Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gravel Road Trip, Part 3 - (Gansbaai to Struisbaai)

There are two raods to get from Gansbaai to Struisbaai. A tarred road running next to the coast, or a gravel road going via Elim a little bit further inland. Guess which one I took? My concern for this part of the trip was that the roads might get very sandy. Fortunately the only sand I found I crossed before I even knew what was causing the "turbulence". When I executed my first proper fall a couple of moths ago it was because of sand. And this happened when I turned around because the road was getting too sandy for my liking. I was hoping that this would not repeat itself on this last section of my "gravel road trip".

Elim Moravian Church
Road to Struisbaai
From Gansbaai I basically went back towards the road I came in on, but where the tar road becomes gravel again, I headed straight on towards Baardskeerdersbos. From there it was on to Elim. Elim, like Mamre and Genadendal also has a long Moravian history. Here I also took a picture of the church, but at this stage of my trip I was more interested in reaching my destination than acting like a tourist. Or journalist as some might think. After Elim the road is tarred for a couple of kilometers until the turn-off to Bredasdorp, but I was going to Struisbaai first and this was on gravel again. It was on this section that I found some dry sandy patches. This is quite a dry area, but recent rains made some areas that were still wet slippery as well. I stopped to take a picture just to show what the surrounding landscape looked like. Very close to a Karoo landscape. Only one car passed me on this section and I didn't even take out the GPS or cell phone to see if I could get help should something go wrong. Maybe I was too worried that there might be no reception and I didn't want to know that. I did have a first aid kit with me, complete with plasters and bandages. I threw in some painkillers as well before I left. So I was OK I guess.

"Skuite" at Struisbaai harbour
L'Agulhas, the most southern tip of Africa
Stuisbaai arrived sooner than what I was expecting, or I arrived at Struisbaai sooner than what I expected. At Struisbaai I only wanted to do two things. One was to take a picture of the harbour, and the second was to drive further south to Agulhas, the southern-most tip of Africa. Here I wanted a picture of myself and my bike. I've only been here once before when we attended a wedding of friends. This is a beautiful place, but nothing much else. I cannot really say where exactly the southern-most tip is, there are so many rocks sticking out from the sea and I am sure that the tip moves as the tides change. But that is not for me to decide, besides, someone has already put up some sort indication. Many people believe that Cape Point is the furthest south, but that is not true. So the "Two Oceans Aquarium" and the "Two Oceans Marathon" that is found in Cape Town is in fact incorrect. The two oceans are split up at Agulhas. Or that is what the sign says.

After my quick stop at the Agulhas I headed to Bredasdorp on the tar road. I switched on my GPS and allowed it to take me to the address where I was staying over. A couple of minutes later I was right in front of the house. Man, I loved my day's riding and I love my GPS (when it works).

I learned quite a lot from this trip. One is that I cannot always trust a GPS and that a map is not a bad idea for a back-up. Also that some gravel roads are in fact very easy to ride, but when hitting a sand spot at 100km/h can be just as bad as hitting water at that speed. I also need to look at my GPS set-up, especially the battery charging part. I didn't run out of battery this time, but if I keep my GPS on, I might. So I need to find a charger that fits into my charger socket on my bike. I think I can make a shopping list of things I need, but I will do that at a later stage. Maybe closer to Christmas. All I know is that I had an awesome time on the road. I covered 440 km and it took me 10 hours, including all the stops. I think about 300 km was done on gravel.  I am already planning my next trip towards the West Coast. Just waiting for a friend of mine who suggested this trip. At Bredasdorp I stayed over at a cousin. What a better way to end a day's riding than with rump steak on the fire and a few cold beers.

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