Boet Werrie June 19 Day 9: Newlands to Toekomst

We wanted to leave at 2am, but only got going at 3am – thanks JT.  There was a good reason why we wanted to push thru to Rockdale the evening before.  The next day would have been 28km shorter.  That 28km took us 3 hours to ride.  You climb for 26km to get into the Mountain Zebra national park.

When we eventually got to Rockdale we were very happy about sleeping over at Newlands.  Rockdale is an old dilapidated farmhouse.  There were only a few mattresses and 2 sleeping bags, no hot water and no electricity, only a primus stove.  The house was very cold, although it did shade us from the rain.  We made a few mugs of coffee before taking on the Schufteberg portage.  It’s not very challenging navigation wise, but the soft mud underfoot made for slow going.  And it was snot freezing cold, so the descent on the other side was very not enjoyable.  
I would like to do the downhill on a warm day again, because I think you can go completely bonkers and will have one of the bigger smiles on your face when you do eventually get to the bottom of it!

It’s a long stretch of farm roads to Grootdam.  Grootdam is pleasantly warm bushveld country.  It’s only about 25km (as the crow flies) from Schufteberg, but it’s a totally different world.  I was only riding with my short sleeve shirt on.  We had a delicious brunch of thick soup, and vetkoek and mince.  

We were ready to tackle the Struishoek portage, or so we thought…

A mountain bikers’ worst nightmare is not to work your butt of going up a long climb. It is to not be able to enjoy the fruits of your hard work going up that long climb.  Struishoek is basically a 15km long climb on a rock strewn jeep track, interspersed ever 50m by drainage mounds.  It takes about 2h30m to get to the nek.  You breathe a sigh of relieve and ride a total of 500m on flat ground, when a confused look appear on all newbies’ faces.

The local farmer has painted some rocks white to show the route down the beautiful valley.  If not for these white rocks, you would not believe that you have to go down this nightmare.  It takes about 2 hours carrying your bike down the 5.6km.  Uhmmm, all part of the adventure I suppose. 

Leon suffered from shin splints – he did not enjoy this particular section one little bit.  I took in the beautiful scenery, some photos and had a quiet chuckle about this little piece of heaven.  This is how the trail should be.

The Struishoek decsent – at the top

We made good time to the Gegun farmstead and had a quick dinner of frozen farmer style curry & rice.  For once we were in and out in 30min – with JT nogal hurrying me to get going.  And then the night adventure to Toekomst started.  We took a little detour to the Van Deventer’s farmstead, because I made a 200m miss calculation.  Only a couple km of extra riding, no harm done.
Struishoek portage – on the way down
Struishoek portage – when you eventually get to the bottom.

We entered the Koedoeskop Game Farm, where there are a tremendous amount of jeep tracks to follow.  And we spent some time following a few of them.  This must be a really beautiful place to see in daylight.  We eventually got onto the right track and made good time up to the electrified game fence.  The gate was locked, but the narratives indicate that there is a place in a stream where you can crawl under the fence. 

Leon thought he punctured his rear tyre and we promptly got out some tyre sealant to fix the problem.  Leon used his specialized pump, but it broke.  So I got my pump out.  After inflating his tyre, the sealant was pouring out of the valve near the rim.  So we took the tyre off and replaced the valve, poured more sealant in and tried to inflate the tyre using the pump.  The tyre did not want to seal, so we used a CO2 canister (bomb) to get air quickly into the tyre.  It’s not a good idea to inflate tyres with sealant, with a CO2 bomb, because the CO2 reacts with the sealant and the sealant is then not very effective. 

After a couple more attempts to get the tyre to seal, we saw that the rim tape inside the valve got damaged.  Nothing we could do but put in a tube.  However this is camel thorn country, and thorns and tubes don’t go well together.  It was cold, we were tired and it was past midnight.  First Leon double checked his tyre to remove all old thorns still stuck in it.  But he rushed the job a bit and pinched his tube putting it into the tyre.  Filled the tube with slime and attempted to inflate it, without success.  Throughout this ordeal JT, decided to take a snooze right in the middle of operation tyre fix.  He was snoring within 10 seconds of curling up.  We unfortunately had to wake him to get a spare tube from him.

Fixing a puncture in the dead of the night

We were out of bombs, had 1 last tube of slime and JT’s spare tube.  We went about fixing this tyre very diligently and it held!  Needless to say we took it very easy riding out of this valley, with Leon riding right at the back so that if there are any thorns on the jeep track either me or JT would pick it up. .We had a special moment where we rode into a few giraffe.  They were very inquisitive, up to a point where they were only 5m away.

We eventually got to Toekomst at about 1:30am.  It was a 230km, 24hour day.  At least we had some nice war stories.  As we got to the farm house mansion, delirious JT thought it a good idea to ring the doorbell.  And the farm owner (Philip) promptly welcomed us at the door dressed in his nighties!  We were showed our room and then fed.  If this happened at my house, JT would have been shot…

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