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to Port Shepstone to Kokstad by bus
In keeping with my new resolve to keep current I am writing as the day unfolds.
Which is easy to do today because I am sitting on a bus.
was up this morning at 5:00 a.m. because I needed a ride on the chartered bus
leaving at 6:00. I want to join the main group of Odyssey riders who rode out
yesterday morning to Port Shepstone while I stayed behind in Durban to write
reports for the web page. About a dozen other riders also stayed behind in
Durban for a day and they are on this bus too. We left without breakfast or even
coffee since the hotel doesnít offer breakfast until 7 am.
Carissa thoughtfully brought muffins for everyone which we ate before
leaving the parking lot. We are always ready to eat.
attraction enroute today was the Oribi Gorge. The bus driver agreed to take us
there and that has delayed us considerably. It took an hour for everyone to get
a cup of coffee and a scone or whatever, three times as much time as we had been
allocated. Then came the hike to the gorge and back. It was only 5 km. or so
round trip but with all the picture taking and chatting it took more than the
hour that was planned.
end result was that it was too late to start bicycling from the checkpoint as I
had hoped so I stayed on the bus to the rideís end, Kokstad. This is an
awesome place, it is beautiful here and the local people have put on a big
celebration in our behalf. We are having dinner in an enormous white tent with
arched windows and scalloped trim, definitely a party tent. A local band is
playing and singing and their music is beautiful. Some people havenít been
able to resist the temptation to dance. The dinner is equally awesome. Men are
busy barbecuing beef steaks, lamb chops, and sausages. Women are serving and
what a spread! There are rolls, interesting whole grain rolls, a fluffy white
maize that is served in place of mashed
potatoes with a special and specially delicious tomato-onion sauce on top. Weíre
familiar with this luscious dish as it is a South African staple. There are
baked-in-butter new potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and seven different wonderful
salads. There is a choice of guava juice or orange juice and coffee or tea. For
dessert there are 3 different pastries and ice cream with chocolate sauce and we
were served all of them. We are stuffed and happy. The townspeople bought
tickets for the dinner so they are here too.
are camping on the grounds of a new private high school called St. Patrickís
College. The school does not have showers so these great people built outdoor
showers for us complete with heated water. They also set out big wash basins and
laundry soap to make it easy for us to wash our clothes. Best of all they even
managed to arrange sunshine and blue skies for our arrival.
We are treated like celebrities. How could anyone help but love this experience? I am having a great time.
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The party went on in the big white tent last night past my bedtime. But bright
and early this morning the Kokstad folks were back to cook another magnificent
meal. There were 3 choices of dry ceral and 3 choices of fruited yogurt. There
were scones and muffins and bakery bought rolls, butter, marmalade, and jam.
There were scrambled eggs, sauteed mushrooms, a spicy beans and ground beef
stew, sausages, Canadian bacon, apples, bananas, and grapes, juices, and coffee
and tea. It was wonderful.
started half an hour earlier than usual, 5:30 a.m., to give people as many
daylight hours as possible to do the longest ride yet, 185 km. or 115 miles. The
day was to be hilly as well as long and some people decided not to even try.
They left camp in a bus they had arranged and drove to East London where they
will wait the next two days for the rest of us to arrive. Put those folks
together with all the others who had already left and you find that more are
gone than are here. Only 89 riders started the ride today and less than half
were able to finish it. Many, like myself, gave up at checkpoint. If you are a
slow rider you cannot do a hilly ride of that length in the daylight. My knees
were hurting, the right one in particular, so I decided to sag and spare my
knees. They havenít bothered me much but todayís ride had many very long
climbs. It also had awesome descents, gorgeous scenery, and thanks to a cloud
cover it wasnít unbearably hot. It was a perfect day for a bike ride, the road
was good, but the miles were too many. Just as a point of interest, there are
now less than 10 riders who have ridden every mile. Only one of them is a woman,
Ruth, who I think I mentioned some days ago. She rode the long difficult miles
to Hazyview but she was too tired to go on the safari the next day. Itís very
hard for some people to give up the goal of riding every mile. If that choice is
made then something else has to go so one has to decide what oneís priorities
are. I no longer care about the miles.
we rode the first day of three that
are thought by some to be potentially dangerous because of the poverty or
politics of this region known as the Transkei. The police responded to TK&Aís
plea for help and there were several police cars parked along the route. I was
glad to see them there, but never at any time today did I feel threatened. All
the people I saw along the way were friendly and called a greeting as I passed.
But one group of 3 riders had a scarey moment when a man pulled a switchblade
and raised it in a threatening manner. Whether he was just showing off for the
young people around him or really intending to do harm we do not know. Itís a
shame that it had to happen to spoil an otherwise good day.
scenery was awesome, vast and green.
We have left the sugar cane behind, this area is used for pasture, corn and hay.
We saw cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Luckily there was a cloud cover that
kept the temperature down.
are at dinner now where a funny thing happened a few minutes ago. To appreciate
the prank you have to understand the mentality of this group after two months
together. Because there are so many of us we have to stand in line for just
about everything. It has become an automatic response to join a line and the
sooner the better or one finds oneís self behind 200 others. After most had
finished dinner tonight a line began to form and immediately dozens of others
joined the line. People assumed they were in line for dessert although there
wasnít evidence of any. After a few minutes a spokesman for the people at the
beginning of the line confessed to doing an experiment; they had lined up just
to see what the rest of us would do! Those in line sheepishly returned to their
tables while we all enjoyed a laugh at their expense.
people of Umtata put up a welcome banner for us over the main street, Nelson
Mandela Street. A number of officials have spoken welcoming us and explaining
that they are working to overcome the poor reputation this area has. The high
school choir has sung. Next we are going to go visit the Nelson Mandela Museum.
I am so pleased to be here.
Odyssey Riders and Staff
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