18/05/12, stage 84, Yzerfontein to Cape Town!!!

The last day… It seems a long time ago that we had our first informal rider meeting at that bar in the Meridien hotel, back in Cairo. Everybody was a bit shy and terrified of the challenges ahead. Four months are gone now and the people that were strangers to me back then, are pretty dear to me now. It’s a strange thing. And it’s even stranger that this very close group of people will dissipate just as fast as we came together…

Only 93k left. We woke up cold, and damp and wet. A thick fog hang over our camp and I was woken by big drops of condens falling down on my face from the roof of my tent. It was litterally raining inside, meaning that this morning would not be the last time that I would pack my tent. Somewhere in Cape Town I have to get it out again to let it dry.
Instructions for today were pretty clear: lunch at 76k. From lunch we would ride as a convoy and with a police escort into Cape Town. The convoy would leave at 1200, so we were urged to make it to lunch in time! However planning wise we didn’t get of to a good start. We were only allowed to leave camp untill it was light and after the worst fog had cleared, meaning that we didn’t leave untill 745. I think we never left camp that late before. Next to that they altered the route that we thought that we were riding to prevent us from having to ride over the highway and in convoy all day, meaning that the distance had increased from 79 to 93k and that we had about 500 extra meters of climbing to do… So quite a challenge for the morning!
We left when it was still foggy and we got treated to a last amazing sunrise. To be honoust the whole scenery felt a lot like home: sand dunes, fog, cold, early morning sun. It was a great start of the day! We came accross a bunch of ostriches and at 25k we reached the town of Darling, where we had our last cokestop and where we ate all cakes and croissants that were actually meant for people who would come in to celebrate mothersday 🙂 tough luck for them that the place got ravished by a bunch of hungry cyclists 🙂
After Darling it was another 50k through the hills and against the wind, so it became very clear that we wouldn’t be at lunch in time to let the convoy leave at 1200. Next to that we proved not very able to find the route that the staff had intended us to ride, so we ended up on the same highway that they had tried us to avoid and on which we were actually not allowed to ride without an escort 🙂 tough luck for the TDA staff and the local authorities. However, on the possitive side for us it meant that the staff had no clue where we were, so they couldn’t pick us of the road to meet their deadlines either 🙂 And I later understood that they actually did this to some other riders…
We made it to lunch around 1230. As we messed up the schedule by then anyway, we took our time to have our pictures taken with Table Mountain and Robben Island on the background. We could now really see the city! Only 17k of convoy left! All 34 full tour riders that started the tour in Cairo were there, joined by some 15 sectional riders who started in Vic Falls and Windhoek. Some 50 riders in total, led by Tallis in the Landcruiser…
Very easily we rode into Cape Town, to end our ride at the beach of our last hotel, overlooking the Ocean and Table Mountain… We are here! We actually did it! Holy fuck…
Four months ago we set off to ride 11.222 kilometers through Africa, divided over 88 scheduled riding days. 4 of these riding days were cancelled due to unrests in Sudan and Ethiopia, leaving 84 riding days and 10.763 kilometers to ride. And of this rideable distance I was able to ride 10.522 kilometers, missing 226k in Sudan due to heatstroke and 16k in Kenya because my legs were just too empty to push myself up the last hill of the day. I rode my bike 83 out of 84 riding days…
I’m more than pleased 🙂 My main aim of this tour was to ride my bike through Africa and to experience as much of this wonderfull continent as possible, while staying safe and healthy. And I did just that! I feel I stopped cycling at the right moments, preventing myself from getting overly ill, and I rode sensible enough to prevent myself from having any accidents or injuries! I made it to Cape Town healthy, in one piece and I rode 98% of the total distance! 
By no means it was an easy feat… I feel I really pushed my boundaries beyond a point where I would ever venture on my own. Riding through 40+ degree temperatures in Sudan. Making more than 2000 altitude meters a day in Ethiopia. Riding 7 consecutive days in Tanzania.Riding 830k in five days in Botswana. Riding over 800k of horrible dirt road in Namibia…
Simultaneous, it’s been a great trip! Seeing the ancient wonders of Egypt. The friendly people in Sudan. The biblical landscapes of Ethiopia. The old volcanos in Kenya. The wildlife of Tanzania. The swims in lake Malawi. The magnificant Victoria Falls at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Elephant highway in Botswana. The vastness of the landscapes in Namibia. Seeing table mountain in South Africa. The whole route on the map which is no longer unknown… Africa has not disappointed in any way.
I’m very happy 🙂 But we’ve also reached the point of saying goodbye to people… We had a last shared dinner tonight, and after that we ended at the bar. At around 1100pm I quietly retreated to my room, not exactly knowing who I will see again tomorrow morning at breakfast and who will already have left. In the end I think saying goodbye doesn’t really matter… We’ve shared this amazing experience together… And we’ve been there for eachother during the good times and during the hard times. We are a special group. Thank you riders of the 2019 Tour d’Afrique. We are a crazy bunch that I will not easily forget:
Shirley & Dan, Veronica & Phill, Lenore & Gerry, Lucy, Fiona, Loraine, Ingela, Baldr, Fred, Vikas, Pete, Ashley, Alex, Nick, Jerome, Tom P, Tom B, Mike, Wolfgang, Matz, Bratt, Fritz, Karl, Andrew, Paul, Tim, Scott, Clement, Steve, Richard and myself 🙂

Not a bad last sunrise 🙂

Socializing a bit with ostriches…

Climbing our last hills…

Windy at the top though…

Last cokestop of the trip!

And then Table Mountain

Basically there! Only 17k of convoy left!

Our 34 full tour riders…

The independent woman of the tour!

Last k’s of convoy..

Our final diner…

We’re done. After 4 months and 10.522 kilometers the only things that remain are these relics, the amazing memories and a great number of amazing people to visit all around the world

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