Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 8 & 9: Bloody Hell ! - Slaapkrantz to Vaalbank to Romansfontein

The last 2 days have not been fun at all, even though the landscapes have been breathtaking. We awoke to heavy rain, thunder & lightning @ Slaapkrantz & discovered that the day would begin with two massive portages - 15 odd km's of hiking up & over two bloody high mountains !

It took us 6 hours (6am start) to get up & over those mountains - all of them in the picture !!! The rain had turned everything to thick black sludge & we struggled no end to climb/descend along goat tracks with our bikes on our backs.

The mud was so thick that the wheels stopped turning every few metres, that's if you could even push the bike. Picking it up was impossible because of the extra weight. Conditions were treacherous to say the least & at one point the lightning struck the fence we were trying to get over, right on top of the first mountain.

(Gerrit ek het jou amper van bo daai berg gebel - My linker been is kas toe op die oomblik - knie en shin en met die mislike weer, modder, berg klim ens was dit net nag !!!)

So there we were @ 14:00pm @ the foot of the last decent with 70km's still to go with bikes that were no go because of the mud. Anyway we managed to find some water & clean them somewhat before heading off again. We got to Ressouw in another thunderstorm shortly after it got dark.

It was bitterly cold, wet & muddy & we were tired. We thought of asking the police for lodging in the cells, but decided to press on. A fall or two later in the dark we passed Moordernaarspoort an intermediate stop (bed only) if we wanted it. We didn't, with 45 odd km's still to go in the rain, mud & hilly darkness !

We never saw another farm after that, even when the lightning lit up the valleys around us. Anyway we arrived at the endpoint 'Vaalbank farm' @ 01:30 am, bloody cold, covered in mud and exhausted - a 19 hour day !!!

Today (09:30am start - pic above) wasn't much different - Morning rainstorm, hailed on, criss-crossed farm veld & fields covered in mud, got lost & tried to ride the mud.

The stiction (resistance between tyre & mud surface) was horrendous, only made worse by the strong headwinds. We had to pedal hard downhills to prevent ourselves from coming to a complete stop !

The bottom line is that today's stage was meant to be 132 km but we did only 55 km by 6pm. We decided to stop @ the intermediate stop @ Brostlea farm instead to recover a bit. Everything is wet, covered in mud and it's cold on the Freestate flats.

We're a day behind schedule but one can't always have great weather. Anyway sometimes when you're feeling miserable a hot shower & a cuppa tea is all you need to lift the spirits a bit.

Now all I need is for the lovely Doc Fletcher to straighten me out a bit, a physio/masseuse to work on those aching muscles, swollen knee, dislocated/relocated finger etc and for someone else to stick a smelly sock in Sean's snoring mouth !


  1. hey gadgetboy, it's good to see you blogging again, thank you for the update - it sounds like an EPIC ride! I wish you guys were in capetown already - so that you can get out of that weather, have the injuries looked after, and so that i can concentrate on work again ...

  2. Great that you guys are still going... sounds seriously uncomfortable to say the least! Well done you!