- Begin: Home
- End: Malmesbury
- Distance: 62km
- Vertical meters: 550m
- Time taken: 03:40
“Its not about the bike”. Sounds familiar? That was perhaps the most honest statement of a certain mr. Armstrong, and true enough in more than one way. We we’re about to gain a deeper understanding of this statement, no doping involved.
Shortly after 05:00 we’re up and about. The last items find their way into the pannier bags, a short breakfast follows and the bikes are loaded. The sun is out and at 06:30 we’re in the saddle. The early morning summer air is cool, but the forecast for the day is somewhere in the thirties. As temperatures along our route of above 40 degrees are not uncommon, our strategy is; start early – finish early. Furthermore, the notorious south-easter wind (“cape doctor”) prevalent during summer, is not an early riser.
It is a strange feeling and the uncertainty of what lies ahead adds to the excitement. The bike is heavy and the front panniers makes steering clumsy. The first kilometers are all too familiar as we normally bike this route to work. This will be my last thought about work for some time and it suddenly dawns upon me…. this is it!
We pedal through the urban areas and early morning weekend-warriors give us some stares. Occasionally we get a friendly wave and a few motorists blow their horns. This is not the most exciting part of our route, but we wanted to start from home and it is unavoidable. Finally we reach the outskirts of Durbanville. Here we stop for a short visit to my dad’s grave, who passed away some 5 to 6 months before. Upon leaving, we have a friendly conversation with the lone security guard. He can’t stop staring at our bikes and stands in disbelief when we explain our route to him.
Our next stop: Klipheuwel. Here we greet two scholars from the local community whom we support. They take some interest in our endeavour, but they cannot understand how someone who owns a car, would rather travel by bicycle. We convince them to join in for a few kilometers on their own bikes. The contrast is stark. As they pedal in their flip-flops I see a buckle in the back wheel and hear a lot a squeaking. How privileged we are! For them cycling has a whole different meaning and is rather something to be avoided if possible.
After a short distance we say farewell to our two companions and head north to Malmesbury. The R304 / R302 has a wide shoulder and the road is quiet. We arrive at our guesthouse without incident at about 10:10. The bikes felt fine, albeit very heavy and we are satisfied with our effort for the first day. While having a lazy lunch at a local coffee shop we start considering what lies ahead the next day. Were we in for a surprise!