Graaff Reinet - The tenth step ... SISA Episode II - CycleBlaze

March 15, 2021

Graaff Reinet

The thunder storm continued to rage last night but by this morning it was all calm.  The skies were still cloudy but there was clarity to the light which my cheap cellphone camera didn't seem to be able to capture.  It's a cheap phone I picked up in Chile three years ago after I had lost my fancy water-proof/shock-proof/multi-CPU/great-camera phone overboard while crossing Lago del Desierto at the end of the Carretera Austral.  I have just not got around to replacing it.

Wet earth and clean air after the storms.
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The road from Pearston to Graaff Reinet is one of the flattest one could hope to ride.  It's also mostly straight with an adjustment in direction every ten kilometers or so.  That didn't mean it was boring.  Somehow I find something attractive about the "featureless" parts of the Karoo.  I also find it very peaceful and relaxing particularly with so little traffic as we have enjoyed since this trip started.

Straight roads, flat earth, big sky.
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It was great to see rivers flowing again. I am guessing that there has been a bit of rain here recently because the veld is looking very green.
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One of the indications that Graaff Reinet is not too far away is the sight of the Tandjiesberg (little tooth mountain - you can see them on the right of the mountain).
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Another sign is Spandaukop, under which Graaff Reinet lies. It's visible from about fifty kilometers away which means quite a few hours left on the bicycle.
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Today's weather was great for riding for much of the time.  The cloudy skies kept us cool and the wind light and variable.  That is, until we reached the junction of the R63 (which has been the road westwards from Somerset East) and the R75 (the main road between Port Elizabeth and Graaff Reinet).  At this point a strong north-westerly wind sprung up and we resigned ourselves to a bit of a slog for the last twenty seven kilometers.  We had lots of time and there didn't seem any danger of us being caught in a thunderstorm as had happened yesterday so we felt no need to rush.

But things can change fast.

About ten kilometers from Graaff Reinet we noticed big storm forming to the south-west.
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It got bigger and closer.
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And as we entered the town it struck.
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The storm made yesterday's seem insignificant.  Lightening was flashing less than a kilometer away and the booms of the thunder were so loud as to be deafening.  The rain pelted down.  Leigh claims she hasn't seen that much rain in such a short time since the great flood Port Elizabeth experienced in 1968.  With all that lightening so close by we can thank our lucky stars that we left Pearston early enough to make it to Graaff Reinet before the storm struck.  I'm not sure what we would have done if we were still out on the road at the time.

We took shelter on the covered pavement (sidewalk to the folks on the other side of the Atlantic) outside a shop to wait it out. Within minutes the streets were awash.
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Once the worst of the storm had past we made our way to our digs for the next two nights - a lovely little cottage on the north end of the town.  We are going to do a few tourist things here tomorrow and then make our way northwards to the little village of Nieu Bethesda.

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Today's ride: 78 km (48 miles)
Total: 296 km (184 miles)

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