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Friday
Jun172016

When the adventure became real 

I wake up, pack camp, munch on dry granola and wash it down with a brutal coffee that makes my eyelids vibrate. Red is packed and we're off. This rhythm is comforting especially on days where the climbing is strenuous and where I'll sleep that night is unknown. That's what I love about heading off on journeys where the my plan is opaque and the end goal is audacious.

My head was swamped in exams on the lead up to Kape 2 Kalahari. I was confident in my overall fitness after coming out of the climbing season yet, other than the 15 minutes of cycling to varsity, that was my training.

On day two as I crawled up the broken Cederberg tracks to Wupatal my arse throbbed and my back ached. I was alone, feeling insecure on this wobbly 2 wheeler than I'd got on my 16th birthday. I cycled and pushed Red from the early hours until the last beams of light faded in a pink/orange glow as I left the mountains.

I woke the next morning in a ditch under menacing ecacia next to a farm road. The rains were unleashed and I got ready to go. I packed up camp more efficiently and even though I was sore and my knees felt stiff, I was starting to find my groove. Drenched, muddy and fed up, I hit the Doring River. I checked my damp map that was beginning to split at it's creases. The "main road" that I needed to take indicated that my route lay on the other side of the river. On paper it looked effortless, in reality I had a mass of water where the depth was unknown and a barge made of blue drums lay tied up on a small beach. It would have been a unfortunate to get swept away here or lose Red but I took off my shoes and we headed in. The water kept getting deeper and as we hit the half way point Red's panniers were half submerged and I was up to my hips. We crossed and as my toes quivered in the rain and cold I took a selfie with Red to celebrate the unfolding adventure.

After endless farm gates and muddy tracks I was glad to get onto the R355 where the ride was kinder on my buttocks. After Calvinia where the landscape became flattened and burnt by frost, things became a lot harder and it was long before I missed the steep passes of the mountains. I had a fierce head wind and huge trucks roared past, the force sometimes almost sucking me into the traffic. I found underpasses to sleep under and even though I saw many more people than in the mountains, I felt lonely. The hundreds of kilometers were eaten up and the routine I'd gotten into saw the hours start to gallop by.

My third spoke blew 30km out of Kenhart. I took a rest day in this dusty Northern Cape "dorp" to ice my painful quads and lighten the load for Red in order to make the 120km journey to Upington were a pro could fix my companion.

The rains had fallen the night before and after donating a large portion of my belongings to the guest house I'd stayed, we set off hoping that Red's wheel wouldn't given in before Upington. We didn't stop other than for a quick pic at the Orange. If I had that amount of focus on my last Argus Cycle Tour I'm sure I would have broken some kind of record!

Red and I made it to the frontier town of the Kalahari and he's currently in surgery. The funny thing is, 5 days ago Upington was so far and absurd in my mind but we managed and now I'm too psyched and ready for the final push.

K

Wednesday
Jun152016

3 spokes down- hopefully I can make it to Upington 

Yesterday, Red lost his 3rd spoke. The back wheel is miss aligned and I've got 120km until Upington where a pro can sort it out for me. I think the Cederberg must've been a bit too much for this tough little guy. Anyway, I've got no real idea what I'm doing in this pick but I've been trying to move all the my gear to the front. I'm thankful to have Duct tape and cable ties in my life.

Tuesday
Jun142016

Red and I are feeling it!

My legs and Red are starting to feel pretty banged up after a week of grueling days on the saddle. Prior to this neither Red or I had cycled further than to the shops or to varsity in preparation- this is a whole lot more intense.. .This was, as underpasses go, a great one to rest for the night. It also made a nice echo so at least I had someone to chat to!

Saturday
Jun112016

Kape 2 Kalahari- it's been real 

Day 1: On Wednesday I said my last little goodbye to Marine and headed off into the Cederberg. A place that I love and know. Heading off was odd and anticlimactic. Not soon after leaving I hit my first slope, immediately I felt the weight and my quads fired up while Red groaned and creaked. It took a while to find the balance and like each and every time I'd visited this mountainous wonderland, if climbing or hiking, I was humbled once again. The sun beat down on me while I peddled and pushed the many steep hills. Arriving at Nuwerus, 64 kilometers away from my starting point, was a wonderful relief. I sipped on lime Rehidrate and stared up at the glowing orange walls of Rooiberg.

Wednesday
Jun012016

KAPE 2 Kalahari is a go!

 

It's been a while since I set off by myself into unfamiliar territory.

The KAPE Expeditions have always been stressful, intimidating and have required a horrible amount of preparation. Coming back from South America, fatigued and undernourished, I was in no rush to set off on a mammoth jaunt anytime soon.

My studies and my absolute yearning to see S.A began last year. In between uni, Marine and I tackled the Drakensberg Grand Traverse which involved 240km of ungroomed, mountainous terrain. We hiked for 11 toe-numbing days, which were enough to leave us satisfied and beat-up. Along with my climbing, I became fixated on these intense micro-missions.

Sadly, Marine is deep in her Ph.D. and even though I know it will be a little lonely I'm overly excited to cycle from the Cape to just below the Kalahari National Park where I'll meet up with Marine for a little bit of wildlife watching. My route will snake over the Cederberg and then across the barren Karoo. My route is somewhat vague but its roughly 850km which is a little daunting because I've never bike toured before and, as I'm finding out, my packing is a joke.

Nonetheless, for better or worse Its going to be interesting.

K