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 It was no longer maintained but it was a good surface to ride on.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.

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