Day 14 & 15: Villiers to Reitz to Phuthaditjhaba

27-28 March

27 March: Start 08:00 End 12:00 Distance 80km Avg: 19km/hr

28 March Start: 08:00 End: 14:10 Distance 98km Avg: 19.2km/hr

Due to the rain and the rest day on the 26th, we portaged from Villiers to Reitz, a distance of 80km. Therefore, we went for an out-and-back ride from Reitz on the 27th to make up the lost distance. It was a straightforward ride through the mostly gentle undulating hills of the Free State. The views to the right and left alternate between cultivated land (can you say MEEEEAAAAALIIIEEEES again?) and grassland inhabited by cattle. Continue reading

Day 13: On Rain and the Nature of Luck

26 March

Rest day. Ascent so far: 1692m Distance so far: 925km

The gloomy weather of yesterday continued through the night and it is very overcast when we wake up. As we portage to the endpoint of yesterday’s ride, the rain starts falling and becomes heavier. Visibility on the road is very poor and the conditions are too dangerous to cycle in. We carry on to Frankfort and take refuge in a coffee shop and wait for it to blow over. It doesn’t. Torrents of water gush down the road. I would not have been surprised if someone came past in a kayak. We therefore make the decision to take a rest day, a few of which have been built into the rather tight schedule. Continue reading

Day 11: Krugersdorp Game Reserve to De Deur

24 March

Start: 08:00 End: 16:00 Distance 104km Avg: 18.4 km/hr Peak: Platberg (Gauteng)

We have our morning tea to views of passing game – gemsbok, giraffe, hartebeest, impala, eland, wildebeest and some energetic meerkats zipping around the campsite. They have such tiny legs, how do they move so fast? I need legs that efficient. I haven’t shaved for almost two weeks, they are almost that hairy. Continue reading

Day 10: Nooitgedacht to Krugersdorp Game Reserve

23 March

Start: 08:30 End: 12:00 Distance 40km Avg: 13 km/hr

Planned short cycling day so late start again. We have some errands to run this afternoon after setting up camp – our last chance before we leave Gauteng for less sparsely populated areas of South Africa. My left crank has picked up an annoying metal on metal grind, similar to the grinding sensation I have developed in my left knee. I literally creak along the road. Continue reading

Day 9: Hartebeespoort Dam to Nooitgedacht

22 March

Start: 08:30 End: 16:10 Distance 45km Avg: 18 km/hr Peak: Nooitgedacht (North West Province)

We have a leisurely start to the day as we don’t have far to cycle. There was a thunderstorm last night but fortunately cleared off early enough so the tents have dried out. After about 15km, we reach Van Gaalen’s Cheese Farm and have a cheat day, sharing a cheese platter and having real coffee. Continue reading

Day 8: Bronkhorstspruit to Hartebeespoort Dam

21 March

Start: 08:00 End: 14:30 Distance 116km Avg: 17.8 km/hr

Bit of a late start today due to heavy dew last night which meant all our camping gear was wet. I discover my cycling gear is also wet. It was then that I discovered that my other cycling kit has gone missing somewhere between Lydenburg and here. Damp, rank kit, hooray. Console myself with a clean shirt. Replaced the battery in my odo, still doesn’t work. Looks like it is going to be one of those days. Continue reading

Day 7: Loskop Dam to Bronkhorstspruit

20 March 2015

Start: 07:30 End: 14:40 Distance 106km Avg: 17 km/hr

The early part of the ride was down a cracking Qhubeka dirt road. Some decent (get off and push) hills but otherwise flat with firm, smooth surface. The scenery is still bushveld but once we get onto the “plateau” it becomes smooth grassland. We get attacked by a pack of hunting dogs but fortunately the owner calls them back before we get mauled. I was seriously considering testing the pepper spray on the cur growling inches from my calf. I wonder if the owner called them off because we didn’t look fit for human consumption. Continue reading

Day 6: Die Berg to Loskop Dam

19 March 2015

Start: 07:30 End: 14:00 Distance 110km Avg: 18.8km/hr

Woke up feeling refreshed and without the stiffness in my legs that has followed the hiking sections. The weather is perfect for cycling, overcast with a gentle wind only. It is going to be a great day. I enthusiastically wheel my bike out onto the lawn and discover I have a rear puncture. Lovely. Mend puncture (caused by a tiny sliver of wire piercing through the wall) and head off. We make good progress, averaging 20km/hr for the first 50km.

Roadside scenery; lots of cosmos in these parts.

Roadside scenery; lots of cosmos in these parts.

Continue reading

Day 5: Lydenburg to Die Berg

18 March 2015

Start: 07:30 End: 14:30 Cycling distance: 48km. Avg: 11km/hr Peak: Die Berg (Mpumalanga) 2331m

Commence the day’s cycle with a 1.5km cycle uphill. It wakes the legs up in the rudest way possible. At least the weather is overcast. There’s a slight chill and we pass several mounds of hail from the night before as we crawl up the slopes. The ride is undulating but uneventful. We meet Maggie at the base of Steenkampsberg Pass.  Continue reading