So the day rose again, weary bodies rose from weary slumbers, our bodies hungry for food and rest but our schedules only willing to give in to one of those demands. Day 5 was all new for us and even the 3 of us who had ridden the year before had no idea of what to expect on this day. We knew but a few things:
1. We would drop virtually 1000m on the day.
2. We would be going into an area where there was not even a telephone pole.
3. We had to carry our food for lunch, dinner and breki the next day in addition to our current loads.
The area of Anysberg caught TheHousemates eye when he was prepping the route as it was due to become a world heritage site soon, was very remote and was offroad all the way. So off we road to breakfast on the plaas where we were treated to krummel pap, eggs, bacon, cheese grillers, home made toast, plaas koffie and, well, liqui fruit. Once fully stuffed, we re-packed our bags with tins of tuna, bread, rice, peas and some tomatoes. Not the yummiest feast ever, but sustenance for hungry boys on a big trip.
Out the gate there was one small uphill and then we started what would be a fun, long descent on open roads. The 29ers killed it on this section and it was easy to see their prowess when it comes to marathon style racing. We hit a short tar section with some big ups and Guy was hurting a little from his fall the day before so we took it easy until we got to the turn-off for Anysberg. Thankfully there was a water trough next to the road with what seemed to be clean water as we were in for 50-60km without any water until we hit our camp site the afternoon. The road rolled open and smooth dirt was given, the weather providing clouds and the vibe between the boys rock solid by now. Really, we were a group of friends, riding through the middle of nowhere, laughing and smack talking our way to the next middle of nowhere point on our map.
Very peaceful indeed.
Once we entered the Nature Reserve it had been a fun day already, but the sights, sounds and simple energy that resonated from this place simply blew us away. We were all quiet as we rode onto our destination somewhere in the distance, beyond our reach. It was unbelievably beautiful, the vastness truly taking your breath away. The quiet was fantastic and we all found ourselves riding solo at times, just simply taking it in.
Our camp site had a large pool and fantastic accomodation for us. We got there pretty quickly which gave us an afternoon of rest and recovery after the crazy ride the day before. James & I went for an afternoon run in what must be one of the very few thunderstorms in the Karoo per year. The energy was electric as we motored back to camp on the dirt roads, the wind in our backs and big smiles all around. Definately my favorite run of the week.
Our dinner, however, left much to be desired. Dry tuna, peas & rice made for a bit of gagging and much laughter among the boys. Some intrepid travellers arrived at our huts and we managed to bribe the wife for some boerewors. We assumed she took one look at us and saw hungry kids, but we will really know the real reasons, even if many fun ones were thought up whilst trying to cook boerewors without oil or butter without a fire. Crumbs it was the best wors in the world.
We rose the next morning knowing there were merely 100 small kilometers left between ourselves and the farm, my mothers cooking and really, society again. I felt excited to see my folks but bummed to return to the noise as I was totally at peace by this stage, my legs were turning without effort and the vastness of the Karoo running deep in my veins. After a very bland bowl of oats we merely picked a road and rode off into the distance, leaving everything behind. To truly explain how vast it was becoming from here on is impossible without this photo. This was what we rode in for the next 100km. No cars, no people, no structures, not even a fence. It was absolutely amazing and I felt humbled to be in an area so beautiful and so stark. It’s a place I am going to seek out every year, just to find that quiet again.
Guy had what looked to be an infected elbow, hanging like a walrus chin off his arm. His temperature was rising and we knew he needed to get somewhere where he could get proper medical treatment, rather than tough love from the brothers he was cycling with. The Ouberg Pass lay ahead of us and we dreaded it would be 15km of slogging to the top, but again we were dealt a good hand and it was 2 big rollers and we were at the top. Collin was flying again and was having a whole load of fun riding with James & I. We got to the top without knowing what lay ahead, had a quick wait for Guy & Ryan and plunged into what really was a fantastic section of the fastest road you will ever ride on a mountain bike. For maybe 20km we rolled along at 50-60km/h trading places and maintaining pace. Our forecasted time for arrival was passing so quickly that I had to stop to call my dad to tell him to put the Jack Black Beer in the fridge earlier than anticipated. As such, we made a stop in Montagu to have more milkshakes, more food & more Coke.
There was an overwhelming sense of achievement as we sat there in the sun, laughing at ourselves. The sense that for some, the trip was over and for others, there lay a few days of smooth riding ahead till we got to Cape Town. The respect among the boys was fantastic and I felt proud to be sitting in their company, each able to hold his own when the chips were down in the last week. They were boys I would take to war with me, any day. Our short trip to the farm was rewarded with some amazing views and 2 fridges full of food. The case of Jack Black lasted for a very short time that afternoon as we lazed in the pool, slept in the garden and went for a swim in the dam, doing a few laps to end the day.
The only problem was the noise. We were all struggling with the noise that 10 people were making. It made us dizzy and we all found our own space at some point in the afternoon. After such seclusion for a few days, it was a rough reminder of the noise level we are so used to, as this was really just a small noise comparative to what we could have experienced, had we ridden straight into the city.