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January 4, 2010

The Unsupported Tour Report : Day 1

Day 1:

Our departure from Lovane Farm about 60km past George was as unceremonious as it comes. No crowds, no cheers, just an envious Louis who wouldn’t be making the trip with us. Our destination was set to be Prince Albert, around 130km away, over the Swartberg Pass. We were carrying only what we needed and would have no support along the way.

We had zero clues on the actual route or what lay ahead.

To most people, that seems a little crazy. We are included in that, but there was an air of excitement, the hint of mystery that all boys crave so much, and the sense that an epic adventure lay ahead. We had no idea of how big an adventure.

The difference between ordeal and adventure lies in the level of suffering. For one of my compatriots, it was an adventure, the other was about to start dealing with a 2 day ordeal that had me concerned beyond a level that I knew how to handle. Watching someone give their long term health a big poke in the eye is never fun for me.

Back to departure and onto the road for about 5km before we were on dirt. It was 9am and we reckoned it was above 30 degrees already. The road was littered with tortoises and thankfully, no Cape Cobras, of whom we had been warned by everyone.

A headwind which would persist for the next 380km came up. #FAIL

The first 60km seemed to scoot scoot by in a jiffy, and the spirits were high. We were laughing at random things and talking boy nonsense to kill time.

Lunch in Oudtshoorn was a foregone conclusion, and we sat under the most beautiful trees and had a killer sarmie each. All could not have been better I tell ya! Oudtshoorn is basically ostrich city and every hotel, guest house and petrol station is named after the creature with the tiny brain.

The road out of Oudt’ies was tar, and through a valley, but we thought we would give it a go, even though it was now PROPER hot. Gringo, of the ordeal, melted like ice cream in a microwave, his head glowing. 30km and we stopped just before Cango Caves to chill under the trees, drink loads of sugary drinks, and get into the shade. It was already ominous.

The Google road said that the Swartberg pass was one of the most beautiful in the world, but it looked straight uphill for 18km to us. The road leading to the dirt pass was hectic enough, and I hung back with Gringo while TheHousemate went bobbing up the road. It was disgustingly hot and Gringo’s stomach infection had him bloated and really uncomfortable. I tried to keep him motivated as we still had about 50km to go. We chatted about girls, Ivan the Tiger, chicken burgers and old memories.

He was proper chopping off when we thought we got to the top, only to find out there was about 4km more to go. Properly into the ordeal now, we reached the summit (again no crowds of ACDC Thunderstruck playing) and couldn’t understand why this was regarded as the most beautiful pass in the world.

Then we hit the descent. Gringo lead us out, breaking virgin territory on what is the most beautiful canyon gorge ravine whatever you want to call it, in the whole freaking world. It was narrow, ploughed into the depths of the valley and we were going at 70km/h at points.

The discs brakes were humming and my front brake semi failed on the downhill at one point, adding mild screams into tight corners. It was pure, it was enthralling in a way only a single tasked moment of survival can be. There was no peripheral noise in our heads and we had forgotten about work, about our made up busy lives totally at this moment. All ordeal was gone and there was only adventure.

There was a section of road leading into Prince Albert which seemed flat, but we had a huge tailwind at this point and we ran out of gears we were going so fast.

Totally spent we got to our cottage (which was wide open) and took off towards town to find a spot to eat, and hopefully, a swimming pool, as our heads were cooked.

Then small town-ness kicked in. A lady we met 2 min before offered her sisters pool to us, and she proceeded to lift us there, climb over her sisters gate to open it from the other side, and bugger off leaving us there to swim, uninterrupted, at her sister’s house.

We may have used the garden pillows to dry our naked asses.

Dinner was wolfed down and the night was hot hot hot, the only thing more concerning were the mossie sized mosquitoes flying around the house, which meant sleeping on the floor on a thin mattress with a giant industrial fan blowing on full blast.

I told you it was an adventure….

That was day 1, and we rose on day 2 a little weary, but ready for it…

Tune back tomorrow for day 2’s report.

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