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!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 1.....of 2

Early start after a late world cup final. Pity robben chose the wrong time to not fall over for once,that's all I've got to say.

We were on the road by 4 and I found myself alone at the garden route mall waiting for the light(only a dinky headlamp in the bag).

My plan was to do the 'seven passes' old route from george to knysna, with as much legal forestry detours thrown in.
Thing is I didn't even know where to go, as I was starting 'off my maps' and hoping to find signs to saasveld college. When I eventually stopped procrastinating the cold away I found it so damn easily and it was all tar.infact I got worried that the whole route was tarred and my idea was a joke. took me two passes to hit dirt near wilderness heights turn off. The bonus was that the weather circus got the morning showers wrong and it was clear blue sky with snowcapped peaks to the north.

I got to woodville trading store and had a great chat with the engaging owner. My energy efficiency advice on his store and home were compensated with a slice of chocolate cake and a squeegy bottle(my water bottle was near mossel bay by now).

Then it was up the hill to bergplaas forest station to see if I could explore their forests. Turns out its all good and open for just ten bucks,but they just don't advertise it. My other idea was to ride from louvain in the north through the ou voortrekker pass to here, looked much easier on the map. I had a good effort trying to convince a forester that pine trees help cause the area's water shortage. Dead end since they are the largest 'provider' of water in the community.

Surprisingly the tracks on the maps were about 95% accurate which makes forestry navigation doable. The pockets of indigenous forest normally coincided with the really steep bits, and criss crossed the outeniqua trail now and then.

I ended up a little bit adventurous and bombed down a huge valley only to find the road flooded.I half backtracked before canning that idea and getting stubborn. hikeabike of note ensued, with me moving very quickly to avoid detection.

I heard a cat in a tree. Purring away. It was the sillhouette of a loerie, who knew they sounded like that?!I'd like to back it up with proof, but the blackberry doesn't come with a zoom lens.

Now having a lot of fun, but well behind schedule I shifted it down the hill to the forestry village of karatara. Enuff said earlier.

Karatara pass was short but some sweet sweeping turns. Homtini pass a bit later was the deal maker. Plunged down without scrubbing the brakes much.it was a long walk out and I eventually got on top and it was a long gradual fall to phantom pass, the final one. The odd thing is the route is punctuated by tar at its extremities, no doubt from the commuters who escape the rat race, but not as far as hitting the dirt. There are a lot of quirky houses round here, there must be some real characters lurking in these woods.

Phantom pass was another great descent with some blind fast corners. I managed to pull over the knysna bridge in fading light, and hit paydirt at backpackers #2. Recommended island vibe was full, so lake superior it was. No hot shower, but the huge braai made up for it. Great to shoot the sh1t with all the foreign travcellers, but such a pity the locals running the show are so clueless about local issues. Oh the mistruths spread around the globe now.

Tomorrow might be a later start.gonna try old cape road up to simola and then gouna forest to diepwalle for lunch. Then prince alfred pass till the R339 turnoff takes me to plett where my car is chilling.
mailed on the move

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