Velddrif to Elands Bay – 70 kilometers
I read this somewhere, and it is appropriate at times! “After the initial planning, it seems that nothing ever happens to put a tour on time, on track, and on schedule”.
After finding a new set of brake pads, the present ones are looking a bit dented, I had a cuppa tea at the local Engin Service station and hit the road. Noting that I have not had any punctures since Matatiele – a couple of thousand kilometres back!
I set off along the coastal ‘Main Road’ towards Elands bay.
I had been told that the Spoornet Enginering service road that runs beside the railway line will cut a lot off my distance in places. But I was happy to stick to the quiet tarmac roads. It might have been longer, but in this weather and being quiet this route was quicker for me. There are going to be plenty of times for me to get uncomfortable on African roads, why lengthen those times and shorten the comfort zone of a tarmac road.
I had a slight tail wind and cool weather to move me along. At about 15.45 I started looking for a likely camping spot. But came across a huge potato farm where the coastal road meets up with the R366 road. Wobbler started edging towards the gate … as usual I was unable to put up a fight.
I propped Wobbler against the farm building, went into an office and asked if I could sleep put up my tent under the trees in the staff compound. The farm manager, Johan, pointed to the lush green grass outside the factory reception – ‘Why sleep there when you can sleep here?’
Immediately I started to like this giant of a man; and there I put up my tent. Johan offered the use of the reception shower/toilet and the kitchen.
I then met Leon the manager of the mechanical section of this huge farm that sends out 500 hectares of potatoes every year to Cape Town. That’s a lotta, lotta spuds – carbs!
Leon invited me to his home for dinner with his family. Note this – his sons cooked the dinner, sixteen and twelve years of age! A magnificent spaghetti bolognaise and Greek salad. I was feeling really tired and had to ask Leon to take me back to my tent early. I hope they forgive me for my rudeness – but I was shattered. I thank them for their hospitality and kindness.
That night my arm played up again and I did not get a lot of sleep. In the morning I was up early and organised.
My bike kickstand had collapsed a couple of days previously. These bikes are supposedly built for Africa, but the stand is not built to hold up fifty kilograms of weight day after day, sometimes in buffeting winds. I have to sort this out as soon as I can get somewhere and look at the problem properly. Leon had offered as had Jaco, Bettie’s son, in Velddrif – but was not comfortable and decided to wait until I hit Elands Bay.
At about 09.15 I headed off down the R366 – the coastal road – into a slight head wind towards Elands Bay.
Up ahead a huge low-slung cloud rolled in across the horizon. I had a good cycle except that the wind picked up and pelted into me for a couple of hours. That cloud was the only saviour. It was a low sea breeze – cool and comforting. The road was flat and undulate through slight bends. On my right was a high sand dune of white beach sand and greenery, the sound of the surf from the other side fairly loud.
“How far to Elands Bay”, I called to an Overlander truck crew stopped beside the road, cab up and driver’s bum stuck in the air. I was immediately thankful that I only had a broken stand to contend with!
“About another 20 kilometers”, came the reply from the waving, shouting, dancing, stranded tourists at the roadside.
Twenty Kilometers – that’s about two – two and half hours riding for me. But the road and winds had other ideas and I battled against those for a while.
Around15.00hours – up ahead a corner, ‘Can’t be much further after that bend’, I mumbled.
I went around the bend and there was this l-o-n-g hill that climbed into the lower stratosphere. When you are tired anything that l-o-n-g seems to climb into the stratosphere!
‘Sod it, enough!’ I responded, as a true gentleman would, when alone and mumbling to himself in the middle of nowhere. I started to look for a camping place. I would tackle the hill in the morning – fresh and full of …
Like many of those instances where an answer is given to a worrying question or situation, the ideal place presented itself almost immediately. I lay the Wobbler gently on its side, walked through the open gate into the low scrub and checked out the situation. One hundred and fifty meters off the road was a flat spot hidden from the road by bush.
I went back to the road, walked on for another two hundred meters and laying Wobbler down to rest, pulled out some nuts, raisons, water and sat to wait for the sun to settle a bit more in the west. Setting up camp when stealth camping is best done as late as possible – less chance of anybody seeing you then.
I set up camp and was soon in the land of nod. As it as it got a bit nippy later I had to use my inner-sleeping bag as well as the normal bag.
My arm again playing up, seems when I stop pushing/cycling this happens. Anyway I was up early refreshed and ready for the hill. The spot I camped in had been very sandy and I discovered a couple of ticks on my person and hanging like little spots of blood onto my shirt. I laid everything out on my groundsheet and went through them with a fine toothcomb. After the tick search and with everything packed I set off to tackle the hill. It was a long gradient and not too bad until near the top. 2.8 km of wake-up sweat. At the top the view was magnificent and… it was ALL down hill into Elands Bay.