Bye-bye Karoo - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

December 19, 2020

Bye-bye Karoo

Nieuwoudtville to Van Rhynsdorp

With only fifty or so kilometers to ride today there was no need to for an alarm clock.  Nonetheless, we were awake at about five o'clock and on the road by seven.

The White House was no less bright at six o'clock this morning.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The first part of the ride took us up a climb to the top of van Rhyn's Pass on the edge of the escarpment.  On we way we passed our first views of fields of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) growing.  Rooibos has become popular as a tea throughout the world and is Leigh's standard hot beverage.  Like most people, she drinks it without milk or sugar.  It is likely that the early Dutch settlers learned about Rooibos from the Khoi and San inhabitants of the area at the time who possibly used it for medicinal purposes.  There is no record of when tea was first made from it and it likely that it was a trial and error substitute for Chinese tea of which the settlers would have been aware.  Now it is big business but the contribution of the Khoi and San has not been neglected. One and a half percent of Rooibos tea income farmers receive from the processors now goes to a fund for descendants of the Khoi and San who live in rural farming communities in Rooibos growing areas.

Rooibos Tea.
Heart 2 Comment 0

The van Rhyn's Pass separates the Hantam from the Knersvlakte.  It would be our biggest single descent since plummeting down the Andes from Las Cuevas, near Cristo Redentor de los Andes to Villa Aconcagua almost three years ago.  It was only about a quarter of the drop and not half as dramatic but the views were stunning.

About to descend van Rhyn's Pass
Heart 0 Comment 0
Near the top of the pass.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Near the bottom of the pass.
Heart 0 Comment 0

At the bottom we saw signs advertising a "padstal" or roadside shop.  On most roads one would expect to encounter at least one of these between towns but this is the first we have seen since leaving Wolwefontein three weeks ago.  Unfortunately, despite the name and catchy signs, it was a case of the contents not matching the packaging so we carried on without enjoying the hoped for hand-churned ice cream and home-brewed ginger beer.

Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

The Knersvlakte ("gnashing plains") at the bottom of the pass stretching up to Nuwerus in the north is a sandy plain covered with quartzite pebbles.  The sound of wagon wheels rolling over the quartzite is apparently the inspiration for the name.

The Knersvlakte.
Heart 1 Comment 0

After the Bagdad Cafe (yes, that is the spelling they used) the road narrowed and shoulder disappeared.  The traffic was mostly considerate, especially the big trucks, but there were the inevitable idiot or two  (I think it might have been only two), one of whom caused me to reach for my Dictionary of Impolite Adjectives and Nouns. 

Once again the wind was mostly kind to us.  We had a light headwind that kept us cool for all the way until it suddenly freshened five kilometers out of Van Rhynsdorp.  No complaints about that.

Van Rhynsdorp is a plain and unassuming agricultural town, the centre of which is dominated by a very modern prison.  One can only hope that the rehabilitation of its inmates is done in a similarly modern manner.  We detoured to the local grocery store, which was more than adequate (Leigh got her ice-cream and I settled for a zero alcohol beer), and settled into our home for the night, a little cottage on an olive farm just outside the town, at about twelve o'clock.

Heart 1 Comment 0

Today's ride: 55 km (34 miles)
Total: 1,024 km (636 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 5
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Kathleen JonesReaching for your Dictionary of Impolite Adjectives and Nouns! That's great. I'll be using that phrase from now on.

Also, that's interesting about the Khoi and San folks are getting some recognition and recompense.
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago