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.
For the first time since we left on this trip, the weather gods favour us with a decent tailwind and we are carried on the wings of this zephyr all the way to Lenasia. We then head to Eikenhof to climb our substitute peak.
As I have mentioned, Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is closed, allegedly due to water supply issues. Although Colin tried to negotiate our way in with management, they declined; even when we advised them of the fundraising nature of our trip and also that we would have no need for their water or ablutions. So it was off to the maps to find an alternative peak to climb in the area, which we did – Platberg at 1820m (93m short of Toringkop’s 1913m).
We make it to the base of Platberg and commence the hike upward. There is no path or road, so we pick our way up scrambling between the rocks and long tufts of grass. We are agile like mountain goats: mountain goats that dropped out of mountain goat school and ended up in The Caribbean Culinary School for Wayward Goats.
The view from the top is magnificent despite this being the shortest climb of the tour – we have a full 360 degree view over Gauteng. Overall, the climb was much tougher than Toringkop would have been. There is a tar road almost to Toringkop and the “hike” thereafter is about 17m ascent, versus Platberg where we had to ascend 200m from road level to the top, through the untamed bush.
Once back at the bottom, we have a quick lunch and it’s back on the bikes for the last 40km stretch to Vereeniging. It clouds over and spits a bit, causing us to don our yellow workman’s raincoats. They are fairly awful. While fantastically water proof, they have no ventilation resulting in extreme heat followed by piercing cold should your damp arms touch the chilled layer of fabric. I also discover that mine has a hood – no doubt a strategy from Colin to slow me down. Speaking of which, we have found out that his bike descends faster than mine in equal conditions. Colin suspects it may be due to the weight difference as his is heavier but I argue that I am heavier than he is, so it probably balances out. Whatever the cause, my Buffalo appears to have more rolling resistance than his so I am going to use that as an excuse whenever I slow down for the rest of the trip.
We arrive at our overnight accommodation. The entrance is located next to a graveyard. Colin comments that he is glad he is not spending the night there. I suggest that it is Hotel California – you can check in but you can never leave.
With this 4th peak (3.5 if you like), the easy part of our trip is over. We have several long days of cycling ahead of us to not fall behind schedule as we head for the border of Lesotho.
It is there that the three serious hikes start as well – Mafadi, Namahadi and Kwaduma. All of these require overnighting on the mountains and carrying of the necessary kit. Hopefully the training that has happened en route will carry us through.