joBerg2c 2011 Day 5: Winterton to Kamberg
Hither and Thither
The Winterton venue is lovely, with the tented village and mechanics area set amongst some very old pines. It is also sprawling. So, when we were roused from our sleep quite a bit before we would like to have been getting up it turned out to be ‘a good thing’. With the campsite layout as it was we needed quite a bit of time to move between our tent, the washrooms and the food tent. Further complicating things, our mechanic was located on the farthest side of the camp from our tent. Our morning preparation time dwindled rapidly and we were really rushing as the start neared!
Another factor in the time management problem is the delicious breakfast on offer: bacon and eggs. This was a truly delicious change from the standard fare of oats porridge and as such, breakfast was not to be rushed.
Supposedly a Rest Day
As is usual now, the start is lead out by our Massey Ferguson tractor and we start the day on a 4km tar section that leads us directly to the farmlands and the single track that we are looking forward to. After some riding on district road we arrived at our first section of single track. Excepting that the single track turns out to be made up largely of recycled cattle paths. And so the brutal bouncing across tufty grass began. I was feeling tired from the days before, now being officially well beyond anything that I had previously cycled and I really battled over these sections. It is amazing how much additional effort is required to manage the bike across this sort of terrain.
Just after the first water table we come abruptly to a halt. The route takes us down past a very busy railway line (3 trains passed between the time we arrived at the table and finally got around the obstical) and we have to be cautious. Janine takes the opportunity to shrug her windcheater off. I don’t notice, and as a result she overtakes me, once passed the train, and I waste a good deal of time waiting for her, I think, to catch up! What a silly mistake to make…Oh well.
Oh! The Hills!
What is worrying is that ahead of us the 3 climbs for the day, simply named Hard, Harder and Hardest await. In that order.
‘Hard’ takes us up a district road from which riders are treated to wonderful views of the Wagensdrift Dam. It is surrounded by natural bush and is quite spectacular in the morning light. Quite a different view from the one presented to motorists on the N3 travelling back from Durban, which is the dam wall and its great spillway spray.
‘Harder’ was located in a private game reserve that we had the privilege of riding through (I think). The beauty of the reserve was distracting enough that this climb came and went.
‘Hardest’ comes into view from quite a ways off. It is an intimidating beast of a climb and, from a distance, the road appears as a vertical brown scar up the side of the hill small mountain that presents itself ahead. In getting to the base of the climb we are treated to the changing countryside in the form of the golden browns of leaves that are letting us know that winter is on its way. For this I am thankful, as once on the climb I am aware that the day has become hot, the air still and the sun bakes down on us riders relentlessly. I am relieved to reach the top, and the water table is a great excuse to get off the bike and relieve the butt.
Watched Over By The Drakensberg
The remainder of the day passes over the rolling KwaZulu-Natal hills and we get to trek through our second working dairy farm of the race. The Southern Drakensberg presents itself in full glory and I notice that ‘The Giant’ that looks down on the Giants Castle resort is easily visible. It is fantastic.
The race finishes with a tar section, a real treat for those tired legs. We end the day at Glengarry resort, tucked away as it is in the ‘Berg foothills. For those with aches and pains there is an icy ‘Berg river running through the resort and many took the opportunity to wallow in the shallow waters.
The local school has gone all out and the placemats at our tables are laminated drawings that the kids have worked on in the run-up to them hosting us. We are encouraged to take our placemat home, but unfortunately few riders do.
Our dinner is a rather tasty steak and gravy, fortunately different from previous evenings. Steak is clearly a popular choice amongst those who host the evenings festivities. There are also a great number of sweet-treats to choose from. Thank goodness there is no need to worry about a diet.