Day 41: Willowmore to De Rust
Start 08:30 End 14:10 Distance: 105km Average: 20.1km/hr
Howling winds and cold temperatures most of the night. We are camped next to the church tower which rings the bells every fifteen minutes. In the morning, we hear a claxon in the distance, likely summoning people to work. Does no one own a watch in this town? Regardless, 2 out 3 people have a good night’s sleep.
The chilly air soon clears up and we again have to take off our long sleeves. Colin has declared THIS to be the best Qhubeka road so far. Undulating with some climbs but no pushing. Fantastic scenery first through a valley and then into the mountains. There’s a mild tailwind for the first 60km.
We crossed into the Western Cape today, our last province for the trip. Oddly, as we ride the border, the road instantaneously becomes worse. Uneven surface, a patchwork of different tar repairs and no yellow line. It’s surprising but the Eastern Cape really has had well maintained roads. Fortunately, once we turn off in the direction of Oudtshoorn, the road improves and the yellow line returns, leaving some breathing space between us and the passing traffic.
After we stop for lunch at 60km-ish, we ride off and hit our first proper hills of the day. A frequent feature of lunch is that in the first 5km afterwards, we will almost always hit a colossal hill. It’s tougher as we are post-prandial and the legs have cooled down. The Curse of the 60km-Mark. I think it’s the Western Cape just saying, “Howzit” after the relatively flat days through the EC. We still don’t have to get off and walk despite rumbling over the foothills of the Swartberg mountains so it’s a good day.
Day 42: De Rust to Oudtshoorn
Start 08:00 End 12:30 Distance: 64km Average: 19.0km/hr
Technically we arrived in Oudtshoorn yesterday. Not able to secure accommodation in De Rust (I maintain Colin is bad at googling), we portaged from there to Oudtshoorn. Today we have 40km to make up so we plan some tootling around town then an out-and-back ride. We come across a Karoo winery and brewery so we stop there for some refreshment (of the hop not grape variety). A stout and an IPA are enjoyed. While we have seen a lot on this trip, there have been few moments to sit for a prolonged period and take it all in. I enjoy sitting quietly with my ale, gazing over the vineyard looking for stray grapes.
Today I sustained 3 punctures, all of the front wheel. The first one we repair in town. It survives about 16km and goes down again. We change the tube, I ride about 50m and it goes down a third time. At this point we are almost at the brewery so I wobble along till we get there. Turns out there was a tiny thorn embedded in the tyre which we missed. There are no further deflations on the way home, although Colin’s rear wheel goes down in the evening, the culprit being the cyclist’s peril, a devil thorn.