Great African Divide Ride Day 13/14 : Saturday 8th October

Valverde (Cradle of Humankind) to Valverde

Distance: 46kms
Altitude gain: 390
Altitude loss: 390
Difficulty: Good road, good company
Temp: 32
Max heart rate: Not measured
Average ride speed: 18.1


At 7am we met with Terry Millar, twin brother of Patrick, who rode the Blue Cross with us some years back (2018), and has been a very good friend to OLT. With Terry was a bunch of his fellow club mates. Terry is a member of Club 100. This Bryanston based club now has well over 200 members and is seriously well organised. On Saturdays many of them come to the Cradle of Humankind to do a ride of anything from 40 to 80kms. Many are roadies (road bike riders), but some ride mountain bikes. The Cradle has a loop on an excellent tar road, not flat, as well as an MTB track next to it. On any weekend, up to 10,000 cyclists come to the Cradle. Because there are so many, it makes it a safe place to ride. For those not familiar with the Johannesburg area, riding a bike can be dangerous for two reasons – traffic and hijack. But with a huge number of cyclists any motorist is fully aware of sharing the road, and the risk of hijack is virtually eliminated.
On this Saturday we rode in a group of about 20 … Terry and his mates were on road bikes, but very kindly treated the day as a purely social ride, so we averaged just over 18kph, instead of the 30kph that he and some of his team mates aim for when they are riding hard. At the top of each significant hill, Terry and mates would regroup and wait for us slower types. Patrick and Chris were showing off a bit, and riding up front with the roadies, whilst Patch and I hung back a little. Well, OK, I’ll be honest, we didn’t hang back a little .. we hung back quite a lot.


With only about 10kms to go we rode past Bidon, the coffee spot we had stopped at the previous day. This time the car park was completely full, with dozens of cars parked on the side of the road. There must have been at least 300 cars in that car park – and each would have had from one to several bike riders. It really was like riding in an event like the 94.7 or the Cape Cycle Tour.


Day 14 : Sunday 9th October : Commissioner Street to Strubens Valley, Limpopo Source
Distance: 32kms
Altitude gain: 310
Altitude loss: 190
Difficulty: Easy riding, some traffic avoidance
Temp: 29
Max heart rate: Not measured
Average ride speed: 14.2


We did another “epic” today. We rode from Commissioner Street in downtown Johannesburg, along Main Reef Road to Strubens Valley where we stopped at the source of the Limpopo River.
Now, not too many people appreciate that Commissioner Street as actually on the watershed, part of the Great African Divide.


Not so long ago, Commissioner Street was considered the main street of Johannesburg. Both Barclays Bank and Standard Bank had their headquarters on this street. It is now very different. Downtown Johannesburg has largely been captured by street vendors. Where once there were very fancy shops selling high end diamond jewellery, or fur coats, or where the best tailors in town had their rooms, now the pavements are wall-to-wall street vendors selling everything from phone recharge cables to oranges, second hand shoes to plastic Chinese kids toys.


Almost everyone we spoke to said we were mad to think of riding down Commissioner Street because of the crime. So, we chose to do it early (8am) on a Sunday morning. We started at the intersection with End Street, and one of the few revival projects in the City – the Maboneng Precint. Here, there are a number of art galleries. There is some pretty fancy street art and we started off in front of some of this – see the photos. For the first few kilometres we were closely followed by Diana in the Isuzu and Terry in his car. Even though it was early Sunday, there were still numerous minibus taxis plying their trade. In fact, most of these taxis were very friendly, and hooted and waved and gave us right of way. Patrick had a large Zim flag on his bike and it is interesting how many people saw this and then applauded, hooted, shouted encouragement as we trundled slowly down Commissioer Street.


We passed the notorious John Vorster Square police station – now renamed Johannesburg Central. This building was infamous for its slippery shower floors and open windows, accounting for the deaths of many apartheid activists. Diana and Terry left us then, as we headed off on Main Reef Road – basically the Commissioner Street extension. The taxis and truck drivers continued to hoot and shout support. One lady drew up next to us and greeted us in Shona.


We rode to Strubens Valley Park. This is where the source of the Crocodile River starts as a spring. It is now generally considered that the Crocodile River is the source of the Limpopo, so for us it was a big deal to get to this point. Of course I messed up with our first attempt, finding a green grassy patch amongst a bunch of tossed rubbish, and made the assumption that this was the source. Then, when Diana uplifted us, we drove around Strubens Valley Park and found a bunch of people filling plastic containers with water from a small stream. And, yes, THIS was the spring that fed into the Crocodile River, which flowed into the Limpopo which flowed into the Indian Ocean.




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