55km from Mossel Bay to Albertinia
120km to Swellendam
50km to Athlone (and a lift for 120km to Paarl!)
100km to Hout Bay, Cape Town
21,508km so far!
In one year I have cycled from London to Ankara and then from Cairo to Cape Town. It has been an uplifting journey as I have unforgettable experiences and made friends along the way who I hope to see again. But Africa has not been without its challenges and my last few days cycling to Cape Town were no exception.
From Mossel Bay I continued along the N2 to Swellendam and then headed north on the R60, and then onto the R62 at Athlone towards Paarl. From Paarl I cycled South via Stellenbosch onto Baden Powell drive, along the coast for a while and then across the Cape, over the beautiful Chapman’s peak and then down to Hout Bay.
On the first day, crazy winds (and the hills) forced me to do a short day to Albertinia. At the B&B, the owners not only refused to take my money but they also told me that if everyone was like me the world would be a better place. This help and words of support meant a lot to me. The generosity and the kindness of people across Africa has been incredible.
The next day the wind seemed to be getting stronger. I pushed on until late and into the darkness to reach Swellendam. It was a decent sized town with a good backpackers lodge. But the wind was swirling like a hurricane and a leaf hit me in the eye. More painful than you would think!
I wondered if this storm got any worse if I would be able to cycle at all the next day. Well, I tried but it was a hellish day of stormy headwind and it was a huge struggle. At the point where the almost impossible conditions had finished me off, I lay on the grass at Athlone. It had taken almost 6 hours to do just 50km.
My new friend Jeremy in Paarl came to collect me and drove me the rest of the way over a very high mountain pass to Paarl.
That night we tried his wine, “Painted Wolf”, which was amazing. Also part of the profits go to help protect African wild dogs which are highly endangered. He also runs a charity called Pedals 4 Paws. They cycle to raise awareness and funds for African wild dogs and they also work with a number of other conservation charities.
In the morning we visited a wine shop called the Thirsty Cyclist! I had to get my photo taken of course 🙂
The final 100km to Cape Town was much better. The wind had died down a little and although it had left a lot of tree branches in the road, the route down to Stellenbosch an then down to Baden Powell drive was not only scenic but also without the headwind I reached the coast without much difficulty. On one side I had the rough waves of the sea crashing against the Cape’s sandy beaches while on the other side I was flanked by slums with corrugated tin shacks stretching out for miles.
The climb up Chapman’s peak was actually quite easy and it was very very beautiful. The breathtaking view of the mountains of the cape against the expanse of the ocean was a fitting finale for my African adventure.
I stayed with an old schoolfriend, Brian Palmer, took a well earned rest and checked out the sights, including a cable car to the top of Table Mountain. And a day later I celebrated with Alex Rossello, who had cycled with me for most of Africa but had decided to go to Cape Town via Namibia and the Kalahari desert. Quite an achievement.
And now what? I am currently in Vienna with my family, and then I fly to Colombia to see my girlfriend and start cycling around South America. I must admit I am just a little excited!!!