Tailwinds at last - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

December 18, 2020

Tailwinds at last

Calvinia to Nieuwoudtsville

For the first time since the leg from Rietbron to Beaufort West, we had tailwinds all of the way.  Because we were expecting headwinds later in the day we left at just after five o'clock and enjoyed a wonderful ride in cool to warm conditions.  The forecast for today is for thirty five degrees and it was at least thirty by the time we finished.  To top it all, the wind changed direction once we had got to Nieuwoudtville so we couldn't have been more fortunate.

Five kilometers outside Calvinia, the airfield's windsock confirms that the wind is on our backs.
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A small climb at the start and another towards the end of the ride but mostly it was flat to downhill.
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A gentle dip after the first rise that carried on for almost thirty kilometers made for a very easy ride.
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A monument commemorating the last of the Boer commandos to lay down their arms at the end of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War in 1902. Not the worst thing to commemorate but the language on the plaque was straight out of the Apartheid era government handbook. Pure racist jingoism. I felt embarrassed reading it.
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The R27 was pretty busy today with lots of heavy goods vehicles.  We had no complaints though as there was a meter wide shoulder and the traffic mostly gave us a wide berth.  Especially the truck drivers who also invariably gave a friendly hoot and wave as well.

One bit of brainless entertainment was that I couldn't seem to avoid the "cats eyes" used to highlight the shoulder.  There was something deep in my brain that forced me to aim for them. They are placed just left of the yellow line of the shoulder which is where my brain wanted me to ride.  Eventually I managed to gain control but then it was Leigh's turn to start riding over them.

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Jacquie GaudetI suspect South Africa doesn’t have the needed snowplows to remove them.
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4 weeks ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Jacquie GaudetWe get so little snow and then only on the highest mountain passes. Occasionally a pass might be closed for a few hours. Salt and grit would be an overkill let alone snow plows.
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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetAs I suspected. BC doesn't have a lot of cateyes on its highways because the plows scrape them off in the winter; the only ones that last are the recessed kind. Of course, when you're driving in bad light, they are missed.
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3 weeks ago

The area between Calvinia and Niuewoudtville stretching northwards to Loeriesfontein is known as the Hantam.  Although considered part of the Karoo its vegetation and climate is quite different, being a winter rainfall area.  This was made quite clear when we rode past wheat fields while approaching Nieuwoudtville.

Wheat fields. Harvest already in and straw baled with sheep grazing the stubble.
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Another unexpected sight as we approached Nieuwoudtville was a herd of about two hundred sheep being driven by three Border Collies - under the direction of a woman farmer!  Not something you see every day in the conservative platteland (hinterland) of South Africa.

We arrived at our digs two hours earlier than I had told our AirBnB hosts.  The effects of a nice tailwind.  They arrived about an hour later so we waited in the shade on the stoep.  It turns out we are the first guests staying here and the accommodation is still slightly under construction.  No big deal.  The other option was another fifty kilometers to get to Van Rhynsdorp which we will do tomorrow.

The accommodation is called The White House. Underneath the paint lies lovely sandstone.
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We cycled down to the local grocery store and it was hard not to notice the lovely sandstone buildings in the town with the church and post office being two nice examples.  I can't understand why the folks who own the digs we are staying in felt compelled to paint it white.

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Today's ride: 73 km (45 miles)
Total: 969 km (602 miles)

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