Old Legs 2018 Tour
Blog Entry 40 - Day 23
Rushing in a car from somewhere to somewhere else on the route we travelled today, the trip would be remembered as boring with crap roads. But on bikes, it was absolutely glorious.
To avoid the N7 highway as is our want, we opted for the road less travelled, going from Calvinia to Clanwilliam by way of a dot on the map called Doringbos.
Because the sun is up so late this far south, it was 06.45 before we had enough light to ride. But we more than made up for time lost on the first stretch when finally, at long last, we got the downhill bits that Bruce has been promising daily for the last 2000 kms. I clocked 56 kph, Flying Fivaz 58.
Before we knew it, we reached the dirt road Doringbos turnoff. It had been such easy riding on the tar and with minimal traffic, I was tempted to stay with it through to the N7 and then follow that all the way down to Cape Town. But Dave would have been unbearable. He was that bleak that we’d forgone the iconic Tankwa Karoo leg because of traffic concerns, had I gone with a soft route alternative, he would have hit me on the head with a blunt object.
And so, dirt it was, about 90 kms of it, down into Doringbos a town nestled in a valley between 2 steep mountain passes. We would drop down from 1000 meters to just 170 before climbing back up and out the valley.
We lost cellphone signal within minutes of turning on to the dirt, and never found it again, the whole day. We never found Doringbos either. Or if we did, we never noticed.
The rest of the ride was stand out good, for me possibly the best of the Tour. The scenery was bleak, stark hills towering high above the harsh dry, arid valley floor. We could have been riding through a Star Wars movie set. And we had the whole vast valley practically to ourselves. In the first 3 hours, we saw just 3 motorbikes, 3 cars. We would go on to see exactly 1 pedestrian the whole day.
Dave spent those first 3 hours looking for Amelia Earhart’s plane wreckage. He reckons we’d stumbled in to SA’s version of the Bermuda Triangle, where planes, cars and bikes go in but don’t come out.
We discovered a huge empty canyon that stretched away forever to our left and got off our bikes to to stand, stare and marvel at the vastness of the vista. I wanted to call it Chicken Legs Canyon but Dave says it will already have a name. Ryan flew his drone overhead and captured the moment. You can check it out on Facebook.
Then we got to the spot where Doringbos was supposed to be but wasn’t and started the climb up and out the valley. It was 56 km to Clanwilliam. It was two o’clock and I had doubts that we’d ride out before dark so asked Jenny and Ryan to scout ahead for a place on the side of the road where we could camp.
The climb out was long and harsh and hot. And I loved it. I subscribe to Dave’s theory that good rides should have some hurt.
We took a long time out to catch our breath and enjoy the view before pressing on to find Jen and Ryan. I was hoping we would find them soon. I’d had enough hurt for the day. We stopped to talk to some 4x4 travelers from the Free State. They offered up some mampoer.
We found our home for the night just four kilometers down the road, a small cluster of cottages called the Traveller’s Rest. They’re the first bits of habitation that we seen in hours. The owner’s name is Charity. When she heard that we were riding to raise money for the Zim pensioners, she gave us back our accommodation payment as a donation. She is good people.
There are more good people that I’d like to acknowledge. Bruce Laver and his team at Zimflex, Arjan Kromhout and the people at OZ Import in Holland and Matt Linford and his staff at Crystal Signs. Without your help and assistance, the Old Legs Tour would not have happened.
Tomorrow we have a 30 km climb up into Clanwilliam to start, all on tar thankfully, and then 50 kms of the N7 before we peel off in search of a bed in a place called Porterville. And then onto Paarl and Cape Town beyond. Our adventure is almost over. Alas. But also just as well. Something swore at me just now from the bottom of my kitbag.
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong