Experiences

Klein Karroo Capers - Day 0

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An e-mail from Oom Abbey. “Start training boys – we are going into the mountains.” There it was.

That sent a shiver down my spine, conflicting emotions – a chance to spend a week in the magnificent wilderness where the sense of space and remoteness is almost overwhelming, a week of camaraderie and banter and a week of pain for those least prepared – like me.

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Klein Karoo Capers - Day 2

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Day 2.  Calitzdorp Spa to Redstone Hills via Rooiberge.  About 85km, about 2300m climbs – for some 4 to 7 hours depending on your status.

“Right, listen you Hell Riders – and you Buffels!” shouted Johan ‘Day 2 is Piss Easy’ Borman.”The main object for today is to see how many mini-groups you can splinter into, and how many kilometres the ‘Ever-Patient, Ever Present’ Sanel and I can do in the busses with the trailers to collect you from all over the Klein Karroo.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if we just stayed together and enjoyed the camaraderie?” asked Lawrence ‘We Are Always Peaceful in the Cape” Chambers.  You could see that he was new.

“Not at all,” explained Johan the Patient.  “Today will feature a race to the top of the Rooiberge.  I will be the judge from the comfort of the bus.  I will carry water and half time oranges in the back of the bus so that you can minimize your load and optimize your performance.  You will then turn off onto a tiny almost non-existent track and climb forever along the ridge of the Rooiberge.”

 

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Klein Karoo Capers - Day 3 Redstone Hills to ???

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Day 3.  Redstone Hills to ?????.  58km.  2100m climbs.  6hrs 10min and 7hrs 20min.

We were up long before the sun and the chickens, but not before the lowing dairy cows who had called for their missing calves all night.

“Boys, it’s a good think that I took those few rest days,” informed ‘Kortpad’ Koos, “I couldn’t sleep all night with those cows.”

“I thought that noise was coming from your room,” commented Stephan ‘Neither Buffel Nor Wildebees’ Grobler, “Are you sure that it didn’t?”

“Right, pay attention!” commanded ‘Chairman’ Johan, “You have been a pretty pathetic lot when it comes to getting you all in one spot.  This is the very first group photo opportunity.  And remember – there are basically three climbs for the day, and then one ‘moerse’ downhill where at least one of you will probably die.  Then you are finished for this year’s tour.”

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Deep in the Baviaans - Day 0

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So it all started in the whipping wind and rain, perched on little stools under a soaking, flapping canvas top. Our tiny tents had just blown away and exhausted mountain bikers and Cherry Tree event organisers were careering around trying to bring them back to mother earth. It was the inaugural PE to Plett and we were tired and cold.

I said that I was now too middle-aged to crawl in and out of a tiny tent, and Kobus “Bring Another” Burger mentioned that he was tired of queueing for his food and his morning constitutional. Abbey “Oom” de Groot commented that he suspected that just one mountain range behind where we were riding there were the best tracks in Africa. Abbey almost never lies.

Two weeks later the preparations began. Johan “I Can Break Anything” Borman and his beautiful, patient wife Sanel “I Can Fix Anything” Borman were volunteered to stage the inaugural Hell Rider Tour de Baviaans. They quickly realised that they would need a superior athlete and path-finder to lead and worry about the intrepid Team From Hell. Richard “Gimli Son of Gloin” Muller from Saasveld was recruited and the recces were under way.

“I promise you Richard, they are not bad guys. They can ride, eat, be merry and all of them are natural leaders. They follow no-one,” intoned the ever optimistic Johan and Abbey. 

Our event was born. We had Abbey, Kobus and me. We just needed the rest of the team.

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Deep in the Baviaans - Day 1

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 We were off – at last – after long drives, long flights and a long semi-sleepless night. The rain had slowed down so we had to settle for splashing each other with carefully practised, incredibly mature puddle displacement techniques and moves. A couple of exciting downhill racing sections, slippery clay mud and we were invincible. 

 

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Deep in the Baviaans - Day 2

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Breakfast was done. We lined up at the start knowing that the whole Baviaanspoort lay in front of us. Only Bossie, Richard and Wayne knew what to expect which was a good thing, otherwise we would have stayed in bed. The rain had disappeared and the sun’s rays were peeping over the rims of the mountains towering around us. 

 

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Deep in the Baviaans - Day 3

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I stretched lazily in my very comfortable bed. We four Buffels had a cottage to ourselves. We were over the road from the Racing Snakes and the innumerate cartographers. We packed up, sneaked over for porridge and yoghurt and other exceedingly healthy things that Sanel was inflicting on us and heard that Gimli Son of Gloin was swopping out for the day with Johan the Destroyer. Day 3 was the big one and our guides and map-makers were arguing about the distance and elevation – and also the route. We would backtrack a very swift twenty kilos and turn off at a specific farm, then we would engage granny gear and grind out a 500m climb or something and then we would apparently see where the road took us.

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Deep in the Baviaans - Day 4

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We awoke when we woke. Bikes (except for Ettienne’s) required some final preparation. Doc Bossie had abandoned his pampered green machine and graciously accepted his upgrade from Oom Abbey. We gobbled our last breakfast together and assembled for roll-call. “Light Duty” Malcolm reported for duty and demonstrated his non-existent rear brakes. We rolled out past a pretty dam and engaged ultra-granny gear. “This Is My Helmet and I Will Wear If I Want To” Janneman charged ahead – finally bored with the company of the Buffels and “Thank You Sanel For the Wonderful Cooking” Johan stuttered his way into the Buffel Brigade.

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