Day 118, stage 91, 162km
Start, Municipal Camp, Garies
Finish, Municipal Camp, Strandfontei
Today we started our ‘work arounds’ with an off-road century. A make or break day with only four days to go. But there was a slight reprieve. The route today would not be all off road. The route had been adjusted somewhat – still as long but some tarmac. The counterbalance was the wind. While it had been more or less benign for the last two days, today it was against us.
The off-road sections were really miserable – deep sand and gravel, large sharp rocks, bad and deep corrugation, lots of up and down. It was a long slog. And then when we finally came off the dirt we turned into a wind of steadily increasing velocity. The last thirty kilometres were almost directly into the wind. And we were now heading to the coast where we would see the Ocean for the first time. The wind was onshore and cold. It shrouded the coast with shivering fog 25km inland. It was miserable. And then when I had finally reached Strandfontein I could find our camp. Our route through towns is marked with pink flagging tape. Sometimes the route is well marked, sometimes it is not. It depends who has done the taping I think. Today it was crap. It was either misleading or missing – blown away. As a result I spent half an hour going up and down steep coastal hills in this small seaside town looking for other cyclists and wondering where I was. I finally stopped a car and was pointed in the right direction. But I was not a happy camper. They had broken me. And let the staff know it when I got to the camp. The last thing you want after a tough and long day is to spend a half hour going up and down steep hills trying to find home.
I just wanted a coke.
We were camped on a grassy hill overlooking the Atlantic. But it was cold and foggy and there were not really a town centre with shops and restaurants. This was a town of holiday homes – big places with great views, lined up on the hills next to the sea. No Nandos, no 1950s restaurant at the Garies Hotel. Just the TdA lunch truck and our tents. Fortunately Alex was in a gregarious and active frame of mind. He took a walk around the village asking any local resident he met where he could buy some wine. After half an hour or so he returned with two bottles of wine – a red and a white – both of which had been gifted to him by the locals who were distraught to discover that we had cycled so far and had no wine waiting for us. This brightened my mood considerably. After dinner, some nice wine and a lovely hot shower, I slept well.