Between mountains and ocean

Dec. 7, 2012 (day 569) South Africa

It is so lovely to be hosted by other cyclists! Not only you have a plenty to talk about but also the hosts are not surprised by your smelly, unclean and tired appearance. At the coast I was going to enjoy it more than once, as somehow the community of hospitable cyclists is well represented there.

With Kevin and Dianne

With Kevin and Dianne

Kevin and Diane are ones who really enjoy life. Already retired, but with young spirits, they used to cycle in Europe. And when I entered their house, on the table lay open world atlas, clearly indicating that the next destination would be more exotic.

They really cared about me and helped recharging batteries during the long-awaited rest day. I realized then that during the last month I had had only a single day without cycling. Flopping down on a lawn next to the pool seemed to be a good idea and soon I was sleeping there and getting another sunburn.

The horrible headwind stopped and on the next day I enjoyed sunny weather, while the landscape was becoming more and more scenic with every kilometre. On the left there was the ocean, and on the right the mountains rose and approached closer. Riding on a plateau at 200m and following the old, narrow road, I had to descend into every beautiful river canyon on my way. It was certainly more interesting than following the highway with bridges spanning high over the most scenic spots.

In the evening I reached Jeffreys Bay. At first it seemed expensive and the price of coastal camping site almost made me turn back, but finally I succeeded to find a hostel with affordable dorm. A company of friendly Kenyans refreshed good memories from that country.

The sun did not shine too long and when I left the beach resort, the sky was again overcast. For the first time since long I found the road not to be tightly fenced and instead of cycling until the sunset, I used an opportunity to camp in a real, green forest.

Waves in woods

Waves in woods

My tent poorly blends into greenery

My tent poorly blends into greenery

The next day brought rains and without a proper jacket I was not enjoying it too much. The secondary road disappeared and I had to cycle on the highway, the only route cutting across that incredibly deep valley of Stormsrivier. The river mouth is supposed to be one of the most scenic spots on Garden Route. However, cycling down and up the same road to the coast, then paying a hefty entrance fee to the national park did not seem attractive to me in that weather conditions. Instead I rode away, just to find a sign that the reappearing secondary side road had been closed.

I like abandoned roads

I like abandoned roads

I took the risk, as usually “closed” roads are perfectly cyclable and not frequented by motorized traffic. That was a good guess. Pushing the bike over a pile of dirt, soon I was enjoying a great downhill towards the Bloukrans river. The bridge was in perfect condition and the road seemed to be just unmaintained, with some rocks and mud flushed on its' surface by recent rains. The valley was green, misty, quiet and beautiful. However, anticipating a wet and chilly morning, I climbed up again and tucked the tent into bushes on the edge of the disabled part of road.

Sometimes one has to hide in strange places

Sometimes one has to hide in strange places

Beach, sunshine!

Beach, sunshine!

The next morning started with pleasant downhill to Nature's Valley. With sun finally burning through the cover of clouds the beach looked inviting. I left the bike at a shop and finally had the long-awaited swim. Then I went past scenic Plettenberg Bay, just to be sprayed by another afternoon rain. The beautiful forest, which grew around, was too wet and too thick to camp in, but in a place where the road cut through a small hill the escarpment was high enough to hide me from the eyes of drivers. Sleeping no more than 20m from the road I was invisible and enjoyed another peaceful night.

The main road sometimes look nice too

The main road sometimes look nice too

Tired of the usual breakfasts, which consisted of oats and jam, sometimes spiced with raisins or fruit, I started early and arrived to Knysna well before lunchtime. Ordering a full meal in the morning I did not surprise anyone. In fact, other people were already eating huge portions of chips. Quite healthy breakfast for office workers! I ordered the same, with fish, anticipating that on the nearby uphill in the rain I would burn it anyway and become hungry soon. Soon I learned that my prediction had been correct.

As I proceeded along coastal lakes, the weather was changing every minute. There was light wind and the sun sometimes emerged from behind the clouds, giving more power to a group of paragliders struggling to soar over a nearby hill. That was something I had been missing for long, as because of my travels I lost three flying seasons already. I stood there and watched those people having a lot of fun in the air.

Led by messages sent on my mobile and a strange set of coordinates on the GPS, which seemed to perfectly point a place called “the middle of nowhere”, I tried to reach Oakhurst. There I was supposed to meet my next WarmShowers hosts. I approached it in a bizarre, spiral way, doing additional 20km of distance and few hundred meters of climb. But it was worth it.

Jake and Claire welcomed me on their beautiful farm. Being themselves a couple of MTB cyclists they enjoyed hosting a two-wheeled traveller, even though I arrived in the most hectic time possible. With another family members moving in and urgent works approaching deadlines in their business, they still had time to take care of their lovely three daughters and asked me constantly if I need anything. It was difficult to leave them two days later and cycle away into cloudy, windy weather.

Comments:

mama
mama
5 years, 10 months ago
Czyli przynajmniej jedna kąpiel zaliczona!? Ściskaj od nas tych wszystkich, którzy Cię goszczą. Nasza wdzięczność jest i będzie ogromna :). No i czekamy w domu!!!
Bee
Bee
5 years, 10 months ago
Gratulacje na okazję osiągnięcia mety, pełne podziwu dla hartu ducha, siły woli, siły mięśni i żądzy przygody/poznawania. Teraz chyba czas na szczegółową relację, najlepiej w formie książki, czego szczerze życzę.
Bee
Bee
5 years, 10 months ago
Jedna kąpiel na 30 000 km to też byłby ciekawy wyczyn ;)