6th March 2023 – The Third World As Seen From The Saddle- From Oudtshoorn to Ladismith

Distance – 103 km
Climb – 1276 m
Time – 9 hr 34 min
Av Heart Rate – 126 bpm.
Max Heart Rate – 190 bpm.


I have just brushed my teeth with Travel Wash a concentrated, non-bio, bleach free detergent safe to use on all fabrics, including baby clothes, wool and delicates and good for removing the most stubborn of stains. It tastes like shit but the first I noticed it wasn’t toothpaste was when my mouth started lathering alarmingly. In my defense, should this offense ever come up in a Dick of the Day tribunal, Travel Wash also comes in a tube and I was rather knackered at the time. NB That defense failed me miserably when I was unfairly awarded Dick of the Day for frivolous offenses.


We are just 2 days into our mini-Tour and I am shattered. Already we have taken disorganized to new levels and the inside of our car looks worse than the inside of my kitbag,which is bad. I have no idea how we are able to do this sort of shit for 35 days across half of Africa.


We rode Route 62 yesterday, through a section of the Klein Karoo between Oudtshoorn to Ladismith. The Klein Karoo is like the Groot Karoo but just smaller, although it doesn’t seem smaller after 2 days of riding through it. We rode through the small town of Calitzdorp and up a monster of a mountain pass called the Huis River Pass.


To drive the Klein Karoo in a car could be fall asleep boring, but at 20 kph on a bicycle, it is beautiful and anything but boring, for the first few hours, after which it can become boring, because the Klein Karoo certainly does go on, and on, and on.


The Karoo was very wet by Karoo standards so at least there was some vegetation to look at, lush and green, again by Karoo standards, but with not a tree to be seen for hundreds of kilometers, just the same low-slung bushes and clumps of grass, over and over again.


I saw a herd of eland, some springbok, put up a pair of raucous Southern Black Korhaans and almost saw many meerkats, but didn’t.
There are any number of quirky little roadside stalls to further break the monotony, offering pancakes and bobotie, and sometimes free parking. And more of the same in the little town of Calitzdorp.


We stopped for lunch in The Smallest Bar on Route 62. The Bar took quirky to next level. I would have loved to have enjoyed more than a few cold beers in it, but with half the ride still in front of me, couldn’t. Alas.


Calitzdorp would have been more enjoyable had the streets not been teeming with street people who had all been enjoying the booze I hadn’t, with many of them loud and in your face, begging. Alas.


I enjoyed a 200 gram burger with delicious blue cheese sauce for lunch, but stopped enjoying it as soon as we hit the Huis River Pass. The 200 grams quickly became a 400 gram lump in my tummy.


If it was in France, the Huis River Pass would be a world famous bike climb. With 700 meters elevation and 10 kilometers of non-stop up, it is a brute, and certainly takes your breath away.
We shared the Huis River Pass with a peloton of road bike riders, part of an organized tour group also on their way to Cape Town. They came whizzing past us on their sleek low-slung machines and shaved legs, all very serious, head down and in a hurry.


The tour leader was a delightful German chap called Jens who took time out to talk shit with me on the climb. He told me he was riding Route 62 for the 70th time. It showed. He was super strong.


After a brief stop at the top of the pass, the road bike racers raced off in their tight peloton, also headed for a night stop in Ladismith. Looking to draught, Adam jumped on the back of their bunch. He could easily have stayed with them all the way to town, but never felt the love, so pulled out. I don’t think it helped that he was wearing the Dick of The Day tutu at the time.
I love this part of South Africa. It feels like we’re riding through a Henry Charles Bosman story. The people who live here don’t just live here, they belong. We’re are staying in a little cottage on a grape farm just outside Ladismith. Our hosts are Afrikaans and are old fashioned hospitable. I am sure they would give me the khaki shirts off their backs if I asked. Their ancestors are buried in neatly kept graves next to our cottage. The oldest dates back to 1856.


We are riding to Cape Town to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners, most of whom no longer have homes or gardens, or even family around them to bury them. Please help us help them by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com.


In closing, please join me in wishing my beloved and long suffering wife Jenny the happiest of birthdays. Because I love her much, I bought her a new riding helmet to wear as protection the next time we ride through a hailstorm.


I rode with a huge sad on my heart for much of the day after hearing of the untimely passing of Ryan ‘LaFarge’ Collet. Ryan was a fellow Herd member and such a nice guy. Much love to Jenny and the kids


Until my next blog from Barrydale, enjoy and pedal up mountains if you can, but not after beef burgers – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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