We thought yesterday was cold … after having to find shelter in the little kitchen attached to the ablutions last night to get the pot finished on the gas stove … but Koedoeskloof pulled out all the stops this morning. Huddled under layers of clothing we again squashed into the kitchen for some coffee and hot chocolate. It has been rather funny to eat with the loo literally next door to you … in the same building … with the same door … the kitchen counter is attached to the outside of the first toilet cubicle’s wall!
I was feeling somewhat flat and fixed me some rehydration solution while searching for a spot of sun to warm my bones. But alas, the sun hadn’t even peaked out above the mountains that surrounded us.
Despite the cold, Koedoeskloof is rather pretty … big aloes all around on the hillside, most past their prime but still making a show, and looking down the valley there are vineyards and orchards stretching off into the distance below the towering peaks of the mountains. It’s quiet and peaceful … well it was eventually, after the owners returned from their dinner out with the neighbours and the two big ridgebacks finally quietened down. Gosh, what a bark they had …
Feeling a bit fragile we finally overcame the cold and set off towards Ladismith as the sun just began to come out above the mountains. The valley road was undulating and flanked by farmland of every description. Here and there tractors with trailers stood in the fields surrounded by huddles of farm workers bundled under layers of clothing to try ward off the Karoo morning cold.
After 9km of icy chill we entered a sleepy Ladismith. There weren’t many folks around yet but one lady did get a big fright when I swerved around her as she stepped out to cross the street without even a sideways glance.
Not seeing any direction signs showing the way to Calitzdorp, we simply kept going. Suddenly the town just seemed to end and we quickly realized that something was not quite right. Stopping in a side street to ask for directions, a local lady just told us, ‘go straight, then left, then right.’ But going straight just landed us in even deeper trouble when the local dogs started spying us. Not wanting to risk a fall, we made a quick decision to load the bikes and portage out of town. Thank goodness for that, since we had to make a few more wrong turns with the vehicle before finally finding the right way … with some very vocal encouragement from the locals, I might add.
On the way again, we’d pass quaint places with names like Zoar and Amalienstein before making a stop just after the turn-off to the Seveweekspoort. We were not heading through the poort but instead up the Huisrivier Pass to Calitzdorp. And what a pass it was … amazing downhills but heart dropping ups. We were both very glad to coast down into Caltizdorp.
Stopping at the filling station for a wee-walk we met two characters, one who claimed to be a reformed satanist-turned-prophet, and the other … well, you could hardly make out what he was saying, but his breath was about 90% proof. After quite a sermon from the prophet we gave him a Bible and were on our way. May the Word of God help them both …
Yet another long uphill awaited us out of Caltizdorp and then it was just to look out for the signboard indicating the Spa where we were to stay for the night. But we pedalled and we pedalled and still no signboard. Calling it a day at 80km, we loaded the bikes and headed on only to encounter the turn-off a hop-skip-and-jump outside of Oudtshoorn. With about 10km to Oudstoorn and 34 to the Spa, we opted for Oudtshoorn instead.
Now it’s a very well deserved (even if I do say so myself) rest day. We will head out to the point we left off at to complete the 28km that it turned out to be ‘till in Oudtshoorn tomorrow, then we’ll be back on track with the itinerary.
Oh, and here I must make mention of the AMAZING supper we had last night … steak, chips, and coleslaw … courtesy of our driver … thank you Garth, that kind of ‘lekker’ was just what we needed after 4 days of hard riding (up from the coast and 2 passes … no joke folks). But all is well with us, spirits are up, I’m rehydrated, Suzann’s niggly knee has had a rub, the bikes are going strong … just need a bit of a wash and lube … otherwise we couldn’t have asked for better cycling conditions over the last few days. God is good!