Starts like slow poison, ends like a physical assault. - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

November 30, 2020

Starts like slow poison, ends like a physical assault.

Steytlerville to Willowmore

Our original idea was to break our ride from Steytlerville to Willowmore by spending a night at one of two possible rustic campsites.  Both of these would have entailed a significant detour on, from previous experience, is a rough gravel road so we decided to bite the bullet and get to Willowmore in one day.  We knew it would be a tough ask given our state of fitness.  The route is a slow poison ascent from 420 meters above sea level to 845 meters with little chance for respite.  We also new that we would have to contend with a head wind the whole way and that the wind strength would increase as the day wore on.

So we set the alarm for four thirty in the morning and were on our bicycles soon after five o'clock.

The contrast between the small and badly constructed houses in the township and those in the town is striking.
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The R329 that runs between the two towns was almost devoid of traffic and we really enjoyed the first few hours in the crisp morning air.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the headwind was initially quite light.  But as the day wore on the wind started gusting more strongly and eventually picked up to between twenty five and thirty kilometers an hour  gusting at over fifty kilometers and hour.  It was like being back in Patagonia, only much warmer.

Significantly, it took us four hours to get to the halfway mark and almost six for the second half.

We started taking breaks every five kilometers to stretch our legs and over the last ten kays probably stopped every two or three kilometers.  The last twenty kilometers took almost three hours and we arrived in Willowmore pretty knackered at about three o'clock.

A really lovely morning to start off with.
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The veld is almost devoid of vegetation in some place.
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The thirty kilometers is on an old-style cement "strip" road. Still found in Zimbabwe but this is the only one of which I am aware in South Africa that is on a major regional road.
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We headed for Jumper's Place, a backpackers catering specifically for adventure motor cyclists, but they were closed.  A victim of the COVID economic slowdown ?  A local who had greeted us as we rode into the town drove by and suggested a few other options.  As usual, I opted for the first one we looked at - the Willows Historic Guesthouse.  Far more expensive than we would like but neither of us were keen on looking any further.  We will spend two nights here recovering and getting some work done.

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Today's ride: 89 km (55 miles)
Total: 289 km (179 miles)

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