day: start 05:20; time 11:31:55; distance 130.01 km; average speed 11.28 kph; ascent 1,671 meters; descent 1,580 meters.

Total distance after 28 days: 2,871 km

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BB2BB Day 27

We had a good supper at The Willows Historical Guest House and they provided us with breakfast/lunch packs which contained two boiled eggs, a bacon and egg sandwich, a peanut butter and jam sandwich, a pear, a fruit juice and a bottle of water.  

Our alarm woke us at 04:00 and we got going at 04:54. The ride out of town was reasonable. It was mostly at a small incline, therefore it was difficult to maintain a good average speed. After 15 km we turned right and went through Leeukloof. Unfortunately is was still dark do we could not really appreciate the beauty of the the kloof, but even in the darkness it looked awesome. Once we emerged from the kloof the road leveled out and we started to pick up speed.

The road surface was good and our average creeped up to 17 kph. We turned left towards Strydomsvlei and 5 km later right towards Prince Albert. We made our first rest stop of the morning here. During this period we also came across about 10 bonte buck grasing about 50 meters from the road. They looked at us and then continued grasing. We continued up to the turn off which would take us past Rondawel, one of the Freedom Challenge lunch/emergency stops. After 5 hours we covered 85 km and then the wind came up! We decided to stop at Rondawel to replenish our water supply. Only the cleaner and gardener were at home, but the lady offered us coffee. We had the rest of our sandwiches and then set off the face the wind.

The wind really picked up and the road tended to go up, which made it difficult to maintain any form of reasonable pace. We also encountered lots of corrugations and sandy patches. All we could do was to grind it out. In no time our average speed first dropped to 15 kph and then to just below 14! After 9 hours of riding we took a rest at the Groot Sleutelfontein gate. Our average speed for the last 4 hours, which included two rest stops, was 10.25!

The road sort of leveled out and we managed to increase our average speed. After passing through a second Groot Sleutelfontein gate, we eventually reached the Prince Albert/Beaufort West gravel road. When I rode this road with my car in 2012, it was in an excellent condition. Today it was a minor disaster! It was either corrugated or sandy, which made going very difficult. I was also expecting the road to go down towards Prince Albert! In stead, we were gaining altitude. This continued most of the way towards Prince Albert. There were a number of down hills, generally we were going up or maintaining our altitude with the typical Karoo "dips" followed by another incline.

We finally reached Prince Albert after 12 hours of riding. While we covered the first 85 km if 5 hours, it took is 7 hours for the last 78 km, largely due to the strong headwind. Some of the locals directed us to Hoffie's cousin's house in Meiring Street, where we were welcomed by our host waiting in the road for us.

Daniel and Marlene Hugo opened there house for us and provided us with a bed, a warm shower, rinsed our clothes and gave  us an excellent supper. We hope to get going again the morning at about 05:00 heading for Lainsburg, a distance of 144, only 19 km less than today!

Data for the day: started 04:54; time 12:02:46; distance 163.22 km; average speed 13.55 kph; total ascent 1,320 meters; total descent 1,513 meters.

I have now done 2,741 km in 27 days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

BB2BB Day 26

We had a wonderful stay with Lucia and Martin Dorfling at Marlu. As the stage to Willowmore was only about 70 km, we decided to have breakfast with our hosts at 08:00 and leave there after.

We got going at 08:32. The road surface was quite good and we covered the 20 km go Fullerton in 1:12. We turned left zbc about 2 km down the road right to follow the flow of the Grootriver and then onto Willowmore. The road surface continued to be good and we it was easy to maintain a pace of 16-22 kph. The rock formations of the mountains was quite phenomenal. It looked as though the rocks were pressed together in a giant press. We stopped for a break and something to eat and rest after 2:30, having maintained an average speed of 17.7 kph.

The road had some interesting twists, making the ride quite enjoyable. The last 20 km was fairly straight and level leading us onto the single lane cement road. When reached Willowmore, we decided to first have a relaxing light lunch at Sophie's Choice before we book in at The Willows. Hoffie had a milkshake and a chicken salad and I had an Americano and a Greek salad. We spent an hour just relaxing and having our meal. We finally arrived at The Willows just after 14:00. I asked Lucia to make the booking for us and she indicated that we would pay R500. On enquiry and checking back on her WhatsApp, it was R500 for the room including breakfast. What a bargain! We had our showers, rinsed our cycling gear and spent the afternoon relaxing for tomorrow's big ride. We plan to hit the road at 05:00.

Data for the day: start 08:32; time 05:29:38; distance 72.56 km; average speed, including stoppages 13.58 kph; total ascent 603 meters and total descent 289 meters.

Monday, April 25, 2016

BB2BB Day 25

For the information of those who read yesterday's blog before I amended it, I duplicate the last paragraph here:

Yesterday afternoon I mentioned to Garth, Elsa's husband, that I will pay somebody to come from Graaff-Reinet to the farm if they can bring a shock pump with a release valve. He then "disappeared" and returned three hours later. He went to his farm in Aberdeen district and came back with a shock pump that works! So I am back with a working rear shock. I nearly kissed him!

Garth had to get up at 04:30 to assist with a fox hunt and fitted in very well with our timing schedule and we agreed to leave at 05:00. Elsa gave us Jungle Oats for breakfast, made us sandwiches and gave us two of her delightful "energy bars" come "crunchies" for the road.

We actually got going at 05:14 and made good time for the first hour. We were surprised by a number mud puddles in the dark resulting in lots of mud on our bikes. The last bit to Aberdeen Road was at a slight incline making it difficult to maintain anything above 12 kph. We turned left at Aberdeen Road towards Klipplaat. We stopped on a hill to capture the beauty of the sunrise. The road towards Klipplaat was fairly straight, but the road surface was excellent and there was some variation in the elevation, making the ride quite enjoyable.

We stopped at the still closed Charles Hotel for a bite and Hoffie replenished his water supply. Just outside Klipplaat we took the turn off to Kamferpoort. This little used road was in quite good condition and the shrubbery was typical Karoo with some mountain ranges thrown in for good measure.

The ride through Kamferpoort was something special. My brother-in-law come up from Kirkwood with Nelis Meiring, the owner of Kamferpoort, to unlock the gate for us. We stopped at Nelis' house in the Poort for a chat and some tea. This pleasure little sojourn took us 40 minutes.

My original plan was to do Allemanskraal to Prins Albert in two days. Fortunately sanity prevailed and I changed it to a three day ride. This resulted in today being quite a bit shorter than originally planned. So the ride from Kamferpoort to Marlu was shorter than anticipated and we arrived at our destination just after 13:45.

Data for the day: left 05:14; riding time 07:14:19; distance 106.86; average speed 13.9 kph; climb 759; descent 879 meters.

Total distance to date in 25 days: 2,505 km.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

BB2BB Day 24

We had a wonderful evening with Francois and Ina. Francois went to tremendous length to try and help me with the rear shock. He welded some pieces of a valve and cap together and we managed ti get some extra air into the shock. It still is not right, but it is better.

I decided to use an alternative entry to the Elandskloof/Erasmuskloof trail and we therefore decided to leave at such a time that we reach the turn off at first light., so we started moving at 06:07. We found the turn off without any problem. The weather forecast indicated that the minimum temperature would be 5 degrees Celsius. My GPS confirmed that about one kilometer into the trail, but then it started to drop further and in no time I noticed -1.8! I was freezing and looked with fore long eyes towards the mountains to see if the sun would not poke its head above the horison to heat things up a bit, but at this point my hope was in vain. My body and feet were fine, but my hands were freezing. It was not until after about when we started climbing some hills, that the temperature reached normal levels again. For once I was looking forward to the hills because the extra effort generated some additional body heat.

The first part of the road through this trial was in superb condition and we were making good time. The scenery was also something to behold. We also the restored house where Andries Pretorius lived before he joined "The Great Trek". The trail then climbed up a very steep neck, where the surface was also washed away in places. By the time we reached the top the temperature rose to about 8 degrees. A little while later we stopped for our morning break and to get rid of our warm clothes.

The climb continued for a while, but as steep as the first part. We then started our descent. This carried on for quite most of the rest of the trail up to Erasmuskloof. Here the road leveled off as we made our way past sone steep cliffs. Once again the scenery was exquisite! We finally reach the  Graaff-Reinet/Middelburg tar road and cycled into Graaff-Reinet having covered 82 km in 4 hours 30 minutes.

We stopped for water and continued onto Allemanskraal where my second cousin, Elsa Featherstone lives and where we were going to spend the night. The road from Adendorp to Kendrew was a real ordeal. The surface was bad with lots of corrugations and very boring straight sections. It was endless! We were really glad when we took the right turn to Marais Siding. The road surface improved and the direction of the road had some variation which made the ride a little more interesting.

It really was sad to see what have become of Marais Siding. There are no roofs on or windows in any of the buildings! The platform is covered in weeds. It is only about 5 km from here to the farm and we arrived there at about 15:30. It was a good day's riding.

Data: started at 06:07; time 08:24:05; distance 138 km; average speed 16.45 kph; climbed 857 meters; descended 1,621 meters.

I have now covered 2,398 kilometers. I also managed to weigh myself! My normal weight is 71-72 kg. I now weigh 68 kg!

Garth, Elsa's husband went to his farm in Aberdeen district and came back with a shock pump that works! So I am back with a working rear shock. I nearly kissed him!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

BB2BB Day 23

The stay at Karoobos Lodge was pleasant. Supper was hood and the breakfast was worth the value.

We got  going at 05:00. The road out of Hofmeyr was sublime! The surface very smooth and the elevation was zero. We were really moving along at a good pace. We covered 29 km in the first hour an a half. We had our early morning stop at Conway after covering 50 km in just under 3 hours.

The road surface suddenly deteriorated to the opposite of what we just had. Too make matters worse we were now riding into a head wind and had to deal with those familiar Karoo inclines. Our average speed dropped immediately. It really became a slog, toddling along at a steady 13-17 kph. By the time we got to the R61 tar road from Cradock through to the Graaff-Reinet/Middelburg tar road, our average have droppedi rr to 15 kph.

We now had to negotiate the Wapadsberg Pass. A climb of 400 meters over a distance of approximately 9 km. The incline was not too severe and we maintained a steady 5.5-6.5 kph all the way. The view from the top was really breathtaking. On the way down it was just about down hill all the the T-junction. Here we turned right and then left on the Owl House road (Nieu Bethesda). My second cousin, Elsa and Francois Botha, with whom we are staying over tonight, is 7 km up this road. The up is just enough to make it difficult. We maintained a steady 11-13 kph.

Elsa informed me that they would not be home and if we got in early we had to make ourselves at home. We did that, had a shower, made some coffee and watched sport until they got home.

Data for the day: started 05:00; time 09:14:43; distance 126.89 km; 13.72 kph; ascent 1,275; descent 1,079 meters. We have descent more than 700 meters in the last two days! Total distance to date 2,260 km.

Friday, April 22, 2016

BB2BB Day 22

Alta and Barry Stretton accepted us on short notice and we had washing done, a good supper, a warm bed, breakfast and food for the road.

The aim was to get going by 05:00, but in the end we only left at 05:15. The road to Molteno is in quite a good condition and we were averaging 17 kph. The temperature went down to 2.7 degrees Celsius! The stars were shinning and there was very little wind. We managed to complete the 31 km to Molteno in under two hours.

We wasted some time in town looking fir the road to Romansfontein, but did eventually found it. The drag out of town is a long steady climb followed by the typical ups and downs. We reached Romansfontein at 08:45. I was very glad to see the shock pump in the kitchen and immediately set about pumping the shock. Unfortunately it is very difficult to not loose some pressure after pumping a shock to 300 kpa and then unscrewing the  connection. On the third attempt, we gave up. The shock is better, but the pressure is       still too low. We had something to drink and rusks while chatting to Stephanie and Will. It turned out that Hoffie knew their former local GP, so they had a lot to talk about. We left there after 40 minutes.

The road from Romansfontein to the Hofmeyr/Burgersdorp junction is mostly uphill, but it us those gradual inclines. To make matters worse we had to ride into a fairly strong head wind. Once you get to the top of the hill, you realise it is not the top! The road will flatten out our make a small dip to the next rise and so it carries on until we reached the end if the escarpment. From here we had a magnificent view over a very wide area. This was followed by a 9 km downhill to the junction.

Turning left at the junction and with the wind now on ours backs, we really motored. The road surface was excellent, the elevation was either level or down hill with the occasional up hill. We averaged over 20 kph for the last 35 km.

A very nice and productive day after yesterday's ordeal!

Started 05:15; total time 08:28:38; distance 119.28 km; total ascent 1,088; total descent 1,577 meters.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

BB2BB Day 21

Day 21

What a day!l

Let's start with our gracious and generous host! Hoffie Conradie, who took the Intercape bus to Queenstown and then cycled to Moordenaarspoort, joined up with me to ride along to Lainsburg. He knows the Schoemans personally as he was there GP when he practiced in the area from 1982-2002. Danie therefore decided that our stay over will be on the house.

Olof also joined us for the night. After his minor accident with his GS, he decided to ride to Moordenasrspoort with his bakkie, spend the night with us and drive back the next day.

As today was going to be a long day, we decided to opt for a 05:00 start. We left Moordenaarspoort at 05:02. Two kilometers down the road, Hoffie realised that his cel phone was missing. We turned around to go look for it. Hoffie rode ahead, thinking that he dropped it as we left. I rode back slowly checking the road surface as we cane. Within one kilometer I saw it lying in the road. Hoffie and his phone re- united, we continued on our merry way.

Although the road we were traveling down was not well maintained (grass grew in the middle), the surface was in quite a good condition. The GPS did take us down a track which was very rough, but this did eventually linked up with a goid district road. We were averaging around 13 kph. We stopped for a bite after 3 hours and then carried on towards Jamestown.

About 4 km before Jamestown, the first heavy shower hit us. It really came down and I had my warm riding jacket, which is not water proof, on with the result that I was wet through in no time. Hoffie stopped to put his rain jacket on. It was a mission to get to my rain jacket and I gambled that the rain would stop. This did happen just as we turned onto the N6. Our journey down the N6 was only 5 km and then we took the Burgersdorp turn off.

We had some nice riding and even a little sunshine. We followed the road, but then I noticed that the GPS track not follow the road. We turned around and picked up a faint track which took us past some abandoned farm steads and eventually onto what used to be a railway line. The tracks and sleepers were gone, but the stones was still there. We even saw one "W" sign. It started to rain again. Negotiating this track was very interesting.  We also cone upon a bridge over a river, which was no more. We managed to get over the river without getting too wet and continued until we eventually reached a district road. This part on the route did not look familiar to me and I realised that there were two routes to Gouevlei. The old railway line or the road I thought was the incorrect route. Time wise both provably are the same.

We first turned into the wrong direction on the district, but very quickly realised our mistake and turned around. The rain was now pouring down and the wind was quite strong. We took the Molteno turn off and struggled on. I new that the Freedom Challenge interim support station at Brosterlea was about 10 km up the road. I suggested to Hoffie that we head there and then decided what to do. We now had  to riding into a howling wind and the rain persisted. I was feeling strong and managed ti keep a good pace, which helped to keep the cold away. Hoffie was falling behind and I decided to push on and either weight for him at the turn off or make another plan.

I slept at Brosterlea during the 2014 Freedom Challenge and found the people there very accommodating and friendly and decided to try my luck. I drove up to the house, knocked on the door and was welcomed by Alta. I briefly told her my story and asked if we could go and fetch Hoffie. She agreed, but insisted that I swop my wet top for one of her husbands warm jacket. That done, we jumped into the bakkie and went looking for Hoffie. As we approached the main road, we saw Hoffie. We put his bike on the back of the bakkie and drove home. When got there, Alta said we can stay the night. We felt that under the current weather conditions that wad the best option. We both had a warm shower and got into dry clothes. Alta offer us lunch and coffee, which we gladly accepted. I phone Romansfontein and informed them that we were not going to staying with them this evening.

The net result is the instead of a 140 and 60 km day, we now will have a 90 and 110 km day.

I have been experiencing problems with a very soft rear shock. I knew that Will, the owner of Romansfontein was a keen cyclist and phoned them again to find out if they have a shock pump. They confirm that they have, so we will pop in there tomorrow to see if re-inflating the shock resolves the problem. If not, I will have to see what I can do to get a replacement.

The weather now is perfect. The sun is shining and the wind has died down! We are settled in for the night and trust that the weather will be clear in the morning.

Data for the day: start 05:92; time 8:91:34; distance 93.6; gem 11.66 kph; klim 1,354 meter; daal 1,347.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BB2BB Day 20

During the night it rained very hard and I was worried that I might have to ride in the rain, but when I got outside to have breakfast, I saw clear skies! I managed to hit the road at 05:10.

The road out of Rhodes is a good gravel road with a fair number hills, but they are all manageable. Not those long endless hills of Lowteni! I managed to maintain an average speed of just over 12 kph. The lowlands were covered in mist, but I was riding above the mist. It was quite a beautiful sight. Later on I moved down into the mist which misted up my glasses and limited visibility to about 50 meters. This lasted for about and hour. After the mist lifted, I enjoyed the scenery. The ride into Barkley East was pleasant. I hot there just after 09:30.

I did pick up some problems with my waterworks and on his advice I stated taking anti biotika. He suggested that I have my urine tested in Barkley East. I had this done and the local doctor gave me a clean bill of health.

The road from Barkley East via Rossouw to Moordenaarspoort is very undulating but once again the hills were all reasonable in length and often followed by a ride on a bit of a plateau. In Rossouw I turned right on a minor road heading past Moordenaarspoort. The climb out of Rossouw is fairly long, but not too steep. The last 5 km to Moordenasrspoort is all down hill and I really enjoyed the run into the farm where I arrived at 15:55.

Data for the day; started 06:10; tyd 10:39:43; afstand 135 km; gem 12.68 kph; klim 2,569 meters; daal 2,778 meters.

'n Ware vriend

My hart bloei vir my vriend Olof wat so daarna uit gesien het om 'n paar dae saam met my te spandeer op sy BMW GS. Iets egter verkeerd gegaan toe hy uit Plet vertrek het. Op en of ander manier het hy beheer van sy motorfiets verloor en geval. Gelukkig nie baie erntig nie, maar enkel seer en motorfiets loop nie lekker nie. Maar dit is nie die einde van sy planne. Hy ry môre met sy bakkie om nog steeds 'n dag of twee saam te kom die wêreld verken. Dit is 'n ware vriend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

BB2BB Day 19

As today was a shortish day, I decided to  have breakfast at 05:30 with the aim ti get going at 06:00. I order Matabela for breakfast and only managed to get going at 06:10.

The Freedom Challenge has two options for the Vuvu/Rhodes leg. The favoured, but mote difficult one is via Lehana's Pass, which includes a 5-6 hour hike a bike up the mountian. The alternative and relatively easier option is via Mcambalala. I decided to go for the easier option. I had no GPS track for this option, but did have the narratives and a detail 50,000:1 map. I was a little concerned about the turn off as the narrative and map did not correspond 100%. At the first house I passed the "Tata" confirmed that cyclist have gone up the mountain past his house, so I continued. I had to push my bike along some very rugged and steep cattle tracks. After about half an hour I was pretty high up the mountain slope and noticed a horse and rider coming from the top. I took careful notice of the route they took down the mountain and when he passed me I asked whether this was the track to Mcambalala. He confirmed and said "just go straight".
At this point the hill was so steep I was forced to put my bike on my back and proceeded up the mountain. This climb is shorter than Lehana's, but very definitely steeper. I took me over an hour to haul my bike up the mountain covering a distance of about 3 km. I eventually reach a plateau and could start riding. I wanted to take a photo of the ascent but by the time I reached the plateau I was too far over the brow to be able to give justice to what I have climbed in a photo.

I stopped for a break after 3 hours and then continued with my journey. The cattle track changed into sporadic wide open gravel pieces, which made for good riding. The gravel pieces changed back to cattle tracks and eventually into what must have been a road. It was no longer maintained but it was a good surface to ride on.

This brought me to Mcambalala or as it was originally known, the Philipsrust Police Station. All the buildings have gone into a state of neglect with missing window panes and rusted roofs. At least the general appearance was better than Gladstone farm and Black Fountain. There even was a bakkie in the yard, but it did not look as though it has run in years!
The road from here to Naude's Pass was mot maintained, but had a very smooth surface. It was about 7 km to the connection with the pass.

I had to cover a distance of about 8 km from here to the top of Naude's Nek and what a climb it was! It took me 2 hours to cover the 12 km to the top with a total ascent of 600 meters! I did stop to fill my waterbottle from one of the many streams running down the mountain. The view was breath taking! For the last 2 km I could see the road snaking up the mountain to the neck. My joy was complete when I got over the brow.

The descent into Rhodes is not as easy as it would seem. There are a number of "ups" in the down hill, especially one of about 1 km which had steeper sections than the pass. The run into Rhodes is also very undulating, making life difficult for the weary traveller! I encountered no vehicles during my ascent and one during the descent. On the run into town 5 motor cycles came by and two cars were going up.

My lodging for the night, Rubicon is on a hill so there was a little climb to end the day! When I arrived there, there was a car parked but not a sole in sight. I helped myself to a coke and relaxed on the porch.  Still no life when the Coke was finished, so I took my belongings and made my way to the rooms. Room 1 was open and I moved in. While I was busy unpacking, the landlady arrived. She was going to put me in another room, but as I have settled in, she went and fetched the key for this room. I wanted to know if I could have had some washing done, but as all the ladies have left and she did not know how to work the washing machine, it could not be done! I hope I have better luck tomorrow with Regina at Moodenaarspoort!

Data for the day: Start 06:10; time 8:26:29; distance 71.6; avg 8.49 kph; climb 1,890; descent 1,734.

BB2BB Day 18

Dit was 'n lang dag! 11:31. Die langste tot dusver!

Breakfast was at 5:15 and I managed to get going at 05:42. I decided not to try tge Freedom Challenge's technical route to Ongeluksnek, but rather stick to the district road. I added a few kilometers, but probably saved a bundle of time.

The first part of today's ride was very technical. It involved going down Thaba Chitja, up to Black Fountain and down Tinana hill. Both descends are very technical and rough and involves very little riding. The second one is huge. It took me nearly and hour to do the 2.5 km down the mountain.

I managed a reasonable pace taking the terrain into account. I was not to difficult, but involved a fair amount of "hiking a bike". A fair amount if the riding was down old cow tracks. The problem with these are that they are "U" shaped and about the same width as bicycle pedals on the crank. The result is that one can not go too fast, because either your pedals hit the  sides or you loose your balance and then fall because quite often the sides are too high to get your bicycle out if the track the regain your balance. The other option is to ride next to the track, but that tends to be very bumpy. A catch 22 situation!

The descent down Tinana hill was very hasardous. At one point I lost my footing and slipped down a rock. Some of the gadgets on the bike picked up some scratches, but everything is still working fine. I think I also got some good footage of the more technical descends.

The first part to spaza shop at Tinana Mission took me 6:53. That is the longest first shift without a test of this adventure to date! I had my boiled eggs, sandwich, three tomatoes and some Coke while I took a rest.

The rest of the day was due to be a little easier. The first part to the Vuvu valley turn off involved quite a bit of climbing, so my average speed was still on the low side. This part used to include a ride down a disused road and some cow tracks. Somebody decided to upgrade the disused road and now is a beautiful, newly graded road.

At this point there were some rain around, but not enough to wet the roads and it helped to keep the temperature down.

I decided not to tackle the Vuvu valley, but rather take the district road to Vuvu. What a pleasant surprise! It is one of the mist beautiful roads I have ever travelled along. The scenery is out of thus world and make up for all the climbing. The nice about the climbing was that it all came in fairly short bursts. At one point I was straight across my destination, probably about 500 meters as the crow flows, the road down the valley was a further 7 km! This road was cut out of the mountain side with green valleys surrounding it. Just too beautiful.

I still felt quite strong when I finally reached my destination after 11:30:50 for 82.6 km at an average speed of 7.17 kph with 1,928 meters of ascending and 1,789 meters of descending.

A word about Vuvu hospitality. I slept in my  host's bed. She gave that up me and slept somewhere else! They also now have solar power. No running water and the toilet is still the old pit system.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

BB2BB Day 17

The night could have been better! I git to bed before 20:00. At 21:28 the neighbourhood's dog all decided to start barking at the same time. I did eventually get back to sleep, but then had problems with a mosquito! The only solution was to draw the sheet over my head.

Cindy, my host at Masakala, arrived just after my alarm went off at 04:30. I had a good helping of Jungle Oats and a couple of fish fingers for breakfast. She also boiled me two eggs to take along. I made myself a cheese sandwich from the "pot brood" which came with breakfast.

The wheels started rolling at 05:36. I had a few problems get all the correct turn-off's, but nothing too serious in terms of wasting time. The first part was cow tracks down to a dry, sandy riverbed. There were more cow tracks and some form of a road resulting in slow progress. After about 5 km I linked up with a tar road. 2 km later I took a left turn onto a gravel road. My next reference point was a track heading off the left after 9 km. I followed this track, which really was a form of a road through the houses, but it obviously was not used but motor to any great extend. This turned into a "twee spoor paadjie" generally head SW.

I was now entering the Kinera Flood Planes. My route was made up of various foot paths used by the locals to moved between little settlements. I passed through about four of these and also had to cross various streams three time. Sone were so narrow, i could jump across while others had to be negotiated with some skill to ensure I did now get my shoes muddy. I git to the long closed Queens Mercy shop after 4 hours. I sat down on the grass in front of the building and had my sandwich and eggs.

This was followed by a district road of 9 km before the ascent up Mparane ridge. To get to the top of this hill, I had to carried my bike on my back fir about 50 meters. The path continues along the ridge for 4.5 km to s Freedom Challenge "bokkie" on the left. Turning left I had to push my bike down the side of the mountain for about 1 km. Thereafter there was a ridable path down to river, which could be crossed by stepping on stones protruding above the flow if the water. The next kilometer was a cow track through long grass leading up to the Gladstone Farmstead. Thus must have a majestic dwelling in its day. Built from sandstone, similar to what one finds in Oudtshoorn. It now is a derelict building with a rusted roof and no window panes!
After the Gladstone Farmstead I followed a jeep track through the veld to the edge of another cliff which I managed to get down without any major problems. The rest of the day's riding consisted of a path through some more long grass, one more river crossing, which I again managed without getting
my feet wet and the last couple of kilometers up a steep incline to the Malekhalonyane Chalets.

Time 7:46:55; distance 59.7 km; average speed 7.67 kph. The average speed is a reflection of how technical today's riding was!

BB2BB Day 16

I really had a wonderful time with Bruce and Judy Hanson. Their hospitality was out of this world.  They had breakfast ready at 05:00. Trudy made me some fresh sandwiches and two boiled eggs to take along with me as a mid morning snack. I  hit the road at 05:27.

I identified today's ride as one of the major challenges of this adventure. This forms part of day 3 on the Freemdom Challenge, but they start from Nsikeni Nature Reserve and the total distance is 93 km. The section from Nsikeni to Glen Edward is very technical, so I felt I should be able to get from Underberg to Glen Edward, which is considerable longer, but technically easier, in about the same time. I was quite relieved when this did work out.

I chose to follow the gravel road through Coleford Nature Reserve rather than the R627. It probably is a bit more hilly and about 5 km longer, but I felt this was a better option than 50 km on the tar road between Underberg and Kokstad. It really was well worth the effort. The early morning scenery was exquisite. The were a fair number of hills but they were not nearly as severe as yesterday's.

The gravel road was 47 km. That was followed by 18 km tar and the rest of the day was on gravel. I stopped at a Spaza shop in Taylerville for a Coke. While sitting their I had a look at the narrative for the rest of the day. There still two quite technical sections to negotiate and then my eye caught an insert which stated that there is a touring option by staying on the rutted district road, which is longer but will  be quicker. I looked at my GPS and saw that the touring route did reflect. I also had 50,000:1 maps giving me the detail. I therefore decided to follow this option. It was a master stroke and probably saved me an hour in riding time, cutting out both technical sections. My new route joined with the technical route right where the second section ended!

The road was pretty rutted and there must have been some protest action recently. Large sections had massive rocks in the road. There also a number of telltale signs of tyres which were set alight, in the road. I did not notice any hostility and everybody whom I passed exchanged friendly greetings.

I arrived at Masakala Guest House, a Freedom Challenge support station, at 16:45, having done 128.08 km in 11:15:27 with 2,471 meters of climbing.

The next two days are relatively short at 65 and 67 km. I should by able to complete both in under 9 hours.

Today is halfway in terms of days for my adjusted plan which is 2 longer than the original. Distance to date is 1,572, just under halfway.

Friday, April 15, 2016

BB2BB Day 15

Gavin Ryan really went out of his way to assist me and get my bicycle sorted out. I am very thankful towards him and his for all the did for me. The salt of the earth!

We had to get up earlier than usual because it was about an half hours drive to the point where I finished yesterday. There were five other cyclists who were joining me for the first 22 km. We go going at 05:45. I was riding in the front. After a while I looked behind me and there was only one guy! Apparently the pace was a little too hot for the others. We slowed our pace, but they did not appear, so we continued at our normal pace. Meanwhile Gavin jumping ahead every now and then to stop and take photos and offer us some coffee. He and Wade stayed with me up to the end of the tar road which was after 28 km.

Up to this I have already done a fair amount of climbing, but now the climbing really started. The up hills of 6-8 km was followed by similar downhills and was followed by an up hill again. It was never ending! The scenery was out of this world! The road condition varied from fair to poor to excellent. Once I got closer to Himeville I thought that the riding would get easier. I was in for a surprise. All the hills had false tops! When I got to what I thought was the top, it just carried on and at the next "top" the same thing happened. At one point I was getting dejected, because the end just would nit come!

I finally reach Himeville after about 8 hours riding and stopped at the bottle store for a Coke. That went down well! I completed the 5 km to Underberg and arrived at the front door of my hosts after 8:34 only to find nobody home! They went out to meet me but we seems to have missed one one another when I bought my Coke. I hosed my bike down, oil the gears and chain and went for a shower. Tomorrow is another day

I used both Garmin's today. The new one did the navigation and the old one I had on detail of time, distance, speed, average speed, temperature, and ascent as the navigation on this unit did work! So the new one came just in time.

Total time 8:34:16; distance 98.0 km; climbed 1,891 meters.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

BB2BB Day 14

My hosts at Owl and Elephant were up early and I had breakfast at 05:00. Their hospitality and generosity was overwhelming. The lunch pack was excellent. I got going at 05:31.

My track took me south of Weenen on a good gravel road. The undulations was quite severe and I had difficulty maintaining any good momentum. After two and a half hours my average speed was 10.3 kph. I stopped on a hill overlooking the country side to have a bite. The surroundings were beautiful and I sat opposite the entrance to a farm owned by the Robertson's. While eating somebody took some horses for a trot! It was a scene if tranquility!

I was just past halfway and my host for the evening, Gavin Ryan, who was due to pick me up at Nottingham Road as he lived in Howick, was monitoring my progress informing me that there was a nice down hill coming followed by a 16 km climb. The climb was not that bad as the incline was such that I could maintain a steady 10 kph with odd steeper section here and there. I reached the R103 after 3:46.

I had a nice easy ride into Mooi River, where the track which I plotted took me the long way around on a gravel road with very little traffic. It was not the road Gavin thought I would use, but he did find me in the end. This road had its challenges with multiple blind tops, but I got to Nottingham Road after 6:42:56 covering 85.32 km and climbing 1,527 meters.

We immediately took my bike to the bike shop where the rear wheel bearings, pivot bearings, chain and brake rotor were replaced. I am very thankful to Callen Deacon for being willing to move me up the que to endure my bike is in tip top condition fir the rest of the journey. I also had an impromptu interview with a lady of the local paper.

Con Malherbe popped in to bring me my new Garmin as well as some batteries for my rear light, some wristbands for the sweat and some all purpose oil.

Tomorrow some local riders will be joining me for the first part of the journey and tomorrow night I will stay with Bruce in Underberg.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

BB2BB Day 13

The day did not start too well. When I got to the gate at 05:20 and pressed the button, nothing happened. The host did say that they switch it off at night, but that it would be on by the time I leave. I now had to find out where they were staying in the complex. After searching around for 10 minutes I found their dog sleeping in front of a door with "Staff Only" on it. I knocked and after a while voice asked if I wanted the gate opened. I replied "Yes" snd the voice said that it will be switched on. As I rode off I heard a hissing sound and saw the tell tail sign of white sealant squirting from my front tyre. I said a quick prayer and just carried on riding trusting that the sealant would do its job. The squirting carried on longer than I what liked, but did stop eventually. I did not check the wheel and have not yet done do, but I did not loose that much air that it was noticeable.

The day's riding started with a 8.5 km hill which took me an hour to ride up while I ascended 425 meters. That is 50 meters per kilometer. Anything beyond 20 is extreme! This was a monster! I had magnificent views from the top, but that was the end of good views for the day until I got to the outskirts of Weenen.

After an hour and 41 minutes (15.1 km) I reached the R38. For the next 38 km I had go ride on tar and most of it through rural areas. Initially there was a glorious down hill where I reached s maximum of 58.3. I then went through Pomeroy and that was followed by Tugela Ferry. After Tugela Ferry the area along the road remained very rural and the road was typical Keazulu-Natal road surface. Hard and very bumpy! The road followed the contour line with a number of undulations. It reminded me of the road after Centacow on day 2 of the Freedom Challenge.

The rural nature of the surroundings stopped with about 30 km of the days riding left. Here the scenery improved again with agricultural areas next to the river. There were a number of challenging short climbs. One in particular was 1 km long and ascended 76 meters. During the first 500 meters the ascend wad 50 meters, that is equal to 100 meters per 1 km!

When I got to Weenen I went the first service station to by a cool drink only to be informed that the shop is closed. They did confirm that my lodging for the night is only 2.5 km down the road, so I set off there. I was pretty sure that i would get a cool drink there. I arrived there after 106.34 km in 7:47:41 with 1,39( meters of climbing. At one point the temperature was 35 degrees centigrade! Total distance done in 13 days is 1,261 km.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BB2BB Day 12

My GPS distances from Piet Retief to Elandsheim was 232 km. As I did 130 yesterday, today should be about 100 km. My host's warned me about the fact that it is pretty hilly around Elandsheim, so I prepared myself for another difficult day. They also gave me directions down a gravel road, which runs past their farm to link up with my intended route via the Blood River Monument.

I decided to start a little latter because my rear light is very faint and got going at 05:37. The condition of the road was very good and I remained on the higher ground. It was a beautiful morning and three vehicles passed me during the first hour and a half. The hills all had reasonable inclines and I was moving along nicely.

I stopped for a break after 3:20 and 50 km. Just after this I finally linked up with one of my tracks on my Garmin again. This was a track I got from Jaco Strydom's book Four Glorious Years. Cancer took Jaco away two years ago! I went past the Blood River Monument and managed to get a reasonable photo from the road.
This road linked up with the R68 and then sent me down an obscure path, which eventually disappeared, but the gras was short and there were cow tracks running on the general direction. After a while all linked up again. I went through a village and then linked up with a larger well used road. The road I was traveling along did not always match up with the track, but the general direction was the same.

Going down a hill on a very badly surfaced road a small car pulled up along side. The couple in the car enquired if I knew where the road was going as they were lost and their GPS has packed up. They were on their way the Pongola.  I advised to carry on and that they should link up with a good road soon. I was right and after a few minutes this road linked up to a road going to Dundee. Was went over the Buffels River and past the Buffels River Lodge, a beautiful lodge over looking the valley. The web address was so I knew I was close to Rocke's Drift. I stopped for a Coke and had the rest of my breakfast pack for lunch.

My over night stop was about 15 km away and I was on for an early finish, but there were still a number of hills to negotiate before I got to the end. The last 16 km took me 1:31 and I climbed 326 meters. I clocked into Elandsheim at 12:47. A relative short, but well deserved after yesterday.

Data for the day: 96.29 km; 7:07:33; climbed 1,151; descended 1,319 and average speed of 13.5 kph

BB2BB Day 11

One third of time on the road has passed and I have done 1,058 kilometers, which also is about a third of the distance.

Today the fact that Natal is the province of a thousand hills was brought home to me. The first 45 km was tar and fairly up and down but nothing too serious. The scenery was quite spectacular. The road had no verge, but there were so little traffic that it was no problem.

Once I got onto the gravel, the hills also became pronounced. There were very few flat sections. I was either racing down a hill or crawling up a hill! It really was a privilege to cycle through this area, but next I would prefer to have a motor driving me along!

One of the interesting observations was the ladies along the roads cutting grass. This obviously is a employment creation initiative. It does help to keep things neat, but a number of them did not look too productive!

After about 95 km, my Garmin suddenly indicated that I was "off course". This after everything was on course and I new where I was on my paper map. I stopped to check and then found that the course suddenly disappeared from my Garmin. I decided to continue to a point ahead where the Garmin, when it was still working, and the paper map indicated a sharp left turn. When I got there, it turned out to be a crossing. I stopped and tried to phone my host for the evening, but there were not Vodacom reception. I brought a spare phone with some MTN Pay as you go along for occasions like thus and this it worked perfectly. She informed me that I could go straight. That would take me to the town of Utrecht. Their farm was 20 km SW of Utrecht. This road was on top of the plato and the ups and down were easier to manage than those earlier ones. The last 5 km was down Knights Pass, a pass with some very nasty inclines. I was very glad that I was going down and not up.

I reached Utrecht after 11 hours in the saddle and 126 km. When I phoned my host to get directions to the farm, she offered to fetch me. At this point I accepted without hesitation. I continued ti cycle towards the farm and after a further 4 km she arrived. I loaded my bicycle onto the bakkie and we traveller the last 16 km to the farm with considerable less effort!

Total for the day was 130.04 km, which took me 11:23 and i ascended 2,034 meters and descended 2,013 meters.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

BB2BB Day 10

We had a wonderful evening with Stryker and Bellie Cilliers and were treated like kings. Bellie made some sandwiches and boiled eggs for me for the road

I discarded the saddle bag and replaced it with a reduced contents in two plastic bags. A similar setup to what I did for the 2014 Freedom Challenge. I also sent reduced the weight of my back pack and ask Hennie to take everything back with him.

I had breakfast at 04:30, bid fair well to my hosts and Hennie and set off into the night. It soon became clear that my " under saddle" problem was not totally resolved. As soon as I went through a biggish bump, the rear wheel would  touch the bags under the saddle. The going was also heavy with a fairly thick mist which effected the road surface to such an extend that I thought there is something wrong with my bicycle. I just could not get a proper momentum going.

As soon as it was light enough, I stopped to assess the under saddle issue. I decided to move the bags around to the front of the saddle. The bags were narrow enough for me to pedal without them inter fearing with my pedal action. The mist started to clear as the sun cane up and by 07:30 the sky was clear and I was going along at a good pace. I stopped for a nature call and had one of the eggs and a sandwich. I also took out my earphones and enjoyed some music for the rest of the day.

The scenery was quite beautiful and I felt privileged to be able to cycle through this part of the country. I passed through the town of Lothair and turned off to Amsterdam. A couple of kilometers down the road I turned right onto a gravel road which took me to Amsterdam via Sihanahana. The bag was moving around too much to my liking, so I stopped to refasten it and continued on my way. Just before Amsterdam I came upon the most beautiful scene of a farm dwelling with some trees and a big barn. It was picture perfect and I posted the picture of the BB2BB WhatsApp group. I reached Amsterdam at 08:40 averaging 14.9 kph.

I could have stayed on the tar road to Piet Retief, opted for the gravel road which runs sort off parallel to the tar road. Safer and more interesting, though a couple kilometers longer. This part of the journey turned into a emotional roller coaster and "touched" the secondary reason for this trip. To work through my son's death 15 months ago. It stated when one of the songs played at his memorial service "Come now is the time to worship" played on my iPhone. For the hear on I allowed my emotions run free! I stopped in one of the many plantations at about 11:30 to have the last of my "breakfast pack".

The lady from the guest house where I was staying, asked me to notify her about an hour before I would get to Piet Retief, because she arranged fir an interview with the journalist of the local paper. As I reached the town I stopped to get my Garmin to get me to my destination which was indicated as 2 Mark Street. When I got there it was obvious that something was wrong. I phoned my host and found that there was Market Street at the Ermelo end of town. It took another 10 minutes to get there. I clocked in and immediately had a shower and washed my cycling clothes. The hosts provided me with a lunch of a chop, boerewors, a delicious potato dish and salads. After lunch I had my interview with the journalist. She promised to email the article and I will then post it on my blog.

That was a good day. 119.85 km and 9:16:48 in the saddle.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

BB2BB Day 9

We forgot to plan for breakfast and the resort only started serving breakfast at 07:00 so I had to settle for a biltong breakfast.

We got going just before 06:00 as today was going to be an easy day. We were going to follow a track which Hennie have ridden twice before. Ww were riding on a good district road to Chrissiesmeer. We were going up a gentle incline. After about 5 km we reach a good farm road down which Hennie took us. Initially the going was good, as we progressed it became tougher. Eventually the track disappeared and we had to push our bikes through the longish grass. Hennie had a general idea of where we were heading. After going on like this for about an hour, we found a the track again could spend sone time riding. Hennie pointed out a house on the other side of the valley and said we were heading there. Unfortunately the farmer, Piet Steenkamp, was away for the weekend so there was no possibility of coffee!

When we got to the farm eventually, there were two guts working with the cattle. It turned out Pier got his dates wrong. We had our coffee and during the discussion it transpired that the track Hennie wanted to take was in a very bad state. We therefore decided to use the road which they now use to link up with the main road. This was on the other side of the valley. The first kilometer of riding went OK, but then the road went up and up and up and up! We pushed our bikes up this hill for the next two hours! By the time my odometer indicated 30 km, we were traveling for 5 hours. An average speed of 6 kph!

In the meantime I was having problems with my saddlebag. We could not get it high enough and whenever I went through a dip, my rear wheel would touch it. Eventually Hennie suggested that we remove it and that he will tie it to his back pack while I tied his shoes to mine. From there on the riding went much smoother.

We reached the N17 after 5:50 and a distance of 36 km. Once on the tar road, our going was much better and were averaging 19 kph. We stopped for a Coke and after 17 km turned off on a farm road, which led us to some forestry road and then no road again. We followed some ridable cattle track and then picked up a very nice track through a blue gum plantation. At the end of the plantation we took a short cut through some short grass and picked up a farm road which took us through to a district road, down which I will start my journey tomorrow. We now could see our destination, but still had to cycle 4 km until we reached the farm Edenvale, where we would spend the night with Stryker and Bellie Celliers.

We did 72.5 km in 8:36 while we ascended  1,295 meters

Friday, April 8, 2016

BB2BB Day 8

When we got home after supper last night, there was nobody around to make arrangements for breakfast or to settle the bill. We therefore decided to get up st 05:30 and hoped that there would be someone around by 06:00. When got downstairs just after 06:00 we did find "life" but a cooked breakfast would only be available at 07:00. We helped ourselves and managed to get going at 06:40

We were going to follow one of Steve Thomas' tracks again and after yesterday agreed to stick to it! That flew out of the window when we could not find the first turn off. We did see that the track we took  did link up with the correct track within the first 5 km and ours was more scenic. Once we linked up with the track we were taken through some plantations and along the top of a cliff, through some more plantations to the edge of a spur. We then started descending down the mountain what must have been a well used road many years ago. It was breath taking stuff. I did managed a couple of video clips and look forward to see what they look like. In some places the grass was a meter high!  In other places there were two meter high pine trees in the middle of the road. The scenes from above were breath taking. The effort which went into making the pass boggles the mind! Once we reached the end of the pass, we had to further negotiate our way down a disused and eroded track until we reached a derelict farm house. The road did improve after that but not much.

After 4 hours during which we travelled only 29 km, we reached a good district road. We now were in the bottom of a valley, which we had to get out off and the only way was up again. For the next hour and a half we pushed and cycled and pushed until we finally crested the last hill. This again provided us with an unbelievable sight over the next valley to the hills far beyond. During this time we covered only 11 km!

First we had a wonderful ride down the hill into the next valley. The road was in pristine condition and only our tired bodies kept us from making better time. We covered the next 22 km in one and a half hour. All that was left was the 14 km to Badplaas, which took us 57 minutes.
After 7:55 and 75 km we booked in at the Badplaas Adventura. Another eventful day, but definitely easier that the previous two days. Tomorrow should be an easy 60 km to Chrissiemeer.

I have now covered 736 km in 8 days.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

BB2BB Day 7

Yesterday it took us 11:47 to do 96.78 km!

As today was going to be an easier day, we decided to only start at 06:00. The first thing we looked at after we woke up was the weather. Prayers were answered and it was dry outside with very little cloud cover! The first 9 km was downhill on the Long Tom Pass to Misty Mountain Inn. There we picked up some jeep tracks which took us down into the valley. This 7.25 km took us 54 minutes. There after we joined district and farm roads through to the N4. A distance of 39 km which took us 2:57. At the end we missed a turn with the result that we had to do a couple of kilometers on the N4 to link up with the track which would take us to Kaapsehoop, a further 34 km of which most was going to be uphill on forestry roads.

We picked up a district road and after about a half an hours riding came to a split. The GPS said we must go left, but the road to the right looked much better. There was a local coming down the road and Hennie used his knowledge of the local language to confirm directions. The young man confirmed that we could use the right road as they converge further up. This was a big mistake. This road took us away from the track we were suppose to follow and when we realised that the two was not going to converge, we were too far up the hill to turn around. We could see the correct track about 2-3 km to our left on my Garmin, so we decided to continue with the hope that we will meet up with correct track sooner or later. We tried to get directions from the local forestry workers but most of them did not even know where Kaapsehoop was! We got to a point where we saw a "better"  looking road about 100 meters below us. There also appeared to be a good road about another 100 meters higher up and we knew we still had to gain altitude before we get to Kaapsehoop. After a lengthy debate and some difference of opinion, we decided to go up. When we linked up with the larger road, we went left, but a further km or two, we came to a dead end. We went back to the first link and went higher up, but in the wrong direction. Fortunately this road went around a corner, which got us in the right direction. This happened a number of times where we felt we were going in the wrong direction only to find the the road made a u-turn in the right direction again. We were moving up the mountain about 2-3 km to the tight of where we should have been. After about 3 hours of laboring up the hill and covering only 15 km, our tracks started moving closer yo where we should have been. We finally linked up with the right track again after 3:50 while progressing only 21 km. We still had 15 km to go and this took us a further 1:52 as most of it was uphill.

We finally reached Kaapsehoop after 10:03 covering 92.83 km for the day climbing 1,916 meters.

A special thank you to Tim van Coller who joined me for the past two and a half days. His wife, Annette came through from their lodge near the Kruger National Park to fetch him after he left his home last Sonday and cycled to join up with me half way between Tzaneen and Ohrigstad.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

BB2BB Day 6

What a day!! Probably my most difficult day on a bicycle ever!

We were treated like kings last by Jan and Ronnie Ferreira, friends of Hennie de Clercq.

We got going again at about 05:00. The fist 12 km was tar and then we took a left turn, which would take us to Crystal Spring. We had some problems getting a security to open a gate for us, but Hennie conversed with him in his mother tongue and after a lengthy discussion, he opened the gate.

Within the first kilometer we saw a beautiful giraffe bull in the middle of the road. Unfortunately is was still too dark so we could nit take any photo's. A little while later we came to split in the road. My GPS said right, but Hennie said left and as he knows the area, we followed his advise. The weather was overcast but actually perfect for cycling. We saw zebra, oribi, warthog, koedoe and waterbuck. Just before we reached the resort, my GPS joined our track. Hennie informed us that there is a fence across that track and that is why we could not use it.

We stopped for a second breakfast at the restaurant.  As we left, it started to rain! We put on our rain gear and got going. Hennie new about a track which followed the ridge line. We took a tight turn where the road to the resort entered from the left. We reach the signage to  Mt Sheba and took a left turn into the resort, losing a lot of elevation in the process. When got there, Hennie realised that we mussed the ridge line he wanted us to take. I looked at my GPS and saw that we could ride through Mt Sheba and pick up the track I would have taken from Pilgrims Rest to the Long Tom Pass.

It took us awhile to find our exit route. This turned out to be a long forgotten and disused road, but it was ridable by bicycle.    After quite a while we picked up a forestry road which we saw linked up with my GPS track. We now were into forestry area and followed this road until it linked up with the GPS. We though it would be easy going from there, but when I looked at my GPS I saw that we still had 30 km to go! Every now and then we were guided onto some very interesting and lesser used roads.

At just over 7 hours my GPS informed me that the battery is low. I stopped to connect my Power Monkey to recharge the batteries and we were on our way again. The GPS and the track which I downloaded from Steve Thomas' book Riding the Dragon's Spine was invaluable! We would have had major problems selecting the correct tracks without it. Every now and then it would peep "off course" and we had to back track until it "found course" again. Hennie also felt that he would have had problems finding his track in this weather.  

We reached a plato with no trees and thought that we were near the end, but another 30 minutes of riding, we were amongst the trees again. We then got to a point where the obvious road went straight but the GPS directed right up a track which was very disused! We started pushing our bikes up this track. We were amazed. It definitely was not used and most 4x4's would have major problems going up there. We came to the conclusion  that it must have been an old wagon trail. The effort which went into building this trail was obvious! It took us another half an hour to get to the top. There my GPs indicated that we still had 7 km to go. We also though that our guest house was a further 5 km up the road! We reach a gate and nearly made back flips when we saw the entrance to the guest house across the road!

So ended a real character building day and I hope the most difficult day of thus journey.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

BB2BB Day 5

I moved some of my stuff from my backpack to my saddlebag to reduce the weight on my back.

Managed to get going at 05:03. As the Tzaneen/Ohrigstad leg was a late change of plan, I had no track on my Garmin, but it was straight forward to get onto the R36 and head to Ohrigstad. The first 30 km was quite hairy with very little shoulder and lots of traffic, which included a fair number of taxi's. At one point there was a slip road to the left and I was past the entrance when I suddenly notice a wing mirror out of the corner of my eye. I veered left and shouted and fortunately the taxi also slowed down snd let me past, but it was a close shave!

After the rural area, the condition of the road improved snd there also was a wide clear piece of the left with short grass. This was bumpy but ridable so I pull whenever I heard a vehicle approaching.

Just after 08:00 I stopped to phone Johan de Bruyn at Garmin, who was instructed to issue an invoice. He requested a delivery address and promised the invoice in 5 minutes. I caught with Tim van Coller just after 09:15 and used the opportunity to check my email. The invoice was there and I managed to process the payment.

I was under the impression that Tim lived in the area and was riding from home. It transpired that Tim near Nelspruit and left home 3 days ago to with me for 3 days. Now that is what I call commitment. He will be with us up to Kaapsehoop and will ho back to Nelspruit when we head out to Badplaas. He left Graskop at 03:00 the morning and went over the Abel Erasmus Pass to join up with me and we had to over the Pass again on our way to Ohrigstad.

We had a nice leisurely ride up the the Hoedspruit/Lydenburg T-junction where we stopped for a Coke. Next was the Abel Erasmus Pass, a climb of more than 1,400 meters in 18 kilometers. This took us about 2 hours. Down the other side the road was fairly flat with some " irritating" undulations, especially after a long day with lots of climbing.

When we were about 5 km from Ohrigstad, Hennie phoned and said he is 20 km away and we must meet him at the Oasis Cafe. Our only "minor" problem was that the Oasis Cafe was 3 km past where we were staying fir the night!  We met Hennie there and after some cool drinks cycled back to our hosts for the night.

I did 147.29 km in 9:47:49 with 1,456 meters of climbing, most of which done in the 2 hours it took to get over the Abel Erasmus Pass.

Monday, April 4, 2016

BB2BB Day 4

I ordered a breakfast pack, which management promised will be ready at 04:30. When I went looking for it, there was nothing and not a sole in sight! So it was peanuts for breakfast again!

I nearly forgot my water bottle in the fridge. I noticed that it was missing as I was about to leave. I then also remembered that the bladder in my back pack was just about empty, so I replenished that also. Finally got going at 05:15.

There was a faint drizzle in the air, so I stopped outside the gate to put on my windbreaker to stay dry. The first 10 km to the Tzaneen turn off was not very pleasant with lots of traffic on the N1 and a fair number of trucks. Once I tuned left, the traffic died down. The road was in a good condition with a reasonable tar shoulder and a very gravel shoulder beyond that. Riding a mountain bike on a tar road is not one of my favourative pastimes!

The first 30 odd km to Soekmekaar (now called Morebeng) went well and I got there at about 07:30, found a cafe which had ab egg burger on the menu for R30. I ordered one with a cup of coffee. They did not have any tables, but there was a side area with chairs and a wall counter. I made myself at home there and waited for breakfast, which did arrive after a while, nicely wrapped in cling wrap. It turned out to be quite a nice burger and real good value for money.

By the time I finished eating, it was 08:00 and I phoned Garmin. They indicated that they be able to get a replacement unit to me at a reduced price. All this took about 20 minutes and I got going again just before 08:30.

The road out of town took me up a hill and once over the top, the vegetation changed drastically. Where as everything was bushveld until now, I now entered the lush green of the Eastern Transvaal and the country side also became more mountainous. Riding was also more pleasant with the road snaking through the  hills. Traffic was fairly quite. That was until I came to the Polokwane/Tzaneen intersection. From there was a marked increase in the volume of traffic and also more trucks. The road was in an excellent condition with wide shoulders and lots area with three lanes to accommodate the slower traffic.

By now behind started giving me real problems. If was very difficult to find a way to sit that did not hurt! I had similar problems in a most of the previous long distance riding which I have done and will just have to live with it. It normally do get a little better after a couple of days, so I will have to wait and see. In the meantime it us case of applying some ointments to the tender area at the end if each day.

I did stop for a Coke and a Lunchbar at  Modjadjiskloof. It was a fairly uneventful from there to Tzaneen and I arrived at Chrisrie's Inn at 12:45

Managed to sort out Garmin. Replacement, which I will get at reduced cost, to be courier to Con Malherbe in Pietermaritzburg to be picked up on my Nothingham Road stop.

Quite an interesting encounter with Garmin. I forgot the name of the lady who emailed the price of a replacement unit when I explored the option three weeks ago, but I knew it was Abigail or Alice or something of that order. When I get through I ask to speak to Abigail or Alice. No they have mo one with that name or similar there. OK so I ask to speak to Marc the sales manager. After a further two calls I get through to Marc. He listens to my story and says he will see what he can do. By the time I get to Tzaneen I have not heard from Marc, so I phone again and this nice guy with the name of David is on reception. He informs me that Marc and the sales team are away for training all afternoon. I tell him my sop story and he says yes he knows who I am talking about and her name is Angie. He will get Angie to call me after the meeting she just went into. 15:30 and I have mot heard from Angie, whose name I had forgotten again at that point. Get through to reception and try the other two "A's"  again with no success. In the end I ask to speak to David again. Get through to one of his colleagues who informs that he had gone to the loo! I tell the story again and he immediately realise that I want to speak to Angie and he puts me through to her. Angie remembers me and we get things sorted out in a couple of minutes! Amasing  how helpful people sometimes can be and how can one struggle with a receptionist, who seems to lack some initiative and she is the entry to the business. I did send Marc an email during the morning and he did reply before he went for traning!

Will have supper at Christie's, who will supply breakfast pack tonight. Plan to leave at 05:00 in the morning. Tim van Coller confirmed he will ride towards me from the Houdspruit crossing, so we should meet between 09:00-10:00

Sunday, April 3, 2016

BB2BB Day 3

So it turned out that I took the wrong turn last night and that is why I could not find the restaurant. I should have turned right and then left. I turned left where the lodge road joined the larger road. Breakfast was some peanuts and water!

Got going at 05:03. The weather was perfect. It took me 50 minutes to get to the beginning of the Waterpoort, which starts of with Van Coller Pass. The pass and the scenery is very similar to the Mother of All Climbs in the Baviaanskloof on the Transbaviaans! After about an hour into the kloof, I came to a 2 meter locked gate just after crossing the railway line. The gate was similar to the one I encountered at the lodge yesterday morning, but now I had no option but to go over. I managed that but first dropped my bike on the other side. Fortunately with damage, but picking up a lot of dust. As soon as I started cycling, my Garmin told me I am off course! I had no option but to go back over the gate again! This time went considerably better with the bike, but I lost my balance as I jumped down and landed on my back with my backpack absorbing the fall. Afterwards I remembered that the lady who rode with us yesterday said something about a pedestrian gate but I missed that!

There was no other track, but I did remember Casper and John Brand saying something about going down the actual railway line so for the next hour I went down the railway line. I tried to cycle, but it was just to bumpy so I had to walk. One of the interesting thing about going down the railway line is that there is a tunnel one has to go through. Casper's advise was to put my ear on the line. It I hear nothing there is no train coming and it is safe to go through. The tunnel also os fairly close to the end of kloof so I knew once I get there the end is in sight, or so I thought! I got to the tunnel at 07:43.
I continued down the track, but after a while my Garmin once again told me I am off course. This time I left my bike and did some scouting. I could not see any clear track where the Garmin indicated the track, but I did notice that there was a bank through the river by which I could cross it without getting wet. I decided that Garmin was right and negotiated my way down a rocky bank and crossed the river. On the other side there was nothing but a cattle track where Garmin said I should go, so I followed it. After a while it become more of a track and later it did become a ridable track. I was of the opinion that this would take me out of the kloof, but I forgot that there still was a serious climb past Medike guest house. It took me an hour and a half from the tunnel to the end if the kloof. I did meet up with the owner of the guest house as I past it. I asked him if he is farming. His reply was that he is farming with "humans" i.e. guests and making a living from it.

I thought I will stop at the first spaza shop for brunch. That took quite a while and I only found one at 10:25. The only fresh produce they had was tomatoes and onions! I settled for 3 tomatoes, a liter of long life milk and 2 liters of Coke.

The track I was using was once again along the railway line. This was not a railway service road as such, but it hugged the railway line! To make life a little easier it was not 100% straight, but one could see the road the trees for disappearing in the distance. This was all that was on the menu for the rest of the day. The condition of the road was better than the the pervious two days, especially for the last 25 kilometers. The surface was mostly silky smooth and I was going along at 18-25 k.p.h.

Just before Bandelierskop I picked up a gravel road which took me to the N1 and after a couple of hairy kilometers with trucks and cars speeding past, I got to Lapalanzi on the right. I was delighted to see a knife and fork on the signage, so I ensure of supper tonight.