(77) The final leg
Monday 21st October
We woke in the hostel in Cape Agulhus and took it easy trying to get our clothes dry as we had washed pretty much all of them which seemed to bring on a heavy rain storm just to help out. It was a nice morning and we enjoyed our toast and honey before saying goodbye to some of the other guests and the lovely owner. We headed out of Cape Agulhas and turned onto the gravel road. It was good going with a slight tail wind and a good surface we spotted a baby ostrich in the way (didn’t manage to catch a shot though!)
We were flying along and soon reached the turn for Die dam. As we were riding a car pulled alongside and asked what we were doing – Bobby and Helen were on holiday and they offered us a place to stay at their B&B. We exchanged numbers and headed on in disbelief and excitement of having another bed for the night!
We reached Die dam and found it to be a tiny settlement on the edge of the ocean surrounded by white sandy beaches. It was stunning and there was no-one around.
We stopped for lunch and a cupper and with the offer of a bed for the night we followed the coast to Pearly beach. It didn’t take long to get there and we got chatting to some local guys practising a local game called Jukskei which was a bit like skittles. Jukskei is believed to have originated around 1743 in the Cape. It was developed by “transport riders” who travelled with ox-drawn wagons and they used the wooden pins of the yokes of the oxen to throw at a stick that was planted into the ground. We had a go which was fun, Tim showed promise but clearly needing more practice we rode on to see if we could see any whales.
We were in the main whale watching area and within a few minutes we saw one. It was fascinating to watch. We watched it for a while but with a chilly wind we got going stopping in a pub for a quick beer.
We got a call from Bobby saying the B&B was further on and the original one was full so we re-joined the highway and headed to Gansbaai. As we were gently helped along by a breeze we passed through our 16,000 mile mark and stopped to celebrate with the last of our port. It was so hard to think that we had ridden another thousand miles.
We rode on and soon arrive in Gansbaai and found the B&B. It was so nice and we had a quick shower as we were soon heading out for dinner. We were joined by a very nice lady called Dee who worked there and enjoyed a nice steak and great company. Well felt so lucky to have met such great people.
Tuesday 22nd October
After another night of kindness and wonderful company we got up to find Bobby and Helen already gone and heading to Cape Town. We made a cupper and chatted to Dee wishing her luck on her dream of teaching English in China. We headed into town to buy things that would make us fat and got chatting to some very nice people. Everyone was so supportive offering us places to stay or words of encouragement. We left town stopping in a few places to watch the whales jump out the water or blow a few bubbles to let us know where they were. As we headed towards Harmanus the road climbed this time with a head wind making us a bit slower.
We reached Stanford and stopped for a coke and rode on to have lunch. It was a nice spot where we stopped with a mountain range behind us and wild flowers around us – it was very pretty. We finished our cheese and beetroot sandwiches and got going.
It was 20 miles of mountains to our right and river and lake to our left until it broke out into the ocean. We soon arrived in Harmanus where we pulled up to watch the whales which were very close to the coast. They looked so graceful as they meandered along rolling over with the odd one popping its’ fin out of the water.
As we watched as a traffic warden tried giving us a parking ticket as we were parked in a car parking space to which we laughed at as there was of-course no registration number or anything to identify the bikes. A few locals said something but the lady was determined to do something. She eventually gave up when there was really no way of attaching a ticket to a bicycle…
We had arranged to meet with Alex who was the first person to introduce ShelterBox to South Africa. We were soon drinking hot chocolate and chatting about his involvement with the charity.
It was really great to chat and we were reminded yet again why we were supporting them and how much work is done behind the scenes with many disasters going unreported but still supported by this amazing charity. After a few pictures we said goodbye when a friend of our friend Richard Kettering (who lived there and we had met in Ethiopia) spotted us. He was a great guy and once we had chatted to him and his wife, a few others arrived wanting to chat to us too. It was quite amazing.
We finally got going, managing to book a cage dive with great white sharks for the following day. It was something we had wanted to do for many years. We made our way to meet Frank a Rotarian who had offered to host us – the Rotary are significant supporters of ShelterBox so had kindly agreed to host us. After a few wrong turns finding ourselves riding through a township and waving to a lot of people who were all very nice, we finally got to meet Frank and made our way to his house. We were immediately made to feel very much at home and met his lovely wife Ninky. They cooked a delicious meal and we enjoyed a very nice evening feeling very lucky to be there.
Wednesday 23rd October
We got up at 6.30 to get ready for shark diving. Frank drove us to meet our lift to the bay just south of Hermanus and after about 40 minutes we arrived at the centre and had a safety briefing. We boarded the boat full of excitement and were soon 4 miles out. It was only minutes before the first shark arrived. Shaz went in the cage first and had a great time amazed by how close they got – they were absolutely stunning and clearly very powerful. Tim went next and then we got to go in together. We were both thrilled by the experience and were humbled to be in the presence of such incredible creatures. We saw about 7 in total – the longest was 3.5 metres long but they can grow to nearly twice that length. A great white shark can have a life span of over 30 years and once mature can accelerate to speeds that exceed 35 mph – they are extremely quick for their size. The dive companies attract the sharks by running tuna heads through the water so we smelt delightful when we got out of the water.
After far too much excitement, we headed back to Frank’s and arranged to meet Richard Ketteringham in town for a drink. We hadn’t seen him since Ethiopia when we stayed at Lake Tana where he’s based and it was good to see him again. He drove us around showing us his favourite beach spots before we had a beer at a bar with a great view of the bay. Time passed quickly and we headed back to a delicious fish supper cooked by Frank.
Thursday 24th October
We woke again in a comfy bed in a wonderful home to join frank for breakfast to a delicious breakfast of fruit, yogurt and muesli. We’d really enjoyed our time with Frank and Ninky; they were a super couple and would miss spending time with them.
We headed off around 9am and with a tail wind we soon got to Betty’s bay and meeting on the road a cyclist called Jan who invited use for a drink at his house. We enjoyed meeting Jan and his wife in their lovely home and chatting about Jan’s passion for cycling.
We carried on along the beautiful coastline. We stopped to take pictures every 5 minutes!
We saw signs for a penguin colony further along Betty’s bay and turned along the road to pay them a visit. They were so cute but quite smelly! We watched them for ages they were so entertaining!
The coastline continued to be beautiful towards the town of Strand and we stopped for a pie in a small village.
We finally made it to the pretty town of Stellenbosh where we would head west towards Cape Town the following day. Stellenbosh is famous for its stunning oak trees and vineyards.
While Tim was shopping in Spar, Sharon was waiting outside and was approached by a lovely lady called Flo who invited us to stay in her home for the night. We immediately said yes! So Flo gave us directions and we ended up at their stunning home on an exclusive golf course. We had dinner with her husband Tiaan and daughter Ame. After chatting for a while we found out that Tiaan was not only a keen cyclist but also a former professional rugby player! Tiaan represented both South Africa and Australia at International level in rugby union and also played top-level domestic rugby league in Australia. He won the Rugby World Cup with Australia and the Currie Cup with Western Province. It was a lovely evening spending time with such an amazing, kind and humble family.
Friday 25th October
With Cape Town our last and final destination for the Africa leg of our journey and a weather forecast of heavy rain ahead we got up early and joined Flo and Amy for breakfast. With fresh fruit and yogurt on the table we were off to a good start – we hoped to reach Cape Town later that day. We said goodbye to Flo and Ame as they were off to school then we loaded the last of our things and were shortly joined by Tiaan. With another coffee under our belt we headed outside and convinced Tiaan to have a go on Tim’s bike. Unconvinced in swopping places with us we rode off saying our thanks and joined the highway.
The road was busy and would only get busier towards the city. We soon left the wine region behind and reached some townships which we had been warned about but everyone smiled and waved or said hello.We also passed a large strawberry farm-
We joined the N2 highway which would lead us into the centre of the city.
With every junction we waited till the last minute before crossing the side roads at 90 degrees and getting to the safety of the next hard shoulder. We covered the miles quickly and soon arrived at the outskirts of the city with Table Mountain towering like a huge wall in front of us. Were we really here – it was so hard to believe and with no reference other than what was around us it didn’t feel real at all. It felt like ages before we finally reached the centre and as we headed for the harbour we met the harbour master and docking master. They were real nice guys asking what we were doing. We explained and they asked when we had reached Cape Town to which we replied ‘now’. They then said this is amazing and were excited to be the first people to congratulate us and after which offered to give us a lift back to Somerset West later where we would be staying with Justin and his family. We took some photos and enjoyed a pint of ale to celebrate. Which we did in a sort of disbelief and are we here and was it us that did it sort of way and were sure it would take a while to sink in.
After an hour or so the guys called us and said they were ready to take us to Somerset West and we were soon arriving at Justin’s house.
It was so great to see Justin again and we were instantly made to feel at home. We had our own anix where we could organise ourselves which was great knowing how much stuff we had. We met Emma their nanny and before long Chrisna returned home with their 2 children Matthew and Jayden. It soon became clear that we were going to feel very at home with this family and we were looking forward to getting to know them.
Saturday 26th October
We went to Jayden and Matthew’s sports day which was a great morning out. It was much like one in England with lots of proud parents and tea and cake!
The boys did really well and both won medals – they were stars.
Justin had arranged a VIP spot in a nightclub in town that evening as an early birthday surprise for Tim. An even bigger surprise was that they were going to treat us to an outfit to wear! Our clothes bags didn’t host anything fancy so we were so chuffed. Shaz and Chrisna skipped off to the shops and came back with a shirt and shoes for Tim and a dress (yes a dress!) and earrings for Shaz! Amazing. We felt a million dollars as we travelled into Cape Town all dressed up ready for a great night out. They treated us to a delicious meal before we hit the dance floor and enjoyed a great evening.
Sunday 27th October
Almost afraid to open our eyes after a night in a club, surprisingly we weren’t too bad but we were still very tired. Tim went down to see if Justin and Christna were up. Sharon remained in bed until 2pm while Tim drifted in and out of watching the Indian Grand Prix. Cristina made wicked bacon and egg sandwiches while Tim tried to get refreshed by jumping in the pool with the boys and all his clothes.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing while everyone popped out. With pizza on the menu for the evening we were very happy. It had been so kind of them to organise a birthday party even though it wouldn’t be Tim’s 40th for another 4 weeks. It was so thoughtful and very kind – we were so lucky to know these guys.
Monday 28th October – Wednesday 6th November
We woke every morning feeling at home which was such a great feeling. During our time with Justin and Chrisna we got so many jobs done as well as having lots of fun. Justin was a great organiser and spent a lot of time on the phone organising things for us.
One thing on the list was a trip to the dentist for Tim and a trip to the health clinic for both of us for hepatitis jabs that had run their course. These we ended up having for free once the nurse found out what we were doing – an incredible generous gesture. Whilst we were in Cape town one thing Tim had wanted to do was give blood and he managed to rope Sharon and Justin in as well by mentioning that they served free tea and cake after. We arrived at the hospital and were soon lined up in a row all squeezing atrigger with blood going into a bag. It was soon over and a cup of tea and biscuit was in hand. We all vowed to do it more often as it’s another way of helping anyone who really needs it (and we got a free bag and pen much to Sharon’s delight!)
That evening we made Justin and Chrisna a 3 course meal of salmon, egg and mayo for starter and roast beef with all the trimmings for main and ‘Eaten mess’ for desert. We gave them a candle lit dinner and waited on them for the evening before joining them for desert. It was so nice as with Justin being away for them to relax was brilliant. We enjoyed the rest of the evening relaxing with them ready for an early start.
On the Tuesday morning we got up early for a Rotary meeting that we had been invited to on behalf of ShelterBox’s director Dave Moss. Tracey who’s a ShelterBox Response Team member (SRT) kindly picked us up for an early start. It was so nice to meet such a great group of people and towards the end of the meeting we did a 5 minute overview of our trip. We arranged to meet up with Tracey again later in the week. We were dropped home and we carried on with our ‘to do’ list.
During the week Tim washed the tent, the bikes and the panniers something that was long overdue. We also bought pieces of kit that we needed – for Shaz a new pair of cycling shoes and a warmer sleeping bag (which we bought at Camp and Climb who very kindly gave us a 10% discount), Tim bought a new pair of over-shorts as his old ones had worn through after a year and 5 months on the road and knowing his cycle shorts were now see throw it was a must. We also both bought new warm socks ready for the chill of Pategonia and various parts for the bikes. We treated ourselves to a new food bag as our old one was falling apart and a new flint for the stove. Sharon was treated to some new clothes by her best friend Katie and it was great to have a new wardrobe!
As regular followers you will know, we love food. During the week we were treated to some delicious home cooked food from Chrisna. We enjoyed a fish dish – the fish was called snooki that we’d never heard of but it was delicious. We had curried lamb, a potjiekoand other lovely dishes – it was amazing.
During our time there, Tim did some jobs around the house, one of which was fitting an outside tap. Not being able to find the shut-off valve he did it live and was soon covered in water. After a few goes it finally was sorted with a very wet lawn and a very soaked Tim.
While we had been on the road from Pretoria Sharon had picked up a problem with her Rohloff hub regarding an issue with a part inside the hub. Rohloff had been amazing and had sent a replacement hub to Cape town which would be exchanged for the old one. During the week we rang Rohloff for information on where the new hub was only to find it had been held at customs. We gave the info to Justin who had a cousin who worked at FedEx. It had been cloud over our heads especially with what happened in Khartoum and with Justin getting the ball moving, we knew it would all soon be sorted. By the next day it the hub had been realised and the part was couriered directly to the bike shop to save time at no cost to us – we were so grateful for everyone’s help and all we needed now was to get the hub fitted.
Mid-week we had a massage booked by Justin and seeing as we hadn’t had one since we left home it was just what we needed. We arrived at the Thai clinic where we sat for a few minutes before a small Thai lady led Sharon off to a room. Then it was Tim’s turn with a rather more ‘butch’ Thai lady who came and led him down to the same room. Oh the pain, the bones clicking and muscles being pushed into different shapes that were never meant for but it was amazing and just what we needed. By the time we came out Tim was struggling to stay awake – nice.
On the Thursday evening, we were invited out for a braai at Tiaan and Flo’s house who we had met in Stellenbosh a week earlier. We soon made it there and were greeted by Tiaan. He already had the fire lit and showed us to his wine cellar with vintage wines and a few massive ones that held 14 litres of red wine with a photo of him playing rugby on it. We soon met Flo again and we enjoyed an amazing evening with such wonderful people making us feel so lucky to have met them all.
As we were in the famous Stellenbosch wine region it seemed a waste not to do a tour and the following day we did just that! The South African wine industry produces about 1,000,000,000 litres of wine annually and the region we were in has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cool wet winters. Stellenbosch lies at the foot of the Cape Fold mountain range, which provides soil favourable to wine making.
Justin and Chrisna took us on a tour and we started off at a stunning estate and were soon enjoying 5 different wines. Justin also treated us to a brandy in a chocolate cup – all this before 11am! They took us out for a delicious lunch ready for the afternoon tastings.
At the second wine farm, with a lady that wasn’t very welcoming needless to say we didn’t stay too long and headed off to another estate that was owned by Flo’s brother. The lady who served us was lovely and made for the previous experience. She didn’t charge us for tasting and we bought 2 bottles of white wine which would have been more if we hadn’t been flying out in a few days.
We headed home and with woolly heads we got ready to go to Matthew and Jayden’s school Christmas play. It was awesome watching both Jayden Matthew with Matthew as the leading part and preforming a cartwheel and the splits on stage! Although we weren’t part of their family we felt so proud of them and made us miss home and our family even more. We headed home where Chrisna cooked a delicious meal for us and her parents. They were so nice and was nice to chat to them. We had been made to feel so much at home and part of their family – we were dreading leaving.
We of-course had to fit in a trip to Table Mountain during our time there and our wonderful hosts took us there first thing in the morning to miss the rush. We were soon in the cable car and enjoyed a great few hours at the top.
Jayen on the left and Matthew on the right
On the way home we took the scenic route and stopped to make them a cup of tea on our stove Shaz and Tim style!
On the Saturday we headed out with Chrisna under the guise of her taking us out for coffee in the direction of Cape Town. Justin had stayed behind with the boys to have some time with them. On the way Sharon presented Tim with a piece of paper saying that we weren’t going for coffee but that Tim was going paragliding as an early 40th birthday present. It had been paid for by Sharon’s parents, Tim’s parents, Tim’s sister’s family and Sharon. He was chuffed to bits. We reached the base of Table Mountain and headed to a spur called Signal Hill. The weather was perfect and after watching one person fly off the steep slope to the valley below it got Tim very excited. It wasn’t long before they were kitted up and ready to jump and with a short wait for the wind to change he was off flying above the bay and over the city.
It was brilliant. The visibility was amazing and Tim flying above one of the most iconic cities in the world was just magic and topped off with an ice-cream afterwards it was perfect.
A few days before we were due to leave Justin headed back to Botswana. He went to pack and soon returned with a small case ready to leave. It had been great to see him again and we agreed to meet again somewhere in the world. We thanked him for everything and sadly waved goodbye as Chrisna drove him off to the airport. We stayed behind to play with the boys which was quite tiring – they had soooo much energy! We managed to Skype home later which was great and so nice to see our family who we missed so much.
We also got a call from Dave Moss who was the current ShelterBox director for South Africa to say that our meeting with the press that had been arranged for the following day was off. We were so disappointed – feeling despondent we relaxed in front of the TV before heading to bed. We did however arrange to meet him for a drink with his wife and Tracy.
2 days before we were due to leave and after a few phone calls we finally had the wheel delivered to us for Tim to fit. Unfortunately Guy the bike mechanic had been sick but he still managed to sort the wheel before we left. With the wheel in our possession Guy headed off to recover in bed while Tim fitted it only to find it wasn’t engaging drive. Thinking that the nylon plugs must have been missed out when fitting it, Sharon rang Guy before he got too far away. Tim and Guy took the hub apart and as thought inserted the missing plugs. It was soon back together and spinning nicely on Sharon’s bike. What a relief.
That evening, Tim managed to download a data recovery program to try and recover some lost pictures. With the data recovery finished Tim climbed out of bed to save the pictures only to find it wasn’t a free program that it had advertised but a premum one and wanted $140 for the privilege gutted. Tim tried downloading another recovery program which didn’t do anything and along with trying to get maps on to GPS things just weren’t happening. Needing someone who was good with computers we left it and continued with the blog.
On the Tuesday we met Dave Moss and his wife who had driven down to meet us and Tracey in Somerset West. Tracy was a very inspiring lady who worked for Canterbury clothing who make the kit for the Springboks and the British rugby team. As we mentioned she is also an SRT and was recently posted to Mozambique where ShelterBox actually decided to stand down as it was decided they weren’t needed. SRT’s carry this responsibly when they arrive at a disaster zone. We enjoyed a few beers with them all and talk about ShelterBox’s work, giving us a revived flame to why we are doing this challenge. We were issued with new ShelterBox t-shirts for the next leg and some more stickers for our bikes. Dave seemed positive to sorting out connections in the Americas for us through the Rotary which we appreciated and the hope in raising some more funds for them. We thanked them for meeting us and Tracy dropped us back. It was great to meet her and we would definitely keep in touch.
On the Tuesday before we flew, we had our first interview with a lady called Orielle from Cape community newspaper. She had lots of questions and it was great to share about our trip with someone so enthusiastic.
The day before we left, Tim weighed each bag making boxes for our luggage and ensured everything was where it was meant to be. We headed out to the post office at lunch time picking up Sharon’s waterproof socks that Fabrizzio had kindly posted from Heilbron. We headed to the mall picking up a map of South America and a few other things we needed and stopped for lunch. Heading back it felt weird knowing tomorrow we would be flying to a different continent and would give us a totally different perspective on how far we had travelled. Worried about the size of the bike boxes Sharon checked the website to find what we had was well under the size and weight limit. We then relaxed and slowly ticked off the small things left that we hadn’t completed. Chrisna came home and made us a delicious dinner which gave us time to speak to family before relaxing in front of the TV for our last night in South Africa.
Thursday 7th November
With a few last bits to pack before we were ready and a bit of work to do before we left, made a cupper and got to work. Helped along by a strong coffee, we wrote the last few emails and had some breakfast. We always felt no matter how much time we had we never seemed to catch up on ourselves. We got a phone call from the Die Burger newspaper which is distributed across the Western Cape and did an over the phone interview. It was good fun especially as the reporter was very nice and had loads of interesting questions!
With our room clear we sat and had lunch. Chrisna arrived back from work with the boys which gave Tim a last chance to jump on the trampoline with them.
We managed to speak to home and wish Sharon’s dad Martin a happy birthday before it was time for the off. We loaded the pickup and said goodbye to the boys.
They had been so much fun and would really miss them. Thanking Emma for helping us we jumped in the car and headed to the airport.
We couldn’t beleave this was the end of our first leg and our second continent. South Africa has some of the kindest and most generous people on our trip. We were so happy to have made time for this country and on leaving we felt we needed to return to be able to enjoy it fully. We had been made to feel so at home in all kinds of places – not just people’s homes but on farms, holiday houses, gardens and beaches. South Africa was brilliant.
We reached the airport and unloaded our kit onto trolleys. We had a lot of stuff but at least it was in 2 boxes which made it easier to lug around. We gave Chrisna several hugs – she and Justin had been such a good friends and so much fun to be around. We would really miss them and the true feeling of how amazing they had been would take time to absorb.
After trying to delay our goodbye with a couple more hugs we made our way to check in. We headed to the tax desk as Tim had read we could claim the tax on all the goods that we had bought in South Africa. Just then Sharon realised she had left her sleeping bag in the car and after a panicked call to Chrisna she was outside dropping off the missing bag! It took 10 minutes to go through some receipts and we ended up claiming £30 back. Brilliant. We then went to check in where Tim waited for Sharon to strip the willow and weave up and down the barriers until it was our turn. Tim got chatting to a nice guy called Abdul who was the supervisor and told him about our trip. He asked if he could take a picture of us which of course we agreed to. Before we knew it one of our bikes went on free of charge thanks to Abdul and Aysel who was Abdul’s boss. We were soon having pictures taken with a large number of staff! They were all so nice and it was one of the reasons why we picked Turkish airlines. Along with South Africans the Turkish people were also very good people and putting the 2 together was a great mix.
With the bags safely on we made our way through the checks and before we had time to look around we were boarding our plane heading to Istanbul where we would have a 5 hour stop before heading to Buenos Aires. It was incredible that it would take just 9 and ½ hours to reach a city that had taken us a year to cycle to.
We had enjoyed Europe so much and always had an apprehension of riding through Africa. Agreed it was tough going and frustrating at times – seeing many people waiting for hand outs, poverty, crime, but amongst it seeing new small businesses growing and people making money out of very little. Africa has its problems and we could talk all day about the massive amount of natural resources the continent has and if everyone worked together it could be potentially pretty powerful. It has been at times easy going but at times was extremely challenging with police escorts, desert heat, a stolen bike, rock dodging, sneaking past bandits, bad roads, wild animals and high mountain passes – but we loved it, is was brilliant. If you weigh up amazing people and cultures, bad roads, stunning scenery, high mountain passes, wild animals and more amazing people it was so worth it. We have heard people say if we knew before what we know now would we wouldn’t do it again but we would do it all again in a shot. If you are ever considering cycle touring in Africa – go for it!
Our plane finally took off and in the distance we could see the Indian Ocean and the lights of the coastal towns. It was now time to rest for 2 long flights -we were flying to Istanbul then on to Buenos Aires where we would finally get to meet up with Sara! We were very excited as we settled down for a movie marathon.
Thanks for reading – we are sorry for the delay in posting this but we have had such slow connections in Patagonia that we haven’t been able to update!