The Cape 1000, again

As I stab at the keyboard in an air-conditioned office, I look outside and yearn for the simplicity of the Karoo. What happened in December? We cycled from dusk till dawn, about 4 times, luckily not 5, but certainly not the 3 that had hoped for.

This was unfinished business. My last blog entry was the failed 1000km attempt in April 2016. Since then we got our first child (a now 9 month old genius, who we absolutely adore) and I pretty much stopped cycling. But none of that mattered, because there is only one way to describe this ride —

It’s not a race. It is an unsupported solo effort in which you carry what you need or acquire same on road, at establishments open to everybody — no convoy or dedicated support team looking after you.

You also get a brevet card that needs to be signed at various control points along the way, that have set open and closing times based on average moving speeds.

The 75 hour time limit might be too strict for some. Hear me out. If Wimpie completed PBP in 61 hours, despite it being 230kms longer, compared to 67 hours for the first Cape 1000, then my expected finish should be 78*67/61 = 85 hours, which is out of time. Let’s see what happened.

The route goes from Vrede outside Stellenbosch to Wellington, over Bainskloof to Rawsonville, Robertson, Route 62 to Barrydale, Ladismith, Oudtshoorn, then over Robinson pass to Hartenbos and back, for a total of seven controls in each direction.

Only five participants this time — Chris, Rob, Theunis, Kenneth and myself. Chris was much stronger than the rest of us (and recently completed a mountainous 2200kms in 136 hours in Italy) and was always going to have deal with riding alone —

He ended up starting late, then hung around with till Bainskloof before picking up the pace to reach the 500km mark in Hartenbos in under 25 hours (included having to wait for the shops to open in Ladismith for some food).

While having beers after we finished, he mentioned looking over his shoulder from time to time to try and spot us. Sleep deprivation messes with your head.

It starts

Friday 9 December, 6pm. We had a slight delay as Theunis’ wallet was nicked just before the start. Not ideal. He quickly made a couple of phone calls to cancel his cards before we set off, fifteen minutes later than scheduled.

Everyone cheerfully cycled out of Vrede, passed Klapmuts and through Paarl. Chris mentioned that it is the longest main road (12kms) of any town in South Africa. The sun was setting and we saw great examples of Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture.

After 40kms we signed in to our first control in Wellington, then on to the first of eight mountain passes, which we’d have to do in both directions.

40km // Wellington // 19:40 on Fri 9 Dec.

Every time I go over Bainskloof pass I enjoy it more, especially ascending from Wellington’s side. I was last to the top and made up for it on the way down. Kenneth joined Rob and myself and we picked up Theunis on our way to the second control.

100km // Rawsonville // 23:00 on Fri 9 Dec.

We arrived at Rawsonville, still feeling fresh. After a snack and a signature we were off towards Worcester, opting for the street lights through town rather than the alternative around Aan-de-Doorns. Theunis had his reservations, but we were soon turning right onto Route 60 from Worcester and had another 50 odd kilometers to Robertson.

We pedaled into a strong draft and up a subtle incline towards Graham Beck, before the delightful last 10kms into town, where we regrouped at the 24hr Shell garage.

166km // Robertson // 3:20am on Sat 10 Dec.

Some niggles emerged. Rob was in a bad spot and hinted at us carrying on without him. Theunis had a damaged elbow after the recent Stellenbosch race and signaled he was ready to stop if Rob did.

Kenneth and myself were in no hurry and we waited until everyone was ready to carry on. This pit stop turned out to be slightly longer than expected. Off we went towards Barrydale, 90kms on, but first we had to negotiate the never-ending roadworks through Ashton & Cogmanskloof.

Poof, and he’s gone — for all the agony that Rob endured thus far, the last pit stop must have done him a world of good because he blasted away from the rest of us and we only caught up with him around Ashton. I was very happy to see his newfound energy and mentioned that no-one who rides like that is allowed to quit.

The sun was out and our spirits were high as we hopped onto Route 62, through the staggering beauty of the rock formations before Montagu, which is aptly named as the rock climbing capital of South Africa.

Wildehondsfokkenkloofhoogtepass

Pardon my French, but this is a killer in the summer heat. No wonder the DC races this one coming down. The rolling hills after Montagu soon becomes a long slog higher up to climb to the top of Op-de-Tradouw. I still had mental scars from the previous failed Cape 1000km.

But before we got there, Saint Peter emerged. Man oh man, was I glad to see the guys at the Akkerboom farm stall, where everyone stopped to gather their senses. Peter was in charge of the safety vehicle and it seems that he knows, better than anyone else, what a tired long distance cyclist needs. Legendary.

Refreshed and wide awake we set off towards a not too distant Barrydale. We immediately reached some top speeds coming down the freshly tarred surface of Op-de-Tradouws pass. It didn’t take us long to reach the next control and now we were in the Klein Karoo.

250km // Barrydale // 10:30am on Sat 10 Dec.

25% done. It begged for celebration and we had our first beers of the ride. We set off after a light snack, starting with a climb on the outskirt of town. Just after we got going I headed for the closest patch of shade and liberally applied some suntan lotion. It was scorching outside and the last thing you want on a long ride is sunburn on day one.

Single file to the Sex Shop. Our humble four man peloton stretched out and splintered, with Rob & Theunis in front and Kenneth and myself at the back, but keeping great rhythm.

We heard a vehicle slow down next to us and I saw it was Henri and his wife in their Kombi, our next safety car. We carried on till Ronnies Sex shop where Kenneth & myself pulled in for another beer. It was hot, after all.

After the stop I felt great and picked up speed and got to the front, cycling a long stretch on my own. I felt like a kid with a new toy and pedaled towards the horizon. Then my front light fitting snapped off and I had to take a compulsory break to stop and mend it.

While I was fiddling around in the shade, Rob appeared from behind, with some bad news. Theunis’ elbow worsened to such an extent that he couldn’t sufficiently grip his handlebar anymore. It was unsafe to continue and so his ride ended just before Ladismith.

Theunis lent me his O-ring. Suggestive as it sounds, it simply meant I had a properly mounted front light again. The last 10kms into town is a bit of a drag and we were happy to finally roll into Steers. It was wide open for business, unlike the closed doors Chris encountered (much) earlier.

333km // Ladismith // 16:40 on Sat 10 Dec.

And then there were two, as Kenneth was also forced to stop in Ladismith, unfortunately. Pity, as we shared many miles together while I was still up in JHB.

This left two of us and just about 700kms to go. I didn’t want to linger too long, as Huisrivier pass was up ahead and I wanted to get a head-start before the climbs, while Rob was still having a nap in the restaurant.

Shortly before I reached the magical descent at the start of the pass, I stopped at out safety vehicle for a quick word with Peter and sent a text to Rob — ‘don’t quit, you’ll most certainly regret it later on’. Later I learned that Yoli said exactly the same, and he set off from Ladismith to continue his adventure.

The Huisrivier descent is something to behold. It was getting dark and I positively flew down the mountain — road surface was excellent and sweeping turn keeps you entertained all the way down. After crossing the river I passed that house and remembered my impromptu nap on the previous 1000.

I felt 100% better this time, but it was slightly concerning that it took longer to get here, despite no health issues. And so began my last slog up the steep and straight road out of the valley before revealing Calitzdorp below.

Not sure what time I rolled into town, but it was dark and just after dinner. I sat down at the first place that looked inviting and was greeted with a a menu and a small glass of port — this is the port capital of South Africa, after all.

After the burger and beer I struggled to stay awake, while looking out for Rob’s light to appear. When he arrived, I was happy to see he looked much better than last time I saw him (or sunburn just doesn’t look as severe at night).

As he ordered something from the menu I lay flat on the stoep and dozed off into a rhythmic sleep. Only until an inebriated fellow from the bar came out to strike up a conversation about the days he still rode the Cape Argus. Not now.

I was half asleep but gathered that the restaurant owner couldn’t believe we were still on our way to Oudtshoorn that evening and she promptly called her friend at the newly renovated The Calitz to offer us accommodation. We gladly obliged and agreed to set our alarms for 2:30am.

Rookie mistake. This kind of things happens when you are too tired to think straight — I’m a notoriously deep sleeper and only woke up when Rob barged into my room at sunrise. He did set his alarm for 2:30am. But for for the wrong day.

Waking up to daybreak, we were over time. Even before the ride we decided to finish no matter what (knowing the 75 hour cut-off might be a tall order). In a sense, this was a relief. With no clock to chase, our ride would turn into an adventure.

But on the flip-side, why carry on at all? Rob wanted to test his mental and physical ability for TCR — and he passed with flying colours. Off we went, slightly disappointed about being out of time but all the same excited about finishing what we have started.

Can you feel it?

Lego in to Oudtshoorn — this is the act of getting your bruised nether-region back onto the saddle after hundreds of kilometers in the saddle. There is no correct way to do this and you have to keep trying until you can imagine hearing a distinct click. Sometimes it takes more than one attempt, prompting a couple of standing strides in between.

After Lego-ing in on our second and thirds attempts respectively, we headed for Oudtshoorn. The early morning Karoo was glorious, with just a few Parmalat trucks on the road. Conversation wad flowing and life was great. We saw a beard on a bicycle approach from the front and we greeted him in passing.

My bicycle was taking strain and making all sorts of funny noises. It couldn’t have been the bottom bracket, as I had it replaced during a service just before this ride and I was slightly annoyed about it not being in tip top shape.

We stopped and applied some chain lube. This altered subsequent noises and it became clear that the rear bearings were taking strain. It was Sunday morning in the Karoo and the outlook of an open bike shop was bleak.

I remember the ‘Vleispaleis’ Spur advertising board just before Oudtshoorn for two reasons. Firstly, because it had changed recently. I cycled here the 100kms from Ladismith to Oudtshoorn just last week, accompanying Jaco when he came to ask his in-laws-to-be to to marry his lovely girlfriend, Neena.

Secondly, because I have now come further than on the previous Cape 1000. Alarmingly, it took us much longer. Either way, we rolled into town and headed straight to Miles Guest House, where Henri and Andriette greeted us. Getting here was milestone, as I went through a bit of a dip on the way here, cranky bike and all.

430km // Oudtshoorn // 8:20am on Sun 12 Dec.

Shall I fetch a hammer? I’ll be the first to admit that I am no handyman. I have two left hands and after 34 years on earth, the only tool that I have (barely) mastered is the mighty hammer.

But Henri is a man of many talents and he casually mended my bicycle while we were all sitting outside on the lawn. He opened the hub and lubed the bearings like a boss. Thanks mate, you saved my ride.

After a shower, fresh kit, breakfast, great coffee and more sun-screen (the weather forecast indicated another scorcher), we set off. To say we were mildly excited about the prospect of reach the halfway mark is a complete understatement. We were glowing, and not yet from the sun. Hartenbos, here we come.

But watch out on the R328. It was around 80km till halfway. The first 20km went by easily enough. I started tracking the remaining kilometers to by using the white distance markers next to the road — much more entertaining than using a trip computer.

Traffic towards the coast increased substantially and unfortunately we encountered a couple of ignorant and incompetent drivers, spoiling it for the rest. The worst was a chap towing a caravan, who almost wiped out Rob when swerving into the left lane.

Having never witnessed an angry Mr Walker before, the justified verbal lashing that followed was a first for me. Pity that the driver didn’t hear it. The intended recipient was blissfully unaware of the catastrophe he almost caused en route to his holiday.

Just think for a moment. That cyclist next to the road also has parents. And siblings. And a wife. And children. And friends. Which makes the fact that our recent passing hell-driver had three children’s bikes on the back of his caravan even more annoying…

Our elevation soon increased by 200 meters, followed by a number of rolling hills to took us higher each time, to the last sweeping climb that would take us up another ‘Helshoogte’ (250 meters) to the top of Robinson pass.

I followed up the climb, to the extent that Rob only became a little dot in the distance, but made up for it coming down, catching him before Eight Bells. We were now heading down to the coast.

Or not. The wind almost blew us back up again. The closer we got to the ocean, the stronger it blew. With no more protection from the mountains around us, we were exposed on the open flats and worked hard to make any decent progress. The final last bit over the N2 was energy sapping stuff.

Facebook reminded me that Rob and I have been friends for two years. How appropriate, given the fact that we were currently busy with another adventure.

Halfpad.

500km // Hartenbos // 3pm on Sun 11 Dec.

The smell of ocean was oh-so-welcome. I cycled ahead to find for a pharmacy. Being Sunday afternoon, it was closed and the next best thing was off-the-shelf painkillers at Pick-n-Pay. They were about as effective as a suicide bomber with a wet fuse.

We stopped for the soft seats and a bite to eat at Wimpy, elated to be halfway and looking forward to the return leg and assistance of a tailwind. It certainly felt like we deserved it by now.

There was still the small matter of going over Robinson pass again. This time we would start at sea level and climb for 30km to get up to 860 meters. Lego in and off we go.

The climb back up wasn’t nearly as difficult as what we had mentally prepared for. In fact, I rather liked it. Everything was in our favour — tailwind, lower temperature, silent misty conditions, and the fact that we were going home.

We stopped at Eight Bells for a quick beer, just because we could. It was decided that we should have dinner in Oudtshoorn and head back to The Calitz for a couple of hours’ sleep. It was getting dark as we rolled out and a light mist rain saw us to the top of the pass.

Rob started the descent while I was still taking a picture of my favorite road sign and then faffed around with my handlebar bag for a while. This time I didn’t catch up to him as soon as I thought. And when I arrived I was positively startled…

Freewheeling down the lower slopes of the pass I noticed a house on the right hand side with the porch light on. There was someone outside and from afar it looked like an attractive lady. As I got closer I saw a stunning woman in a dress —

I was about to greet when I saw her face didn’t move and realized it was a manikin. Fucking creepy. A shiver ran down my spine as I was expecting Leatherface to chase me down with his chainsaw in order to construct himself a fresh flesh face mask.

‘Did your see that?’, I asked when seeing Rob. Granted, we were tired. It was dark. And I do have a bit of a imagination. But he saw it as well. Sigh of relief, mind in tact. We took off our rain jackets and headed for Oudtshoorn.

On this side of the mountain the weather was completely different. It was a wind-still, full-moon, South African summer’s evening — the ones especially reserved for December holidays and impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.

There was no-one else around and we were having the time of our lives. I switched off my headlight and continued to ride at speed on the clear moonlit road ahead. I wanted to bottle and savor the moment.

All to soon we reached the lights of Oudtshoorn, happily chatting as we rolled into town. Restaurants were closed and we headed for the 24hr garage.

592km // Oudtshoorn // 22:30 on Sun 11 Dec.

In a sudden bold move, Rob grabbed the last garage pie — buyer beware. I, on the other hand, didn’t want tempt fate and chose my dinner based on the furthest expiry date. We sat on a wooden bench in a dark corner outside, before the 50km back to Calitzdorp.

On that flat stretch Route 62 out of Oudtshoorn, we had an epiphany. If someone ever asked you why you cycled long distances into the night, the answer would be in this moment. Sharing a great experience with a great mate on a great road — why would you not want to do this. We didn’t want it to end.

640km // Calitzdorp // 2:30am on Mon 12 Dec.

We arrived at Calitzdorp at exactly the time that we had set our alarms for 24 hours earlier. Full circle. The owners had left a brilliant welcome note at the accommodation. Sometimes it’s the the small things that matter most.

We slept for four hours, which is much more than my usual budget on a ride like this, but we had the luxury of being out of time. Waking up at 06:30, I experience a slow morning, taking ages to get going.

Tried to Lego in. Not yet. My timing was out. Had to stand and pedal a little longer. On our way out, we passed the graveyard where our hopes was buried on the previous attempt. How things have changed.

The gradual incline out of town was a great warmup before we got to bullet down the roller coaster downhill to cross the bottom of the Huisrivier. Rob went ahead as I assumed my usual position.

The day was heating up as we climbed out the other side. It was Monday morning and my office had a different view, as I pedaled up the sweeping bends. We stopped to reminisce at the final viewpoint, looking down into the majestic valley.

680km // Ladismith // 11am on Mon 12 Dec.

This turned out to be another four hour stop. We ate and slept under the aircon in the corner of the Steers, a very familiar spot by now, in order to skip the worst heat of the day. I was ready to go sooner, but with long distance riding we all experience highs and lows at different times and you simply wait for your mate.

While we were resting a breeze picked up.

WTF. When I saw the flags outside howling in the wrong direction I was so surprised that I got Forest Whitaker Eye. It couldn’t be. Seven hundred kilometers in and we’ve only had 30km of favorable wind.

Long hours in extreme conditions lead to bizarre moments and this was one of them. As I rolled out of the Steers in Ladismith I found Rob outside in the wind, standing over his bike, not quite ready to go, with his head slightly tilted and staring into the distance. He slowly murmured, like a deep vein heroin addict,

“This is the fourth time that I’ve tried to quit…”

I almost fell over laughing (not for a moment considering that he might have been serious). Exhaustion leads to miscommunication and this wasn’t our first or last broken telephone. We soldiered into the heat and wind, with just 80kms to Barrydale.

Until we ran out of water. We quickly burned through our sources of energy and all bottles were empty. Dry and desperate during the peak of summer in the Klein Karoo. We’d happily knock on the door of a farm house, but there were none.

Our current pace would see us to Barrydale only after everything was closed. The only hope was to get to Ronnies Sex shop, which we thought was located closer to Ladismith. How wrong we were. It became like an oasis, never arriving.

We finally stopped to check the GPS and found it was still 20kms out. That was almost another hour and we were already on our last legs.

I spotted the dust from a bakkie traveling towards the R62 and desperately chased down the road to arrive at the farm gate simultaneously. The single occupant looked like a Boer-soek-‘n-vrou contestant. I asked for water but he had none.

“The Sex Shop is just 10½ kms down the road.”

As he pulled away I noticed the picnic basket with beers in the passenger seat footwell. Sonofab*tch, he didn’t even offer. Standing in his dust, we phoned to enquire till what time Ronnie’s would be open. But the phone just rang. They were already closed.

Broken. A lot depends on the way you see things. Nature highlighted this with a perfect metaphor. On the left of the road was a broken wind pump, against the backdrop of ominous rain-filled clouds. But on the right was the last daylight and a couple of clouds with literally, a silver lining. Things were about to change.

What are you sinking about?

We pulled into the driveway just before the Sex Shop and made way to the house, willing to do anything for some water. Lo and behold, it was Ronnie’s house (makes a lot of sense, come to think of it) and his wife opened the door. We were invited in and he even took us to the Warmwaterberg Spa across the road for dinner, while he was having beers and telling stories.

On our way back to his house we missed a duiker in the road by the narrowest of margins. It was now dark and he offered us beds for the night. When we counter-offered with a request to nap outside on his stoep, he had that ‘I-have-seen-a-lot-of-weird-shit-in-my-life-but-you-two-rank-right-up-there’ expression.

Nevertheless, he agreed and we settled in. It was cold and looked like rain so we tried to get cozy. I grabbed the welcome mat and Rob crawled in under the cat’s blanket. My only concern was that the cat’s blanket was already wet before the rains.

Exactly one hour later, without the benefit of any additional rest, we set off into the light drizzle. It became a proper shower before we reached the end of the driveway and we promptly returned to our respective nests.

Deceit

Rob saw two gaps. The first was one in the weather — he checked the online and saw a grace period before another approaching shower. The second gap was and opportunity to pull a fast one — when the shower subsided, he notified me that the rain was over. Like a sheep I obliged and followed him on my bicycle.

Good thing he did, because I would not have been easily persuaded otherwise. So high five for that. He is a quick learner. We must have finally left there around 2-3am. With only 100km since Calitzdorp, this was our slowest day ever, by a long margin.

My lowest point during the ride came there, in the dark and rain during the cold patch before sunrise. I walked for a minute. But shortly after getting back on, we were flying down the descent into town. Sure thing, nothing was open in Barrydale.

770km // Barrydale // 4am on Tue 13 Dec.

We briefly sat on the stoep of the Backpackers where our drop bags were locked inside, debating what to do next. We had different needs at the time. He wanted to ride. I wanted fresh kit. To be honest, we could both do with a shower, given that cat blankie.

Rob slowly continued. I was only too happy to pull in under the pool table cover the protect me from the oversized mosquitoes while lying on the cold stone floor, waiting for, among other things, better days.

At 5am the owner arrived and within minutes I felt like a new person. It is amazing what a shower a toothbrush and warm, fresh cycling kit can do. I set off knowing that we both made the right decision. The massive rainbow to my left agreed.

Going over Op-de-Tradouw felt effortless. I saw Peter at the top, who came out once more with the safety vehicle. He deserves a medal more than we do. His enthusiasm and support of our efforts were humbling.

He also said Rob was already in Montagu, 1½ hours ahead of me, so I should get a move on. Which I did. Getting there was fun. I popped into Spar for jelly and custard under the aircon, before navigating the Cogmanskloof and Ashton road works.

860km // Robertson // 11am on Tue 13 Dec.

Rob was at the Wimpy, ready to go. He must have been waiting quite a while. I grabbed a quick breakfast with coke floats and went to the loo before we set off again. And how we did.

Finally, we were flying. Over the short hill and after Graham Beck there was no stopping us. It was an amazing feeling. Over 800kms in the legs and we were cycling well above 40km/h on the flats. It was about time.

The GPS Eugene gave me for Christmas showed the time for each 5km interval and it was very refreshing to see them tick by at between 6 and 7 minutes at a time.

Just before Worcester we saw Jaco at a padstal, who came out to cheer us on. After Worcester we alternated things by going on the N1 for a very short while before turning left towards Rawsonville, in stead of our usual way in.

933km // Rawsonville // 16:15 on Tue 13 Dec.

I have been craving pizza for the last 900kms and finally it came, just in time. We pulled into a regular stop,opposite Goudini Spa. The kitchen was about to close but it didn’t take much convincing to push out a last order.

Lying on the lawn under the massive oak trees, sipping beers and waiting for damn fine pizza at the Dam Fine Cafe, I was completely satisfied and completely relaxed. We made it. Back on home turf. Just a quick hop over Bainskloof. We pushed our bikes through the sprinklers to cool down and set of into the sunset.

And what a sunset it was. Without a doubt my favourite stint through the Slanghoek valley — and we’ve been down here a lot. I mentioned that I’d prefer to retire in the mountains than by the ocean and this looked as good a place to do so as any.

Irrespective of the fading sun, it was still very hot out and we stopped at the Calabash bush pub before climbing over the pass. No beers this time, just some Cokes & Grapetizers to cool down.

Going up Bainskloof with a tail wind under a clear full moon sky is something to behold. It was also dead quiet, with no-one around. The only car I noticed was just before the summit and it looked kind of familiar. Indeed it was. A parental unit decided to pop in and see how we were doing.

There was a report in the local newspaper about leopards being spotted there, after all. I wasn’t concerned about that as no self-respecting leopard with any sense of smell would have come close to these two cyclists. But I was glad about the safety vehicle into Wellington, as this was some of strongest winds we’ve encountered on this pass.

By now the feeling was bitter sweet. I didn’t want the ride to stop. We experienced both cycling heaven and hell. But the moments of bliss were so good, that it completely trumped any hardship.

960km // Wellington // 21.30pm on Tue 13 Dec.

I was surprised to hear Chris’ voice behind us. We sat at the Steers in Wellington, having a last milkshake, when he showed up in a silver CLC. I thought he was just stopping by, but he cheered us all the way home. Totally unexpected and much appreciated.

Through Paarl, restaurants were closing and a few over-exuberant patrons were making their way home. When I heard cheers from behind, I thought it was another one of those, until I recognised Theunis’ car with Yoli in the passenger seat. By now the ratio of our entourage was 3 safety cars to 2 bicycles.

On the Old Paarl Road back home, Theunis offered me my first draught while cycling, slightly pre-emptive, but I figured the effort so far deserved one. It didn’t touch sides.

1026km // Stellenbosch // 23:59 on Tue 13 Dec.

We finally reached the end of the road, turning left from the smooth tar of the R304 into Vrede for the last ½ km through the tree-lined path up to the house. We arrived at 23:59 — in the nick of time, all things considered. Then we sat on the front stoep and had more beers, with Chris, Theunis, Yoli and my family. It was full moon and our adventure had come to an end.

Hors délais

We proudly finished out of time. Riding time 58 hours and total time 101 hours, meaning we spent 40 hours off the bike. Not having to chase the clock, oversleeping and running out of food & water compounded the situation. It’s astonishing to see how quickly extra time at each stop adds up to a working week. Nevertheless, what better way to start a December holiday.

Many thanks to everyone who cheered us on and off the road —  Peter & Bronwen, Henri & Andriette, Chris, Theunis, Kenneth, Jaco, Yoli and Valerida & my family for running the ship back home.

Again? Not in December, for three simple reasons — high temperatures, mad winds and silly drivers speeding to their holiday destinations. I’m not one to complain, after all, I picked the date. But watch this space. In order to get a R-5000 award, we’ll have to complete another 1000km BRM, in time.

Randonneuring can be summarized as a connection of emotional highs and lows. You never know which comes first and no matter how good or bad it seems at that very moment, you can be certain that things are about to change.

This ride had six very distinct highlights — When Rob decided to carry on cycling. R328 back to Oudtshoorn during full moon. Flying to Worcester with 800km in the legs. Lying at the Dam Fine cafe, knowing we’ve done it. Magical Slanghoek valley at sunset. Ascending a quiet Bainskloof under a full moon.

What have I learned?

Don’t quit at night, everything seems better in the morning. Don’t let others quit when they first mention it. The first part is usually the toughest and the longer you go, the stronger you grow. This ride was a case in point as we had to endure the worst in the beginning to get the best at the end. And it was so worth it.

Nothing beats a good attitude and a great sense of humour during tough conditions. What was said on tour, stays on tour. With a chop in each hand. Check Rob’s blog at justkeeppedalling.com and the strava entry.

Leave a Reply

Scroll Up