Monday, June 20, 2011


It is tough to have to stop.

I was just not able to continue riding and walking was becoming near impossible, so I had to stop and get well. I got a lift from near Taylorville to Matatielle on Friday and then rode the short distance from Matatielle to Masakala. I started to rest and had a very restless night. On Saturday morning the leg was still very swollen and in no condition to ride a bike. The Pretty One arrived and we took a scenic drive to Rhodes. I met up with a few friends, had a lovely supper and on Sunday we planned to follow some of the route from Rhodes. In the mean time Alex Harris developed mechanical issues with his bike and we took some parts through to a support station as well.

We arrived home (Pretoria) just after midnight and I have spent yesterday and today (Mon & Tues) in bed with my leg elevated to drain the lymph. It is draining well and should be OK by tomorrow.

Priorities now will be:
  • Get the cancer sorted out.
  • Find out what the radiation did to my lungs and what my capacity and capabilities will be now.
  • Get strong and fit.
  • Dream on...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Banchory and beyond

"I plan to leave Banchory by 8 and head for Masakala. My leg does not look to good but is not sore. I will have to listen to my body and will only ride accordingly which might not be very fast. Therefore I will take it day by day. The next overnight stops, Masakala, Malekholonyane and Vuvu do not have facilities for charging batteries and I will unfortunately not send my voicemails and pictures frequently."

Ntsikeni (May Lodge) to Banchory 16 June 2011

May Lodge
"Last night we had great vegetable soup but the rest was not much. Sleeping in bunk beds and I had to sleep at the top and could not lift the bed as usual to drain my leg. However the time resting in bed drained it well enough."
Politiquekraal. Slow going.
"Left late this morning and will just be riding halfday to Banckory. My battery if flat my body tired and my feet hurt due to all the walking yesterday. At 9 I am going through the Ntsikeni bush and then  should reach  the jeeptrack."
"Not much of a jeeptrack - te first couple of hours today was just a fight againt long grass marsh and that is not cycling. Thereafter the wind from the front made me cycle downhill. I arrived at Banchory just after 2 extremely tired. I will have to decide tomorrow what my body will allow me to do."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Allandale to Ntsikeni 15 June 2011

 "Left at about 3.30  but battled to get out due to electric fences - I only had McKenzie's narratives and the  direction but will find my way.  Arriving last night at 8 and after dinner hit the bed. I have a lunchpack and then next stop will be Centacow. Mission. The cattle track bit difficult to ride this time of the morning."
Mudd at Allandale
"Beautiful with the mist on the dam. Not too cold with little frost on the road and just a slight breeze. I am dressed with a Tshirt from my box, 1 thermal, windbreaker, pressure stocking, long riding pants, normal buff, riding gloves and fleece gloves over it."
"Arrived at Donnybrook before 7 - slow 3.5 hours for the 15km!"

Geelhout - one of many
Brutal gradients - pretty houses
" At 9 I stopped in the Donnybrook forest to fasten my shoes where previous riders has made the boo-boo to take the wrong turn to "Reeton?" away from Centacow . The boo-boo I made was to left my nice warm gloves next to the road! Maybe someone will see them?"  "11 and I have just Left Centacow walking up after having some sandwiches coke and coffee. Cycled 47km in 7h38 - including the stop. 50km to go."
"Its is 3 o'clock - 70km and already 11 hours on the road - average of 6km/hour. It is not the distance but the climbs that is so brutal and tuff on my body that make it a very hard day. Another 25km to go."
From there....
.... to there, go up forever

" Maybe should think about riding half a day tomorrow - just to Banchory. After resting well I can start early and then decide up to where I can ride. The Banchory - Masakala - Malekholonyane route I have done before on my Lesotho trip, but then I was much fitter! If This is the plan I can still be on target."
"At about 6 it was gettting dark and my batteries are seriously "gedaan". I have been too long on the road. Not strong and fit enough and will not be able to keep going at this tempo. Plan to only go to Banchory tomorrow and even if I am a day behind so be it."
Climb the ladder

Full moon

Looking back- Beitbridge to Pietermaritzburg

Not over yet
When I arrived at Table Mountain it was quite a relieve to see Ilette with the little rental car, but the ride was not over yet. Fortunately the last tar climb into Pietermaritzburg was safe because of the protection of the little rental and just after 13h00 I was sitting on a bench at Aintree Lodge having my last “padkos” from Christa (Christa’s  in Darlton). A perfectly boiled egg and a biltong and cheese sandwich.
 I rode 1054km and felt quite good. This has a lot to do with careful management of rest days as well as being forced off the bike 2 times whether by mechanical issues or the weather. Sure, there were sections that I did not ride, but that decision I had to make after day 4. It was quite important to me at that stage to not only connect the Beit2PMB part with the Freedom Challenge, but to actually revisit the Freedom Challenge Race across SA (FC-RASA).
Aintree Lodge
Orrie Barahwanath
Of the Northern leg that stands out for me is day 4 from Haenertsburg to Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve over the Iron Crown and through the Wolkberg Nature Reserve, following the Mohlapeate River and riding up Orrie Baragwanath Pass. This must rate as one of the top 5 days if not the best day of riding from Beit2Cape.The bit of riding I did in Swaziland was absolutely stunning, the riding through the Valley of 1000 Hills is amazing, so I think the route will work in the Spirit of the Freedom Challenge.  
 I enjoyed riding on my own, but I also cherish the riding with Joyce and riding with Steven and Paul during the first 4 days made me aware of the nature of riding in groups.
Valley of 1000 hills
It was amazing how the support from Elbie and Wouter came at the perfect time when my rain clothes failed me completely near Rorkes Drift. Me and the Pretty one did some shopping on Sunday and I now should be able to survive the rain and I hope to have enough clothes to keep me warm.
Apart from the failure of the bike’s rear axle on my Shimano XT rear wheel , the bike has not given me a single hassle and everything seem to be working 100%. I did bleed the back break as it started feeling soft after a very long downhill. I did not concentrate and most likely overheat the back break a bit. The oil then boils and some gas are trapped in the system. I have put new pads in on the back as a precaution and that was that!
I am looking forward to the ride down to Cape Town and I am not planning any heroics and finish in 25 days will be good enough for me. I will hang around here at Aintree and be at Pietermaritzburg Town hall tomorrow morning at 06h00.
Stay tuned

Pietermaritzburg to Alandale 14 June 2011

Time to go

"At 5h45 we are all waiting at the City Hall and waiting for David's speech and 6am. I know I will be riding at the back but that is also all right - will take it day by day."
PMB City Hall
"At 6h30 the sun is coming up slowly - not cloads. I am on the dirt road and my legs feel good but my lungs work hard. Minerva around the corner, the day in front of me and looking forward to cycling to the Cape."

Great weather
"Along the nature reserve I saw a large number of Blesbuck and Blouwildebeeste. Riding slowly but feeling great. Uphill all the way and average of 11km/hour. "
"Just after 8 the bad tar road behind me, it was very busy and not a nice ride at all. The guy in the coin security bakkie gave me a very suspicious look but trust he will just keep going!"
Eland op 'n paal

"The gravel road is very very busy, bakkies and trucks, must be close to 50, and very dusty. Fortunately not wet and muddy and raining as in 2008 when Louis and I rode it although then it was very quiet. Should be at the forest road by 9am."

Things called gates
Piekniek on the Umkomaas
"At 14h30 at the Umkomaas River. Unfortunately got a bump on my left leg against something I did not see and is getting stiff. It just will have to get better. Eat something and then tackle the bush to the bridge. Do not know how easy I will find it."
"  Hella Hella pass take some time. The river was too full to go through and the route go through the bushes and then back to the bridge to cross the river.  My leg I bumped on a rock is not too bad but it is still warm - hope it will not be too bad tomorrow. At 17h30 still another 2-3 hours to go so hope to be at Alandale at 8."
Last sun ... long day

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kranskop to Dalton 10 June 2011

"What a great place to have a rest day - Christas B&B in Darlton and I had a great evening meal and kuier  with her and Francois and the family. She made a thick soup and put it into a freshly baked muffin type bread, boboti and malva pudding.! At 10 it was still raining and miserable windy outside."
"At 7 on Saturday morning I was already well on my way and could see this great sunrise. Feeling good after the rest days and it even feels that I am riding faster without seeing Joyce going up the hills in front of me!"
Nagel Dam
Over the
"Saturday just after 1 I am sitting on a bench at Aintree Lodge having my last sandwich and 2 perfectly boiled eggs. Resting for 2 days and then Tuesday it is me and the Freedom Challenge."

Looking back at the downhill

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rorkes Drif - Rest Day 9 June 2011

"  I decided to give my leg a rest day - just as well because the bikes were completely frozen - will have to try later today but most probably only tomorrow.
Rorkes Drift Zulu Village
It is extremely cold and we are doing some sightseeing with our supporters. Wonder about the English / Zulu wars if it was also in winter?

At 11h00 we have already visited the St Augustine Church and Isandlowane Museum and then plan doing  a site tour."
St Augustine Church
"It is so cold  I believe Elbie has lost her sense of humor in one of the Zulu huts!"

They had a great day in scouting and found another support station in the Ntingwe Tea Plantation. Raining the whole day and eventually ended up at the St Cathrys Golf estate close to Kranskop.  Piet & Cathy Nel gave them great accommodation and did not charge them a cent!  They were most interested in the cycling business. Their web address is They have a restaurant as well but Jaco's sister Elbie and Swarry came well prepared to cater for the evening.
Would rather ride my bike here

Even support is frozen

Bloedrivierpoort to Rorkes Drift 8 June 2011

"We started late - Marie Fourie spoiled us with her hospitality and we had too much to eat - beef strogonoff and a great pudding. Fruit salad and yoghurt for breakfast as well as the left over from last night. My uncle Gert and Marie visited us last night from New Castle who brought us great stuff for padkos.  It is also very cold  but fortunately no rain yet. Strong wind and as soon as we stop, is it cold."
" Cycling over some farms to Bloedrivier and then along the railway service road."
"Everyone on the FC will know the saying  - the devil drive a diesel bakkie. 10km from Bloedrivier we had a downpour and were busy changing when Joyce looked up and said - here is our lift! The bikes on the bakkie and 10km further we sat in the restaurant in Bloedrivier, drinking a cup of hot milo. As soon as it clear, we can carry on - cycling 80 of the 90 km is not to bad for the day. "

"Carrying on from here we had a great ride but then it started raining again and we got totally soaked. My jacket does not help at all and Joyce was extremely cold. We parked ourselves in a "gym" next to a spaza shop and changed into the only dry clothes we had in our bags!"

Jaco's sister Elbie and Wouter come from Empangeni to give them whatever support they needed and slept with them in the Rourkes Drift Cultural Village. Emmanual and his helpers prepared a great dinner and  they had a great meal in the large hut around a welcoming fire.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lunaburg to Bloedrivierpoort 7 June 2011

Add caption
"Juliana supplied us with food at Whisting Duck and Joyce and me made a padkos at 4 am and stayed indoors to the very last minute - ice cold outside. However at 7h30 we had the most perfect day for cycling. Minimum 11 degrees and covered with a blanket of clouds."
Whattle charcoal

"Can't see the sunrise but trust we will not have rain. At 9h30 we had a second breakfast and kept climbing. Dave would love this - big watershed to climb over and down into another catchment area and then Bloedrivierpoort."
First sun

"At 12h00 had great egg and bacon sandwiched and potatoes we made this morning. Trust we will have a downhill after these climbs."
Kemplust cycling club
"13h30 we are about 19km from Bloedrivierpoort and has just spent some time relaxing on the narrow  bridge at Melkbosrivier. The cool wind is fortunately in our backs.Total of 80km in 8h 44min with a maximum speed of 66,7km/h - a great downhill. Garment ascent does not seem to reflect correctly the big mountain we climbed. Extremely cold outside at 16h00 and we will have to dress as warm as possible tomorrow!" 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Amsterdam Lunaburg 6 June 2011

"Leaving just after 5 and already started with a climb that I could not remember from the scouting. At 8h30 is was still very cold, below zero, fortunately I had the mits on. After breakfast of toasted ham and cheese made for us by the friendly people from Glen Oaks, I feel good. Already cycle 30km and the average speed with the rest is just more than 8km/hour. Now going down to the Hayshope dam after one of the long uphills for the day. Still very cold bur fortunately the sun is shining but I will still keep my mits on for some time."

"Passed Iswepe at 09h30 and bought some coke. The lady behind the country has been there for 10 years. She and her husband bought the shop believing this to be their retirement but unfortunately he died just a month therafter. The music from the tavern next door does not seem to improve her mood."

At about 11h00 Joyce found to her surprise that her gears has stopped working - the gear cable has broken (we actually talked about it last night). But can you believe that just 1km thereafter we came across an Eskom bakkie next to the road with a nice sharp sidecutter and 3min later the gears has been fixed and at 11h12 we were on our way past the Huyshope dam!"

"Cycling 117km in 11h 45min we reached the lovely Whistling Duck B&B and met the friendly Julianne who is preparing some dinner for us even on short notice. Tomorrow is another day!"


Jaco and Joyce left Bulembo just after 5 and as usual took a great photo of the sunrise.
However at about 11 I received this email from Joyce: "Hi Ilette. Jaco het probleme met sy agterwiel. Zachrys was gelukkig nog hier en ons het so by 30km ingeklim. Hy neem ons nou Amsterdam toe. Jaco bel jou sodra hy sein het. Ons is nou by Oshoek grenspos."

The axel of the hub was very loose and Jaco did not take the change carry on cycling. He organised some wheels from Cyclehouse in Pretoria and I left for Amsterdam just after 1 with the wheels and his toolbox. At 5 he was already changing the tyre to the new wheel and found that the hollow axel of the back wheel has actually broken.

Barberton to Bulembo 4 June 2011

"Saturday morning just before 5 and my bag is packed with fruit, pizza, water and whatever I need for the 50km to Bulembo. Bit tired and having the blues today, not always great getting up on my own but cycling is still great!"

"Will not have much cellphone reception but at least I have the satphone. At about 6 I took a photo of the dark sleeping Barberton.

 (I received my usual sunrise photo!). Cold but riding up the hill quickly got me out some of the clothes. For breafast Steve bought me a chicken Ceasar salad and 2 yoghurts. Fruit and yoghurt is actually what I prefer."

I received this at 13h28 - arriving at Bulembo where Joyce Benade joined me.

GPS fix

Lat: S 25 57' 16''
Long: E 31 7' 26''
Time: 11:30:05 UTC
Date: 04-06-2011
Altitude: 1250 m
Velocity: 0 km/h

Horiz: +/- 8 m
Vert: +/- 32 m