2300km, but where to start?

As you can imagine, a 19day epic generates a fair amount of copy.


You can go right to the beginning of the whole ordeal, or the startline/day 1.

I'm looking at moving from a general ride report to a more up to date what's happening site. Yes, Freedom Challenge doesn't just finish in Paarl! When i get round to it, there'll be a PDF of the 19days reports.

Send some feedback (I'm aware that the whole layout is just, well kinda rubbish!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

WPASS presentation




click for a larger view!



WPASS presents 'The Blanket Saga'
The Freedom Challenge - Race Across South Africa 2008
2300km MTB race, 'Maritzburg to Paarl - Steven Burnett

Old Mutual Sports Club, Jan Smuts Drive, Pinelands
Tuesday 25 November
7 for 7.30pm

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 19

I need an alarm to get up at the hours we've been waking. I've had a song from a local Cape Town band jacSharp to wake up to everyday. It's a beautiful melody called 'tonight' that puts a smile on my tired face everymorning, but it's an irony too hard to miss - you know your body clock has been hit for six when you smile to 'tonight' when waking up.

On the fridge is a map of the farm, and I really don't know where the guys have been bunked, as we seemed to have found them all. I quietly make myself some toast for a hasty breakfast and don my damp gear. Clearly not quiet enough I get a quick goodbye to my guardian angels. It's rained a lot last night and hasn't stopped either.

I stop in at the locked cottage on the way, and the big mystery is solved. The guys got in two hours ahead of me and went to bed early leaving a light outside. Unfortunately the door got locked somehow and didn't knock loud enough to wake them. I could justifiably get really hacked off with them right now, but that's no way to start a day that is hard enough without pre sunrise temper tantrums. Plus I'll really need friends today, and the lucky buggers are getting a tour guide for the kloof too.

There's no time to mess around but I hastily get my box emptied of all the final day treats I sent and have my maps inplace. I've put a pair of really old throwaway jeans in for the bundu bashing. Not sure if I'll be wearing them in the wet, you can't plan for everything.

We get to the dam manager's house in time, but late enough to knock on the door. He comments that a LOT of rain has fallen overnight. Us bikers are crazy, but to go through the kloof today is just insane. He doubts we'll make it over the first river crossing, and will have to bundu on the eastern bank till the path rejoins. We leave with his wishes and a still shaking head.

There's a longrunning debate on how to get your bike up this kloof. Some dismantle it into various parts and attach to your backpack. None of us have ever practised it, and we all decide instead to keep the bike in one piece and carry just like in any other portage. I get some raised eyebrows when we get to the path entrance. It's an eroded jeeptrack that has deterioated to a big donga, but I assure them its right. It's mostly walking from here, with a few spots of riding thrown in. Oom Danie is full of beans today and goes on like a chatterbox. It's wonderful to listen too.
The troops hit the trail
We get up to the first major nek and look around at this awesome valley. The water level has risen a good 5 metres since I was last here, maybe some of it last night. It's amazing to think that we're probably only 15km from Paarl mainstreet, yet this is as isolated as it comes. Before the freedom trail was started, we would have been in a solid bundu already. Maybe only a handful of people would venture here each year. In the inaugral trip, David had banked 2 hours for this unscouted section. During the trying day in this jungle with his two companions he 'struggled to look them in the eye'! I've spoken to Andrew King about it over the time we've ridden together, and its a memory he'll never forget.


Waterflow on the main river

We even manage to ride some of the path down to the river. It's hairy stuff as it winds through the bushes, handle bars reaching out to grab holds the whole time with spectacular results. Sure enough the river crossing is not an option in any way. For the last six weeks I'd been thinking of a way to cross here with a bike without getting feet wet! The video explains it all, Andrew Pollock the cameraman is an ace whitewater kayaker, he must be turning inside today wanting to 'break out the plastics' and play in all this cape wild water.



stu in the undergrowth



still there

So we bundu through the impenetrable bush. Attempt one has Stu making a good 20m in 15 minutes, so we send scouts for another route. It's a case of finding the least impossible path, and the vegetation is the limiting factor. Close to the river and it's thick, further up its not that better. Being The largest specimen of our group Andrew Barnes makes a nice big path for us to follow, but all to soon we reach a tributary that is coming down the mountain to join the main stream. The water isn't the main problem here, more that the vegetation is insanely thick. Some tree surgery creates a passage and its through to the next section where thankfully we can head up. Altitude and contours mean nothing here, it's all about the path of least resistance. The last kilometer has probably taken an hour.
waterflow on the tributary


We drop down the little ridge to join back up with the path that has crossed to the eastern side again. The push continues but its slow progress in the pouring rain. The next tributary we come to is much bigger than the last. One would probably get washed away in this. We have a look around for another way over it, as we have to cross it somehow. Looking at the map it drains a much larger area, but it's burst it's banks by a long way.
sit down and contemplate
We have to sit down and make some big decisions here. We could risk crossing it at another point higher up that seems to be narrower and steeper. Its reckless for sure without any equipment(but so is riding from maritzburg to paarl). Even if we make it to the head of the kloof, there's no guarantees we can cross the main stream there either. If we can't cross there, then we have no option but to come back out. The time frame on that would maybe end up with a wet night in the kloof.

We chose instead to turn around and cycle through to Rawsonville and up the N1. This option of a hasty retreat and backtrack from a difficult situation is definitely the soft one. We hadn't even got to the rocky scree that signals the start of the really insane stettyns circus. What would the race director say? What would the alumni who battled through the kloof and soldiered on when the going got rough say? At that point it didn't matter, to go on would be irresponsible. The clever BASE jumpers and big wave surfers woose out when it goes from crazy to just plain stupid.

So the 'easy' option started and the smiles had disappeared. The guys pulled my leg by suggesting we reconsider the decision, I fell for it hook, line and sinker. They knew I was disappointed by the retreat. The current score stands at Stettynskloof 2- 0 Me. We still had to bundu our way back through all the rough stuff we'd done earlier and it wasn't easier the second time.

We considered a short stop at Trouthaven, as Danie was getting really cold but chose to find somewhere in Rawsonville instead. We still had the small matter of a 60km plus ride in atrocious weather. And that sting in the tail, Du Toitskloofpas.

In Rawsonville we find a cafe and Andrew takes over clearing out the stock of pies, fish, chips, coffee, droewors and anything else considered essential. We get some locals giving us a hard time, we're not a common sight and who doesn't want to start an argument after a morning of Autumn Harvest? I reluctantly tell Kiwi Stu that Rawsonville is in the Guiness book of Records – for alchohlism and it shows.

Some of the guys go off ahead as its cold, but I wait for Andrew to finish his coffee, and we head off for our final ride together. We've inform race control of our movements and have been told to be careful on the N1 section. It's a busy road and exactly what we've been avoiding for three weeks. We take turns pacing, but its soon obvious that he'll be dragging me all the way home. My body really is finished, and I urge him to go on and i'll finish at my own pace. He's having none of that and promises to ride with me to the end. Even the pace slows down, but I don't get much in the way of breaks. I've been through the Molenaars river valley on the N1 countless times in my life, normally coming back from a holiday somewhere. Never have I seen so much water coming off the rocks, waterfalls have just started where they shouldn't be.

waterfalls
view from N1

We make it to the old road, that is now the 'alternate' to the Hugenout tunnel. It's a long hike to the top, but I've forgotten how long and it takes forever today. Andrew literally drags me up, even offering to take my bag (I stubbornly refuse, of course!). I smile for the cameramen, good to see Andrew King smiling(who finished yesterday). We catch up to Danie who's on the phone at the summit. The view is a murky 5m viz cloud, no table mounain sunset today. Danie knows the way down to Ashanti through the forest roads.
looking back at the old tunnel
try crack a smile

Near the bottom, we are greeted by the sight of David, diverting us onto the dam wall as the other road is apparently too muddy. Danie promptly falls over into a pile of mud on the dam wall, far too funny.

Halfway round the dam we can hear cheering, clearly our lights have been spotted, but it sounds like a thousand people have turned up as the sound carries over the water. We get closer and all the farmkids have arrived, for some reason I am ahead of the rest and get 20 kids running next to me, shouting the immortal words:”hou bene, hou”. The one guy asks if I can slow down a bit as I'm losing them!

Then we round the corner and I almost choke up over the final 100m on seeing the line. There's a whole crowd to see me after waiting all afternoon. We move onto the restaurant and theres so much to tell. Pizza arrives and is duly despatched. Andrew and Sirk have come back after finishing yesterday. Tim is there, as is Maarten van Dalsen (2007 winner).
say cheese
done, finished, klaar, kaput

with mom and dad
mmm, pizza
debating that some green line issue
the blanket saga support crew



There are a few photos and speeches, and we get our blankets; and just like that its all over. My bike is loaded into my parents' car and I'm driven home. It's said that as each journey ends, another begins.

showing off my blanket to my legend grandfather






Trouthaven to Paarl via Rawsonville- ~2300m of climbing
110km 14 hours door to door

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 18

2300km, are we there yet?!
I wake up to the real thought that today could be my last real day of riding. I should be able to do the triple up stage without too much drama as it's all shorter than normal and I know where to go too. From there it's the hike up stettyns and we're home free. It's been an underlying thought for the last few days and is now very much a more real prospect, what happens once you're done? The daily routine has become wake up, get ready and ride. As much as the bike has travelled, how much have I grown and changed as a person over the last three weeks? Is it for the better?

I can't dwell totally on this as I still have the small task of riding through some serious distance and there's a nasty storm brewing overhead. Having my very own TV with satellite in the cottage I know there's an even bigger one hitting cape town too.

Busiest road on the trail is Cogmanskloof which is the road that connects Montagu with the outside world through the Langeberg. I have rain falling and trucks splashing me with each pass, good way to start fast and get the kilometers ticking.

Ashton and the canning factory are familiar to me as I've driven the R60 countless times, but the route through the town is totally different to how I thought we crossed the Breede River towards McGregor. I find myself doubting the options in what was a confident section as we travel eastwards for a section(I'd ridden from McGregor before). After crossing the river on the red iron bridge we do indeed turn west and homewards again. I find my self crossing to the right hand side of the road to avoid some corrugated sections. Not ten seconds later a bakkie tears past without me even hearing him come. The pleasant habit of assuming you are the only road user will have to be kicked soon!

looking down into McGregor

With little fuss I am in McGregor and sit down to a muffin at the coffee shop. The other boys have two hours on me, will I catch them on the route today?Do I really need to? I'm again reminded of the impending rough weather from the locals and make a hasty retreat back into the cold outside. The 24km stage to Kasra is done in just under 2 hours and its a different feeling riding knowing exactly what's coming up and where to go. My maps stay in the bag (is this how Tim rides?!) as my eyes are on the grey clouds in the distance.

a porky welcome

Been here before in MAY

The Oestervanger guesthouse is an unexpected highlight of the trip. The ladies run what you could call a boutique restaurant with a single large diningroom table for guests by appointment only. I plonk down in the kitchen and am presented with a hearty butternut soup (ginger being the secret ingredient) and a juicy lambshank that falls off the bone. You eat three meals a day over a lifetime, but I'd squeeze this one into my top ten all time list. I'm still feeling rather queasy and those who know me will agree that all is not well if I turn down dessert. I turn down the very attractive offer of even just an hours shut eye.
go up there
on this stuff

Belly full to bursting, it's time to move on and do the Trappieskraal jeep track. It's been on the Cape Epic a few times, could be recognised as the really rocky hill that goes on forever under the powerlines. Six weeks ago I mostly rode up it, today I push almost the whole way.

its raining where i have to go



The day passes by slowly, and constantly I see wet grass and clouds up ahead yet only confront slight drizzle. I scream down the Jonaskop road and am very happy to see that the Doornrivier algemene handelaar is open today. I make the obligatory coke purchase (and have now spent almost R100 over the last three weeks) from the tannie who knows me as one of the basutho blanket riders (sounds like Steve and Kevin spent some time there last year). Back on the road, I'm reminded that I'm definitely close to home as I dodge a motionless plaaswerker who has started his friday night at noon. Who cares if papsak is banned if you still have a dop system?
gesuip so 'n demoon-couldn't wake him


The familiar sections roll by without much hassle, I'm even involved in now answering all the messages from friends and family who want to know to the hour when I'll be arriving. The straight reply is 'saturday sometime' and I appoint a PR agent on the spot to handle my social affairs. Before the race I had thumbsucked 20 days as a goal which would be a Sunday finish. A day earlier and i won't even get in the way of the wimbledon mens final!


spot the engineer - brandvlei distribution

For the second time in recent history I roll straight through Brandvlei prison without seeing a warden or prisoner on the grounds (we come in through the very unmanned and totally unfenced back entrance). It really does look like a country club with its sports amenities and clubhouse on the dam, the only reminder of its penitentiary function is trying to get past security as I leave(or is it escape?).
Brandvlei entrance on MAY training ride


Night falls and the mercury follows suit. Friday night round here means dodging pedestrians who stumble on the side of the road with the randomness of final round boxers. I start to celebrate my dry luck too early as it starts raining when I have about three kms to the farm and tonight's bed. And it starts pouring like never before. At least I know where reception is at this place.

Cats and dogs are flying around me as I get to an unmanned reception and owners house (it is friday night). We're out of cellphone range so I rush to the closest chalet to see if its ours. Unfortunately the couple can't help me with any info, but I know there are other cottages further up the road. By now I'm totally sopping, miserable and starting to lose it as the frustration level rises. I should be inside, eating and warm but instead I am looking for the damn house after 13 hours of riding. I follow a MTB sign up a hill to some lights only to realise that I'm at the workers housing and have gone up the farm's MTB route. Finally I find a paper sign with 'freedom challenge' and an arrow on it. The arrow points up a hill, with three route options. Half an hour's searching reveals an empty locked cottage with only the outside lights on, and some wet orchards.

Feeling like a drowned rat I have no option but to return to the only people that seem to be on this farm, the occupants of the first cottage. 'Boy' is a coloured contractor from Piketberg, and opens the door with disbelief that I'm still pedaling outside in this storm. I can't get over how foreign this scene would be just 15 years ago and have trouble addressing my good samaritan with what I thought would be a derogatory term. I get given a drink(whiskey) and food(left over braai) and we jump in the car to see if we can find the designated house. Some really scary driving in a 4x4 on muddy roads follows. Still no luck with the search and the only option is to bunk in one of their spare beds. I'll have to be up in a few hours anyway and can do Stettyns without my maps (maybe?!).

my lucky warm bed

So much for local knowledge, maybe I'll see the other four tomorrow in the valley. For now it's imperative to rest as the hike up the kloof is going to be even harder with all the rain. You can add an extra three kilograms with everything drenched. I don't even bother drying stuff as the deluge will continue for a few days.





Montagu to Trouthaven via Mcgregor and Kasra- ~2518m of climbing
170km 15 hours door to door

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 17

I'm feeling very grumpy today, maybe because its just so many consecutive days of early rise and out into the darkness but mainly because I have picked up a stomach bug. Getting on a bike is not on the top 10 list of 'things i want to do right now', but i'm just gonna stick with the boys today and grin and bear it. On the faster roads it really helps to 'stay in the bunch', but I'm not even going to bother with the map. Good thing for us our hosts are up and smiling with a lovely cooked breakfast at the ungodly hour of 4, special people indeed. I'm battling to keep up with the train today, but have outlasted Stu who has done his trick of letting Allen, Andrew and Danie go and soldier on at his own pace. In my own mind I'm pushing for the double up to Montagu, and almost do a double take when Andrew says the plan for them is to triple up to McGregor. Well at least we've got on the road early and the nav is easy, as there's 'only one road'. I request a 'hot clothing removal stop', mainly to get a brief respite, its all too quick and we don't even get a peek at the map. Chasing back to the train, I come across a foraging porcupine crossing the road, he beat me to the bush before I could get the camera out. We're quite impressed with the speed and distance covered when we come to our first junction, unfortunately it is the road to Montagu, and not Anysberg reserve. We've missed the nav and doubled back on ourselves. Going fast is a terrible thing when its in the wrong direction. We've gone so far we're actually off the map and not sure where we actually are. The next car coming past is not that helpful, but the subsequent bakkie driver takes pity and puts our bikes on the back to take us up the road to the closest farmer who will know it all. GUILTY look And that is how we ended up at Oom kanniedienaamherrinner se huis with a fresh pot of coffee and rusks for africa. He's off to the kalahari to go hunting, but his son is easily bribed to take us back to the spot we went wrong. It's not really cheating, as we're getting taken back to where we rode off the course, but the gps track must have been interesting with 100km speeds repoted. We did phone race control and were given the option of riding straight to Montagu if we really wanted to, but would miss out on some worthwhile terrain. I jumped at the opportunity to use a modern bathroom and confirmed for sure that I did indeed have a terrible stomach bug. concrete dam conversion anysberg cottages I slack totally off the pace once in the reserve getting to the Support Station, and by the time I got there the boys were finishing off lunch. We heard the news that the hollywood two had caught up with Sirk in the night and the three were reunited again in their combined push to stettyns, on that day. ouch. I had little option but let the rest go off in their quest for McGregor, I wasn't feeling very strong, but would have to make montagu and recover there. I loaded up with lots of water, knowing my system wouldn't be absorbing much and set off alone on the 77km stretch to Montagu. ignore the signs The riding was probably really nice and inspiring, but it all passes me by as a dredge in my state. Time passes, kilometers tick by and with each pedal stroke I am closer to Montagu. Its the first town on the trip that I can confidentally say I actually know. If I phone someone in Cape Town now, they could even be there by the time I arrive. But I'm not feeling very sociable right now and continue on the open road. I'm not sure how differently I would have ridden had I seen the profile before hand, but at the top of the Ouberg pass I knew that I could make the 30 odd kays to town. One of the most welcome surprises was the next 16 kays passing with hardly a pedal turned, surely one of the longest rollercoasters i've ever ridden and probably the greatest. it's all downhill from here It was a shock to actually ride a car in traffic again, Montagu rush hour is not much to worry about, but it felt very foreign right then. The ladies at the information bureau pointed me in the right direction and I actually saw the other boys on their way out of town. Andrew asked if I wanted to join them, but there was no way I could go another km. I thus had an entire guesthouse to myself, a hot bath and George's biltong ration. The unheard of and totally outlandish luxury of DSTV would get me back to speed with two weeks of Wimbledon too. When the sound of raindrops started to hit the roof I smiled at my decision to stay put. It had been a grind of a day running on empty, and its hard to hide during 150km even if it is on nice hardpack gravel. I got to bed knowing that it would be a long triple up day to rawsonville, but achievable. The route from mcgregor would be replaying in my mind after the scouting trip done there a month earlier, you can never waste time on reconnasaince. Rouxpos to Montagu via Anysberg- ~1890m of climbing 170km 15 hours door to door(detour included)
video

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You gotta grip it


One of the big debates I had kitwise revolved around my carbon handlebar. Some line of thought swore not to put bar ends on them (or even take them at all). It does happen that they break, results normally being rather dramatic. Being stubborn, I chose not to heed that advice in the end.

You need bar ends, to give you more hand positions over such long days. When glancing through Bicycling magazine’s Epic bike lowdown, I was surprised that so many of the top pros had them fitted. They’ve had an air of ‘funrider’ to them for a while.

The most amazing things I’ve ever put my fingers, palms and wrists on have got to be Ergon grips. It’s like they sent some dude over and measured my hands whilst I was sleeping. Maybe they weigh a bit more, who cares? Just go to your LBS and feel them. I never thought I could get so excited about rubber. They’re also integrate with the grip, so the stress should be less on the carbon fibre bar. I had some hoseclamps for a just incase type of repair, they ended up on Andrew Barne's seattube.

Day 16

I'm up in the dark,pack my bags and ride to the guesthouse for breakfast. The group 1 boys have got their act together quicker and are just leaving as I arrive. Breakfast is a nice spread, but not feeling too good I battle to get anything down. Nevertheless I'm out into the murky darkness and soon at the turnoff to the Swartberg pass. I know its a big climb to the top and expect about 20km of uphill, but none of it is visible.

hello darkness my old friend

After a while I can hear a car coming and its easy to tell that its a windy road by the accelerate and brake repetitions, a long time passes before a bakkie swings past. Otherwise I am completely alone out there and night slowly turns to day as I make my way skywards. I stop on a false peak and take some photos of the early morning light. There's a slight descent and all of a sudden a turn off to the right. The pass continues further, so I'm very suspicious that the race director has given us a route of it before the summit!

I feel very ALIVE right now

My camera seems to have broken or at least shifted some prisms inside. I've had it in a small bag attached to my shoulder strap for easy access to get those must have pics. After rubbing against my thigh about 300 000 (guesstimate) times it's got irritating and I put it in my stem bag on the way to Prince Albert. Not a very good idea as the corrugations shook it funny! Anyway, excuse the dark sections in the corners. And then later it went blurry, only to fix itself after a good rest. For that reason I have pulled some pictures(credited as AH) from a group who toured the Trail in March/April, taking the leisurely(and wholly more senisble) time of 35 days. They skipped a bit of the Karoo and went via Knysna, but then rejoined from the otherside of the Swartberg Pass and went all the way to Cape Point.
Find Andrew Hagen's photo's here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Andrews.pointless.username/FreedomTrail2008Beta?authkey=RxhP9sb83LQ

It's a myth that it's all downhill to Die Hel, but it's well advertised that it's a myth so I knew i was in for a bumpy ride. Once again it's a valley not short on views and there's plenty of time to stop and stare. There's two main climbs (scattered with lots of smaller ones too) on the way in, and I caught up with Stu on the second.
looking west into the valley
AH-looking east another day

I'd been to Die Hel once before, in 1999 on a hiking 'toer' with the maties hiking club (the BTK). It's got quite a history and was for generations a very isolated farming valley that got cut off by the buildng of the Gamkaskloof dam(or so i'm told). That time we came up the river, and now I'm approaching by the road that was built to help the valley, but caused its downfall. The residents were happy with their isolation, the government thought they were living as sub-class humans and built the access road. A few years after it was completed, they had all left.

I now got to enjoy this road in the best way possible, tearing down it and high speeding the many switchbacks. In the valley floor itself its quick to see that a lot has been done since I was last here. Cape nature has refusrbished all the deserted and dilapidated buildings and very tastefully turned the whole valley into a large scale museum. Well worth a visit if you're ever in the area, I'd return just to sit down for a meal at the Hell's Kitchen restaurant.

AH - ou ossewaAH - restored house


The farmhouse where we camped all those years ago is now the head office, and the rest of the boys are there at what is the Support Station. I'm still not feeling great, but manage to get some sarmies and a cup of tea down before I rejoin the main group on the way out of Die Hel (I'm sure there's a craftier way to phrase that!).

AH - Die Leer track is past the right post

There's a short little nasty ridge to cross before getting to the bottom of Die Leer. This is the historical 'donkey track' that was used for generations to access the outside world. If Stettynskloof is the chinese water torture of the trip, then this is the thumb screw. It's a 400m vertical rise on a rough track that is almost undefined at times. The only reason we know its possible is because its been done before. The bilingual readers will laugh at the afrikaans bystander who asked in astonishment as we started from the base in his very crunchy english “are you going to carry your bike up the leather?”.

AH -David's famous grove of poplar trees

I quote from the narrative here:
“When you get to the stream look on the opposite side. There is a small group of poplar trees. You must cross the stream and climb up BEHIND the trees. As you go behind the trees you will experience a moment of magic. There will be a foot path. You are now on The Ladder. Pick up your bike and carry it upwards until you emerge at the top where there is the ruin of an old garage.”AH-the slog uphill

look carefully for the bike wheel of Stu the Kiwi


Maybe I have gone out too fast earlier this morning, but I'm not feeling too good or experiencing any magic and really take my time stopping for a view break on numerous occasions. I spend a lot of time wondering what happened to the donkeys that took this route. Stu seems to have a similar problem and in all it takes us about 80 minutes to complete it, whilst the other guys did it in about 45.
down to the valley floor

From there it is a very rough track that is flattish but unrideable in large parts. We've been warned that the farmer who owns the land contends the access to this right of way, and if he is in a bad mood he might be on his side of the fence with a shotgun and a hand pointing to a no-entry sign. As we approach a group working on a fence I take the lead as the afrikaans speaker of the two. They are only too happy to chat but we rush off before they change their mind or mention the landowner.


At this point Stu goes on ahead as I decide to ease the pace for the remaining 50 odd kays to the support station as I'm feeling very week and there is no hurry. It's a terrible slog getting to the road, and looking at the profile now I realise it was all uphill. Once on the road it's relatively easy riding but theres a little wind blowing straight into me. I have a few reminiscent moments as we pass places I hiked all those years ago and a field that we turned into a campsite for 50. We also go past Seweweekspoortpiek, highest mountain in the western cape (but not even given a passing reference in the narrative – local knowledge helps).

Quoting from the narrative again:
“When you reach the top of Horlosiekrans prepare yourself for one of the fastest downhill rides around. The gradient, the surface and the camber combine to draw you into a great descent. Top speed reported on the downhill is currently 78 km/hr. Minimise the braking and enjoy the wind in your face. Emerging at the bottom you might want to head back up and do it again without touching the brakes.”
I have to admit that amidst the 37 pages of broken english, generalisations, assumptions, blaring errors and downright lies this paragraph is without a doubt the most accurate piece of text I have ever read from a lawyer. Unfortunately my trust in his words is not yet whole and I do brake a bit on the early corners only topping out at 65km/h. Turning back to do it again is a good idea, but will have to wait for another day.

Once again its spellbinding scenery picking through the Vleiland valley and then turning into the Rouxpos valley. I'm treated to an african sunset of reds and pinks reflecting off the sheer mountain face and its unfortunate that I miss the last of it in the darkness.
AH - Rouxpos homestead,look at the date
The Roux family homestead is an engaging haven of warmth in both climate and hospitality. After four days of dirtyness we have laundry done for us two days in a row, what a pleasure. The food is great and waffles hit the spot for a weak rider. The hollywood boys come in a bit later and it looks like Andy has recovered from the Baviaanskloof low sufficiently that they are going to push on and try catch Sirk. I wish good luck to them (and shake my head) and offer some tips of the final route. They will be riding basically non-stop from Prince Albert, and there's a chance we might still catch them if they miss the window on the stettyns timeslot. My likely finishing place of fifth or worse is sealed at this moment, but its the furthest thing on my mind right now. Another early start is planned to make it to Stettyns in two big leaps, so I get to bed early.



Prince Albert to Rouxpos via Die Hel- ~4638m of climbing
157km 15 hours door to door