Monday, February 27, 2017

THE FOUR DAY TOUR

The four day tour – 21 February to 24 February

I decided I needed some time out and what better way to do it than to mount a mountain bike and a backpack and ride across the countryside from one destination to another....

From up country Queenstown to the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Here is an brief account as recorded in my log diary.



Day 1 What a fabulous morning of riding & arrival at my overnight stop early afternoon. It is no secret. It is not all downhill to the coast so I found out today! Some hilly terrain to traverse and some big climbs to add good measure. First half of the morning met with mud and drizzle to later clear up and get rather warm....One small river crossing and relieved to find it not resembling a 'white river rafting launch' even though one of the locals in the village nearby told me it was flooded. I went against it and took the risk. So! Sometimes it pays off. 
That's adventure!

Day 2. After a later than expected start, (you just can't seem to get away from good old farm style hospitality) I left the Levy family and their Fairview farmstead. A farm seeped in history and what interesting stories told. Very overcast, wind and drizzle is how the day started, yet a far cry from yesterday in respect of climbing. After the summit of the Winterberg Mountain range I dropped down into the Baviaans River Conservatory and what a thrill of a ride! This valley has so much history and I am told there is a book on it! The descent is every mountain bikers dream!! It just never seemed to have an end. It warmed up pretty quickly as late morning rolled in and to a max temp of 31deg. There are so many building ruins and history lost in this valley and it's such a pity. There were also two small passes I traversed and the views were certainly spectacular!
On Garmin tracker, the family could not track the whole day due to no comms on the ride course. After a 101km stint with two small stings in the tail at the end, I arrived in Bedford for my overnight stop....

Day 3. I left Bedford early hours of this morning in heavy fog for one simple reason and that was to beat the forecasted heat that was to grip this section of the ride. I shy not away from admitting that heat & I do not bode well together! At 10am this morning still enroute to Ann's Villa, my overnight stop, the temps had already soared to 35deg once the mist had lifted. This had me grappling with pace as I found myself stopping numerous times when seeking & finding some shade for a quick reprieve. Signal is weak & I have not been able to upload stats for my only 90km day and well over 1000m of ascent. Today was different to the other days. There were long lonely stretches, yet liberating through some very dry and arid landscape in places but also some lush green as well. There was wildlife a plenty! Treated to a test of strength early morning was a wild cat running for almost a kilometre and a half in the beam of my bike light, ahead of me. Today I saw a total count of seven kudu, the most I have even seen in a days sighting, this along with various other buck. There were monkeys and jackal and it would seem animal life in this part of the world is in sure abundance! Even though green, as well as no sign of human life anywhere, not even a vehicle on the last stretch, I couldn't find water and ran the risk of running “dry” enroute to my stop but made it before then. My GPS kicked out on me due to an apparent corrupt file about two hours before reaching my destination but managed to ride on study memory and sign boards. I am alone at Ann's Villa, an old Inn built in the early 1800. It is fully self catering and so I had to carry a little extra meal replacement for the evening. This establishment is seeped in history with plenty of the original fittings and fixtures still evident. If you looking for five star accommodation, this will not be for you. This is roughing it at its best! Tomorrow my final run and day to end in PE. With around 150km to get through.....I am sure one of the oldest passes, Zuurberg Pass will be a treat!....

Day 4 - Leaving Ann's Villa at 5am, it would take me over 10hrs to do the 147km and reach Port Elizabeth under what I would call extreme conditions. Looking at my stats, I was shocked to see the temp had reached a staggering 48deg for a moment and explained why the heat had me stopping more often than not. The 1st 15km from the base of Zuurberg was rocky, technical and a long pull to the summit but the magical skyline of dawn breaking at the top made it all worthwhile! The pass did not disappoint with clean air, unspoilt nature and the scenery soulful as I traversed this old pass built in the mid 1800. Once passed the Zuurberg Resort at the top of Zuurberg, 30km from Ann's Villa, it was down into Addo for a much needed & required breakfast as I had not eaten properly since Wednesday evening. From there with the temp in their high 30's already it was the onslaught onto Uitenhage and then Port Elizabeth a 100km away. The dirt road to Uitenhage was grueling to say the least. The long endless, lonely roads, with the heat and my mind playing games, sweat pouring off me, there was nowhere to hide on this arid section of the ride. Once at Uitenhage it was mostly tar all the way to Port Elizabeth. With the heat blazing off the tar and stopping continually, at one stage I holed up at a farm stall where I found myself sitting flat on a tiled floor because it was the coolest place to be for longer than I would have anticipated. With the afternoon ticking on I forced myself to get up and get moving and made one last surge to my destination. As I got closer and closer to my destination and then with about 8km to go, hammer down, it is amazing how you can forget all the hardship and reflect on what an awesome journey this has been. I feel blessed I can do this. I feel grateful I could experience it. For those that cycle; never underestimate the experience and moments of where a mountain bike and a backpack can take you....


Zuurberg pass at sunrise

Some interesting stats from the entire trip.

I turned over my pedals roughly 481620 times over the distance ridden. Climbed 4661m
Lowest temp was 11deg
Max temp 48deg!!!
Clocked a max speed 67.4km/h
Burned 14172 calories which explained why I lost 3kgs.

BUT! It's all done!,……………….. now to plan the next one! 😉

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