Thursday, 5 April 2012

Day 4: Ladismith to Barrydale

First some admin stuff… due to various reasons, Tessa has decided to pullout of the tour so from today it was just Johan and myself. This resulted in a bit of a rethink with regards route but I will go into that at the end.

Dinner last night was a rather posh meal of cheese and rolls served with a fine local wine. We had a small problem tho: the wine was corked. Ok, it wasnt a major issue cause I had an emergency corkscrew I had bought as a gimick but didnt think I would use. Just as well I had it! The surprising thing is that it works exceptionally well. It was so cool a toy that Johan suggested I find a leather strap and wear it around my neck – havent found a strap yet but Johan had a piece of bungee cord which I used.

After a fine dining experience we went in search of a pub for a glass or port. The 1st 2 pubs looked scary! The 3rd one was ok but they only had good traditional Old Brown Sherry. After a quick drink, the 3 of us headed back to camp and crashed.

This morning started quite somber with Johan and myself packing tents away, having coffee and breakfast and just going through the motions of getting ready for a +70km day. What I dont understand about touring is how for 4 days I have packed my bike and for 4 days it was packed differently. Ok, the sides have been the same but the top has been different: Day 1 I used crosswise lashing (ie putting tent etc perpendicular to my bike); Day 2 Johan packed it with my camelbak and sleeping back as well as tent lengthwise; Day 3 I started carrying the netbook so that messed a bit with the load; Day 4 was everything on top. Day 4 was the worst though – I really felt the load today.


My little campsite

Anyway.. This morning started with about 20km of downhill which was amazing!! Ok, 10kms were pure smile downhills and the rest slow downhill but it still made for a very fast 1st quarter!! Then came a biting hill. But just before that hill, Johan rings his bell and asks if I am awake – I was. Kinda. A km down the road though I doubted my answer because I reached down to get my bottle (am using the back bottle holder as Rex has commandeered the front one for his drinking habits) and as I moved to put it back, I looked down and found myself on the side of the road. With a quick turn of my pedal, I was back on the tar and looking for Johan - he was a bit back looking at a sign and as yet doesnt know of my funny moment. hehe. Ok so the hill…. It wasnt long or steep. It was just a pain. But we climbed the little Warmwaterberg and we were rewarded with a sweeping downhill that was interupted by food time.Just over the top, Johan declared it mid-morning snack time so we pulled over at a picnic spot and enjoyed the sight of 3 crows chasing and eagle whilst eating cheese rolls.


With the blink of an eye, I saw the mirage for the day – some form of sign about some place I had read about. Yep: Ronnie’s Sex Shop. Dont bother going there! Its a dive of note. The coke was pricey and there wasnt much else other than a menu with food and a pub filled with bras hanging from the ceiling. This should be in a guidebook as a: “you know you are exactly 25kms from Barrydale when you see some ramshackle place on the left”. Harsh I know but seriously, what is the hype and how does a place like that get legend status?

A few drags later (some of them were more irritants than drags) and we were a mere 3km from Barrydale. I knew we were close and the hills were over cause of this sign: (towns in this area advertise what the local speciality is on a board by the town – its the local cellar’s billboard)



The downhill into town was WOW!!!! We were in town earlier than expected: 11:45am so we found a coffee shop to enquire about accomodation and get a drink and food but here we found a problem. Town is fully booked out. But, its okay because the coffeeshop lady sent me across the road to her friend Sheila who was home and who she thought may be able to give us the cottage she has out back. Fortunately Sheila was home and said we could stay so tonight we are staying in a lovely cottage behind someone’s house. This is TRUE local hospitality at its best.

So what does one think about on the road as you pedal on and on? Hmm… well, very little I think. I thought about how Rex the stuffed animal is enjoying the trip and how the downhills must be scary (Rex is being boring this trip), how my bike is holding up well despite the load, a tiny bit about work, a lot about friends and family (miss you all!!). I also look at the scenery and admire the views, try work out where the road goes depending on how the mountains are, I try guess the rock types in the mountains as well which is a fun game. And then I play a guess what time we are going to be in town game whilst looking at the kms go bye and whilst I guess where we are according to the map. Ok, so I think I think a lot but if you space this all out into +4hrs, its pretty little.

Today my mind was on the tour a lot. With Tessa pulling out, this leaves me (and Johan) in a pickle. The plan was that we were going to ride to Riebeek Kasteel as 3, then Johan was going to meet up with his wife and then on Tuesday, Tessa and I would ride on to Darling. Neither Johan nor I were happy with the idea of my riding to Darling solo so Johan suggested asking Tessa to join us in Riebeek and then getting her to ride with me the last day. I had also been thinking of the solo dilemma and had come up with an idea for me to head south to Stellenbosch and Johan could if need be continue to Riebeek. At lunch we chatted and although I feel bad about deviating from the plan, I was not comfortable with the Riebeek to Darling idea. So… the plan is that we are both riding to Stellenbosch on Sunday. Actually works out cool because now I get to see more family whilst on holiday.

Enough blabbering from me! I am going out to take pics – here is the route and pics from today:

PS: so far we have ridden 262km

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