The African Adventure, Stages 89 to 94, Felix Unite to Capetown

Stage 89, Felix Unite to Springbok – 133km and 1431m of climbing.
I left Felix Unite early and on my own, I wanted to get through border control and in the ride without the hassle of waiting. I passed a sign on the way that said Capetown was only 678km away, you could almost touch it !!
13km in and I was at the border, simple process and no hassle saw me through and into South Africa very quickly, I peddled on and was enjoying the rock formations and general scenery then just as I was hoping they’d got the ascent figures wrong the road swung round to the left and there it was. The longest straightest uphill I’ve ever seen, it just kept going and what with a slight headwind and the scenery becoming less than interesting it made the day fairly tough.
Still when I did finally arrive at the caravan park I did manage to get a room so certainly worth the effort. When Naomi arrived we took a short ride into town to sort SIM cards and get snacks, new country new Sim and our last 😉
Stage 90, Springbok to Garies – 117k and 1021m of climbing.
Again I was first out the gate and enjoying the downhill at the start before the road became more demanding. More very straight slightly tedious roads with nothing much to see for most of the time. Ciaran had told us that the road was downhill to camp, we’d heard that before so weren’t paying much notice this time.
I was just ticking along paying no mind when all of a sudden Naomi screamed past saying she was going for a stage win. Well I picked up my pace and set about helping her, pacing her up the hills and telling her to pedal on the way down, she was flying and by the time we reached camp it was becoming apparent that she’d done enough although we waited until the results to celebrate properly. Naomi had tried several times but this time it was hers and she deserved it, I was and still am very proud of her !!
Stage 91, Garies to Strandfontein – 162km and 1400m of climbing.
After Naomi’s exertions the day before we decided to start from lunch so we had breakfast and loaded our bikes onto Noah’s lunch truck and set off. We got to lunch and helped set up before heading off, dirt roads to start with finally gave way to Tarmac and allowed us to get a move on. The scenery improved slightly and we were enjoying our ride together, we’d not really cycled much just the two of us and this remained us of our earlier trips. As we approached the end we saw Ciaran and stopped for water, we told him what we’d really like was coffee and cake. He told us of a place in the resort we were heading for and we made plans to go straight there !
We arrived at Leonis coffee shop to find Chris and Tracy already there, as we ate and drank we chatted to the owner, he mentioned he looked after lots of holiday homes. Before you could say boo we’d all decided to rent one for the night rather that put up tents on the sea front, South African winters are cold !
Our house cost us sod all split four ways and was lovely and warm and had lashings of hot water and tv, we loved it !!
Stage 92, Strandfontein to Eland Bay – 73km and 219m of climbing.
I’m not quite sure what happened here but as soon as I got to the off road section I just went for it, I peddled my little heart out for 73km, mostly off road following the railway line, it was wet and dirty but I didn’t care. I had visions of a stage win to go with Naomi’s. Naomi had actually taken the day off and had gone straight to camp, made her jump when I arrived just after her. We managed to get a room in the hotel so I was able to clean up and get warm…..then we waited !
To pass the time we walked along the beach and took photos of the crew building a sauna in the sand.
It turned out that I’d not done enough to win a stage but I was still proud of my time for the stage and having a much heavier bike it was a good effort !
Stage 93, Eland Bay to Yzerfontein – 142km and 616m of climbing.
Naomi and I decided to ride together again and set of fairly early, the route was quite interesting to start with as a local had told our crew of a route to navigate the headland and get round the huge rock that forms it. We started out with a bit of of road, over a few streams, under a highway then more off road until we were out on a very small coat road. We half expected the road to end and have to turn back but it didn’t and finally it spilled us out onto a larger road that followed the coast for the rest of the day. We enjoyed being close to the sea, it’s one thing we both enjoy cycling by the sea. We passed a small lake on our way and there were flamingos, Naomi was made up as they’re one of here favourite birds.
The road finally left the coast slightly and we found lunch at the top of a long hill, nourished we set off for the final bit to camp, a caravan park. The park was great, good showers with lots of hot water and plenty of space for our tents. There were also local shops so we bought beer and crisps to have later.
Being the last night of the Tour before Capetown we had prize giving, it turned out that everyone got a prize for something, some funnier that others !! My prize was shared with Gus, we were known as the coffee club, we’d been up first in the mornings since Cairo and were always first to the fresh coffee pot, our prize was a coffee mug each, I still have it and am vey proud of it 😉
We also got the run down for the final days ride and sequence of events, lunch, photos on the beach, convoy to Capetown, what would happen once there, hotel, rooms bike storage etc !
Bed but little sleep as we were all excited about arriving in Capetown, 12,000km, four months and a hell of a lot of porridge and it would be over in less that 24 hours !!
Stage 94, Yzerfontein to Capetown, 92km and 397m of climbing.
Damn it was cold in the morning, I was wearing five layers and a wooly hat under my cycle helmet covering my ears, long fingered gloves and I was still bloody cold….funny when we left Cairo it was bloody freezing and now four months later at the other end of the continent it was bloody freezing again !!
I nearly rode the bus I was so cold but Naomi said I couldn’t miss the last days ride so we set off, slowly as the sun rose into the sky I managed to warm up and the layers came of one by one. By the time we reached Kreft Bay for lunch I felt human again !!
Lunch done and everyone assembled on the beach for Tour photos, the EFI ers, the whole tour, the crew, all great photos with Table Mountain in the back ground !!
Soon enough our escort arrived and our convoy was assembled for the 30km into Capetown, these I have to admit are some of my favourite bits. There’s nothing like being in a large bunch of cyclists that take legal control over roads that you wouldn’t otherwise get to do, it make you feel fantastic as people watch you pass and wonder what the hell is going on….if only they knew !!
No hassles along the way and with Table Mountain on our right shoulder acting as guard we finally arrived at the Waterfront in Capetown, banners welcoming Tour D’Afrique, lots of people cheering and applauding and a small buffet with Champagne signalled our arrival. We were given a few minutes to enjoy the moment and take it all in before we were assembled behind flags of our countries, then we were welcomed into the Auditorium for the medal ceremony and speeches.
Watching people walk across the stage to shake Ciarans hand and collect there medal for completing one of the toughest bike challenges gave me goose bumps, I could barely wait for mine but my time finally came and I thoroughly enjoyed my moment. Never for me was this tour about EFI, I’d never even heard of it before Cairo and knew next to nothing about what lay ahead. No, for me my challenge was more mental than physical, as most people know I’ve suffered from and still do suffer from depression along with associated traits like anxiety it makes life tough. The though of being in close proximity to fifty to ninety people for four months with nowhere to hide scared me to death. I’ll be honest here, I cried lots and some very nice people put up with me and reassured me and got me to Capetown. They know who they are and they have my gratitude. There were many occasions when I just wanted to leave but I didn’t, I made it, not EFI but I still made it. My own personal battle with mental disorder just took a giant leap and if I can do it there’s no reason why others can’t, be brave and get out there, be honest about yourself and get help, live your life !!!
Thanks to all the Crew at TDA and everyone on the tour.
Best Wishes
JC

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About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
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