Day 8 & 9

After having to abandon the day’s ride yesterday due to extraordinarily foul weather conditions that soaked us to the skin, we were a bit wary of the fleeting clouds scudding across the morning sky.

Actually, thinking back now, if it wasn’t for the friendly ladies of the Garden Route National Park’s Ebb&Flo Rest Camp that graciously allowed us to book into a chalet about two hours before normal check-in time, we’d have surely iced fast into the bakkie’s back seat. As it was we already looked like two corpses suffering an attack of rigor mortis as we stumbled into the bathroom to the concerned cry of the cleaning ladies who ran to gather fresh, warm towels for us. But we soon warmed up under the hot shower and with the aircon. set to 30 degrees in the lounge. We were even brave enough to face the cold again later to get take-away pizzas from Pomedoros in the village … even though we did have to wade through a bog to get to them … where are the mud-gaiters when you need them?

But that was last night, and now the early morning downpour did nothing to raise our spirits. Even though the sun did threaten to come out, it was but a half-hearted attempt that just served to confuse us even more. It was a ‘should we, shouldn’t we’ kinda situation. Eventually we could delay no longer, we had to be out by 10am after all. Deciding to cut our losses and port straight through to Plett, Suzann’s frustration was evident from her outburst, ‘if it doesn’t rain on the way home then I’ll just poo in my pants!’ Lucky for the rest of the vehicle’s occupants, it did start to rain again by the time we hit Sedgefield, and then it just set in all the way home.

It was a crowd of wet, disheartened people that arrived in Plett to begin the process of unpacking, repacking and generally filling up and drying off. From here on in we’d lose our driver. Thank you Garth for the driving, the encouragement, the help, the coffee’s, the smiles, and of course … the steak supper. We’re going to miss you.

But before things turn too sad … we’d still see everyone at the Sunday morning service at the Community Church …

What a wonderful response on Sunday … we felt blessed to be showered with all the support and love … and we got a spontaneous volunteer driver in the form of husband and wife team, Lara and Ivan. They so graciously gave up their Sunday afternoon to backtrack with us to Wilderness and drive the backup vehicle back to Plett so we could complete the journey and connect all the dots once and for all … while the weather lasted.

And that wasn’t the only surprise … imagine how gob-smacked we were when we spied a group of people gathered on the side of the road just as we crested the hill before Knysna. They turned out to be folks from our church who’d been travelling back home from Boggomsbaai and had passed us, recognized us, and spontaneously stopped to wait for us. Amazing! Thank you Kevin and Collette for your support, and for stopping …

After such a pleasant boost to the system, we coasted down into Knysna to the loud applause of the local petrol jockeys. Heading through town we were blessed to get every robot green, and soon we were taking on the dreaded hill out of Knysna. Pumping the pedals we slowly passed by the lazy Sunday afternoon routine being played out in the township around us … kids were running and laughing, chickens pecked furiously along the barrier and here and there a dog barked. Smoke rose from myriad fires and the old folks sat on kitchen chairs out in the sun … but we were too tired to raise a hand to wave. Passing the local tavern the music blared and the air was a mess of smoke from braai fires. The soapy water from taxi’s getting their weekly bath beside the N2 made the road surface slippery.

Soon we were climbing again, leaving chaos behind for the stubbled hillsides where the plantations had been denuded by pine harvesting.

Once at the top of ‘the hill’ it wasn’t over yet, another big one to come … one last one … one big one … and then home.

The temperature began to drop as we twisted and turned through the indigenous forest. Icy fingers extended from the foliage, reaching out for us as we pedalled by through the moss permanently growing on the side of the tarmac where the heat of the sun seldom strays.

Through Harkerville and the trees gave way to the open farmlands so the last rays of the setting sun could just catch us and cast our shadows long over the road.

Speeding up on the slight downhill into town, we went careening around the circle and stood on the pedals as we sped home. Stopping out front of our house, we’d averaged a speed of 20.9km/h, our fastest time yet. Thank you to Lara and Ivan for driving backup and making it possible to complete stage 1 together. We really appreciate it.

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