Run away to Africa-Mukumbura to Cohora basa dam

Mukumbura

Boy was I glad to see the village. I asked around if there were any sleeping establishments in town/village. They all waved their finger in the same direction. So off I went on my bicycle. What a greeting I got. They showed me a room with a foam double bed mattress and mosquito net with side table and an extra room to put my bicycle. All the above for R 100 for the night.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Then there was this old man that had never seen such a nice bicycle in his life. He asked to clean it for me for nothing. It was a good thing as it was covered in mud from the sand road in the rain. I watched him clean it. He cleaned it with such love and amazement to see such a machine.

Digital Camera

Then there was a lady that volunteered to clean my cycling shoes for no fee. Then another ran off and put a bucket of water for me to bath out of, in the special place only where the staff is allowed to go. It was a small room with a hole in the floor where the water ran down. This was a good thing as I was covered in mud and sand from top to toe.

Digital Camera

All cleaned up and feeling better. Off I went to the club come dance hall or was it a third world restaurant which was joined to the lager formation of rooms, I was staying in. I ordered half chicken and sadsa (Maize meal-pap). This made me feel a lot better after getting some food in the stomach. Thinking of it now this was the first proper meal since eating at Mavingo two days before. I do not think two minute noodles are real food.

Digital Camera

Back in the room and did some equipment checks and looked at maps to get ready for the next day. As the sun fell there was a big electrical storm promising a good down pour of rain. It was dry and dusty. It looked like rain had not fallen in this village for a very long time. Off to the dance hall I went where the boom boxes were doing their thing. Every now and then there was a power failer and they started the generator out back.

Much to my surprise the transport driver and another man were trying to make conversation with me. However the noise from the boom box was so loud that I could not make out what they were saying. So they invited me to join them on the veranda up front where the noise was not so bad. I will leave out the transport drivers name as he may get problems if somebody reads this. He made sure I got his cell number so that if I need help he could help. Then he pushes for my cell number eventually let him have it. Little did I know he would keep contacting me to see if I was alright on the road. Then after returning home he also has kept contact with me. Seems there was a second agenda to do business deals.

I asked him about how he copes with petrol shortages in his transport business. Why does he not have offshore Dollar bank account as he is working in Dollars. Then there arrives an off duty police man he quickly changed the conversation. Seems to me they have to walk carefully or they will be said to be going against the government.

That night I had a really good sleep that made up for the night before.  I was up by 5 am next morning as the boarder opened at 6 am. Had a photo shoot with those at the sleeping establishment before leaving. They were a really friendly bunch.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Out here there are not many luxuries. There are a few shallow wells where water is raised by bucket. That is why they set a bucket out for me to clean up in, the day before. No water on tap in the town.

Digital Camera

All the toilets in town are pit toilets. This must help to save water.  Behind the sleeping establishment was a chicken egg layer unit of about 200 chickens. This looked like it was to supply the town with fresh eggs.

Digital Camera

At the border crossing, I just leaned the bicycle against the gate and walked into the immigration office without locking the bicycle. Handed over passport and they put a stamp in it. Then I asked about customs as I had to declare my bicycle at Beitbridge. They said next door, so I went into the office next door. A man in plain clothes behind a desk asked me to take a seat across the deck from him. Told him about the bicycle and he said no problem, that I can go. I said shouldn’t he put a stamp on my document to prove that I entered Mozambique with it.  Just in case somebody stops me at the next boarder. Then I can prove that I came into the country with it. He says no problem, puts a stamp on my document. He was very nice and made some small talk with me.

Walked out, got on my bicycle and flashed my passport at the pedestrian gate. Off I cycled into no man’s land to cross the river bed. There was a vehicle gate but it had a lock that looked like it had rusted closed. Fortunately the rain was not too heavy during the night. The rain had left a few puddles in the river bed. The river bed was very sandy so had to get off and pushed the bicycle across. There were a lot of locals walking across. Looks like they move backwards and forwards between the towns on both sides of the river or should I call it a dry river bed..

Mozambique

Came to the boom gate on the Mozambique side and all of a sudden it is Portuguese and nobody understands me. Wow, it was only about 300 m from been understood to been uneducated and having to use sign language.

Had to go into the first door at the gate then cross the road to immigration office. Again I sat across a desk from the official, with a big book on his desk. Lucky this official could speak a little English. He wrote down in the book and put a stamp in my passport. When I came out of the office there were a few locals gathered to look at my nice bicycle, which was not locked. Was hard to tell where official buildings end and village begins. About 400 m from the boarder there was a sign that said N1. In South Africa that is the route number for the main route from north to south.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

The N1 is a sand road that would need a 4X4 if wet. I passed two donkey cars, one motor bike and a two wheel drive pick up in the next 35 km. Stopped to make breakfast at about 10 am. Nice bushveld most of the way. There were farm lands cut out of the bush. Looks like a no till farming method using a hoe. All fields have a small thatched shelter next to it so they can get out of the midday sun. Looks like they also keep an eye out for elephants coming to damage their crops, from this shelter.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

At Magoe some men at a road corner pointed the way to a sleeping establishment. The people at the establishment could not understand me. However I did buy some cold water from the fridge. This I gulped down, almost finishing the bottle sitting on the veranda. What a relief to drink some cold water. Showed a picture of my tent when I camped at Harare. They said there is a place 12 km up the tar road that starts at the edge of town. So I decide to ride for the place as it is in the direction I want to go. Used Metical to purchase the water, which I had from my holiday the year before when we went to a lodge north of Xai Xai.

Well very nice new road that runs east parallel to a mountain.  After 12 km there was no turning, 20 km still no turning, after 30 km also no turning. Eventually my water run out as it was very hot. Just when I thought I could go no more, I saw a man on a bicycle. So I knew there was a village coming up. At the village there was a road block and I was just waved through. I stopped to ask directions to Estima. That village had water from a fridge, in this heat it is like gold. Nobody spoke English at this village. Point bicycle and say Harare and Mucumbura. People gathered in amazement and heard Harare echoing through the village.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

By the time night came I knew I am not going to get a lodge or camp. I just kept riding into the dark. Eventually I could see on the dam side that there were a few well lit places. However riding with a weak head lamp I could have ridden in between a herd of elephants without knowing it. So I decided to stop at a village. Distance travelled for the day was the most I did on this trip, it was 165 km for the day. At this point I would like to say I was looking for a camp site as I was afraid there may be landmines along the road. This is from the long civil war the country had. Thinking back there was most likely lots of safe places to camp away from villages in the bush. There was also old road builders clearings that would have been safe.

Pulled off the road at a village around 8 pm and cleats would not disengage so I fell down. The first person I saw was an old man. He summoned a young man that could speak English. The old man said he could not give permission to put my tent up and that I must go ask the night guard. We walked to the night guard. This guard keeps the elephants out of village and away from the lands. He says he does not have authority to let me do this. We have to go and get permission from the headman of the village.

After waiting about 15 minutes outside the headman’s house he came from another place in the village. The youngster bowed down to be lower than the senior man. Then explained my position to him. He agreed for me to pitch my tent outside his house. Then he sat down under a tree where a group of men sat and talked. He asked if I had food. I said that I do and will cook some food for myself. After eating I went to sit under the tree in the dark with them. However I did not understand a word. After a short time I excused myself and went to sleep.

At sunrise I packed up camp and had breakfast. The young man that translated for me the night before came and we went to the headman of the village. I thanked him in English and my translator spoke for me. The headman was friendly and bid me fare well in his language. I do not want to make anybody against any future traveller so did my best to respect their way of life. As I rode out of the village, I took a photo but it did not give the right feeling for how the village was.

Digital Camera

On the road again I passed a few villages were all the ladies were starting to queue at the wells. So it was actually easy to see where all the places of water were at each village. My water was running low and did not want to push into any of the ques. So I stopped at a roadside stall or shop. It was a half falling down building without a fridge. There I purchased two Coca Colas with the last Metical that I had.

Digital Camera

When I got to Estima I found it a dusty little village with an ATM. There was a dry river bed running through the middle of the village where government had send backacters to dig holes in the river bed so locals could get water. Water was green with cattle and people standing next to each other getting water.

I decided that I must be with in 20 km from Songa so decided not to get cash at ATM. I pushed on only to find road start going up and up. The temperature was starting to climb deep into the 30’s. I then saw a water tank and knew that they had a borehole. Stopped and found a man that was looking after animal pens. So much to my disappointment he did not show me a tap. He went into a zinc house and bought me out a cup full of water so not to disappoint him for his charity in this dry rocky landscape. I accepted and drunk it. Also I was getting little dehydrated. I asked him to fill my water bottle and bladder in my pannion. I rode off thankful for the new lease on life but stopped about a kilometer up the road and put purification tablets in the water and made sure I had a good drink to mix purified water with that in my stomach.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Well the biggest hill I have ever tried to ride lay ahead of me. I had to walk a large portion of it. By halfway the water was finished so started to keep my eye out for water. Up a steep pathway came a young boy pushing a bicycle with sixty litre of water. So off down the path I went. About a kilometer from the road I found a cattle kraal (holding pen) and ladies waiting for their turn to get water. I asked for water and out came a dirty cup. I showed them with hand signs that I was looking to full up my bottle and bladder in pannion. They were all laughing and helped me right away.

Down went the bucket into the well. It was only about two meters under the ground. I had about four metical on me so gave it to the one with the bucket that raised me the water out of the well.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Pushed bike up the hill a little way and using my straw of life (filter for water), drank some water.

Digital Camera

The pathway was too steep to ride so pushed my bicycle back to tar road. On the way a small child came down the path and ran screaming down to the safety of some people down the slope. I must have looked like a white monster to it. White people are not very common in most of these small villages.

Not far up the road was a busy village. There was a boom gate just on the other side of the village. I tried to get a person’s attention to see if I could go past. The boom looked like a military controlled gate. There was an office with people moving in and out. Finally attracted a person’s attention and he managed to indicate that it would not be a problem if I went through. There was a sign to say the tiger fishing lodge was this way. Much to my joy it was mostly downhill. By now the temperature was over forty degrees Celsius.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

 

Run away to Africa – Start

Start

I left home at Settlers Limpopo province South Africa on 3 December 2012. Next stop was at my parents in Johannesburg. My parents and I went shopping for a telescope fishing rod to take with. We found a fishing rod at a fishing shop in Edenval.

That night I had a big shock when they took me to Park station. I had not been down town Johannesburg for about eighteen years. Talk of inner city decay. There were piles of rubbish on the side of the roads and in the road. Urine and other liquids running down the streets. Lots of shady looking characters hanging around on the streets. Taxies, run down vehicles and broken things lying around. We were afraid to park the car as it might not be there when we come back, that is if you come back alive.

Bus was supposed to leave at 20H00. Bicycle and bag weighed in at 36 kg. Not counting my carry on. Had to pay an extra R 150 for the bicycle even though it was on the ticket. There was a man in front of me that needed to pay extra money for his overweight luggage. He had changed all his money into US$ and did not have Rands. Nobody had change for his US$. Eventually he gave me US$100 as security that he would pay me back my R 100.

Bus left at 20H50 on the 3rd December 2012. On route it stopped at Midrand where it took on more passengers. Much better option if you do not want to lose your life at Park Station Johannesburg. Bus made stops at Pietersburg for passengers then at Mesina to take on petrol.

Stopped at Beightbridge South African side at about 5 am. Disembarked and made long line into Emigration office. In about three quarters of an hour we were in no man’s land.

On the Zimbabwe side, the driver did some trick to get use through. First he stopped in the middle of the road and made as if he had to speak to an official. Then organised an assistant to off load all the luggage in the middle of the road. Where he got a customs official to check the luggage. I had to declare my bicycle as second hand and that it was valued at under R 2000 or there would have been lots of red tape. Then the driver got the same assistant to pack everything back as quick as possible. He then called all passengers together and told us the following. If somebody asks us if we have had our passports stamped then we must say yes. Or they will send us to the back of the line which is about 15 busses long. He will park on the other side of the immigration office and we must stand around the bus and go to the toilets. Then we must break off and go in groups of five to get our passports stamped. If the customs official ask us how did we come, we must say with our own transport. That was not needed as there was such a mass of people they did not even know what was going on in the office. Then we all got in the bus and away we went. Border crossing was about two hours. Not bad for Christmas holidays. Heard later in the day there was a person’s friend that arrived just after us, which spend nine hours there.

Digital Camera

Zimbabwe was very dry. The first rain had not come. The bus stopped near Musivingo for lunch. The man I lend money to could not get change for me. Not that he didn’t try getting the money. Every time we got off the bus he went around trying to get money from people. When we got to the lunch stop. I knew he was getting off at the next stop. So I said he must pay for lunch for me. That covered most of what he owed me so I said that it was ok.

Bus was little small to sleep properly. Little word of advice always travel with a neck pillow. I started to get a little stiff in the bus. I was the only white on the bus. Most passengers were students at university or business people. They were on their blackberry cell phones texting nearly all the way. Few had their laptops or tablets out doing some work or social media.

Here are a few photos that go with this post but not in book.

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Digital Camera

Run away to Africa-Preface

I have written a book of my first cycle tour. I gave it the name Run away to Africa. I have written it then edited it a few times. However never get it to the print stage. So now I have made a decision to put it on my blog Chapter for Chapter. In so doing I will do the final edit and when all chapters have run the blog, then I will most likely put it out as a eBook.

 Preface

 

Let’s run to Africa. This continent is full of mystery and adventure. Some risks are life threatening. Others are so far from the first world civilizations, which make it feel like you are on another planet.

The political landscape leads you to wonder who is right. We in the modern world think we have all the answers. However the patriarchal system or should I call it tribalism system of governance has existed for thousands of years. I think it has something to teach us. Capitalism systems often go wrong in our modern society, thus needing laws to control the greed that it generates. Well I am no politician and have no intention to venture into politics, with its rights and wrongs.

Having seen many other adventure travellers on bicycles in Africa. I decided to take a trip through Zimbabwe and Mozambique.  This is probably one of the best ways to learn the people and the country side. It forces you to interact with the real people on the ground. No air-conditioned hotel rooms. No quick transfers to five star lodges. Some of these luxury vacations are as if you never left your home or the megatropolis.

I will try to put forward my experience not as a travel log or journal but as seen in my eyes. There are so many amazing little corners of the world out there to see. Hope you will feel some of the emotions and feelings of accomplishments that I felt.

You will also see that it is not just getting around as many cyclists do but there is a plan to experience something along the way. When traveling to a country I like to set out with a goal. For example when I went to Egypt it was to sail on the Nile, see hieroglyphics, touch the pyramids and swim in the red sea. Now this trip was to do some Tiger fishing, relax at the sea and ride my bicycle across borders to prove that it does not have to cost much to see this world.

Well let’s get on with the story.

Capetown cycle tour that was not.

Have taken a little long to write on the Capetown cycle tour. Wind was ripping around at the start. This seemed all to normal for Capetown. Stood at the door to the hotel watching the starters coming into start. I saw my time to load was right so went up to the room and got my bike. Came out the hotel and the riders were going the wrong way.
Did not believe it when they said the race was cancelled due to wind. 

Took sometime for my farmers group to decide what to do. They said they will take a drive up the west coast and visit some wine farms. I said I want to ride my bike. Asked for any others to join me. 

Nobody wanted to join me. So I rode my bicycle up to my sisters house in Milnerton area. Must say in center of Capetown it was a bit gusty. The more I moved away from Table mountain, less the wind was. Did a pleasant 25km through the old area of Capetown.

Discovering the old building rotting and falling down. Would be a good idea for a developer to buy up these properties and buldoze them down and then rebuild them with the same structures and turn it into a tourist destination. Having done some brick laying myself. I looked at the brick work. There were some old brick laying methods that we do not see anymore. Some of the walls were also very thick. There were some good craftsmen in the old days. 

The question is would it be a profitable venture. Would be a good place for small craft workshops with handmaid tourism items. Things with hand made clothing, hand made shoes and Malay cooking.

Sorry my pictures did not want to load. 
Well let see what next year brings for the Capetown cycle tour.

Rainy season and training

The rainy season is in full swing now. This brings the joys of dodging rain storms and mud puddles. After a dry previous season it is good to have everything green and growing.

Have had some nice training rides in the neighborhood. Here are a few photos.

As cost of labour increases and bigger and bigger tractors are used. Also big farms buy up all the small farmers. There are more and more of these empty home steads dotting the farms. This cannot be seen well in this photo but it is a house datting back to the early 1900’s with a big veranda around house. Rusty roof and large cracks in the walls.

This stop sign reminds me to stay off the tar (paved road). In memory of a fellow Trans-afrika rider. Who was killed in a hit and run accident in Johannesburg. They just had Andrew Bradford’s funeral service last Thursday. May his family and close friends find peace with his passing.

Had some nice early morning rides. They give me a sence of fresh new beginnings. However I do find it tough to get out the house so early.

All this training is for the Capetown tour. I will be riding in the first week March.

Last training for Capetown cycle tour.

As always there are things that try to distract you from training as you really should. This past week has been one of those weeks. Will have to send bicycle to Capetown on Friday. So training time is now limited. Have taken off my Maxxi crossmarks and put on my 35mm Kendra tires. Cleaned all the grime out of the gears. Now just need to ride a few times to get used to new gear to wheel ratio.

Changing the subject a bit. Had a nice day out in the office today. Worked the cattle and gave them some vaccinations. So here are a few shots of them.

Here are some 4.5 month old calves with their mothers.

Cattle coming out of bush. After searching for them for an hour. These were the few missing ones. Note farming cattle in the African bushveld is very different to colder open grasslands. Here cows keep contact with mooing for calf and calf calls back. As the bush is to dense to keep eye contact in places. When herdsman looks for them, to see if they are well and healthy, it can take some time if they do not come when he whistles for them to come to drinking trough. 

There is also other dangers as jackals, caracual, hiena and maybe leapord but have not seen them myself. Snakes are another hazzard. There are some big pythons that could swallow a new born calve. However have not had that yet. Have found some big swellings that may be a result of a snake bite.Then diseases such as Heartwater, redwater, botulism and elephant skin disease. With all this cattle do really well in this environment. Do not have to give them a lot of supplements. Could call it free range.

Well hope to see some of you in Capetown.

This is a hard core cyclist

Farm worker that rides thirty km per day on this iron frame bike. Note the big heavy duty pump sticking out of carrier. This is his most important piece of equipment. As the thorns in this area are one of his big challenges.

Other things in his carrier are:

5kg chicken pieces

Rain coat

Lunch box

Some other things. I did not want to be to nosey.

Have asked him before if he would think of riding a race. He said no, he is to slow. I say he must be tough. Sure he would do well on a long endurance ride. Give him a modern bike with a sponsor to keep it maintained and he would show us a thing or two.

His biggest challenge if this was to happen would be to change his mind set. That it is possible to cycle extreme distances.

I think there must be lots of hidden talent out there among people that commute to work every day.

947 Cycle challenge 2016

Busy catching up on all the things that have happened lately. On 20 November I did the 947 cycle challenge. This a road race around Johannesburg. It is 94km long and is named after one of the radio stations. It has become a big event with about 27000 finishers. Bit nerve raking having so many cyclists around me. Not used to have people around me. Normally train on my own in the rural community where I live. Long tours or long races are such that you are on your own most of the time. ed6518beed029fb26b6b02fbdd7fb4dc_dsc_6361

What was nice this year as getting to do one circuit on Kylami race track. This is a formula one race track. Here is a photo of me trying to get out of the wind getting up speed on Kylami race track, without tribars. Must say did not manage 200km/h.5351b72b37264d6495140e9a5326eb89_bs2a6695

Did not realize the cars raced such steep up hills as part of the track. There was one hair pin bend that does about a 180 degree bend. This has sign posts to tell drivers to slow down for the bend.

All in all it was a nice ride, finishing 15 minutes faster than my best. Should help with a good start for Cape Town cycle tour. Nice to start Cape Town cycle tour early and enjoy the spirit of Cape Town.

Trans-Afrika 2016 part 3

Was tough to rise out the bed knowing Moteng pass was ahead. This is no pass for the faint hearted. Then there are the many hills of Lesotho. My knee swelling had gone down but was sore until they warmed up. This was the same story all the way to Cape Town.

Nice roll down to boarder post. Knowing the drill now for this boarder. Ran to immigration and was second to the window after the gate opened. Jumped on the bicycle and rolled down to Lesotho side. First there and had to wait for the officials to arrive at immigration. After this point you have to start digging deeper and deeper as the day goes on. Stopping once before the Moteng pass to water some bushes. Tough to find a place with nobody watching you.

 

Look around and you will find a man standing rapped in a blanket, gumboots (wellingtons) and some type of warm head cover. He will be standing watching you and often throwing comments toward you.

Just as the pass starts there were two young boys harassing me for sweets. Even trying to creep up to take a grab at my pockets at the back of my shirt. Which was fill of energy bars. Made as if to chase them and a car came passed, then they left me alone. Was nice cool overcast day, so progress was good up to the summit only stopping three times to take a look at the view and catch my breath.

img_20161008_111459This year pedalled all the way up. The year before I did not think it possible for a human to peddle up some of the steeper sections. I now know with some hill training and a few extra teeth on the gears, make it is very possible. (Now 34 teeth on cassette, last year 30) At the top there was a couple having a good photo shoot. So I asked them to take a photo of me.

img_20161008_115105

This year the wind was not blowing me up the hill, so had to use brakes on the decent. The brakes took some strain and began to overheat. I am not brave enough to let the bike go and suddenly slow down to 20km/h to take the switchbacks. Would not like to have a brake failure and land up flying over the side of the road. Some nice big drop-offs. If you have wings or parachute it would not be a problem.  I see the roof of the house that blew off on me last year has not been fixed and is abandoned.

Reaching Butha buthe for a late lunch. Opting for some biscuits and milk for lunch and some chocolate for energy in the back pocket. While eating and shopping the rain came in.  So next 50 km to boarder at Ficksberg was in the rain and a strong head wind. At one stage there was a pick up that passed me at a faster than normal speed. Only to find him two valleys away with the front of his pickup smashed and 10 dead sheep in the road with other sheep injured. Would hate to have to explain to the owner. Sure there would be a big price to pay for this. Must be the farmers whole flock gone in one hit. Wonder how they deal with this type of thing. There was no chance for hit and run as there was about 20 witnesses around.

Arrived at boarder post as sun was setting. It was my plan to go on to the next town but been wet hungry and having enough for the day, having done 2798m climbing in 167 km. Chose to sleep in same hotel as last year. Getting a good takeaway from the Spar and had a monster supper. Went to sleep and set the alarm for pm and not am. Andy phoned me at 6am to see if the tracker was right to say I was in Ficksburg and not moving. Thanks Andy for waking me up. What a rush to get going. Was a wonderful day with the wind picking up by mid morning. Arriving at Wepner too early to stop and Zastron would be off the route. Tried to push on. Food was running low and energy starting to lag and the cold was starting to eat at me. Not an easy road in the day and early night because of the traffic. Last time did it in early morning in the dark when traffic was low. Finding I was on my limit so rolled off route into Zastron knowing there was B&B’s. Found a sign with phone number and phoned and the lady from Highlands guest house said no problem for a late book in at about 9pm. She even shared her family’s supper with me.

Next morning she made a full breakfast for me at 5am. Another one of those special places to stay. There are wonderful people all over this country. Stepped out just before sunrise to a -3 degree morning. Put on my yellow rubber gloves and froze all the way to Rouxville stopping there to rub some life into the fingers and toes. After about 15 minutes rolled out of town. About 5 km out of town Andy and Johan met me on the road. Andy had to take a photo of me and my gloves. Desperate times, means desperate measures. 
They said they would have breakfast with me at Aliwal North. There is Aliwal North in the trees just above the dam in the photo.

img_20161010_083935 By the time I got there I said I was not going to waste time at a restaurant and stopped at the shop and loaded supplies. As always never enough space to stash all the food. As normal wind picked up during the morning. Rolled into Burgersdorp at lunch time and stocked up at the Spar. Pushing on to Middelberg and stopping along the road to eat and rest. Around Steynsberg the wind started to blow real bad. It felt like I was standing still. This was the same place as last time. Middleberg started to look very far away as my speed was about 10km/h. Booked into the Karoo Country Hotel at 9pm. This was the only place that takes people after 7pm. Had a good supper at the Restaurant down stairs and off to bed. Leaving again just before sunrise to start the climb to top of Lootsberg pass. From the top it has lots of down hills to Graaff-Reinet. However the wind blew so strong that I had to peddle downhill only reaching speeds of 25km/h. The previous year just hung on the bike and did 60km/h freewheeling. Shows how weather can change a whole race. Flat before Graaff-Reinet only reaching speeds of 10km/h again. At Graaff-Reinet had late lunch at Wimpy and phoned Lyn at Pagel house to say I was planning to be in for supper if the wind permits. Took just over four hours of fighting the wind to cover 56km to Aberdeen, arriving halfway into supper.img_20161011_192638 As always Lyn puts on a good spread. Main course was lamb and veg dish. Must be a fancier name for the dish but it hit the big hollow spot in my stomach. She put me up in a better room than last time. Bathroom fitting looked like the kings thrown and bath with ball and claw feet. Shower could have fitted three people in it. Camera did not want to flash so did not get a good picture.

Lyn set some food out for me to take with when I left early in the morning.

Left around 3:30am to the freezing cold. Pushing on in to the dark. Think this is the best part of the race to do in the dark as it is straight, safe and low traffic density. Can make good time.

img_20161012_084507

Reaching Willowmore for lunch. There is a nice homemade pie shop in town. Mr Loos this is good food you can stop to eat here. Pushing down sand road to Klaarstroom was a real dream. They had just graded the road leaving a smooth hard shoulder on the one side.  After turning on to the R407 to Prince Albert, Andy, Johan and Johan Rissik stopped to greet me. Here is the video of me at this point. Last time it was well into the night when I got here. The sun had not set yet. That is why I was calling out to them like that.

Video near Klaarstroom

Johan Rissik said there will be a strong tail wind into Prince Albert. It was very gusty and strong. I felt like a motor bike on the flat just before town. Speeding along at 30 to 40 km/h without peddling for the last 10 km into town.

Dennehof Guest house is also another must stop place. They also had a Kings room ready for me. Before I knew it she was asking for my washing. Said all will be ready before I knew it. Had a supper with Andy, Johan and Johan Rissik. Great bunch of men that I have had the privilege of meeting. Johan Rissik met me at 2am the previous year and repaired my bicycle when I was sleeping.

Got up early to a full breakfast at 5am . img_20161013_053734Started out to climb 1000m up the Swartberg pass before sunrise. Weather was good and riding went well. Managed to peddle all the way with only a few stops to take a rest and photos. img_20161013_064724img_20161013_084711img_20161013_085057Rolling into Calitzdorp at lunch time. There was a nice big shop open that had some good food. Resupplied and started for Ladismith. Now it was really hot and had to stop on some of the mountain passes to cool off. Reaching Ladismith just before 5pm. Now had to make a decision to head for Barrydale 80km away or sleep. My wiring on voltage regulator had started to come undone and would have to go on standby light which only has 3 hours power. Then Steward Lombard WhatsApp to me giving weather report and motivation. So I rolled out of town. He is like my coach when I do the Trans-Afrika race.

Luck was on my side. Wind not too bad, shoulder wind and as the night set in the wind died down. Arriving in Barrydale just after 9pm as all the restaurants and bars were closing. Lucky the light held all the way. Landed a room right on R62 next to a bar. Not need to go downhill into town. This gave me a chance to have a good night’s rest and head out just before sunrise again. That was my last planned sleep. Next sleep would have to be Cape Town.

It was a little cool but not like up at Zastron. No shops open to get food at this time of the morning. I had to ride to Montagu to shop at the Spar for breakfast. They had a good spread of takeaway food. Had gone onto my reserve tank, so sat down in the parking and had a good meal. As the night before I had missed out on getting food. Had just eaten some droe worse and cookies before bed. For some reason unknown to me the sleep monster was fighting me into Robertson. So giving in to it I lay down on a vacant piece of land near the main road in town. I said to myself you must sleep for half hour. The reverse psychology worked and only managed to sleep for five minutes and felt I had to go on. Now the smell of Cape Town was in the nostrils. Rolling into Worcester for lunch and eating at a garage to make speed. On to Bain’s kloof pass, however the road to get there was longer than I remembered. Now it was down to google maps as I had erased all my routes and data off my GPS near Wepner. So resulted in me stopping often to make sure I was on track. Summiting just before sunset. Started the decent to Wellington to find my wheel was feeling little flat. Thought might just be the long road and hoped it was not a puncture. So stopped to pump and pushed on.

Much to my dismay near Windmeal it was flat and was forced to change a tube in the dark at the turning to Durbanville. Now down to Durbanville found Marias in the main street. He gave me a few directions to Bloubergstrand. Had to tell him the story of the adventure. This slowed me down little but was glad for the help. Before leaving town I grabbed some chocolates for a boost, as power was now at an end. Knowing it was just about 25 km to go. That can be a long way at the end of the day with no more supplies and body reserves running low. Coming into Bloubergstrand had to stop lots to look at google maps as this part was very sketchy in my memory. Landed up turning one robot to soon and getting stuck in those dumb town planners never ending circles that take you back to where you turned in. Back to google maps and worked the way out of the maze. Eventually arriving before midnight.img_1925 How is that for visibility? Could see the reaction by traffic to me this year was very different. Always passing in night with good distance from me. Ariving to an empty Eden on the bay with only Andy, Susan my sister and Peter her husband. They were the most important people I wanted to see at that stage. Thanks for been patient with me and hanging around. The last few km seemed to drag on.

 

Well Andy Masters hope you do not give up with this race. It is a great service to the cycling community of South Africa. We do not have any thing of this kind here. For us to fly to Europe or the Americas is a little costly for the average man like me. Must say thanks to 4 Mix for sponsoring me four nights accommodation. Thank you to Warden Lodge for giving me a free night. Thank you to Susan and Peter for picking me up at the finish and lodging me, then taking me to the airport. Must say Peter your bike rapping is very good. Bike got home in perfect condition. Thank you to Steward Lombard and Annie for helping me with weather and distances to next town, helped me to make some decisions.

For any future riders the three part blogs I have written will give you a very good idea of what awaits you on the road. If you read between the lines and follow a map you will find tons of info to help. Looking forward to see you all on the start line next year. Does not mean I will be racing.  Register early for the race to make sure you can get in. Hope to see at least 20 riders on the start line. Also gives you time to prepare and focus on the race. Not a race to decide to ride next week. All equipment must be tested and unneeded item left behind. Enjoy your riding.

Trans- Afrika 2016 race prep

Kit for 2016 Trans-Afrika race.

img_20160930_201855

 

People always wonder what to take with. I am not saying this is what you need but it helps to go light when racing. Touring is a different story. You do shorter distances per day and have a few luxuaries. Racing you need to go light and always remember there are shops along the way to get things you may need. Must say I could have taken some warmer clothes. Who would have thought there was a cold front moving past, where as last year there was a heat wave.

 

List of items starting on top left:

  1. Rain shell from Anatomic
  2. Cycling shirt from Enjoy fitness
  3. Reptilia bib from Enjoy fitness
  4. Gillet from Proviz (Reflect 360)
  5. Buff
  6. Black shorts to sleep in
  7. Arm warmers
  8. Cycling gloves with extra gel on palm
  9. Socks
  10. MTB cycling shoes
  11. 2 X water bottles
  12. Reflective vest
  13. Plastic bags for food and warmth
  14. Razor cut short
  15. Tooth brush cut short
  16. Tooth paste
  17. Rehydrate sport
  18. Rain poncho
  19. Shamie cream
  20. Iodine cream for wounds
  21. Plasters and paracetamol
  22. 2 X sunblock
  23. Dettol soap
  24. Thermal blanket bag
  25. 2 litre water bladder
  26. Head lamp
  27. Light
  28. Sunglasses
  29. Red flashing back light
  30. GPS
  31. Saddle bag

Patches

Solution

Spoke studs

Cleat and screws

Multi tool

Lube

Insulation tape

Tyre levers

Gator

Valve adaptor

Spoke spanner and chain breaker

Links for chain

Knife

Sand paper

  1. Knee support
  2. Strapping tape
  3. Bandage
  4. Plastic spoon
  5. Helmet
  6. Frame bag

2 spokes

3 AAA batteries

  1. Tri bar bag
  2. Heart rate monitor
  3. Passports with air ticket and bank card
  4. Spare tube
  5. Small screw driver
  6. Charger for usb.
  7. 2032 battery for heart rate monitor for standby
  8. Cables to charge cell, gps and standby light
  9. Lip balm with spf
  10. Tin can opener
  11. Standby light
  12. On bike

Pump

Voltage regulator

Shimano dynamo

Things wish had taken with:

  1. Leg warmers
  2. Warm gloves
  3. Warmer arm warmers
  4. Extra battery backup for light

Things never used:

  • Rain poncho
  • Bandage
  • Paracetamol
  • 2032 battery
  • Tin can opener
  • Some spares in saddle bag.

Was cool so did not use much rehydrate.

It would be nice to hear some comments on these long lists. Really it all did not take up much space. I did not get the weight but was big improvement on 2015. Will post the race run down in the next few weeks.