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Day 4 Africa biking to Knysna

Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay

Fortunately today was a short distance both because of a bad night with an upset stomach and also because of rain & low cloud 🙂 It’s unfortunate that a seaside place is built on top of a 300 foot hill as well 🙁 especially when the b&b is at the bottom! The N2 was busy as well in the warm drizzle. Where I discovered that the big trucks use the shoulder  so that cars can overtake them 🙁   A club cyclist stopped to have a chat when I was checking my front brake – first cyclist I’ve got to speak to here 🙂

Road fencing
Road fencing – lets hope the cars don’t crash.

I took a coffee and scone at the Radical Raptors cafe & tried to dry out a bit. It was then a slog of a climb up to 1,000feet not a big climb but one of those where you think a brake is on. Even coming down through the shanty town wasn’t so pleasurable, amazingly they are building a huge fence (The South Africans seem to love their fences) to stop folks crossing over the wide road, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to built a bridge or tunnel so folks can cross the road safely.

By the time I reached Knysna, Mountain Bike Heaven so the poster board says, the rain had stopped, the Amber Guest Lodge is perfect, I can honestly say everywhere I’ve stayed has been pretty well perfect! This place even has decent WiFi.

Fixing front brake
Fixing front brake

First job was to find a bike repair guy to sort my brakes out. The young Ugandan lad in Ultimate Bikes took one glance and said my brake block was in upside down 🙁 and the caliper lever bent 🙁 both a result of the air trip and my gross incompetence) but anyway quickly fixed ready for the mountain passes to come. A quick going over with Würth HHS 2000 spray on grease and I was ready to roll for £2.

Tonight it was down to Blend for a perfect Pizza & ice cream with beer. A good ending to the day.

Strava says I did 21.5 miles and 1639 feet of climbing plus another 9.2 miles touring Knysna.

Pictures are here

Day 3 Africa trip – Fynbos to Pletteberg Bay

The loaded bike
The loaded bike

I’m sorry to say that I took the easy way out of the golf course for the first 5 miles, avoiding the dust & bumps by travelling in a 4×4 doing 70kph 🙁

I managed to sleep over 8 hours which was good, the breakfast at the golf course was OK afterwards the driver dropped me off at the tarmac of the R102. I finally started riding after having a coffee at the Farmstall, more like a supermarket than a stall. The R102 soon merged into the N2 wonderfully wide and smooth! There is something like a hard shoulder to ride on but as always that’s the first thing to disappear in difficult situations.

Storms River gorge
Storms River gorge

I saw my first and only touring cyclist going the opposite way we waved but didn’t stop. The first WOW moment was crossing over the Storms River gorge on the Paul Sauer bridge constructed in 1956 with its 405 feet drop to the water. Pretty impressive gorge especially the vertical bounce when trucks passed over it!

Bloukrans Pass bridge
Bloukrans Pass bridge

The next challenge was the Bloukrans Pass which is officially closed 🙁 However, its easily passable on a bike and a couple of adventous motorists also made it. Its very overgrown so the views of the bridge (apparently the world’s longest bungee jump  are not great) the 680 foot climb out is also a bit tough. Although I did catch a glimpse of a family of baboons.

I stopped at Creswell Crags (not the ones where I used to live) for some junk food & drink then it was a fast run on a very long descent into Plettenberg Bay.

Some of the side roads like to Storms River and Nature Valley looked interesting but I bypassed them

I easily found with the aid of the previously booked Thandar Vista b&b. It was then a 22min walk up the hill and down to the beach for dinner at The Lookout Deck

Strava makes it 59.8 miles and 3,540 feet of ascent so a good day.

All the pics are here


Day 2 Biking Africa Jeffreys Bay to Fynbos, Eesterivierstrand

Who have thought with my dislike of golf. That I would cycle the best part of 50 miles to stay on a golf course 🙂 As the saying goes when “needs must the devil drives”.

I started the day with no grand breakfast as Funky don’t do food and none of the neighbouring restaurants were open. I pedalled up the 300ft hill to the shopping centre which conveniently had a McDonalds interestingly price wise it was nearly as expensive as my fish & chips last night. Good job I did stop though as the only place I went through, Humandorf, seemed a right dump. After that not a shop or cafe for 40 miles 🙁

The R102 1-IMG_1531is very undulating with some quite big valleys to cross as well. I seemed to spend hours through pine forests with a range of mountains to the right. A bit like Scotland although sunny & red hot. In fact I think I may have caught the sun a bit so maybe I will have to succumb and buy sun cream.

Training for Namibia
Training for Namibia

The last few miles was down an horrific dirt track with a corrugated service, loose sand and rocks plus cars and trucks bombing past throwing up huge dust clouds 🙁

The golf centre is a really pleasant modern building with the proprietor doing the cooking (peppers & spinach fresh picked from his garden). The shower has the most incredible pressure you could use it as a pressure washer.

So Strava says 49.5 miles and 2,595 feet of climbing.

Africa biking Day 1 -Summerstrand to Jeffreys Bay

After yet another magnificent breakfast I tore myself away from GB’s superb B&B. How some folks make everything look easy is amazing, true professionals at work.

I managed to squeeze all my belongings into the three bags. A bar bag, single pannier laid flat on the top of the rear rack (On this trip firmly held down by a rachet strap) and my lightweight backpack bungeed on top of that. Still to much but in my defense I have a tent, sleeping mat & bag,plus a mosquito net and hat.

Moves said I finally left at 8.24 into a strong wind and a 800 foot climb with me (82kg) and my 39kg of bike and stuff.

Our little prison with satellite TV
Our little prison with satellite TV

Totally fascinating riding here seeing all the huge walls, razor & electrified fences that folks surround themselves with. I loved this picture of the row of satellite dishes peering over the wall as if to say the only contact they want is via a microwave link! Compare that with the guys who display their skills waiting for work by displaying their 3 foot spirit level or a decorator showing their extended paint rollers. A pair of security guards had a good laugh when I asked then what its like living in paradise and getting paid for it. They just had never thought about just how lucky they are living in a perfect climate the shelves groaning with food.

I eventually made it onto the Old Cape Road (R102) which is now a very quiet backwater dropping down into stunning wooded valleys and crossing an old bridge built in London by Westwoods in 1893.

The car chelsea tractor driving leaves something to be desired getting a bit to close for comfort but the big trucks are very courteous. A JCB driver forgot that his jib stuck out beyond the side of the vehicle. Hopefully, I’m on quiet roads from now on.

Thorougly enjoyable day. The town, beaches and Funky House hostel are also very good but alas no breakfast.

Strava says I did 57.9 miles and 2,430ft of climbing.

The pics are here