Sunday, June 21, 2009

what a ride

wow, what a ride ... 60-+ hours in the saddle (including interpreting the maps, crossing rivers and climbing mountains) to cycle 509.4 kilometers to rhodes.

a magical ride, some of the BEST (and toughest) riding i've done.

day 1: pmb - minerva - hella-hella - mackenzie; about 11 hours with 2616 m vertical ascent
Cycle to the townhall, some fodies, wait for the clock to strike 6, and off you go.
Mild distric road, chatting, bantering, mild cycle, first turn-off, a loong climb on forest tracks and later singletrack into minerva, rewarded with soup and bread, yum. in a tracktor and farm-implement-musuem :)

Then a steep downhill, more downhill, a rivercrossing or 2, map interpretations and more map interpretations, a very steep climb up hella-hella, followed by the BEST toasted sarmies and carrotcake EVER in the mackenzie country club. Hot showers, great food (lots of it) and chocolate eclairs :)

day 2: mackenzie - centacow - ntsikeni; just under 12 hours; 2658 m vertical ascent
Starting in the dark, lots of map-interpretations and discussions, totally wrong route, arriving in Donnybrook via a huge detour, them a stunning bit of forest-cycling (inlcuding some very nice downhills) into centacow. more stunning cycling along distric road and then offroad on cattletracks - the last bit of uphill cycling on cattletracks to ntsikeni in the dark, with a rivercrossing to get the feet wet right at the end. A huge logfire in the most beautiful cottage in the mountain, with bright bright stars and hot water for the showers. Soup, bread, supper, clean white linen, and no snoring (the snorers were in the other cottage)

day 3: ntsikeni - masekala in just over 12 hours with 1756 m vertical ascent
A rude awakening over grass and wetlands, took us 3 hours to do the first 13 kays. There were some rewarding downhills, though, a few kays on a district road with a headwind, some excellent soup, rolls and bananas in a farmhouse, and then a long climb over a ridge, with an apple-stop at the top. A downhill to match, more downhill, and finally some navigation in the dark to get to Masekala where there was no running water :(

day 4: masekala - queens mercy - malekonyane in 9 hours with 1016 of vertical ascent
The prettiest day of all ... into a massive plain and then downwards on whatever tracks you could find. Lettuce sandwiches at queen's mercy (supplemented with 2 cm of peanut butter and filtercoffee), then a stunning climb through villages, and up, up, up, and then lots more map-interpreting, some investigation down a valley, but back up, and finally DOWN to a farmhouse on an exhilirating downhill, and onwards to malekonyane, with a sharp steep climb, hot showers, vetkoek, a visit to the mission station.

day 5: malekonyane, tinana, vuvu in over 12 hours; 1976 of vertical ascent
starting in the dark with muddy singletrack, then district road, a climb, some downs, then off into the mountains for more singletrack, up to black fountain on cattle tracks, and then ... it looks like a bikepark up there ... wide playgorounds where cattle dragged wood ... lots of map-interpretation ansd searching for bicyclce-tracks, a very technical downhille (which the trance loved) and then onwards to tinana mission for a snack-attack of note: cheese-and-peanut-sandwiches, doughnuts, coke. followed by a climb on district road, and then 20-something of cobblestone winding up-down never-ending district road. arriving in the dark, was glad to see the school! interesting shower-thingy, and then sleeping in huts.

day 6: vuvu-lehana-rhodes in just over 9 hours (including about 2 hours of stops, but it was the last day, we had to make the most of it) 1546 m vertical ascent
starting in the dark, a downhill from vuvu, with the most stunning view of bicycle silhouettes against a red sky ... then up into lehana, lots of it ridable ... a few picnics on the way up - then more upwards around the corner, and downhill to the tenahead lodge for some tea and sarmies. onwards down to the top of naudes neck, ehtn down, and a loooong climb before finally a long sweet downhill, and then rolling hills into rhodes, with hot showers, food and clean white linen.

the rasa-guys cleaned their bikes and washed their clothes while the r2r-ers spent the time in the pub :)
woke up at 4 to see the rasa-people off, and then promptly back to bed, to wake up to a late breakfast. will be back next year!

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