Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day 12 - Abandonment

I had the mental tenacity of a piece of feta cheese for the first 4hrs today. My knees were sore, my legs were dead, my lungs were collapsing, and at one stage I had triple pneumonia. I even knew how I would get from Cradock to Jhb, when I withdrew.

I left my gracious hosts at about 7:15am, after going back to fetch a forgotten map, then made my way to the days first portage. Thanks to some inside inofrmation from Wil (my host), this went without a hitch, except for huge amounts of mud on the downhill, so much so that I had to walk down hill! I learnt a new trick before walking - how to ride backwards down a mountain, then dismount (elegently). A long gradual uphill on district road followed, but the previous night's rain had turned this into sticky mud, and was exceptionally difficult.

I climbed over a neck and just like that, the mountains were gone. A vast plain lie before me - flat a pancake. After riding across this plain for a while, with the wind at my back, my mentality came back to normal (or what I call normal).

Cruised through a little town call Hofmeyer, stopped at the local tea room and chatted to the locals about the number of abandoned farm houses along the road. Because of the lack of landmarks, I had been navigating by farm names, but just about every house was abandoned and run-down. It seems the farmers need larger lands to sustain the same profits as years gone by, so they buy up the land, then leave the house to fall apart.

Seems there are also a lot of dinosaur bones in the area - didn't see any myself though.

Roade a nice hardpack through to the final navigation section of the day. A stunning rocky jeep track through a kloof, where I saw springbok and kudu.

Got to Grootfontien at 17:45 to find Gerrit still there. He had bike problems, then decided to wait for me - made my day. The tempareture is also picking up - mid-teens during the day.

In Jhb we sneak across farms so that you don't get shot - here you need to hide from the farmers as well 'cos they all want to chat & have coffee. During the day I lost 30 - 45 min chatting to farmers along the way. All exceptionally friendly and helpful. The best conversation was something like this. I ran into a bunch of hunters on the back of a bakkie - you know - the boys weekend away type - all rowdy and brave:

Them: Is jy velore? (Are you lost?)
Me (In all my spandex glory): Nee, ek ry Kaap toe. (No, I'm riding to Cape Town)
T: Is jy fokken mal? (Are you f%#king crazy?)
M: Nee, ek hou daarvan om viets te ry (No, I like riding my bike)
T: Jy is fokken mal. (You are f%#king crazy)
... and about another 5 minutes of abuse...

125km done today.

Thats me for today...


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