Sanity (and possibly our lives) saved by an escape route - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

January 15, 2021

Sanity (and possibly our lives) saved by an escape route

Oudtshoorn to Herold

Yesterday was hot and humid.  The weather forecast was that we would have a big thunderstorm last night and therefore a cooler and less humid day today.  But the thunderstorm didn't materialise and this morning was still hot.  We had booked a cottage seventy odd kilometers from Oudtshoorn on the road to the Langkloof but after twenty kilometers on the road this morning we decided we would need to cut the day a bit shorter.  So after about twenty kilometers on the road this morning we managed to shift that booking out by a day and instead booked a place about fifty kays from Oudtshoorn.

The road south from Oudtshoorn heading to George proved to be extremely busy.  It was also narrow with initially no shoulder and eventually a very narrow one.  There were a few big climbs along the way and the heavy traffic was really getting to us.  I can't really blame the traffic - there was just too much of it for the narrow road and it was inevitable that we would end up resorting to rude hand signals and bad language.  So when we found a dirt road heading eastwards and a quick check on Google Maps showing that it intersected with another dirt road heading southwards to our new accommodation for the night, we turned left.

Leaving Oudtshoorn and about to head into the red conglomerate hills on the road to George.
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About fourteen kilometers into the ride, the heat and the hills made us start thinking about changing our plans. Cellphone reception wasn't too good so we had a climb a bit more to get a good enough data signal.
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Data signal better here so we could change our plans. We had to work hard for the better signal!
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The Swartberg mountains to the north.
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The Outeniqua mountains to the south.
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Once we turned eastwards we were presented with a series of rolling hills that were quite hard work.  But they were hell of a lot less of a problem than the busy traffic on the main road.  After about ten kilometers we reached an intersection where we turned southwards and into a fresh southerly wind.  I am guessing this was one of the original roads between George and Oudtshoorn because it eventually linked up with the Montagu Pass.  The Montagu Pass was built over the Outeniqua mountains to link the two towns by Henry Fancourt White between 1844 and 1847 using about 250 convict labourers.  It was named after John Montagu, the British Colonial Secretary of the Cape, who encouraged the construction of good roads in the then Cape Colony and was enthusiastic about the use of convict labour to build them.  I have driven the Montagu Pass a number of times and it is a very scenic drive for which a detour is worthwhile.   Unfortunately, we won't be seeing any of it on this trip.

Heading eastwards on the Heimers River road.
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The intersection on the gravel road. The car behind Leigh is one of four vehicles that we encountered on the twenty kilometers of dirt road. A good decision to leave the main road
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About to enter the Paardepoort pass. The sign suggests they were expecting us. The wind at this point was pretty hectic.
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In Paardepoort.
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Exiting the pass.
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Our accommodation for the night is a simple room next to a tea garden at the entrance to the Montagu Pass.  Its big advantage is that it will provide us with dinner and breakfast so our stock of food for the planned few days heading through the Prince Alfred Pass to the coast won't be affected by us taking an extra day to get there.

The northern entrance to the Montagu Pass. The sign pointing to our digs is just behind it.
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Greater Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris afer) in the garden in front of our digs.
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Elspeth JarmanWow!!!!! Stunner of a photo. Well done.
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1 month ago
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Today's ride: 49 km (30 miles)
Total: 1,936 km (1,202 miles)

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