Day six: Wepener to Aliwal North
Total distance: 130km. Cycling time 5hrs 30 mins 29 secs
Average speed: 23.5km/hr
Today was another superb day with fast riding up and down undulating hills.
We left Wepener promptly at 8am, Alan taking care to avoid the pavement after yesterday’s mishap. For a short while we had a tailwind which made it chilly when we stopped for our first tea break. We happened to stop next to a chap from Botshabelo, Samuel, who had punctured two of his tyres on the potholes so he was waiting for Mercedes-Benz in Aliwal North to send a rescue team. When he heard what we were doing, he immediately took out his wallet and gave us a donation. Thanks, Samuel!
We were met at the same stop by Tjoppie Bruwer (QC ’58) who had come to give us encouragement. He even dashed off to go and fetch a flask of fresh hot water for our tea!
We had to cycle some 15km on a stretch of dirt on a section of road that was being relaid between Wepener and Zastron – what a pleasure to have a really smooth surface to ride on for a while.
Then it was on to Zastron, where we met a team of Old Queenians on the concrete island in the middle of the Zastron turnoff, complete with coffee and rusks. They were super organised with a camping table, real cups, fresh milk, etc!
Back to last night ….. Something always happens after we’ve posted the blog. Alan Buchanan showed is a side of him that we hadn’t seen before, as well as some new and extraordinary talents. We can only give you examples because we would have no space for the rest of the blog. He makes an excellent waiter and easily has the ability to be a supermodel because of his propensity to pose for the camera.
We discovered today that Sparci Barnes didn’t adequately divulge his level of intelligence on his indemnity form and when he announced today that he had recently achieved 100% for his Commercial Law exam, we had to immediately convene a disciplinary hearing. The committee was divided in its deliberations as to whether or not he should be allowed to continue because confidence is a big part of this ride and we were worried that his intelligence would overwhelm us. We followed the lead of the ANC’s National Disciplinary committee and decided to suspend judgement until he commits another foul that would then force us to make a final decision.
Mr Brendan Raasch also did not fully divulge his complete array of talents, despite his bulk, on his indemnity form. He compounded this stretching of the truth by leading us to believe that he might be somewhat unhealthy by almost falling of his bike on the 2nd day and ending up in Bethlehem hospital. We subsequently discovered that this is actually the result of an inadequately positioned heart rate monitor and his performance today suggests that the truth is in fact that Mr Raasch is fitter than he looks. He quite easily sailed up some significant inclines, at in excess of 20km/h. Any further comments he may utter about his cycling inadequacies shall be ignored and we are thrilled we can now dispense with our Prozac.
We have not heard from the walkers, and even our whistle blowing insider is totally silent. Therefore we are not able to report anything more than that they did look ready to drive to their walking location when they departed this morning. However, we decided that we could not let this matter rest and Mike Sattary, our invaluable and irreplaceable support driver decided that he had better start doing something to repair the seriously damaged reputation of our fellow athletes, the “walkers”, and thus took to the road at each stop. At lunch, where we consumed (rather rapidly) the excellent sandwiches and boerewors prepared for us by the Lord Fraser, Mike took off down the road at such a pace that we began to think that our antics had driven him over the edge and that he had decided to seek psychiatric help in the ‘huge’ metropolis of Rouxville (don’t blink when you drive through it!). However he had as usual taken his new assignment (ie preparing fro the London Olympics as a walker) very seriously. Indeed much of his lunchtime walk was in fact a run. We, the cyclists, are thrilled to be able to offer our help to the walkers in this matter.
The last 30km from Rouxville was very much helped by the north westerly and we cruised into Aliwal feeling pleased and confident for the 105km to Hazelmere tomorrow.
Marlene Stals, the organiser of the East London group phoned us last night with the sad news that she had had to cancel that tour because of broken ankles, bronchitis and other unexpected circumstances. However, we were delighted that Leon Annandale and Clint le Roux immediately made plans to join us in Aliwal. They joined us this afternoon some 15km from our destination.
Off to Spur this evening and on to Penhoek tomorrow!
Come and ride with us!
Ashley and Tony