Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Clocking 10 000 kilometres

It is a while since I did my last road trip on the bike. I had plans to do one the previous weekend, but never got that far...I was too busy trying out the macro lense a friend lend me. My bike has 9750km on the clock and I am taking it in on Thursday for its 10 000km service. Being a Virgo I wanted to get a little closer to that 10 000 mark before I take it in and the only way of doing that was to take a quick trip before work. So this morning my intention was to take a ride out into the country side, have coffee and return to work before anyone could even notice that I am a bit late. I was thinking of turning around at Darling and then riding straight back home, no plans to venture off onto dirt roads or anything.

Looking back towards Darling
I left at 7:15 and headed straight onto the West Coast Road towards the Darling turnoff. It was 11 degrees Celsius when I left, much better than my recent trips where the temperature fell all the way down to 2 degrees. This was just going to be a quick trip, so I wasn't really worried about the cold. All the traffic was coming from the front and I was wondering if these people realize that it is actually possible to go for a bike ride before you start your day's work. The section of the West Coast Road until you get to the Darling turnoff  (R315) is rather straight and very eventless. At this point I wasn't even thinking of posting anything on my blog about my ride. It was nearly 8am when I entered the sleepy town of Darling. Apart from a few earlybirders the town was very much asleep. I was checking my map to see if there was not a more interesting route to take back home as I was scared of falling asleep on my bike. I saw one or two other options, but they were actually leading further away from Cape Town. At least they would also eventually bring me back to the N7 which is the fast way  back to Cape Town. All of a sudden I was much more excited and eager to explore. So much that I didn't even stop for my coffee in Darling. I headed straight for what I thought was the road I saw on the map, but soon realized that I might be on the wrong road. What motivated me to go on and not turn around was the fact that the road became a gravel road after a couple of kilometers and I was determined to see where it was going to take me. Besides, how difficult could it be to get back to Cape Town from any road on this flat landscape?

Definitely not enough reason to turn around
The road which was perculiarly red in colour (I thought there was only sand in this part of the country) was rather smooth with some soft sand on top. This wasn't really a problem, as I could feel that the bike was quite stable on the surface. A bigger concern came when I reached a shallow drift filled with water. It wasn't very deep, but I was wondering what might lay ahead. I really didn't want to get stuck in water further down the road or turn around. I decided to continue my journey into the unknown. I had no idea where I was going, so when I reached a fork in the road with no signs I decided to consult my unreliable GPS. Boy, was I surprized. Not only was it able to tell me where I was, but it did so within 30 seconds. The fastest it ever managed to find a satelite. It was still another 25 kilometers before I would get to the N7, but knowing where I was gave me enough relief to take it slower and to take time off for some pictures.

Evidence of last week's cold front
Time to take out the GPS

The wheatfields of The Swartland
So where was I? Somewhere on a farm road between Darling and Malmesbury. Not really lost by all means, but lost in the bauty of my surroundings. This was the wheatfields of the Swartland. The pictures I took will not bring justice to the beauty of this area and while chatting to some contruction workers that were repairing a damaged low water bridge I had to point out to them that working where they are now compared to working in an air-cooled office in a city is a privilege that they should never underestimate. All they lacked was coffee, or at least, that is what I was lacking at that point.

Spot the mighty mountain in the background, top right
After another 10 km I reached the R45 which would bring me onto the N7. From there on it was straight back to the office. I arrived a bit later than anticipated, but still managed to walk in without being noticed. What I do know was that I started my morning the best way I could. I did 180 kilometres, some on gravel road and although I didn't get my coffee I still got much more than what I bargained for. On Thursday I will take my bike in for that 10 000 km service and her much deserved shampoo & wax.

So this is what the sole of a tree's foot looks like?

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