We are met with so many emotions crossing the boarder into South Africa. Relief that we only have 6 days left, and I am excited to be returning to the country I was born in after more than 15 years abroad. There is also excitement on completing our four month challenge, as well as sadness as you realise that the adventure is coming to an end and that all our TDA friends will part ways and head to opposite corners of the globe.
The last 6 days didn’t come easy and we were unable to check out. We were heading along the west coast of South Africa and strong head winds became a daily occurrence. But as always with every challenge our adventure delivered us beautiful riding and more wonderful memories.
Our first day in South Africa we climbed through jagged, dry, rocky mountains, where almost nothing can grow. Slowly the hills became smaller as we headed into the Namaqua Region where we were met with endless rolling hills and beautiful scenery.
At this stage all you want to do is pedal as hard as you can and get to camp to rest, to sleep, or just to get off the bike. But since we will never be cycling our bikes through this part of Africa again, we made a huge effort to take in ever last day and explore all the little towns on our rides.
We stopped in little Afrikaans towns and had coffee at little coffee shops. The people you meet and the conversations you have along this journey are what make it so memorable. People everywhere are so warm and welcoming, happily taking time out of their day to chat to you and find out about your journey. This journey really restores your faith in human kind in every way.
As we headed to the coast we had a couple last days cycling along some dirt roads. As much as I love riding on dirt, at this point in the journey I was struggling with fatigue and motivation. The long straight roads with only a slow change in scenery as we crept back into the modern world didn’t help. Each kilometre dragging on and the last week felt like a month. I was convinced that we would never finish our journey and that this had become our reality.
Slowly, slowly we got there. And 110km away from Cape Town, on the second last day we saw it…Table Mountain. We were lucky to have clear sky’s and no rain for this stage, and the sky was blue allowing us to see our destination so far out. I was so happy I could have cried. We were almost there. We had nearly done it… cycled the entire length of the African continent!
That night was one of the best on the trip. Everyone’s spirits were lifted and we were all excited about the following day. The staff gave funny awards to the riders and handed out our official TDA 2013 jerseys. We all had some early celebration drinks on the beach watching the last sunset on our African adventure. The guitar came out and we all sang out our little hearts out.
The next morning, we all got up extra early (some with sore heads), put on our matching TDA jersey’s and headed out for our last cycle. In true TDA style we were given a crazy cold morning with a low of 4 degrees as we cycled out. Even though we were all wearing as much as we could, the cold was so unbearable, and so we stopped for our first break only 9km up the road, for some hot coffee.
The rest of the day was an easy cycle heading into Cape Town. We stopped 30km out on a beach for our finish photos with Table Mountain in the background. Some hugs, tears and smiles. We had all done it! Now for our police convoy into the city.
The convoy to the finish was an amazing experience, with cars honking as we passed, people got out their cars at the lights and clapped. As we cycled up to the finish there was a crowd of people, family and friends of all the riders as well as strangers, they all stood and cheered as we rode through.
We were all so shocked. We weren’t expecting people to be meeting us. After all, at this stage of the event what we had accomplished just seemed so ordinary. We all received our medals and great applause from the crowd, it really did make us feel proud and humble after what we had just completed. In a way it was great, as it gave us all a chance to reflect on what we had done, and given enough time, I’m sure we will all think it is pretty extraordinary too.