Great African Divide Ride Day 19 : Friday 14th October

Memel to Sterkfontein Dam


Distance: 63kms
Altitude gain: Not recorded
Altitude loss: Not recorded
Difficulty: All gravel, except for 3 kms busy tar.
Temp: 28
Max heart rate: Not measured
Average ride speed: 13.9

After helping to pack up the vehicle and trailer, Patrick, Chris and I rode from the camp site down to the village of Memel, an easy 8kms. The wind had abated. The short 3kms ride past Memel on a busy tar road (trucks, tractors, angry BMW’s, rattly pickups) made me realise that the corrugations, rocks and sand on a gravel road are actually welcome. At least they are not life threatening. We headed southwards to Verkykerskop … and here’s a challenge to anyone not from Southern Africa, can you pronounce this. It is close to “fur-cake-errs-cop”. Anyway, this is not relevant, is it?

Once again, running out of daylight hours, we uplifted and drove into Harrismith for a quick visit to Spar to resupply. And next door we went into Spar Tops. For those uninitiated into Spar shopping – the plain Spar is a great place to shop for food, veg, household stuff (Hey, Fabienne of Volksrust Superspar – I hope you see this plug for your group!). Spar Tops is the bottle store full of magical things like Windhoek Draft, Hunters Dry, Strettons gin, a wide range of Cape wines …all critical to the psychological well-being of old-aged bicycle riders and for the resuscitation of tired, un-thanked support team.

From Harrismith it was a short drive to the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve. The cost of camping there was ridiculously low – R225 for 5 of us which is just over US$3 per person. The good news for me was that there was hot water in the gent’s showers. The previous night at Seekoevlei there were no hot showers. We had managed to find a basin in the ladies at Seekoevlei that had hot water – but no hot showers that day. Patrick and Chris had braved cold showers. I worry about those two sometimes.

So, at Sterkfontein Dam, not having had a proper wash the previous day I was jolly happy to take a long hot shower.

A couple of tots of Spar Tops products, a fine supper, wonderful views across the dam, and no rain … a great way to end the day.

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