My trip down to Deneysville was pretty uneventful. I stopped at a few places to refill water bottles. I am gulping through my water in the heat. In Deneysville I got to the Village Inn by a strange sequence of events, and was invited to stay over. Village Inn is a Pub and Grill in town and has, I am told, the best pizza in town. I had a steak and chips. And I will vouch for the Steak. It was scrumptious.
I even had a flat tyre when I got to the Inn. If only I could channel this consistency to, oh I don’t know… everything else in life I am supposed to be consistent in!
I spent the night getting to know the locals and seeing some sights in town. The most shocking was the Dam, it is scarily empty. We were driving around on ground that, under normal circumstances would be the bottom of the dam and covered by at least two meters of water.
In the morning I went back to the dam to get some photo’s before I took the road heading to Heidelberg and Balfour. I am heading for Balfour and I need to be home in time for a farewell party. One of my closest friends is jumping ship and heading to Sweden. I am not jealous. I am not jealous…
There is not much to see on the road between towns in this area. It is pretty and there are a handful of trees on the side of the road to provide shelter from the scorching sun and terrible wind. I managed to get some good distance done before the rain threatened my progress and I pulled into a farm for a trip first.
The first place I have been told No! After 130 days of travelling, more than 5000km of cycling and meeting almost 100 new people that gave me a place to sleep for a night or two, I got my first No!
Strangely it did not bug me as much as I thought it would. Well, the fact that the person hung-up the gate phone in my ear before I could introduce myself and then sent the gardener out to tell me to go away was a reminder that not everyone has manners. But I was not all that rattled by it. But I am fine. It is not like I am going to post a link with their address with the words ‘terrible people live here” on Facebook or anything…
I carried on to the next farm and made a mad dash for a shelter as the heavens suddenly opened up. Inside I was offered a place to get dry and to sleep for the night. And of course to patch my flat tyre for the day. I have actually taken to strapping my patch kit and spare tubes to the outside of my luggage. Seeing as I use them so often.
In the morning I had a quick visit with my hosts before heading off to Heidelberg, and I was informed of a nice scenic through way to miss some of the traffic. I somehow missed a day in the week, so now I have to skip Balfour to get back in time for the weekend festivities.
I got to Heidelberg and popped in at my friends from earlier in the trip and immediately a braai was organized. Any excuse is a valid excuse to have a braai. I also fixed a flat tyre. I kid you not!
After Heidelberg and another stop at the man cave in Delmas, I was on the last day of adventure for this year. My homecoming, to be met by doves and a red carpet…
More like a torrential downpour and mud in strange places. After a flat tyre about 10km outside of Delmas, the clouds started building and building into apocalyptic proportions. I pushed hard to get as far as possible and a few kilometres before the filling station in Bapsfontein it started. The rain came down in drops the size of golf balls, and they felt like hail on my legs and arms. Within minutes I had a pond in each shoe and I was soaked through. I pulled into what I think is a chicken farm and waded through knee high water on the side of the road to get to a dry place to wait out the worst of the down pour. But I had a sneaky suspicion that this storm was going to last a bit.
I managed to get to the filling station eventually and squelched my way into the shop to buy a coffee to warm up… their coffee machine was broken. I am covered in mud, and my jacket (Not my rain jacket, I decided to leave it at home when I left, remember?) was dripping water like a tap with a broken seal. I did not bother to dry off or to look presentable. I just stood there in a growing puddle of rain water and mud, waiting to get to the register to pay for my yogisip.
After my yogisip I took on the last 25km of the road and only had two more showers. My fingers and toes were numb and I was cold as ice, willing to sacrifice… I could not help myself.
I got my last flat tyre for the trip about 5km from the filling station. This time I did not bother fixing it. I just stopped every few minutes, pumped it up and then went as far as I could again before I was running on the rim. I stopped four times to pump up the wheel before I saw the familiar and welcoming sight of my digs for the weekend. My momma’s house!
In total I had 11 flat tyres in twelve cycling days. I did also celebrate my 5000km mark with a bottle of home made strawberry juice, lemon creams and cheese curls. I met amazing people and saw amazing places. I stopped at the Eifel Tower and I stood on the bottom of a Dam without drowning. All in all, a stunning adventure.
In total over the last six months of being on the road I have done 5226km, an average of 62km per day cycling. I have visited five provinces, been at the border of three neighbouring countries and conquered 4 mountain passes. I made one illegal border crossing and stood next to the biggest baobab tree in the World.
I sustained only one minor injury during the entire time and the bike only had a handful of mechanical issues. I have gone through three sets of tyres, two chains, five spokes and surprisingly only four inner tubes. They do look like quilts now though, with a combined total of 89 patches.
I got to interact with lions, elephants and a leopard. I met dozens of four legged friends that either chased me or licked me or just wanted to cuddle a bit. I met more than a hundred two legged friends that did not chase me, lick me or cuddle with me, but they did open their homes and hearts to me.
I cried, I laughed and I felt hopeless sometimes. I also experienced amazing provision and strength from above. I learnt that solitude is not loneliness. My perspective and priorities have changed for the better. I learned that bad things happen, and letting them get to me is pointless.
I cannot wait to see what adventures come my way next year. Until then, happy holidays and happy trails.