Today has been a mostly enjoyable ride, with heaps of opportunities to stop for a drink and/or snack. Everyone has been in a good mood, knowing that we’ve done it and nothing can stop us now.
I joined Liz and her friends (who joined Liz yesterday to cheer her on and cycle into Cape Town with her), Anmei, Dag, Justyna and Tom for a coffee stop in Ceres, a larger town between camp and lunch. What was meant as a brief stop turned into an hour waiting for a second round of breakfast, and my special treat—cheesecake. Last day of guilt-free eating today 🙂
Only 25km from camp, there was another quaint town in the Swartland wine region—Riebeck-Kasteel. A group of riders had already gathered at a picturesque coffee shop. “Not sure I should stop”, I commented in passing. “I can’t eat more cake. I’d rather feel like a glass of white wine, but seems no one is drinking.”
“I’ll have a glass of wine with you”, Andje proposed. The two of us have had a bit of a love-hate relationship. Andje liked pulling my leg, and I played along. Other than giving each other shit (in a jovial way), we haven’t really been talking much on this tour. Chatting over a glass of wine with Andje has been really nice.
The only problem—Andje handles alcohol far better than me. While she’s been part of the tribe that (jokingly) refers to TDA as a drinking trip with a bit of cycling, I’ve become even more of a lightweight over the past months.
It would have been nice to have a second glass, but I hoped to still find a car wash station for my bike (result: negative). So I embarked on the final 25km of our last real riding day. As I cycled out of Riebeck-Kasteel, a bloody surprise was waiting for me: a big hill! Well, we’ve had worse, but I’m sure most of you would also have called it a bloody big hill.
A steeper part towards the beginning made me worry that I might lose control and slip out of my cleats. Fortunately, by the time I’d reached the top of that hill, with the help of some good tailwind, I’d also burned all the alcohol. Just good that I hadn’t had that second glass . . .
Stage 86: Dorp op die Berg – Malmesbury (South Africa), 127km
Road & traffic condition:
Mostly tar, only little bit of dirt that wasn’t too bad. Been cycling on the highway next to trucks for some time, but a hard shoulder gave us protection. Just that unpredictable sidewind made it a bit scary at times, threatening to blow us into the passing trucks. I’m surprised cars are allowed to drive 120km/h on what doesn’t look like a highway to me (one lane each way, no separation in between).
Terribly cold in the morning—the worst we’ve had so far. My fingers were painfully frozen by the time I had packed up my tent. However, we all know such pain is temporary. Counter-measure: Cycle hard to heat up. After 45 minutes, the sun came out and instantly made us feel warmer. Then sunny and nice all day. Just a bit too windy. Heavy unpredictable sidewind at times made us a bit wobbly on the highway and required constant alert, but we’ve had worse. Mostly tailwind, though, fortunately.
BBQ steak & sausages, broccoli & cauliflower, potatoes, salad; followed by cake.
- Our last full riding day—a relatively easy day with lots of downhills on scenic mountain passes, including the Gydo Pass . . .
. . . and the Michells Pass (where we actually saw baboons!).
- Followed by cruising through the Swartland wine region with lots of vineyards everywhere.
- Also lots of nice coke stop opportunities along the way—a day of eating cake and drinking lots coffee, or milkshakes, or wine . . .
- Our riders’ meeting started an hour earlier this afternoon. We all got a fun award, as well as our TDA jersey that we’ll mostly be wearing tomorrow (except for special charity jerseys and the like).
My award—cycling from Cairo to Cape Town with the least amount of pedal strokes! Well deserved, as I’m running constantly on high gears with low cadence. What looks painful to others seems to have worked well for me. 🙂
- Following our in-official rider awards, Paul made us all laugh with a humorous Pirate Speech about our staff, along the lines of: “When I first saw them in Cairo, I just thought—OMG. They looked more like the Pirates of the Caribbean to me . . .”
- Then Tallis briefed us about our schedule for tomorrow. “This happens every year, so I have to tell you: When we have lunch at the beach, don’t pee on the sand. You’ll get fined! And don’t pee during the convoy.”
It’s good that he said that—I might have been the first person to run off behind some dune! After four months cycling through Africa, we’ve all learnt that going about our business squatting in nature is much nicer and more convenient than sitting on, or hovering above, public toilets.
Yesterday, when mother nature was calling me, I couldn’t find any hiding places. Even though there where heaps of bushes and trees to the side of the road, for whatever reason (perhaps exactly for that reason!), they have barbwire fences everywhere. Finally, I found a spot. “Alex, you’re not allowed to pee here!” Andje shouted as I was about to hide in the grass.
“It’s a pee-free zone, there was a sign.”
Who cares? Breaking the rules seems preferable to peeing my pants.
“Did you get caught?” she asked me later on.
“Caught for what?” Rob overheard our conversation.
“For peeing”, Andje clarified.
“I didn’t pee”, I protested, “I just pooped.”
Such are the conversations of TDA riders. 🙂 I’ll need some serious training to adapt back into civilization!
Coffee and wine stops, including drinking a glass of wine with Andje. Cheers!