After four days of riding my legs had started to come alive and I frantically clung onto Jan and Erik’s wheels over a mixture of punchy rollers and seemingly endless, but gradual climbs which characterised the day. The upside of all that climbing was some seriously fast and fun downhills which, thankfully, were all void of any aggressive turns.
The condition of the roads through the week through largely remote, rural areas has been impressive. The harsh corrugations I’d anticipated were few and far between. By and large the surfaces on flatter stretches have been smooth and hard packed while a handful of the climbs and descents have offered more of a challenge. Overall my semi-slick tyres have faired impressively well. With the benefit of hindsight (and some better planning) I would still opt for something with some tread to help keep traction and speed through turns.
After forty kilometres of rolling climbs in steadily climbing heat our intersection of the Duiwenhoksrivier was the perfect opportunity beer stop. Shoes and helmets off we all found a rock perch in the stream to cool off and allow the back markers to catch up.
It took a bit of will power for us to depart this idyllic impromptu rest stop for the final half of the day. Once again I clung onto faster wheels as we powered over two of the bigger climbs of the day in searing thirty-five degree temperatures. A tailwind was helping us along at a good pace, but meant there was little escaping the radiating heat.
From the sixty-two kilometer mark it was largely downhill to the finish in Suurbrak where we enjoyed some ice cold beers and super sized chicken mayo roosterkoek. After a few rounds of “cheers” with fellow participants we jumped into the shuttle bound for our final overnight stop in Swellendam.
What a privilege to have been part of this wholly unique experience. As a rider I’ve not needed to worry about a thing week short of turning pedals and (over)indulging in food and drink. The crew, who seamlessly form an integral part of the experience, have kept all the wheels turning as we migrated across the Cape.
Look out for a "Bikes of Tour de Braai" feature next week where we'll take a look at a selection of the bikes on the Tour.
The next tour takes place in May 2018.