Day 24 & 25

The 4X4 club were up early cooking breakfast. We jealously eyed the frying pans as the unmistakable odour of bacon frying began to fill the air. We slowly spooned the Futurelife original flavour (sand, as opposed to the chocolate one being dubbed ground) up, longingly looking on as the eggs were broken into the pans. But we had far to cycle and no time for a cooked brekkie.

On the road again, and expecting about 60km of ground road, we decided to relay the distance. I went out first, cranking against a headwind and up even more hills. All went relatively well until the tar road just gave out 9km into the ride. Now we were in for the hard slog … but we had no idea just how hard it would become.

I tried my best to stay on top of the bike … I wobbled, I swayed, I was all over the road as I skidded and bumped over the exposed rocks and loose grit. The upper layer of gravel or ground appeared to have been washed away completely leaving the underlying rough rocks and stones exposed … and if this wasn’t bad enough, the road was so rutted and furrowed by run-off in places, I was blessed to have stayed straight up. Spying an impossibly steep hill coming up ahead, I unclipped my foot while I still could, and stopped. I was not going to go any further and risk my neck on the awful roads. Suzann, being better at gravel than me, decided to give it a go. Walking up the hill, she saddled up on the crest and was away. But no sooner had she dropped down to a little stream than a massive hill stared her in the face. I yelled from the vehicle for her to stop but she was going to take it on. Bravely she pumped at the pedals, legs going like pistons, and me praying from the back. She crested the hill but it had her beat. Slowly rolling to a stop, she climbed off the bike with shaky legs, a heaving chest and the faint metallic taste of blood in the back of her throat. The Transkei dirt roads and insane hills had us beat and we were forced to call it, a mere 13km into the day.

With the bikes wobbling precariously on the back we headed towards Kob Inn … in the vehicle. And it was none too easy going for the bakkie either. There were places where we had to come to a complete stop and slowly roll through the dongas and over the exposed rock banks. This had turned out to be more like a 4×4 trail than a cycle track. There was no way that the two of us could’ve cycled … with no technical off-road mountain bike know-how, and not even really being real cyclists in the true sense of the word. Give us a pair of running shoes and we would’ve made it to Kob Inn, but on a bicycle … no.

Arriving at Kob Inn sticky with sunscreen we’d applied for giggles, we were very grateful for the warm shower and comfy bed of the hotel. The bikes were unrecognizable so covered in dust they were. We tried to give them a bit of a bath but gave it up for a joke since we’d have to brave the dust again on the way out. We’d all decided, enough is enough, no more gravel … We’re going to reroute to the N2 at Dutywa and head for Mthatha instead of abusing ourselves on the impossible back roads of the Transkei Coast. Sad to miss the beautiful spots we would’ve visited but we still have a long way to go and we don’t want to break ourselves just yet. Hence, we decided to take a day off at Kob Inn and just rest, refocus and refuel from their yummy set menu.

It really is beautiful at Kob, so rugged and wild, yet uncannily peaceful with the constant ocean noise of the waves crashing themselves to white creamy spray on the rocks below the hotel. The folks here are awesome, so friendly and accommodating … and we even got a spectacular show this morning as a myriad dolphins came surfing the waves across the oceanfront with a whale blowing on the back of the sea. Kingfishers dart by from the river mouth nearby, hovering over rock pools looking for a tasty morsel while the gulls float on the thermals, coming in to land on the white sand over the other side of the river. A gentle sea breeze blows constantly and everything smells pleasantly of the ocean. Nature in all its awesome beauty …

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