#BruisedButtCycleChalleng Day 7, cycling day 6
After what we thought was a tough fifth cycling day we had a good night’s sleep – in fact I was so exhausted that I didn’t even pack my bag before I went to bed. Our normal routine is to prepare for breakfast and have our bags mostly packed so we can leave early.
Anyway got up at 5:30 as usual and got ready, but off to a slightly late start at 07:30 after taking time for a few photos of the beach and river mouth. After about 400m I noticed I had a ‘little’ issue in the form of a flat rear tyre. Turns out this was a good thing, because while I went to pump my tyre Neale went to talk to some local cyclists – we have realised that we cannot accept information from just anyone, and cyclists seem to have a better idea of what we need. Most people see us on our bicycles yet do not comprehend that we are cycling, so they give directions as if we are in a car, without any concept of potential consequences to us if their information is flawed.
I pumped my tyre – no idea why it was flat – and off we went to follow in the tracks of the cyclists Neale had spoken to.
The wind was calm and although it was biting cold – we are exceptionally grateful to have good warm kit – the going was good. That is until we got to the gravel, which was after 5km on the road. I found the going EXTREMELY tough and thought possibly my tyre had deflated agan, but looking at Neale’s tyres, they looked about the same, so either it was psychological or it could have been a lack of Muscadel the night before. I do believe Muscadel is my friend with about half a bottle giving me a nice warm feeling and no ill after effects. Neale on the other hand likes his wine (as do I) so I had had some red wine the night before, and I thought maybe that was slowing me down.
We got a few kilometers down the dirt road when the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the wind started gusting. I should explain that while the wind makes it more difficult cycling, especially if you are cycling into a headwind, gusting wind makes it even more challenging because the wind moves you and your bicycle – mostly to the left or the right – so suddenly that you have to counterbalance, and then almost immediately readjust. If you think what gusts do to you while driving a car, you can only imagine what happens when you are on a bicycle.
The headwind was so strong that we had to use what cyclists refer to as the ‘granny gear’ – the lowest and smallest front cog – to push DOWNHILL!!! As I mentioned before, having to pedal downhill is exhausting. I am sure I signed up for coasting downhill! !
At around 11:15 it was a whopping 11 degrees with slight moisture in the air and the wind pumping. The cloud formation and the scenery was spectacular – unfortunately too far off to get any good photos. It was almost 13:00 when it started to rain. We decided that the lady of a few days ago who advised us that the wind stopped when it started to rain was mistaken – unless that is how it works in her area.
We pushed on into the wind and rain and got some directions from a local farmer – he as travelling with a young lady and is the first – and so far only – person to offer us a lift. It was shortly after meeting the farmer that I had my first fall – on an uphill! The track / road was so steep and rutted that I was spinning and not going anywhere fast. I couldn’t release either of my feet from the pedals and eventually fell off to the left. I did hit my knee but am unhurt – the water bottle on my back helped cushion my landing. In fact it was a relief to lie down a little! As I fell off my phone rang – which on its own was amazing as there were large stretches of no reception – with my youngest son calling the to ask how he could check airtime on his phone. He then asked if I was on my bike, and when I replied that no, I had just fallen off, he calmly reminded me that was why we had plasters and bandages in our medical kit!
We got slightly lost – only traveled 1km when Neale realised we seemed to be on the incorrect road. We then programed the GPS and headed back. We were even accompanied by a beautiful male ostrich for a few meters. We crossed a bridge over a river and stopped for a hot drink and lunch – in the light drizzle – at 13:22. It is wonderful having our table cloth to sit on. It was 10 degrees with a softer wind. While eating lunch a gust blew a chunk of my lunch onto the ground, so I had to eat that chunk more carefully because the gravel is not great for one’s teeth. :-).
The comment of the day happened while having lunch. There were a few contenders for the day, like the cyclists asking Neale if we are mad, or the farmer offering us a lift, or even the multiple BAAAA’S of encouragement we got from a number of sheep, but while resting and eating my gritty lunch, a distinguished female American voice announces “Head northeast and turn right”. When I stopped laughing and could breathe, I shared the joke with Neale who also had a great hearty laugh. I realise the comment may not be nearly as funny when being read, but it’s timing made it brilliant!
The road was exceptionally corrugated and made for very slow progress. We did see wild buck and mongese, as well as some captive Bontebok, an ostrich family with five chicks – and some majestic breeding bulls. We also saw large herds of ostrich and some exceptional scenery. We arrived in Witsand at 16:00 and had to find the accommodation. We didn’t have a house number – not that it would have helped as very few of the houses are numbered. Neale took out the maps to get the phone number and a gust of wind helped relieve him of all the papers. I should have filmed him running and chasing the pages then stomping on them and bending to try retrieve them from the ground before the wind moved them, but instead I peddled like mad to get the furthest ones. He was pissed! I had to contain myself to not laugh – but I know from experience that would have been a bad idea
. We got the keys and were informed thatthe restaurants in town BOTH clospe around 17:30 so we made haste to get some provisions. Carrying two large packs of firewood on a bicycle is entertaining. We had a pleasant dinner with ribs for starters and roast chicken and vegetables on a bed of rice for dinner. The accommodation is different.
On the plus side there is a twin tub washing machine and a tumble dryer. On the negative side there was no toilet paper – though there was soap – and the bath is minute! So small that even I cannot lie down – or sit up – without bending my legs.
We traveled for a total of 7.5 hours, were on the saddle for 6:42:27, climbed 989m in 93km (including the trip to the shop) with a slow average of 13.8km/h and a maximum of 47.5km/h. We have a break day today. Tomorrow is expected to be tough with an expected 85km off road, heavy winds, cold weather and a pridicted 50% chance of rain.
P.S. For a long time Neale and I have spoken about hills being “negative declines” as ‘uphills’ can be scary. Yesterday Neale decided we can now also talk about “negative tailwind” as any mention of wind simply scares us. His comment was also a contender for comment of the day, as was my comment “Muscadel is my friend”. I have been asked about the ‘patch’ over my right eye that is visible in the photos. it is in fact my rear view mirror. I have close up photos (thanks to Neale) which I will share when I can upload photos again.