Mud, Rain and Wind
Stage 84 (66): Strandfontein to Dwarskersbos
Raining when we got up, and blowing hard off the Atlantic. We took our time over breakfast this morning, hanging back a bit as no one really felt like going out in the dark in this weather. Delays can only be stretched out so long, of course; we still got away just after 07:00.
A strong tailwind really pushed us along the initial 10 km on tarmac but that came to an abrupt end when we made a turn to the east and into what was supposed to be dirt/gravel but now was something akin to sandy mud. Mud with corrugations, and a cross to headwind. Throw in some drizzle, and the picture is completed. Sure glad (again) that I’d kept my gravel tires on. It was slow going.
We’re riding through what I’d call coastal plain; very flat and very bushy on either side of the track. Possibly my least favourite terrain, I find it far more boring than say, the Egyptian desert or open savannah in Botswana or even rocks and trees (trees and rocks) of northern Canada. Fortunately, all too brief glimpses of the Ocean break the monotony of having to deal with handling the bike through and over the washboard.
Hardly any traffic to speak of, but what there is usually blows by in a spray of mud.
unfortunately, we're on the alternative route
It’s a relief when we come out the other side on tarmac. Better still is the café found in Lambert’s Bay; the best cappuccino so far on this trip, as well as an excellent breakfast croissant.
The relief doesn’t last long, as we’re back onto mud and sand very soon afterwards; this time on a railroad service road which appears being worked on in a half-hearted fashion by a road crew of some description. We see an exceptionally long train of empty(?) open cars being pulled northward by two locomotives, and helped by two pairs more in the middle as well as another at the end. It seemed to go forever. I think this was the Sishen–Saldanha railway line, connecting iron ore mines near Sishen in the Northern Cape with the port at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape.
A second relief comes when we’re finally through this second section of mud and corrugations, and get to the lunch truck and the tarmac once again.
The winds have really picked up by this point of the afternoon. Mostly strong cross trying to blow me off the road all together, but switching to a delightfully challenging headwind for the last hour or two. We do however eventually make it to camp; dinner was already well underway, but plenty enough being kept warm for us. I didn’t miss missing the daily riders’ meeting.
Tent up while still some light, and a hot shower. Christy goes above and beyond and washes the mud off my bike; a real treat. The drive train was sounding truly awful.