Boet Werrie June 18 Day 8: Romansfontein to Newlands

We only left at 5:30am.  Leon, Picasso and I were always fairly organised in the mornings and at soup stops.  It was a case of getting up, get food down and get going.  Enter Jacques Tattersall…  Our customary 45/30 min in the mornings/soup stops turned into 1h30m – 2 hours in the mornings and 1 hour for soup stop.  He just can’t get going.  Different story when he’s on the bike though.  The problem of wasting time like this is that you spend much more time on the bike at the end of the day, always at night.  But alas, he makes up for it with his very witty, dry sense of humour.

At the start of the ride, Jacques (JT) rode with Picasso, whilst Leon and I were galloping like runaway horses at the front.  When we got to the turnoff to the Aasvoëlberg portage, only Jacques emerged from the darkness.  Picasso wasn’t feeling too good and decided to turn back.  I had mixed feelings about this.  A bit guilty about our galloping pace upfront, but also so relieved that I’m away from Picasso’s always negative presence.  Picasso went back to Romansfontein, got some rest in (and some spray painting…), and got going again around late morning, without his helmet.  When/how he found this out I don’t know, but he had to turn around again to go fetch it.  I suppose he knows the route out of Romansfontein by heart now. 

JT is a blanket wearer and has done the Race to Cradock earlier in the year.  He knows the route fairly well, but still made use of his maps.  He enlarged the normal maps, and made clear narratives on it – fairly detailed, i.e. pass old car wreck on left; left at 2nd fallen tree; etc.  However, Leon & I devised a system that worked for us.  I kept track of the narratives and distances between, he was using his compass extensively with the maps.  So JT just grunted his confirmations about our decisions every now and then, not interfering at all.

The Aasvoëlberg portage is a bit of a slog on the ascent side (JT helped us in not slogging up all the way, with a well-timed short-cut) and one of the best downhills of the route.  It’s flowy, includes a few speed humps and goes on for miles.  Leon and I had some serious kids’ fun, elderly statesman JT took the more conservative option.  To top it off we were accompanied by a few reedbucks on the way down as well.
An old car wreck on Aasvoëlberg

At the top of Aasvoëlberg


The riding to Hofmeyer is on fast flat dirt roads, so a bored JT pulled Leon apart a bit.  He ended up calling Leon:”Brackenfellar”.  Partly because Leon grew up in Brackenfell, but more because of Leon’s nature to say things before he thinks.  I suspect that he had some really big friends when he grew up to protect him after he blew his mouth off.  He is a really funny person.

We had the famous, sumptuous pies at the Karoobos Padstal.  A beautiful padstal that we suspected is the hub of the town.
Karoobos Padstal in Hofmeyer

Fuelled up properly we headed to the Elandsberg portage.  The narratives for this little beauty will have to be re-measured by the race office.  I was very thankful for riding with JT and doing it in daylight.  There were quite a few newbies that slept out on this portage.

House in the Karoo

The Elandsberg support station is a very old, but very beautiful farm house.  With old wooden floors and thick internal walls (app 1m in width), this house has got a special charm, as if it wants to tell you its history.  Whilst stuffing our faces on the great spread, a dassie ran under the table between our feet.  It turns out the she’s tame, but is not too fond of Liezel’s youngest daughter.

On route to Newlands, we’re fortunate enough to pass through Spekboomberg nature reserve.  We saw lots of animals, including quite a few sable antelopes.  These animals go for between R500k and R6m a piece!  We heard lions roar on quite a few occasions, so did not linger too long.

When you exit the nature reserve, you get to the Graaff-Reinet tar road.  We only rode on this road for 2km, but were in more danger than anywhere else on the route.  It was late Sunday afternoon, and there were a lot of CA taxis going home.

We planned to go to Rockdale, but when we got to Newlands, we were won over by the warm hospitality of the farmer and his family.  They’ve got 2 boys the same age as my own.  I missed them so much, that I ended up having a proper wrestle and pillow fight with them.  We chased each other thru the house, luckily not breaking anything. 

Pierre and Azelia just let us be – all were having fun.

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