Felix Unite to Yzerfontein
My will to struggle through headwinds, over “rolling hills” and long distances has completely left me. Capetown is almost in sight and I just want into get to the end and stop cycling, camping and eating peanut butter sandwhiches.
You may think I'm weak (I really don't care) but I've ridden the truck a fair bit in the last couple of weeks. If the distance is long, I've ridden the truck for half a day or if there are hills or a headwind it's the truck for me. I've really had enough of grueling days and I just want to enjoy the remaining part of the Tour.
Obviously, I want to ride the last day into Capetown and enjoy it. If I'm not careful I could find myself not being able to face getting on a bike for the last day. I can feel a cold bubbling under the surface and that my body is getting generally run down. I can't see any point in suffering just to proove something that I don't care about prooving.
So, this has actually been a very pleasant few days. I've cycled when I felt like it and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I've stopped at cafes for cappuccino and cake and milkshake and fruit juice and chips and everything. I'm making the most of it because in a few days time my food intake will have to drop by about two thirds or I will balloon rapidly.
Day 114 – Felix Unite to Springbok
135Km. Really quite a tough day. 1750 metres of climbing. The border crossing into South Africa is after about 10Km. It takes about 10 minutes to complete necessary forms and goes without hitch. After the border there is a steady climb up a gentle (ish) slope for 60Km to the lunch truck. Along with most of the other riders I stop at a very nice roadside cafe about 20Km from the border for 2 cappuccinos and a toasted sandwhich.
I arrive fairly late at lunch having spent a long time at the cafe drinking coffee. At the lunch we have a couple of challenges for the “Battle of the Nations 2” competition that the staff have organised for us. First is the “rolling” competition” which involves coasting down a hill and rolling along the flat for a far as possible. Despite “tucking” as much as possible I don't get anywhere near the leaders distances. I later discover that by swerving vigorously from side to side it's actually possible to impart some propulsive force and maintain a reasonable speed whilst peddaling. This is what the winners of the rolling competion have done. Hardly in the spirit of fair competition, but hey this is the Battle of the Nations.
The second challenge is the wheelie competition. It's been many years since I've wheelied a bicycle but I'm glad to say I won this challenge by a significant margin with a distance of 67 “Ernsts' foot lengths” compared to the nearest competitor (Tom) with a distance of 23 “Ernsts' foot lengths”.
Having spent about an hour on the coasting and wheelie challenges it's getting quite late and I have to work quite hard to compete the remaining 65Km in the afternoon before dark. There are some really quite mentally challenging rolling hills and it also starts to get quite cold as the sun gets lower in the sky. Towards the end of the ride I'm starting to suffer “accute sense of humour loss” as Springbok seems to keep getting further and further away. At one point I'm sure there are only 5Km to left to go when a road sign indicates that it's more like 10Km. Devastating !
I eventually arrive at camp cold, hungry and very tired just after sunset and just before dinner. Strangely this has been one of the most tiring days of the Tour. I don't tell anyone but I almost fainted in the queue for dinner :) !
Day 115 – Springbok to Garies
112km paved road. This should have a been an easy day but I just got really sick of cycling early on.
I woke up to find that I had a puncture overnight which needed to be fixed in the cold before I got started. This really wasn't a problem. The route crossed 3 lines of mountains and the day involved plenty of steep climbs and rolling hills. As I got to the top of each hill the next hill would be revealed. Sometime I could see several hills stretching out to the horizon. Mentally, this was very challenging and by the time I arrived at lunch I'd had enough. I was very happy to take the truck to lunch after camp and then hit the local convenience store for a disgraceful amount of soft drinks, ice cream, crisps and coffee.
Day 116 – Garies to Vanrynsdorp
148Km good paved road. A really pleasant day, mainly because I rode the truck all day. I did consider taking the truck to lunch to avoid the intolerable rolling hills. Then I remembered the unpleasant headwinds which start in the afternoons and decide to truck it all day.
Got to camp early in the morning, had a nice hot shower and then went to a cafe with some of my fellow “truck bunnies” and stuffed myself on “Bunnie Chow” (curry in a bread roll), milkshake, 2 coffees and 2 fruit juices and an ice cream all for 8 US$. Very civilised. Then back to camp for more coffee and beer before dinner.
Had a great fun quiz to decide the winner of the “Battle of the Nations 2” which saw the British team win by 1 point !
Strangely, I'm looking forward to cycling tomorrow. I'm actually excited about it infact ! Starting to feel very sad about having to say goodbye to everybody at the end of the Tour.
Day 117 – Vanrynsdorp to Elandsbaai
112Km mixed paved road and corrugated off road.
Started the day very enthusiastically setting a fast pace between 30 and 40Kph without much effort. Stopped at a Wimpy for breakfast at around 25K. Also spent a bit of time looking for an internet cafe and also a gift for my “secret friend”.
I spent so much time in the town that I didn't make it to the lunch truck in time and got picked up by the lunch truck around 1:30. Since a strong headwind was picking up and the road was extremely corrugated I decided to conserve my reserves of enthusiam by riding the truck after lunch.
In the evening we had the secret friend presentation where we each gave a small gift to a randomly chosen person. Tragically, the best gift I could find was a bottle of energy drink called “Bomba” in a hand-grenade shaped bottle. The secret friend thing was great fun but an upsetting reminder of how much I will miss this great bunch of people.
We were camped on the beach and surf was up.
Day 118 – Elandsbaai to Yzerfontein
148Km. Woke up with slight sore throat and with a bit of a cold coming on. Was planning to ride a half day today but decided to take the truck all day rather than risk making the cold any worse.
Got to camp early and put up my totally worn out tent for the last time. Feeling very excited about almost being in Cape Town. Returning to normal life is going to be the weirdest part of the trip as life with the TDA has become “normal” over the last 4 months. I've had butterflies in my stomach for the last few days whenever I think of getting to the end. I think many other people on the Tour are similarly excited.
Tomorrow is the last day. A relatively short 112Km and we'll be there !