Friday, September 24, 2010

One day to go

Back in the land of connectivity - and its a shame.

There is something very magical about being away from technology and its inherent demands. But it does mean that the blog is behind.  We're now at Bulembu just inside the Swaziland border and our recce is over.  It seems really quick now but a couple of days ago, it was a different picture.

Last communication was at Kaapsehoop which was at a high point. We had slogged to get there but everyone agreed that the climb wasn't as bad as it could have been. We're still looking at alternatives there.
We were well treated at the backpackers and without fail, the meals and packed lunches have been amazing.
Then it was on to Queens Rose - a hiking and youth centre. It was only about 52km and somehow, we all slowed down and spun the time out. No one was in a rush to arrive so we ambled along, taking photographs, picking tea and in no mood to rush.

We had been joined by Glenn who kindly scouted a portage on the day we arrived at Kaapsehoop and prevened us from having to explore that as an option. What he replaced it with was sublime. Switch backs that dropped us steeply into the valley before we swung around towards the overgrown tea plantation. Apparently, they are looking at re-working the plantation which would be great. Its a stunning little valley tucked away.

We climbed out the valley on a great track and then parked off for lunch with our support vehicles. So we stopped a lot and ate a lot but this is touring - riding for the moment, not the end line.

Next was a bit of exploring and we found a marvellous direct route parallel to a watercourse which brought us out on the exact road to our destination. Half the group went haring off in another direction and missed the experience of mud on tires. (It was the first mud we had seen the whole trip).

We arrived at Queens Rose to a warm welcome form Wim and Marie who manage the trail.  Our bikes were washed by one of their staff, there were lots of hot showers and tea and coffee on tap. Just as well, as the support vehicle with all our kit in it, went awol.  He had ducked into Barberton but couldnt find his way to our gate even with a GPS.  Sometimes, good old fashioned navigation is best.  He eventually arrived with our (by now) melted ice creams.

Dinner was, as Glenn described it, a real mountain bikers meal.  Mounds of crisy chicken, roast potatoes, pumpkin fitters, veges, rice and gravy.  This was after a starter and then they still served dessert - malva pudding and custard. We ate fit to burst.

The next morning, they sent us off in fine fashion with a full breakfast - the whole nine yards.

We were off the Bulembu, Swaziland and it was the last day.

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