Thursday, 20 September 2012
WOW!! I honestly don’t have the adequate English vocabulary to describe the awesomeness of this day! I think it must have been the best biking I have ever done!
We started off in East London – once again later than planned as the fastening of everything just takes for ever! Within 30km we got off on a dirt road through farm land. The whole area has had a lot of rain and for quite a while I thought I was in the Circus. Twas sheer acrobatics staying up between dodging potholes and severe deep and sometimes wet ruts in the road! Not to mention the sheep, cattle and stray animals! At one moment we were in green grasslands, the next we were riding along a game farm and then riding through pines and blue gum trees!
I must admit that I had absolutely NO clue as to where we were – almost the whole the time! We hit what looked similar to the Transkei rural area. Miles of rolling hills, little houses scattered along them and every kind of 4 legged animal strolling along (and in!) the road. And many friendly locals delighted to see 2 bikes passing. Most of this riding was tedious, as potholes where everywhere, yet unexpected. Conditions of the gravel varied from very rocky, to potholes to severe ruts going of for miles at a time. Not to mention the graders – loosening up all the gravel and rocks and leaving them scattered to make riding a constant concentration. Albeit this, the scenery was to die for and the challenging ride right up my alley!
My first battle wounds I saw when we stopped for lunch. I mentioned I was worried my back break was not what it should be and then we discovered my mudguard had torn off and a piece was stuck in the break. This is a very common occurrence, and I have just been lucky mine has never come off in over 60 000km. Abie cut the loose end off, we duck-taped the other part and Bob’s your uncle, no worries! After sandwiches and Boerewors (sausage), we hit the road again. Parts of this area took us high into the mountains, climbing steep little twisty roads, and then having the most spectacular views down on the landscapes or rivers. Due to the distance we had to finish and narrow roads, unfortunately we could not stop too often for pics!
The scenery once again started changing when we climbed higher and had much larger valleys to look down into. More trees, a huge dam and dangerous roads surfaces took us to Eliot where we refuelled. From there the varied scenery was once again something to be hold. We were getting terrible winds all day, but hitting the tar for a while, almost blew us off the bikes. We met up with other bikers for supper and coming from 4 different directions, all of them were talking about the wind! Then we started climbing the 13-kilometre Barkly Pass, 1990 meters at its summit. Rock formations are a magnificent display of mountain splendor. It is part of the southern Drakensberg; ... Barkly Pass is apparently the only one of the eight passes in the Eastern Cape that is tarred!?
We got back onto the gravel for our last 80km to Rhodes. Once again a road scraper had turned a perfectly good road into a bikers nightmare, and there were times I was concerned my bike (or should I say me??) could not handle all the loose gravel and rocks. Fortunately not for too far.
Twice we were met by sheep returning home, walking the entire breadth of the road and oblivious to our time constraints! Once again riding through farms, up masses of mountains and going through hairpin bends.
At one place the road was covered in mud paddles and as I went through, I caught a pothole and almost came down. Thankfully I managed to stay on top, but my bike and I was covered in mud!
This last stretch was really tough, but also the most spectacular part of the trip for me. As we were reaching our last kms, the sun started changing the magnificent mountains in pinks and purples.
Riding this trip today, I cannot but admire the handy work of a great God. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to see this part of the world, in such a way – one really does experience it so much better on a bike!! I always say I live in the prettiest part of our country, but what I have seen today, confirms that South Africa cannot be beaten when it comes to the most stunning scenery! A sight to behold – once again!
I am knackered and glad I am not sleeping in my tent on the ground tonight! I had forgotten what hard work it is to keep a bike going when conditions are so difficult. Yet, every single km was worth it! I loved not only the scenery, but the challenge of a difficult road that was within my limits.
I have seen, I have ridden, and I have conquered!