Day 1 Road Report : Life Hospital Suikerbosrand Heidelberg to Nicky’s Stone Cottages, Villiers
The weather was very kind in terms of temperature and for the first 30 kms the gentle breeze from behind sped the parlotone along at speeds most found surprising. We then turned left straight towards Villiers into the same north-easter and suddenly the hills seemed a little steeper and longer and the downhills needed some help from pedals to make them feel like downhills.
The surface conditions were mostly good with occasional patches of potholes
Distance: 96.9 kms
Average Speed: 20.20 kms/hour
Climb: 802 metres
Descent: 812 metres
Day 2 Road Report: Nicky’s Stone Cottages, Villiers to Poelanies, Reitz
Cool overcast conditions with a slight north-easterly breeze to help us along. Nice, relatively easy cycling conditions until Frankfort. Then a south-easterly turn towards Reitz and the long undulating Free State landscape made its presence felt. It is a steady unrelenting climb from Frankfort to Reitz and by the time we were about 20kms away the continual climbing began to be felt and the pace slowed.
The road surface is very poor with many and huge potholes and there was a steady stream of heavy and other traffic.
What did help was the wind from behind and the cool conditions.
Distance: 97.8 kms
Average Speed: 22.3 kms/hour
Climb: 952 metres
Descent: 805 metres
Day 3 Road Report: Poelanies, Reitz to Woodpecker Lodge, Ficksburg
The weather was very kind to us for our longest leg of the tour. Overcast conditions the whole way, except for some short patches of partly could and warm weather. The biggest feature of the day is that it is a really long leg and only two of the group had ever ridden this far and that on previous 1965Ride tours.
A couple of incidents – falls from the bikes by two, a puncture and weariness from the previous day took its toll and so just before Bethlehem Donne wisely decided to take to the back-up vehicle for a break and mid-way between Bethlehem and Fouriesburg when it began to become a worry that we would finish in daylight Andile also wisely decided to take a break. Duncan had a problem with his seat post which took longer than we had hoped to correct. Katiso and Donne went on ahead which meant that the rest of the crew had to push to catch them but we all finished in great style and high spirits with Donne leading the way for the last 20 kilometres. The chasing pack only just caught her before the entry to Ficksburg. A long day on the saddle!
Distance: 147.4 kms
Average Speed: 20.2 kms/hour
Climb: 1322 metres
Descent: 1286 metres
Day 4 Road Report: Woodpecker Lodge, Ficksburg to Cranberry Cottage, Ladybrand
A beautiful day for cycling: Clear blue windless skies and magnificently fresh after all the rain. The day started overcast but this lifted as we left Ficksburg. It was fun, easy cycling all the way to Cranberry Cottage for the traditional stop and then on to Ladybrand. Just before we entered the town we saw the rain storms coming from the south east, Lesotho and felt the pre-storm winds blasting us from our left. About 250 metres from Cranberry Cottage the heavens opened and left us drenched in that short distance, but safe and happy to be at our overnight haven.
Distance: 68.3 kms
Average Speed: 21.7 kms/hour
Climb: 690 metres
Descent: 701 metres
Day 5 Road Report: Cranberry Cottage, Ladybrand to Lord Fraser, Wepener
The beautiful weather and a smiling sunrise that greeted us this morning was made especially beautiful and clean afternoon and early evening by the gushing downpour yesterday. We also had an interesting start to the day with the first (and hopefully only) broken spoke of the tour. Tony discovered this on his vintage Vitus just before we were about to mount up and depart. Fortunately he had brought his other bike and we were away quite quickly. The much feared Ladybrand hill was found not be as daunting as was feared and soon we were above Ladybrand looking out into the magnificent yonder – rolling Free State landscapes embraced in the arms of the Drakensberg mountains and punctuated by amazing sandstone rock formations. At the top of the hill Andile experienced his second puncture. After a bit of a search around we found a new tube with a long valve and away went. From then on apart from an involuntary dismount and an unwanted en route insect sting (Maritha) we cruised superbly all the way to Wepener with a very tight Parlotone averaging 30km/hour for a 10 km segment! Very well ridden by every soul!
Distance: 95.4 kms
Average Speed: 21.12 kms/hour
Climb: 866 metres
Descent: 998 metres
Day 6 Road Report: Lord Fraser Lodge, Wepener to Mountain View Chalets, Zastron
Perfect cycling weather. Cool and overcast with a slight tailwind.
No incidents, strong cycling from the team and an uneventful entrance into Zastron and up to the Chalets for the night.
Distance: 66.9 kms
Average Speed: 20.38 kms/h
Ascent: 663 metres
Descent: 404 metres
Day 7 Road Report: Mountain View Chalets, Zastron to Umtali Country Lodge, Aliwal North
The heavens opened just before 05:00 and water deluged down. It was still raining heavily at 07:00 so we started create rainwear out of our remaining rubbish bags and a couple more donated by Chris and Elsabe, our kind hosts at Mountain View. Breakfast at 08:30. Still raining. At 08:50 the rain started to abate. So we decided to depart which we did at 09:15 full of fear and trepidation. No-one was looking forward to a ride in the rain!
About 200 metres from our overnight lodgings we stopped for our traditional prayer-start to the day. As we finished the prayer the rain slowed to a virtual stop and apart from a few stray drops we never had another drop all the way to the Eastern Cape Border and the Orange River
This team just grows and grows. During the first three days they struggled to maintain an average speed of 20 km/h. Today their average was just a touch under 28 kms/h until the entrance into Aliwal and then slowed off a lot through the town. They rode three 10 km segments at over 32 kms/hour. Astonishing! What a team. They are truly worth being proud of!
Distance: 71.7 kms
Average Speed: 27.12 kms/h
Ascent: 391 metres
Descent: 689 metres
Day 8: Umtali Country Lodge, Aliwal North and Hazelmere, Penhoek Pass
Cool, overcast conditions to start. The day warmed up as we progressed. The team cruised up the Aliwal climb. This team continues to astonish. The whole 106 kilometres finished in the outstanding time of 4:39:06 and the last 10 kms before the Penhoek Pass sign they flew along at 34kms/h. The northerly wind helped but also created some scary moments at the bottom of the pass on the turn towards to Queenstown. Poor Duncan had three punctures in the last 10 kms. Only in the first 10 kms did the average speed dip below 20 kms/h.
Distance: 105 kms
Average Speed: 22.58 kms/h
Ascent: 1143 metres
Descent: 919 metres
Day 9: Hazelmere, Penhoek to Queenstown
Distance: 59 kms
Average Speed: 23.96 kms/h
Ascent: 300 metres
Descent: 713 metres
Cool, even chilly conditions to start. Two good climbs and the rest was a flying downhill to Bailey where we met by a contingent of young Queenians and a pack of Motorcyclists organised by Andrew Taggart and including some veterans of the 1965Ride – Adie Peltenburg, Andrew Nel and Bruce Raasch. It was great to see them all. Then it was a Parlotone led by Katiso Letlaka at a comfortable, maybe even easy pace after the frenetic previous 8 days into Queenstown where well-organised Lukanji Metro Traffic department saw us safely through to our destination and the end of a very happy and successful tour.
Summary Statistics of the 2018 Tour
Fastest Time: 70.05 (Day 8, down Penhoek)
Number of 10 Km segments at over 30 Kms/h: 6
Fastest 10 km segment: 34.86
Estimated pedalstrokes by the Team: 1,182,048
Estimated Total fluid consumed: 123 litres
Estimated tonnes of Fun and Laughter: Inestimable!
Total memories: Infinite!