Thursday, August 20, 2015

And so it ends

Eish. The spelling in my previous write-ups...

Bucklands is still as magical as I remember with lush gardens from the rain.  As we arrived, Hannes came out to meet us and shepherded us to have dinner. This was 5.45 - a mere 90 minutes after we had last eaten! 
Well trained support station that it is, Rini has prepared piles of bobotie and veg and pudding for us. 
All of which had been  taken from the farm. They were also on a Banting mission - it's everywhere! I kept my Malta pud and custard for later and we walked across to the renovated cottage for the evening. What a quaint place now with electricity. 
During dinner we spoke about the various farms we'd passed through and discovered that the farmer at Stuttgart had a relapse of cancer but was beating it through his own natural methods. Brave man. 

We left at 7.30 and I became concerned early on. Kelly's knee was limiting her ability to pedal which meant our average speed was low. We thought the day would be about 76k to Mount Ingwe but the ascent out of the Groot Rivier was always going to be slow. The fine drizzle stayed on the surrounding mountains and it was brilliant riding conditions. 
When we eventually turned onto the road towards Hadley, we did Dave The Myth's injury treatment. Double the dose of everything. 
This finally gave Kelly some relief except she complained of sparkling eyeballs. We staggered on with quite a few pushes until the descent to the river. The road was being fixed and was great to this point. We'd already crossed the river on Bucklands farm and it was flowing quite deep and in the valley, it was wet shoe time as the water came to our knees. 

The long push out 
At least 2kms of straight up pushing stretched and strained already tired muscles. It was rocky and stony and the drizzle was now coming down in earnest. There had been quite some rain as the puddles were deep and the mud copious. We slipped and slid our way up every climb and the rain picked up. I finally got cold and had a chance to wear my new improved rain jacket. This one worked. Reaching the plateau was a relief but there was no view of the sea or Baviaanskloof. Just mist and an ever darkening sky. 
In the distance and rich green of the hillside, we could make out the descent to Osseberg. 
It was now about 4pm and there was still far to go. 
We pushed on and up again. I thought the next section would be about 10km and to both of our relief it was only 6km - a gift. 
At the summit of the hill about a km from the t-junction, we called Daleen at the lodge to give her an update and to check how far to go still. 
Bad news.  Another 17km but she said she would send Lukas to fetch us. Instead of waiting we started off and it was fast and exhilarating... Then came the mud.  Black and viscous. I raced straight into a rut and two shakes of the bike and I was flying into the mud bank. As Kelly stopped to check she fell off, unable to uncleat. Cold, wet, hungry and now very muddy. 
We set off again a little more restrained. Another km later was another mud patch with two cows coming for us and a shouting herd boy in pursuit. 
At the same time, Lukas arrived and chaos ensued. He reversed out the mud, we loaded the bikes and headed on down the road, broadsiding at times as the 4x4 slipped through the mud. 
We managed 72km and it had been hard.

Mount Ingwe was a stunning Lodge in completely different terrain and grasslands. 
We decided to call it a day. Kelly's knee wouldn't hold out for the 70km the next day but we were well satisfied with our adventure.

Lukas's farm borders the Osseberg and he has a permit to go in and fix the track to the river. We strongly suggested that he build single track.... 
But what an interesting man. Film maker, farmer, collector of Anglo Boer war artefacts, and now mountain bike route builder. 
He had business in PE so the next morning, we were back in the bakkie with three quad bikes, two mountain bikes and two tired cyclists.

There are more bits to write about and photos to post.

In the meantime, thanks to Kelly for agreeing to come with me. For a novice rider, she was amazing. I think there might be a RASA in her future. 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lies and deja vue

What a long and eventful day.

When I was prepping my maps and checking narratives, I was somewhat dismayed that the summary distance was still based on the old route. The 105km that had Kelly sleepless -  being 15km further than she'd ever ridden - was going to be way under. Oops. 
I hoped she'd be too tired to do the math.

She had already begun with a knee niggle and despite icing it, it would be a problem. 
We left as it got light and began the tedious route around the Addo Park.  Whilst not bad riding it was still dead straight district road. Once in the park, the route to the dam wall went on for ages too but the view when we reached the small pass above the dam wall was superb. The dam was very full and quite a bit of water was being released. We entered the Gwaas Valley which was green with an abundance of small flowers. 
The day had started overcast with a bit of spitting rain which reminded me of 2009 when we rode the valley with sifting drizzle which had left us frozen and wet then.
The road had been cleared which took a little of the magic away from the days when it was more a country lane.  I felt the same way about the road to Kleinpoort. 
Just before we left the valley, we had our first proper break. The tuna sachet came out and although I wasn't too hungry, I shoved it down knowing the day was still young.

There is something about tuna. I flew up the pass unlike 2009 when it was soggy road and hard riding. The descent was stunning with the folded cliffs towering over us.

By now Kelly's knee was bad.  We had placed some kinetic strapping on it being given fairly certain it was ITB. This didn't last with dust and moisture. So now we tried a bandage to support the knee 
By the time we got to the next Ridge, it was a painful struggle. So then we duct taped it which also came off but helped marginally. We also changed seat height to take some pressure off.

While Kelly was deep in the pain cave, I contended with my tool bag coming loose. An extra 1.6kg went into my backpack which did my butt no favours. Finally we spied Kleinpoort. The pie shop was open again and we sank into their chairs gratefully. 

Kleinpoort Pomp Stal 
Trail angels again. Aletta had more strapping tape and we Googled how to strap ITB. Skin cleaned, we set to work and did it properly. 
This was after I had borrowed the rolling pin and punished Kelly some more on the ITB. Picture a dusty cyclist lying on the floor of the coffee shop writhing in angony whilst her mate stands over her wielding a wooden rolling pin!

 Some Dutch men arrived having just done a 4x4 safari and they told us how much they loved the country and how beautiful it was. They had a hard core Landy outside which had already traveled Africa. They were really interested in our adventures - similar spirits I guess.

An hour later after toasted sammies and pour moi, a kiddies breakfast, cokes, rooibos tea and a whole lot of hurt, we were on our way.

Credit to Kelly, she sat on my wheel and we bolted for Bucklands to make it in the daylight averaging 20km/hour.

It had been a really long day of 118km.

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Moving on

Lood  built us a fire to take the chill off the evening but the wind ensured we were smoked out. I came out of my room to burning eyes and a grey haze. So we were forced to open doors and windows to try to breathe. Our washing was drying in front of the fire with a new brand of stasoft : woodsmoke.

The next morning was leisurely leaving at 8am to do the 52km to Toekomst. We got a little derailed by a pair of Angora kids. Too cute and they liked the paparazzi. Finally we got on the road fairly uneventful until we pulled over for a bakkie coming from Karoopoort.

Merlie was on her way to Cradock for a conference with extra blankets for the cold front that was apparently chasing us. In the space of a few minutes we were educated in the harsh realities of modern day farming and the lot of a farmers wife.

The good news is that she plans to buy a bike and start riding. Seeing two women on the trail on their own was hopefully inspirational. I think we need a mini freedom trail event for the support station farmers who ride. Looking at you Glenn and Meryl.

Karoopoort was spectacular. The views, greenery and flowers were amazing thanks to some unexpected winter rains. On the way down, the game gate was locked so as per the instructions on the narrative, we scrabbled our way through the bush to the dry river bed. There we shimmied under the game fence but saw only warthog and water buck for our troubles.

I am now lying under a mohair blanket in my comfy tent looking out over the Karoo scrub. Below me are Eland and Sable antelope.

The silence hurts. 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.