Riding Trans-Afrika part 2

20151010_104422Just for those that do not know Lesotho. It is not called the mountain kingdom for nothing. Check point 2 is at top of Moteng pass (2820 m). I was very lucky to have a tail wind to help me up. However near the top it turned into Gail force.

This meant the decent was into the wind. First 100 m I had to push to get past the gap in the mountain as it was making the wind blow faster as the wind was funnelled between the nick in the mountain. The wind was so strong that I had to pedal downhill. Everybody was saying you will need a new set of brake pads after decent. Well that is not my case.

Out of the pass riding along the valley where there is a ploughed land along the road the wind got so bad that I got off because it felt like I was not making progress. I then decided that this wind could carry on for a long time as some of the front riders had complained about the wind. I started pedalling again finding that the sand was sand blasting me. Thank goodness for sunglasses or I would not have been able to see for all the sand that was flying. At one point the wind was so bad I had decided to get off. Just at that moment the wind blew me off my bicycle onto the road. Laying in the road I looked up and saw a roof coming in my direction looking like it was going to touch down where I was laying in the road. The sharp edges looked like it was going to be on my right. So I rolled left swinging my arm to try deflect the sharp side away from me. My bicycle was laying on the road between me and the roof with its handle bar straight up. The roof landed on the bicycle with the handle bar braking the force. Causing the bar end on the ground to brake. Only after I finished the race did I see that the carrier was also bent. When the roof landed it got dark and light again as the wind picked it up and blew it further. 20151010_154148The wind slowed down just after that then I pushed my bicycle behind the house where the roof came off. FB_IMG_1446841627523Here out of the wind I had to put my front wheel back on. Finding the wheel was not totally straight. However it was good enough to go on till I reached a place where I could work on it. The back disc break was also touching a little. Released the wheel and tightened it a little off centre so that the disc pad did not touch. This held out quite well. Got a scratch down the arm from the roof.FB_IMG_1446841622854

My aim was to exit Lesotho at the Fickesburg boarder post. So I pushed on into the head wind. Stopping to eat KFC at Butha-buthe. Hit the road in rush hour traffic as the sun was setting. There was a high level of traffic and there was no shoulder to the road. Stopping for a little just hopping the traffic would slow. It is interesting to note home traffic then the rush home for supper. After that most roads start to get more quite. Fatigue was starting to get the better of me so I was getting a little wobbly. There came a good Samaritan about 10 km from the boarder. He rode his car behind me with his hazards lights on and head lights on me. I was glade to exit Lesotho at about 11pm. I found a Hotel to sleep and shower. In the hotel I used spoke spanner to try make the wheel run true. Adjusted back wheel again as brakes were dragging again.

Headed out at sunrise to find breakfast and supplies for the road. From here the road is much friendlier. With less traffic and most roads having some kind of shoulder. Finding progress to be much faster. However fatigue started to set in and to keep the eyes open became the biggest challenge. Stopped at Wepener and slept at the Lord Fraser hotel. Rolling out into the dark at about 3am. Making good progress and then finding myself very drowsy having to stop a few times to sleep for a few minutes along the road. The temperature reached 2.6 degrees without wind chill at this time. From this time all the way to the end of the race I could not feel my left thumb. Making it difficult to know if I was changing gears. Had to keep looking down to check the thumb was in the right place. Had a healthy breakfast at Zastron. Filled all the back pockets up with food so that did not have to stop so much.

At Rouxville stopped at a workshop to get a washer to put on my back axel so that the brake would stop dragging. Tough working against brakes. Nice tail wind down to Aliwal North. This road had road works giving me a full lane.20151012_104043 Stopping at Aliwal north for an early lunch at the wimpy. During lunch the wind turned to a hot head wind making it tough work down to Burgersdorp. Along the way my water got so hot it was making me thirstier.  Mid-afternoon there was a nice windmill with a reservoir full of cold water. Nice to splash and full up with cool water. Arrived in Burgersdorp at sunset just in time to book into a hotel and do some shopping for next day supplies at the spar. Went to bed early so could start riding at about 3am. This was a very nice stretch of road to ride. About 10 am took a photo to brag at good progress by the sign for 60 km to Middleburg. 20151013_082528From here the wind came up and it was a fight against the hot wind. Finally my water came to an end. Lucky to find a small reservoir to full up on water again. Arriving about 2 pm for lunch at Middleburg.

This is when supporters from all angles started to motivate me to go on. So up and over the Lootsberg pass I went. Summiting the pass just as the last sliver of light disappeared. Well thank goodness to down hills that rolled me all the way into Graaff-reinet. Rolled me all the way on to Aberdeen. Only problem was the eyes that could not stay open for the last 50 km. This resulted in many sleeps along the road. Thank goodness there was very little traffic. This put extra time on to the journey. Only arriving at 2am for this reason. Let me tell you there is a B&B called Pagel house. Andy told me to phone a head. Well she woke up for me and put a microwave in my room to warm up supper for me. This is a must sleep spot. Nice beds and hospitality. Also good spring board to push all the way to Prince Albert.20151014_08063020151014_080712

Had good sleep and eat breakfast with the other guests. It was a meal fit for a king( Eggs, mushrooms, potatoes, yogurt, fruit, fruit juice). All comes in a three coarse breakfast. Eat so much that I had a stomach ache until 10am. She will even make you a pack breakfast and lunch if you request. Thought she was a bit pricey but when you look at the food provided and the effort that goes into it, she is under charging. You will get pampered into another world and find it hard to get back on your bicycle. From here the road is friendly until just before the climb up to Willowmore. The road is the straightest I have ever seen. The person painting the yellow line must have used a GPS.  If you look into the distance and put a ruler up it will be straight. 20151014_095358Make sure to stock supplies before facing this road as there are no food or water stops. As became the norm I was having trouble staying awake so this cut down the speed. This is when a companion would be nice to talk you awake on such a straight flat road.

At Willowmore I chose to take the dirt road of 100km towards Prince Albert. Nice road with good scenery and only a few places with stones or sand. In my mind this is much faster than taking the tar road around. A farmer along the road stopped me to have a chat. Finding out I was a farmer he really wanted to get talking. We farmers can talk about all sorts of things the town people would not think of. Things like grazing capacities and breeds of animals that survive in different environments. Night came quick and I had not reached the tar yet. This is a nice stretch of road fairly flat with gentle ups and down.

Tar road to Prince Albert is a real dream. The only problem is that it started to rain. I found out later that it snowed on the Swartberg in some places that night. It did not feel to cold. Then fighting off sleep became a big problem. Falling asleep on a downhill cold be very dangerous. On a few occasions almost fell off the bike. I had phoned Johann Rissik for help with my technical problems on my bicycle. He had gone to bed early so that when I arrived in Prince Albert he would help me out. There are amazing people in this world. He really went out of his way to help me. He met me at 2 am and made sure the Denehof B&B food was ready and waiting for me when I came in. He then went off with my bicycle and repaired it when I was sleeping. He replaced a snapped spoke, stripped hydraulic back brake cylinder that had jammed causing it to rub all the time causing drag. This is why I had put a washer on the axel to stop the drag.  He worked on my jockey wheels that looked like they were going to wobble off at one stage. He put some reflectors on peddles to increase visibility. In the morning when I woke up there was a message on my phone to say the bicycle is outside weighting for me. He saw I was sleeping so well he did not want to disturb me. Denehof also had a wonderful breakfast set in a cape Dutch garden. With herbs which look so fresh they must have just been picked from some garden. The B&B has thick walls build by the Dutch over a 100 years back.20151015_08324820151015_074236

 

The push up the Swartberg pass is amazing. The rock formations are crazy. Starting at the bottom in the heat with the sun shining down.

As I progressed higher up the clouds started to cover the top of the mountain. Eventually entering the cloud near the summit of the pass. At the summit the wind was blowing very hard with the wind blowing rain sideways. Some of the rain drops drifted almost like sleet. 20151015_140330Now was the mega downhill with rain and wind. Stopped for food and to warmed up at a fire in a restaurant at the bottom of the mountain. Then took the route with the most sand road.

This is some of the most beautiful area of the whole race. Really enjoyed this ride down hills and valleys with small dairy farms and irrigation ditches.

Sleeping in Calitzdorp and riding out well before sunrise. Route 62 is a nice road with lots of interesting tourist places. There were a lot of motor bikes out on breakfast runs or tours. Route 62 is not flat but has passes and farms along the route with small towns where you can stop to eat or purchase home industry goods.

At one point I thought to try make it all the way to the finish in one ride. However the sleep started to play with me. So stopped to sleep in Worcester and made ride up Bainskloof in the morning. This is child’s play compared to the other mountains.20151017_091326

 

Just before Durbanville Marias met me and then Andy and his team. They escorted me all the way to Bloubergstrand, Eden on the bay.

Finishing in 13 days 9 hours and 17 minutes.IMG_0471

Steff the winner of the race who finished in 8 days handed me my troughy and lantin for been the last in.IMG_0474Writing this makes me tempted to ride next year. Hope to see some of you riding.

 

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