The sound of raindrops on the roof, first thing in the morning, is great for lying in on a lazy day but not so great when you’ve scheduled a 60 odd kilometre cycle to a place called Storm’s River! The day did not start well …
The weather forecast did nothing to comfort us and the dark clouds lay heavy over the Tsitsikamma. We could’ve taken a chance when the rain stopped for a couple of hours but fortunately decided against it. Fortunately, because at the strike of 2pm (just as the weather forecast had predicted) the clouds rolled back over Plett and it started raining again, only it never let up.
That torrent was headed for Storm’s River. That much we were sure of. You don’t grow up along this coast and get rained out at Storm’s River to not learn anything. That meant that we had to forfeit our SANParks booking for the night at Storm’s River Mouth Rest Camp. But we considered it a small price to pay for the luxury of another night at home in our warm, dry beds. However, that would also mean that we effectively had two days worth of cycling to do in one day.
We could’ve simply driven to Storm’s River and started cycling from there but we decided to take on the challenge. We were never going to make the entire distance but we wanted to see just how far we could actually get. So we’d leave on the 25th morning of our trip from a sunny but very chilly Plettenberg Bay.
By the time Suzann had slogged us out the one really big hill for the day (the one towards the Crags) the sun had disappeared behind a bank of forebodingly black clouds. It truly looked as though it was raining along the mountains in the Tsitsikamma. But it never did rain. It was just freezing cold. 14 degrees slowly went up to 15 and only at midday did it briefly touch 20 before dropping precipitously again. Every change over required the one on the bike reacclimatize to the fridged conditions. The first few kilometres was rather a teeth chattering affair. Thanks be to God that the wind only began to make it’s appearance late in the day. We were heading for Humansdorp when the ever-present wind that blows in the vicinity of Jeffrey’s Bay began to show itself. But we peddled on.
A quick energy bar on the gravel verge where the Langkloof road veers off the N2 had to make do for lunch. Then it was ever forward. By the time we reached the wind farm with its massive turbines on the hill at Jeffrey’s Bay not only the wind, but the weekend traffic (it was Friday) had begun to pick up. By that time we had gone 147.1km (… don’t leave out the 0.1km …). That would take us a mere 25km shy of the total two day distance combined.
Chuffed with our achievement (a record day’s distance) we loaded up the bikes and drove to the Gamtoos Ferry Hotel where we were going to camp for the night.
Still relatively warm from our ride, we set up our tent. Soon we realized that it was so cold and blustery, we would have to rig up the gazebo with its sides in order to provide some shelter so that we could actually light the gas stove and keep it burning. By that time we were both chilled to the bone and not even a hot shower did the trick to warm us up. Suzann ended up wearing her t-shirt, pajamas top, fleece and hoodie, but was still cold. And we won’t even speak of the temperature of our feet.
We were tired and cold. Too tired and too cold to start in on preparing a gourmet supper. So it would be spaghetti meatballs on the menu, with meatballs out of a tin. Suzann boiled up the pasta and tossed in the meatballs. The only thing Lynsey had to do was dish up, but oh dear … not a very good tong operator … The best thing to dish spaghetti with is a pair of braai tongs. The tongs are great for grasping the slippery pasta but not so great for nipping a wayward meatball. Suddenly one of the balls just jumped right out of the tongs into Suzann’s lap. It bounced on her leg and came to rest neatly between her thighs, like a pool ball in a pocket. She leapt up from the chair leaving the stray ball behind like a newly laid egg in a canvas camp chair nest. That gave rise to much wiping and groaning and apologizing (from Lynsey). The hilarity only came the next day, but at that very moment Suzann was not impressed. But the meatball was rescued and the meal proceeded as planned. We ate so fast we hardly tasted the stuff but still the last few mouthfuls were stone cold.
Enough was enough. So we chiseled our feet out of the frozen earth and cracked our ice coating to get into our little canvas igloo for the night. Thank goodness we had not decided to leave our fan heater at home. The little thing had its job cut out to warm our ‘house’. It buzzed and it roared but it eventually did get the place warm enough for us to venture out under all the layers of clothing to get the pajamas on. But when we turned it off for the night it wasn’t long before we could see clouds of condensing breath around each other’s heads every time we breathed. We were smoking, but not in a hot way …