It was the Robinson Pass that lay ahead and we were up and about in a dreary, misty Mossel Bay at sparrows. There was no time to dry the tent and gazebo so we packed the damp, sea-sticky canvas and pulled on the cycle shorts yet again.
It would require ‘headlight on’ driving through the heavily overcast morning but we were big and strong and had just had a rest. So Suzann would take us out, heading Oudtshoorn.
The deep purple clouds lay low over the mountains as we approached and we were expecting a downpour. But it never did rain. In fact, the closer we got to the mountains, the clearer the sky became until only a few white clouds remained as Lynsey started the pass, just after the 8 Bells Hotel. The climb was solid, with little respite, and it got steeper in the bends. One could see the ridge cut into the mountainside as the pass snaked all the way to the top. Nearing halfway was a picnic site where we took a bit of a rest. But coming to a stop was rather comical since, with one foot unclipped from the pedal, Lynsey didn’t have enough momentum to lift her body off the saddle for the dismount without simply falling over, so she had to keep pedalling with the one leg like Captain Pugwash with the requisite piratical peg leg. But eventually Pugwash came to a standstill all huffing and puffing and blow your house downing. And the worst part was yet to come.
But we’re no hero’s, so we decided to drive the steepest bit to the next viewpoint. From there Lynsey would crank it to the top. However, that was our first run-in with the law. About three minutes out from the top a cop car that had patiently been driving behind us decided that enough was enough and pulled out with blue lights flashing only to come and drive alongside our vehicle and yell for us to pull off to let the traffic by. Suzann yelled back that they must then look after the cyclist out front. She pulled off while they waved a half-hearted ‘yes’ to her request and simply sailed on by. Then of course, a convoy of vehicles began passing Lynsey out front but at least they were all very nice about it. Our blood still runs cold when we think of what could’ve transpired if another vehicle had come from the front while the cop was passing and driving alongside our vehicle on the blind turns of a pass! Not even to speak of him seeming to be blithely unaware of the fact that he was, in fact, breaking the law by passing on a double line! We were not the ones in the wrong but he made us feel like dirty rotten scoundrels.
By the time Suzann finally got the vehicle to the top another two cars had also stopped. These guys were awfully impressed by our efforts and when they heard of our entire endeavour they were amazed. Such nice folks served to defuse a rather tense situation and after a photo at the top it was time to whizz down the other side into the heat and sunshine of the Little Karoo.
Stopping to swop, Suzann just lost it. Even to think of the danger the cop actually created made her head want to explode. But a healthy dose of extremely fast cycling got some of the frustration and anger out.
It would be Lynsey’s turn on the final approach to Oudtshoorn but with the midday hour fast approaching the heat was becoming something else. The rolling resistance of the tar along that road was also of such a degree that it felt as if we were standing still even though the legs were revolving at a blinding speed. Lynsey ‘hamster in a wheel’ed’ it passed Highgate and Safari ostrich showfarms until the R62 came into sight. Shooting across, the tar immediately changed and the resistance dropped, allowing a cracking speed to be maintained along the wide road that led passed the Infantry School all the way along the outskirts of town right to the reception office at Klein Plaas resort.
Totally blown and drenched in sweat, we’d first dig out the camp chairs, find a handy spot of shade and chow down on some sweet, juicy fruit we’d brought along from Stilbaai. Finally we’d recovered enough to take on the task of setting up camp properly. The old gazebo had to come out again as without its shade we might have melted. At least that gave it the chance to really dry off.
The rest of the afternoon we’d spend languishing in our camp chairs waiting out the heat of the day before daring to cook up a pasta for supper.
Unfortunately it was weekend and the start of the school holidays (although why they would need a holiday after all the months missed during lockdown, I don’t know) and we had a rather jolly crowd over the way from us. That’s the problem with camping sometimes. We’re dog-tired and just want a bed and a good night’s rest for our bone-weary selves while the other folks are on holiday and want to ‘kuier’ after dark. The murmur of voices and the occasional laugh was not a problem but when the guitar came out we knew we weren’t going to get much rest. If only the guitarist could play. But alas, no. It was more like tinkety-tonk than boogey-woogey but judging by the accumulation of bottles on the table by then the tinkety-tonker heard Carlos Santana come out of his instrument. Luckily the tonker had had enough by the time a Mimi Coertse popped up to accompany him, so that didn’t last too long and we could finally get down to the business of sleeping.