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

April 1, 2021


My usual practice is to draft my daily journal as soon as possible after arriving at our destination for the day.  Sometimes circumstances dictate that it be done the next day but this is the first time I can recall putting it off until the next day because the day it was to describe was best forgotten.

It started off OK.  Cloudy skies but dry conditions and no wind (all backed up by three different weather forecasts) promised a easy riding conditions.  A glance at Google Streetview suggested a nice wide shoulder on the R26 that would take us to Ficksburg.  As we were getting ready to leave the temperature dropped and we sensibly decided to don our jackets.  Soon after eight thirty we rolled out of our very comfortable digs and headed northwards.

Once again, the route for the day consisted of rolling hills.  On the first one out of town a traffic policeman stopped and chatted to us.  "Ficksburg is close by" he said when told what out destination was.  "Not necessarily true if you are on a bicycle" was the reply.  And so it proved to be.

The R26 was much busier than yesterday.  It is the Thursday before the Easter Weekend so I am guessing (and hoping) that it was because of folks heading off to where they would spend the weekend.  We noticed a heavy band of dark cloud approaching from the south-west and at the eight kilometer mark the rain began to fall, lightly at first and then quite heavily with some worrisome flashes of lightning close by.  It was pretty cold and we were initially a bit miserable but a stop to don an extra layer layer under our jackets helped warm us up.  The rain continued until we had covered twenty three kays but there was also a fresh tailwind to help us along.  The tailwind made me suggest to Leigh that the weather was on our side but she wasn't impressed.  The wide shoulder meant that the traffic didn't bother us and we were eventually in pretty good spirits despite the weather.

After it cleared we found a turnoff to a farm just before the small town of Clocolan to enjoy our lunch.  This was at about the halfway mark and we were feeling pretty good.  The hills were easily managed now that we are a bit fitter and after a day's rest and we weren't concerned about the rest of the ride.

Our lunch stop. It could have been any rural scene in South Africa.
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Once we passed Clocolan the wide shoulder suddenly shrank to barely thirty centimeters.  Now the heavy traffic became a real problem.  The thirty kilometers from here to just outside Ficksburg became a nerve-wracking dash for survival.  Or at least that's how it felt at the time.  So far on this trip and on the ninth step before it I have been praising the behaviour of South African drivers but my good feelings towards them were swiftly discarded this afternoon.  I can only hope that today's traffic is an anomaly.

With five kilometers to go to Ficksburg the wider shoulder returned and we could relax again.

Roadside cosmos to brighten up a dark day.
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The entry to Ficksburg is through a pretty kloof.
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The Easter Weekend meant that accommodation is hard to come by and we are stuck in Ficksburg until Sunday (the next town Fouriesburg is fully booked).  It isn't the most interesting of towns and it seems pretty run down.  Our digs aren't that good either but we will occupy our time by tackling some work of which there is a bit of a backlog.

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Today's ride: 71 km (44 miles)
Total: 994 km (617 miles)

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