Discussing this mission over a few beers - mostly what equipment we didn't have and still need to get - the plan manifested into a three-day ride along arguably some of the most scenic stretches of beach in South Africa. Being novices at this, we decided to keep it simple and ride from Wilderness to Knysna, averaging about 30km a day stopping at backpackers along the way. That may sound like a short daily stint, and it is, but with so many unknowns of fatbikability, heavy luggage and never intending to pedal all day to begin with, we agreed that this would fit in better with our beer drinking schedule.
Fatbikability (I’m claiming the term if it hasn’t yet been) is limited among other things, by reef or otherwise long sections of jagged rock that won’t be kind to the very exposed and vulnerable fat tyres. Reaching a section of coastline that is simply impassable, could force us to double back and find a way around - typically along the N2 or a quieter alternative if available. This would make the pedal considerably longer, and needless to say road riding was something we wanted to avoid at all cost. Google Maps gave us the green light in terms of impassable sections, however Murphy has a knack for showing up in situations like these. Opting to stay in backpackers instead of camping, meant we saved a bit on overall weight, however the combined additional weight of racks, panniers and camera/video equipment still affected the average speed as to be expected. Our luggage consisted of fresh clothes for three days, basic toiletries, water/snacks and some plastic, as meals and beers were to be bought in the towns we were staying at.
Starting our journey in Wilderness immediately had me planning my opening shot of us crossing the Kaaimans River bridge from Victoria Bay’s side, however multiple cautionary tales of muggings and close calls with scum had us deviate from this plan. It’s unfortunate that such beauty has to be tainted by evil, but such is the story of South Africa I guess. Leentjiesklip was to be our new starting point from where we would pedal to Sedgefield, timing our ride with low tide to access the hard sand closer to water. Inevitably, the shape of the coastline forced us up and away from the hard stuff from time to time, meaning energy-sapping, slow progress as the sun baked down from above.
Starfish, blobs of jelly, low tide reef formations, colorful coral, lone fishermen, and a cool breeze from the ocean escorted us to our mid ride stop at Gericke’s Point. We passed long stretches of unscathed beach only accessible during low tide, with not a soul in sight. Flocks of Cape cormorant huddled together further ahead or performed low level formation flying millimeters above the water. It really is a very special landscape to be passing through, only leaving temporary tracks to be erased by nature in minutes.
Arriving at Sedgefield, we pulled in to Afro Cafe where we would be stationed for the night, and headed straight for the downstairs restaurant, Pili Pili. The next two hours would consist of consuming fresh hake & chips and as many ice cold beers as seemed appropriate. Bikes washed, we lounged about and killed time as the midday sun scorched the earth, before heading downtown to sample the local pub life.
Up at the crack of dawn, we headed downtown once again to stock up on snacks and fresh water for the next leg of our journey, but Murphy had other plans. The freehub body on Dayle’s bike disintegrated and had to be rebuilt roadside, as we were in the wee hours of the morning and the local bike shop not open yet. Luckily, having racked up years of first hand technical experience in the bike industry, Dayle literally MacGyver’d his wheel back to (almost) new by using a bottle cap, leatherman, some dental floss and some patience.
Stay tuned for the next part of this trip as we head out to our next stop, Buffelsbaai...
This project is made possible by:
Leentjies Klip GPS: 33°59'42.8"S 22°33'55.8"E
Riders : Dayle Holmes | Danie du Toit
All images by Ewald Sadie