In August Lindsay Steyn, of Dennehof Tours, set off with an intrepid group of 17 mountain bikers for the first PA2C (Prince Albert to Wilderness) tour, ably supported by 8 back-up crew.
In January 2014 Peter Bakker, a former resident of Prince Albert, phoned me to put forward the idea of a cycle ride around Prince Albert to raise funds for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Peter now lives in Stellenbosch. Andy Williams, Peter’s 40 year old son-in-law, has been a sufferer for a few years and travels every year to South Africa where he enjoys cycling in the Stellenbosch area.
This year, Peter and Andy were looking for a bit of a change. For some time, I had wanted to put together a ride from Prince Albert to the sea. And so PA2C was born – a three day, 180km charity ride.
At 9 o’clock on Friday 8 August 2014, 17 riders and 8 back-up crew set off from the Dennehof Guesthouse to tackle the mighty Swartberg Pass. The day was overcast abut wind-still – the perfect weather for the challenge ahead.
We narrowly avoided disappointment at Teeberg when a group of German tourists found our 1st water point before us. My daughter had set up a much needed refreshment spot with Koeksisters, chocolates, baked potatoes, coke, Energade and hot coffee. Ironically, the six racing snakes, who had turned the social charity ride into a race, flew past before Michelle had had a chance to set up. They reached “Die Top” in 55 minutes, and then sent the youngest member back the five kays back to collect some padkos! We lesser mortals took our time and refreshment and still managed to reach the top in under two and a half hours.
There was no time to hang around at the top of the mountain; a ferocious wind encouraged us to speed down to our lunchtime stop at the Wilgewandel Restaurant. After a delicious lunch, we continued on the tar road through Schoemanshoek Poort to our first overnight stop. Day one saw us tackle 60kms and top a thousand meter climb.
Buffelsdrift Tented Safari Camp provided an afternoon game drive with ample sightings of buffalo, giraffe, elephant and numerous species of buck. We enjoyed our sundowners at the highest point of the reserve as we watched the glorious sunset over the Swartberg. Following an excellent three course dinner, we slept soundly in our luxury tents overlooking the dam. With the four resident hippos sleeping quietly on their side of the water!
After a full on breakfast, we climbed onto our bikes and set off on a challenging day two – 80km on a dirt road which, at the briefing the previous evening, I had modestly described as “undulating”. It turned out to be an understatement of note, due to the fact that I had recced the route on my motorbike.
At the 21km mark, my son-in-law, Dirk, was waiting with our morning padkos. It was gratefully consumed and in no time we were on our way again. The racing snakes led the now drawn out pack but we all got together again at the delightful lunch spot. At the beautiful old farmhouse on the Leeublad Flower Farm, we were warmly welcomed by our hosts who served an amazing spread – a choice of soups, homemade bread, lasagne and mini chicken pancakes followed by delightful melk tart. A send-off of brandy balls inspired us to attack the last gruelling 36kms.
The sight of the beautiful Outeniqua Mountains, gradually drew us to our day two overnight destination, the Leuvain Farm Stay, situated at the foot of the mountains. They gave us a well-deserved dinner, bed and breakfast – all of which were much needed after a very challenging day. The busy young couple provided wonderful hospitality and early the next morning, we reluctantly took to the “old wagon trail” up the steep north climb of the Outeniqua. Four kays later, when we broke the tree line, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the range ahead. A further 2km took us on to a very smooth forestry road that led to a punishingly steep 500m climb.
At last! The long-awaited downhill! As the responsible ‘sweeper’, I restrained my urge to fly ahead and the group spread out over the 16km dash at speeds of up to 65km/h. Needless to say we knew that there’d be no oncoming traffic!
Having passed the Bergplaas forestry station, we joined the ‘7-passes’ road and continued through Hoekville, where we got our first glimpse of the fabulous Indian Ocean.
Back in civilization, we joined the N2 at Wilderness for our last 2km dash to Salina’s – a lovely seafood restaurant overlooking the Wilderness beach. The downhill rush finally extinguished the resentments of the day two ‘undulations’ and I gratefully accepted the team’s forgiveness and the proffered cold beer!
By the end of the three days we had completed 180km and climbed over 3 000 metres, a substantial effort I felt and well worth a celebratory beer.
I’d like to convey my sincere thanks to all the riders and to our wonderful back team-up team and hosts along the way! With hope, faith and a following wind, the PA2C will become an annual event.