Category Archives: Africa

Day 6 Africa biking from George to Oudtshoorn

Once again South Africa was excellent with The Acorn Guest House cooking a delicious breakfast that we all ate at the poolside under a clear blue sky. All traces of yesterdays rain storm disappeared giving clear views of the mountain range about to be crossed.

The dirt track Montagu Pass looked OK so I ventured up it leaving the tarmac behind. Whilst taking my panorama a runner stopped to chat and mentioned that several people had been robbed on the trail but that it was all clear now as he had just ran down it. He thought the track was way better than the tarmac as it was the end of the month, a weekend and so everyone would be drunk as it was pay day. 🙁

Montagu Pass
Montagu Pass

It turned into a fantastic uphill climb going up to 745 metres (2,444ft) so a worthy climb with all the kit on the bike. I only had to push it for a short section 🙁 The views were tremendous on such a clear day and only 3 cars came past me. Excellent!

It was a very bumpy free wheel down and one of my bottles escaped 🙁 The tea break at Over the Mountain Tea House was good. I crossed the N9 and kept on the dirt road all the way into Oudtshoorn arriving very parched, having lost the water and it being so hot in the mid 30’s, so I quickly drank 2 litres of water 🙂

The Queens Hotel is very faded grandeur but the shower is another jet washer and the WiFi is great. I met up with 10 or so folks on a grand tour from a UK company so I joined them for dinner.

Strava says today was 40.5 miles and 3,633 feet of climbing average speed was way down at 8.4mph – thats dirt roads for you!

All the pics are here

Day 5 Africa trip – Knysna to George

What a day! Amazing day of bike climbing, wind, traffic and discovery.

1-2016-02-26 08.06.16The folks at my yummy Al fresco breakfast in Amber Guest Lodge all said it was a very pretty coastal route, they all omitted to mention the climbing and the Kaaimans Pass 🙁 which is probably just as well. Also no one seemed to like George (the town that is).

I set off and made a quick visit at Ultimate Cycles to thank Frank for adjusting my brakes and to scrounge a bit of inner tube to make a better clamp for the iPhone bracket. Then once past the lagoon it was straight up a climb 🙁 and then another and another. Unlike yesterday this section has no cafes or shops until you reach slow town Sedgefield where i had a coffee & scone for £1.15 (Returning to the UK is going to a real shock!) and I can begin to see why there are so many African swallows 🙂

Eugene at Cycletorx
Eugene at Cycletorx

Since it rates itself as a ‘slow town’ I decided to wander down the back streets eventually alighting on an amazing gate made from bike parts (The Africans love gates & fences( outside the Cycleworx shop. The owner Eugene invited me and my bike in for a coffee. He had his web designer there too. One hour later I had my route to Stellenbosch planned and someone to help me sort out my SmugMug pictures 🙂 plus if any  SWNC members want somewhere to do winter mountain biking in the sun I now knew a man…

Pass notice board
Pass notice board

By the time I reached Wilderness the wind was blowing a real hoolie with the sand from the beach and passing trucks blasting in my eyes 🙁 and the mountains to where I was heading covered in thick black cloud 🙁 Yet another climb started with a rather auspicious sign half way up proclaiming it was The Kaiimans River Pass, the sign said I was at 67m above sea level and I could clearly see the next direction was heading straight down. However, the sign also said it peaked at 185 metres 🙁 🙁  Not nice with huge trucks snaking around the bends and the wind trying to push the bike across the road 🙁

SA LocoEventually I made it to the top and a much needed Coke at a petrol station. The clouds were now seriously dark. I shortly reached George, industrial as folks had said, but I prefer ‘real cities’ to tourist centres. However I couldn’t resist popping in to the Outeninqua Railway museum when I saw the sign! Stunning and well worth 50p of anyones money 🙂 To see the huge locos made in the UK and shipped over in 1896, amazing. Plus just how tiny the trucks were that I used to see as a kid at stations. Whilst inside the heavens opened! good job I wasn’t doing an audio recording.

After 30 mins I was on my way to the Acorn Guest House which is truly amazing at £30 per night for staying in one of the oldest houses in town, exquisite furnishing, persian rugs, modern paintings and even a decanter replete with sherry in my room! and she even let me put the bike in the room! Followed by a great pizza etc around the corner in a Mexican bar/restaurant.

An excellent if tiring day tomorrow a lot more climbing to Oudtsshoorn.

Here is the days 42.6 miles & 3,163 feet of climbing on Strava and Pics

 

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 booking.com 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