From tyre troubles to the Tankwa Karoo

We had a long day from Laingsburg to hosted accommodation in an old farm cottage. The winds had turned on us and strengthened as the day went on so we arrived pretty knackered. The fresh bread, farm honey and eggs we were given by Rae the owner certainly perked us up.

To sneak in some wind free riding we left the cottage before sunrise the next day. Then as the head wind was strengthening and we were facing a big climb up to the higher plateau we were surprised when a local family out moving their sheep insisted we had to throw our bikes and ourselves on the back tray of the Ute as the pass was too steep to bike up and they could drop us at the top – it would have been rude to turn down their offer.

16 km out of Sutherland disaster struck and my back tyre deflated. On closer inspection we discovered it was very unfixable as the tyre bead was separating from the sidewall. On even closer inspection later we found the rim edge was very rough presumably causing the wear. Things were looking a little grim given our location.

Our first saviour was a road worker who happily picked us up and got us into town. Our 2nd saviour was JP who we met in a bar attached to where we had lunch. I quizzed him on the once a week courier service to town JP worked at the local hospital and knew Kenny the courier who came up daily from Worcester (3 hours away) AND JP was a biker and assured us we would find a 27.5 plus tyre in one of the 3 bike shops there. It was a public holiday (election day) that day so I had to wait till 7:30 the next morning to phone around after a tyre before Kenny left Worcester at 9:30! It was unbelievable to receive the new tyre by lunchtime. Sanding the rough rim and getting the new tyre bedded on the rim was the next challenge but it filled in our planned rest day nicely.

The coldest town in South Africa lived up to its name early next morning as we biked off with most of the clothes we were carrying on, but incredulous that through the help of some very kind people we had gotten rolling again.

Onto the uninspiring tiny town of Middelpos- one hotel, one shop with empty shelves, and 50 Boerbol dogs in a dog breeding business. The Boerbol breed are the size of a lion and bred as security dogs and shipped all round the world at $1800 USD a pup. A memorable stay for the wrong reasons.

The next highlight was the Tankwa Karoo. We plummeted down off the Gannaga Pass to the Tankwa Karoo NP – a barren desert environment where the small green shrubland changes to bleached white grassland to barren rocky no veg land. In the shrubland we saw many springbok ‘prong’ing (bouncing) and sprinting away (2nd fastest land mammal) and the larger eland with their long straight horns angling back from their heads. Winds were kind, we didn’t see another soul, there were battles with sand but it was a thoroughly beautiful section finishing at the Tankwa tented camp which used to host Afrikaburn – South Africa’s equivalent of Burning Man – nowadays hosting 15,000 festival goers on another farm on the edge of the National Park.