Day 17 – OLT Lockdown Tour SA

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We are in the Adventure province, Eastern Cape’s Baviaanskloof Nature reserve with mountain passes for days… Literally, no less than 5 passes were conquered. The word undulating doesn’t exist in this case. Extreme mountain passes only recommended by 4x4s, switch backs, gravel roads, river crossings and rain… A solid 6 hours of wet dirty fun.

Just when you think the tough part of tour is over, the weather be like “Here, hold my beer!”
After non stop rain through the night, waking up to more rain, with a dash of a monkeys wedding… and then some more rain, Today we rode west from Patensie to Doringkloof via one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in South Africa that could give The Vumba in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe a run for its money.

A grueling 71.65km and 1394m of climbing over 7 hours in the saddle. Who said we need 4x4s in Africa. Conquering the Combrink, Holgat and Grasnek pass in the reserve saw much delighted faces at the summit, as one thing was for sure, it’s all downhill from here. Until the next pass.

With sheer drops of over 100 metres to the side, and slippery roads, steep inclines, pulling an overloaded trailer, steep inclines and snails pace driving behind the cyclists made for long conversations in the land cruiser. Did i mention Matambo has been driving and managing these types of tours for over 15 years. You can’t buy experience. Makorokoto Shamwari.

If I was a fly I would love to have sat on Dave’s shoulder coming up those hills. 🤭 My “French” vocabulary has started to extend far beyond, which now includes Shona, Spanish, Italian and even Fanagalo. Dave had a hard long day in the saddle. Despite all the French lessons going uphill, there were celebratory tears, apologies and hugs on the summits. Today was just EPIC!

Did I mention it was raining….

Badger strolled up those hills, like a walk in the park. Smashing over 50km before joining the lads in the cruiser. After yesterday’s kip on the road, he thought it would be more comfortable in the vehicle. I don’t blame him.

Deidre our ride captain continues to amaze me. With all the rain, mud and just Kak weather, she has a knack of pulling the reigns on the crew. Pushing us to our limits, but knowing when enough is enough. Safety first. Boldly we all agreed!

Dave, self nominated D.O.D, a few kms from camp, suddenly announces he had left his Garmin on the trailer when packing the bikes, sending us on an extra 28km round trip to go find it. Didn’t you get enough of that route!? Only to find it in the groove of the trailer the whole time. Should have known when it was still saying connected on your phone 😱

We made our way to camp, wet, cranky, damp and a loss for words how cold it was. Never have I seen a vehicle and trailer unpacked so quickly, dinner made, food prepped for the next day and then silence as one by one the crew dropped like flies. As hard as the day was, I have been told, they enjoyed every single wet minute of it.

As we ride out from Doringkloof to Willowmore, we are still in the Baviaanskloof. Don’t think anyone’s mentioned the hills to Dave yet. We ride so you can enjoy the humour. Support the cause. Make a difference

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