Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 3


On Monday morning we woke to a glorious day.

We had very bad weather forecast for today but Merweville at least seemed to be having a nice day.

Everybody was heading home today and Operator, Pmdb and R-O-V-Rat had especially long rides ahead. On top of that we'd be riding into a particularly nasty cold front.

Queuing for fuel in Merweville:

(Photo by fatb)

Operator, Pmdb and R-O-V-Rat refueled first and after we said our goodbyes they headed off direction Cape Town. We headed due South, but not before we stopped here:

On the outskirts of town is a signpost pointing the way to "The Englishman's Grave". Nearby in the veld is a tiny marble cross which marks the grave of a lieutenant from Australia, who served with the British forces during the Anglo-Boer War as a member of the 3rd South Australian Contingent.

He served with distinction, but died by his own hand on April 16, 1902. On a page, torn from his pocket book, Lt. W.O. Arnot had drawn a sketch map of the road and across it was written "This was not for the Boers". On the back of the page were the words: "I swear before God, whom I am going to meet, that I am innocent."

We were told that he committed suicide because he could not live with the terrible things the English did to the Boers in the Anglo Boer war.

He left behind his wife Nell and four children aged between 4 and 9. Rest in Peace Lt. W.O. Arnot.

The road South:

I believe that "Day 3" on any ride is one of the best days. On "Day 1" you still settle into the ride and try to forget about any problems the past week might have presented. The first night everybody parties up a storm. On "Day 2" you settle into the ride and usually on the 2nd night it's an earlier night because of a late night the day before and a hard day's riding. On "Day 3" the guys get up well rested and also by now the group dynamic is settled. On "Day 3" everything just seems to work out great and everybody is in high spirits. Today was no different. To bad this "Day 3" was the last day of this trip. We made the most of it though.

The tar road quickly turned into a glorious Karoo Gravel Highway. These are a pleasure to ride!

LGF approaching:

From here it's a short hop to Prins Albert. We stopped next to the road and had some of the leftovers from the previous evening for breakfast.

LGF, fatb and I doing our impression of the number "100"

(Photo by Dusty)

By now it was VERY cold already. We stopped at he Hotel in Prins Albert for some hot chocolate and they informed us that the Swartberg Pass was closed due to snow. Riding past the turn-off to the pass we saw some bikes exiting and decided to chance it.

The road in:

(Photo by LGF)

We rose higher and higher and soon we saw some snow.

(Photo by LGF)

Swarberg pass has had much heavier snow in the past, but this was quite an experience. It was the first time I rode on a bike while it was snowing on me.

(Photo by Dusty)

(Photo by Dusty)

Nothing turns adults into kids as fast as snow.

(Photo by Dusty)

The road down:

A cold and wet group stopped at Wilgewandel for some more hot drinks. We were in high spirits though and full of jokes!

After this we said our goodbyes and headed home.

What a trip. Lots of highs and lows for me. The highs were very high. Three things stand out: Maans Fourie, the man we interviewed about he Watermeid. What an experience, what a glimpse into a world different to our own. Secondly Rammelkop Pass - what a special road! One that will definitely see me again. And lastly crossing Swartberg Pass in the snow. It might not seem a big thing, but snow is not a common occurrence around here. Riding in that scenery with the snow falling around me was surreal.

The "lows", things like the extreme winds and temperatures and that horrible and very cold night, will be things that make this ride even more memorable. And doing such things with friends builds the camaraderie we share.

Thanks to each and everyone that shared this trip with me.

Die Temmers van die Moordenaarskaroo:
(Thanks fatb for the pics! )

Our route and statistics:


Download the GPS tracklog here. Thanks to Garmin and Tracks 4 Africa for making this posible.


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