I know you want to read about my cycling and not the preamble of Cape Town but I want to briefly say a HUGE thank you to Ian and Russel Galt who had me to stay in Cape Town and who were massively generous with their time and home. To Katie de K, who firstly it was great to see and secondly who looked after me and took me to Woodstock Cycles which may prove to save my life! Without Katie and the guys in the shop I would be totally unprepared!
My first day then - to be honest I wan't very nervous, just ready to get going. I don't think I really allowed myself the time to get nervous. Which is good because, so far it seems I had no reason to be. (I probably should have had my mind on my fitness - if the last three days have taught me anything this ain't gonna be no stroll in the park.) Really tough going.
I started on a pretty busy road, though fortunately it had a decent hardshoulder which proved as a good bicycle lane. The scenery not yet mind blowing however my highlight of the day was that within a couple of hours I saw 5 SWIFTS, goosebumps all over me that can only be matched by those caused by a good session with 7 Seconds Away. It was truly amazing and a very symbolic moment for me. I have seen them both days since so at the moment, we are neck and neck. I ended up in a town called Langebaan (I still have very little planned in terms of route) and found a campsite. The camping here is nothing like at home, each tent is attached to a van or a caravan and everyone is living in apparent luxury. A bizarre atmosphere.
Everyone seems fascinated by me and is very keen to chat and help. All speaking Afrikaans - many of whom don't speak English. I guess this took me by surprise.
My second day, I won't dwell on, like a miserable November day on a beach in Scotland- a thick cold mist and steady wind in my face all day. Was really quite hard going. I had left my ipod on overnight in my tent and had nothing to get me through it. My Odometer broke (fortunately I kept my cheap amazon one and have now reattached it) and there was an unbelievable mother of a hill just before the town (Elands Bay).
However my luck was about to change - not only did I get offered a night for free at the one backpackers hostel called the Wit Mossell Pot (Kindest kindest manager/owner - although these Afrikaner accents are tricky, they do not sound a bit like Danny Archer.) in this tiny surfing village but I met three groups of unbelievably kind people all who wanted to chat and talk about my trip. Today, one couple I had met, James and Becky, picked me up after I had done about 80km and drove me back to there small Guesthouse and Farm where I am now staying for free in their caravan. Such unbelievable generosity. Unbelievable.
For anyone reading this who may ever pass through this part of the world you have to come and stay here. It is STUNNING, and your hosts are beyond kind. It is called Alpha Excelsior.
As I am getting up so early (5.30/6) when they passed me was about 12ish, they took me for lunch at their neighbours (20km down dirt tracks in the most spectacular rocky mountains) who's house they had never been to before, so I was very privileged. Where we had a great afternoon chatting, swimming in their river in the South African bush. I have been so lucky to have met such kind people, although I feel that it may not just be luck - but just South Africa.
I am now sitting in their little office in the most incredible countryside about to head off to my little caravan after a very special day, considering I started itr with and 80km bike ride. Heading off early tomorrow as want to make it to Springbok within 4 days so I can start preparing for the desert.
In summary, an extremely character and decision testing start to my trip, but also that I have already received such kindness and generosity. Last night and today have shown me that once I am used to the exercise there will also be a chance to relax and enjoy. Just need to get fit first....