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, July 17, 2008

Day 6

So I woke up a little late (probably 6am, all things relative here) and sauntered/trundled up the road to the main house and breakfast. All the R2R crowd were there and more questions about my biking career followed – fame and the spotlight when you're second on the leaderboard! Somehow I had lost a pair of cycling shorts (way back in Masakala it transpired) and hopefully would intersect them (well the bakkie they were in) somewhere on the route, but it was wet shorts for today! The group had about 90 minutes on me when I got on the road. I hadn't realised it but today was a little bit longer than I had hoped for so got into a nice steady rhythm from the start.

looking back in direction of Rhodes

The riding was totally different to what had come before, almost featureless and dare I say it . . flattish. At a junction after about 30km I came across the widely publicised 'fat farmers of the' umzimkulu valley taking a break on the roadside. I'd scrubbed away the timegap rather quickly and got going further up the road (note: now that I reflect on it, they must have been really chilling out that morning, as they rode like demons the rest of the time I was with them). The scenery got much more interesting down into the valley, even if it stretched from the narrative's 8 to the road's 18km. Stopping for a quick phone call, Oom Danie from Wellington pulled in right behind me. He'd conquered the Comrades and would prove to be no slouch on a bike either as he rode me into the ground with shocking regularity on the way to Paarl.

A very rude and nasty climb arrived and eventually we were peering into the next valley. And what a surprisingly beautiful valley it was. Danie and I shot down to the valley floor and kept an eye out for the farm where the possibility of lunch existed. I had the one in a million chance of a twig getting caught in my spokes and staying there, weaved between five of them and only rattling when I slowed down – never heard of that before, and a sure sign of things to come.
Oubaas' ride
Well lunch presented itself on a scale that would excite us to the genuine Karoo hospitality. Christo the farmer has a collection of at least a thousand caps nailed to his bar roof and we'd been warned to be wary of getting stuck here by this amorous family. Some heeded this warning to the point of not eating and riding on, but I personally got stuck into all the lasagne and mielie koekies I could handle whilst my shoes got cosy in the Aga oven. One could really chew the fat here all afternoon, but urgency was the overlying call as we still had 30km to get through before a tricky portage and subsequent descent that would be dangerous after dark.
the stunning Rytjiesvlakte
isolated farm down there
A little trip on tar brought us once again to a valley of 'just can't describe' splendour, the Rytjiesvlakte. I suffered the indignity of a wipeout at speed trying to negotiate a muddy corner and supermanned flat onto the ground. Having the camera bag on my waistbelt meant I landed flat on it. My 'brandnew before the trip' Canon A470 dusted itself off and worked without skipping a beat, but a large roastie remained on my stomach the whole trip home. This might also be the time I banged my right knee (which only really swelled once I stopped riding once finished – funny that).

yet another tafelberg miles from cape town

The rivers levels were all very high here, mostly flowing over the concrete causeways and we passed a bloated cow that must have drowned in the past 48 hours. We started hard up the portage mindful that any mistakes could put us fumbling around in the dark. We all seemed to split up, as there were many cattle paths up the valley and I suppose we all took the 'best' route as we converged at the saddle. Some of the farmers were lagging back, but we couldn't wait with darkness looming. We hiked most of the way down the otherside as it was pretty rough going down to a river crossing. We were now at an old abandoned farmstead and followed the track that would lead us out the valley. It was interesting winding up a river to the cul-de-sac of a valley and popping over into the next one to do the same but in reverse.
cresting the hike

abandoned farmhouse

The track improved the further we went (ie. went from a stream to a road), and we saw the farmhouse that had our support boxes. At this juncture I opened the gate for Danie and a grey rhebok popped over the fence and bounced and pronked away from us as we rode on. At some point he decided that he actually didn't want to go past the farmhouse and turned around to run past us with fences on either side. I thought little of it, as I just kept a straight line following Danie's wheel. The bokkie got very nervous as we approached and the next thing I noticed was him springing in the air clearing past Danie. The thing was that I was also behind Danie and he came into my view with no time to react as he came hurtling into my handlebars. I was stunned on the ground to the right, the bokkie was equally dazed behind me and Danie had turned around with his jaw almost hitting the floor. Well there was no blood and bokkie got up and hightailed it before we could swop insurance numbers. Danie picked me up and we both shook our heads in amazement. I was uninjured, the impact had bent my back brake lever hood (which I bent back that evening) and bokkie seemed alright. My map holder design had specifically been to have everything behind the bar so no bushes and trees would would damage it, this I had not been expecting! The poor guy lost some fur on my wheel, which I put into a ziploc bag for 'show and tell'.
traces of the hit and run
Rather stunned we picked up our goodies and headed on to our accomodation, and old farmhouse now run as a slef catering hunting lodge. We came in just after dark and the earlier guys had got a cracking fire going. It was good fun with the general banter from the day, and we'd caught back up to Tim who'd had a very adventurous trip to Doukrans falling into a freezing river at midnight and given himself a 'rest' day.

Rhodes to Rus de Winter
108km, 3216m altitude gain
9.5 hours door to door

No comments: