Hello from beautiful South Africa,
After a very special time with our good friends Doreen & Collin Smith it was off to the bike adventure??
Collin & Doreen came with us to Hayzeview where we spent the night in a beautiful lodge before joining the group and reacquainting ourselves with our tent. The contrast was significant and it was with some trepidation we unfurled the blue beast. The evening was hot and the mosquitoes plentiful, in spite of liberal applications of bug repellant we ended up as a food supply for a convention of mosquitoes. No sooner had we put our heads down than the rain began, thankfully it was short lived and by the morning the sun shone on our group.
Collin had assured us our trip to Durban would be all downhill and we are convinced this was his way of getting back at me for something very serious I did to him in my past life. From the campground entrance it was up, up and away to Barberton. According to one of the people with an altimeter we climbed something like 7000 ft. To top it off the day was extremely hot and humid and by the time we got to camp Mary and I were suffering the early signs of heat prostration. We opted for a bungalow which could be had for a small fee as the thought of setting up the tent in the heat turned us off (we are becoming soft in our old age). The decision turned out to be a wise one as the skis opened and everyone except those in the cottages got soaked.
The morning as a cloudy one and after we cycled up hill for 1.5km's to breakfast it was off again pedal our little behinds up the hills Collin assured us did not exist. We arrived at the checkpoint which was 65 km's into the 169 km ride after a grueling 4+ hour grind, at which time the sun was shining and we still had 100 km's to go all up hill (9000 feet total for the day). Ever the creative souls we tagged a ride on a cabbage truck along with three other riders to the Swaziland boarder where we unloaded, crossed the boarder and proceeded to our evening's accommodations in a somewhat small caravan park, three toilets & showers for the men and the same for the women. Can you envision the line-ups to process 233 sweating bodies?
In light of the fact a cyclone was slated to hit we, along with 6 others, paid for the privilege of sleeping on the floor of a building that aside from having curtains on the windows was an empty room. The decision turned out to be a good one as the skis opened up and the site became a sea of red mud and waterlogged tents. The only down side was that we were sleeping in a building where the African killer mosquitoes were holding there annual convention, we now look like we are suffering from chicken pox.
Next morning the rains where coming down fast and furious and 76 of us decided we would not fool with mother nature and we decided to get on the good side of the cyclone and get to Durban. The process was a painful one, as we had to organize two buses one for bikes the other for riders. The loading took something in the region of three hours followed by an eight-hour drive. The ride was uneventful save for the fact yours truly along with a few other riders came down with a GI thing which is not convenient in a land with few facilities and as it turned out even fewer trees to hide behind. The tummy is finally better.
On route to Durban we passed the next caravan site and to say it was remote and seemed lacking in facilities is an understatement.
Once again discretionary time is used to wash clothes, dry tents and sleeping bags and in this case even get in a bike ride where we could stop and smell the roses and interface with the locals. We are enjoying our real beds and no shower lines. We are tempted to set up our tent in the dark and set off the sprinkler system in order to duplicate a night on a TK & A event. It is great.
The numbers continue to decline and we have a number of people who have decided to do their own thing and are using the organizers to get them from continent to continent only, they are to say the least less than impressed with the lack of planning and support. We lost another rider to a broken pelvis when he crashed his bike in a fast descent and have had some riders sustain minor injuries as a result of contact with either terra firma or vehicular traffic.
We leave Monday for Cape Town ride for three days then one off then it is a long grueling 10 days to Cape Town. Will try and get a message off before we leave Africa but Internet cafe's are few and far between.
Our apologies for not answering the individual e-mails we get but time is against us. They are welcome and we do appreciate the thoughts and kind words. Please keep them coming and remember us in your thoughts and prayers.
Mary & Dave
Bike running well, paint is badly chipped, everything aluminum is corroding from the sweat, bodies tired but OK, rear ends getting tougher and our tan is getting great, but we have funny lines.