Time in transit: John and Leon: 10 hours; the rest of us: 8 ½ hours
Today was my best day so far. I think it’s because I was comparing it to yesterday which was my worst day so far – 114km with lots of uphills at the end, and the thought of Leon comfortably ensconced at the Protea Hotel in Clarens while we still had another 27km to get to our overnight farmhouse. Yes, I could also have stayed at the Protea, but then I would have had to do the 27km today and the thought of a shorter day today was too sweet to pass up.
So, after a really good night’s sleep at Marianne’s lovely farmhouse literally in the middle of nowhere, Tony, Kieran and I joined “Ironman” John (dislocated shoulder yesterday, happy to ride over 100km today) and Leon for the 6km uphill into Fouriesburg for moerkoffie and krummelpap. When leaving the town, a local passed Trevor and asked him what we were all up to. Upon hearing we had cycled from Joburg and were on our way to Queenstown, his response was “Jy’s &*^£@! mal!” In fact, we got that a lot today, including from the woman serving at the chemist in Ficksburg.
Today’s cycling was relatively easy with lots of flat stretches, some gentle climbs and some really fast, exhilarating downhills. We had a bit of a Cape Epic moment when we decided to chance the closed road between Ficksburg and Clocolan, and had to portage over a dug-out section of road while the road builders continued grading and digging alongside us. We stopped every hour or so in between food stops, to stretch our legs and eat an energy bar or two. I know I have waxed lyrical about the scenery on the Facebook page, but we really have seen some beautiful sights. It has been very special taking the views in slowly and not whizzing past in a fast car.
Tonight we are sleeping at Osmond House in Clocolan, a lovely old house being run by Elsie as a B&B. Dinner was at the golf club two blocks down the road. Everyone we have met has been friendly, helpful if necessary and interested in what we are doing.
We have had lots of laughs along the road and the spirit of the group has been fantastic. It has been good getting to know these guys, and even though almost all of them are serious athletes (many Comrades’ and other marathons, Duzis and Argus’s between them), I haven’t felt too much like the slowest of the bunch. Okay, I am slow on the uphills but I feel myself getting stronger every day. Trouble is, so are they!
My legs get stiffer each day and today I was prompted to ask if they would feel normal again before this tour was over. I mean, there must be a point where it’s physically impossible for them to actually get stiffer. I guess I will just have to keep on going to find out.