Day 14 Aberdeen to Willowmore
Distance 95 km; average speed 17.4 km/hr
Awoke after an excellent night’s sleep at Pagel House https://www.pagelhouse.co.za/, followed by one of the best English breakfasts I’ve had in a long time. It keeps us well fueled until our customary lunch break at 65 km. Thank you, Lyn! I highly recommend this B&B if you are ever in Aberdeen.
Today’s ride is fairly tedious. Long, straight road which cuts through some of the more desolate parts of the Karoo. We see some sheep and lots of roadkill. We only see one herd of famous Mohair sheep, looking like straggly ageing rock stars hiding in the bush.
There is a persistent cross wind from the start, which only becomes stronger and turns into a headwind after 60 km.
We were making good progress before this point but now we crunch along at less than 15 km/hr. It’s like riding into the blow from a high quality hairdryer all day – the air is dry and hot and leeches the moisture from every surface. My sugar water is warmer than tea by the end of it. Approaching trucks carry a pocket of warm air in front of them and I get repeatedly Hadoukened in the chest and face as they go past. I lose my hat twice.
Colin is struggling to keep aligned behind me in the wind, at one point I think he hit every single cat eye for 8km; at a few others he gets blown off onto the gravel on the roadside. We are both glad to see the end of today’s cycle and eagerly down our Darling Brew in a Willowmore pub.
On the plus side, other than surviving, we broke through the 1000km mark today – 1050 done so far.
Day 15 Willowmore to Nowhere
Distance 9km; avg spd 10.9 km/hr
We set off from Willowmore hoping the headwind which plagued the last third of our ride yesterday has improved. It hasn’t. It’s worse. We struggle along, limping along at less than 11 km/hr, often having to stand up to keep the Buffaloes going although there is not much of an incline.
The target for the day was about 90km to our accommodation, Uniondale is still 50km away. We chuck it in and portage, and decide to take the day as a much needed rest day. Just as well, my face is exploding and our legs are tired from the previous day’s final push.
Camping at Eagle Falls – a lovely, tranquil place, if your definition of tranquil involves loud hip hop played on repeat at meal times for a kid’s camp.
The night is the coldest we’ve experienced to date as well, with persistent chilly wind. I can’t get warm despite putting on about 5 layers and wearing all 3 Buffs (you can never have enough Buffs, n+1, like bicycles).
Day 16 Uniondale to George
Distance 84 km; avg spd 18.6 km/hr
We wake up in the valley having no idea what the prevailing weather conditions are like. A brief portage back to the main road and we discover the wind as turned and settled.
A great relief. We are blown on a gentle breeze downhill all the way to Outeniqua Pass. The rest day has done us some good and we manage to summit the pass without walking.
A long descent into George follows and as we are feeling good, we continue to Glentana to a campsite near the beach.
Today’s beer is from Robertson Brewing Co and thanks to Kevin for the sample case, even though they are closed on Sundays! It’s going to take a while to get through their wide range, although we are loving the IPA.
Later, it’s off to some old friends, Linda and Arthur Squair of Burnside Equestrian Club for some catching up and dinner. They manage to feed our hungry crew to excess. We need a hard day of cycling to burn it off…
Day 17 George to Riversdale
Distance 91km; avg spd 18.2 km/hr
Short portage to Mossel Bay to avoid the highway. Set off a bit late but with a fair tail wind. Tedious ride, really. Colin calls them, “commuting days” – just part of the journey to get from A to B.
The Western Cape is drier than I’ve ever seen it and burnt veld is not showing any signs of green. The rock and sand crops appear to be coming through really well, however. Boring road, lots of traffic, gets extremely hot after lunch (over 35 degrees).
I sense the change in wind and heat and try push on but to no avail, there are some tough climbs in the last 30km and no respite from the heat. I huddle in the 3×3 foot shade cast by a road sign as I wait for Colin on a walking hill. All extremely glad to reach journey’s end.