Caritas - The tenth step ... SISA Episode II - CycleBlaze

March 29, 2021


Things went a bit awry last night.  Soon after we returned to our room after supper, the lights went out.  To cut a long story short, a pipe had burst in the ceiling above our bathroom and tripped the circuit breakers.  What followed was a scene out of Fawlty Towers with the hotel owners and his staff passing ladders through our bedroom window to allow them to get into the ceiling.  We managed to avoid changing rooms but had to rely on the bathroom of the room next door but eventually we got rid of everyone and all of the dogs (yes, they were also in the bedroom during all of this).  An hour or two later it became clear that the repair job wasn't as successful as hoped because the drip returned to our bathroom. but I just closed the door and tried to go back to sleep.

This coming weekend is Easter so accommodation is a bit of a bugger.  We have managed to get ourselves sorted out but now we have to ride according to our bookings and not the weather.

I woke up again in the night with the wind howling outside and it kept going this morning.  We had to get a bit of work done first so we eventually struggled off into the wind at about nine o'clock.  I was feeling pretty down and all I hoped for was that we would reach our destination before darkness fell.  In our favour was that it cool to the point of being cold so we wouldn't have to struggle up the hills in the heat.
Up the first hill out of Wepener under cloudy skies.
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After about eight kilometers we crossed the Caledon River. It starts in the Maloti Mountains and joins the Orange River near Bethulie down river of Aliwal North. It seemed to be flowing more strongly than the Orange when we crossed it at Aliwal North.
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We struggled on into the wind and hills up to Hobhouse with my mood getting more foul with each kilometer. Hobhouse is named after Emily Hobhouse who rebelled against the British government's scorched earth policy and concentration camps during the second Anglo-Boer war.  The town itself is hardly a memorial to a courageous woman but the local Sotho shepherds and cowherds along the side of the road were friendly and encouraging.

We had been warned that the road north of Hobhouse was badly potholed and it certainly was.  Thankfully the potholes slow the drivers down and they aren't a hindrance to cyclists so they were no problem for us.  It also helped that the wind suddenly dropped to a breeze and my mood lifted proportionately.

The grass on the highveld can grow to well over two meters in summer. In two months time it will all be killed by the heavy frosts that occur here so it is the general practice to mow the road verges at the end of summer to reduce the fire risk.
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These things don't frighten cyclists, particularly the heart-shaped ones.
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We are spending the night in a lovely cottage on a farm forty kilometers south of Ladybrand.  After worrying that we wouldn't get here before nightfall we had more than three hours of sunshine after our arrival.  

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Today's ride: 59 km (37 miles)
Total: 878 km (545 miles)

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