Day 7 – We suffered the first real disaster with respect to our starting time this morning – we had to drive the 150km from Kimberley to Griekwastad, which meant that a very early start was required, and I didn’t set the alarm clock properly. The result was a 5.00am start from Kimberley instead of a 4.00am start, and I didn’t actually start riding until after 6.30am – the church in Griekwastad chimed the half-hour as I was unloading the bike. Was this the bell on the famous Mary Moffat church? I asked myself. And I was the wrong person to ask, because I didn’t know the answer, but I would like to think it was.
The bad timekeeping worked out pretty well in the end, however, with the ride turning out to be very pleasant. Incidentally, we saw a kudu on the road while driving between Campbell and Griekwastad in the early morning light, so maybe all the “leaping kudu” signs along this road are not just to keep the tourists amused.
Once again it was fairly cool when I started, becoming very hot by the time the ride ended. There was no wind to speak of, which was a relief, but there was also no cloud cover to offer protection from the sun. The road was slowly undulating as it crossed a rather unremarkable plain and provided what could be the easiest 150km that I have ever ridden. The first stop was at 50km, just past the little village of Campbell where, in 1831, the London Missionary Society had established a church; we had tea at 90km and a further break at 120km after crossing over the Vaal River at Schmidtsdrif.
This latter stop was for a small celebration and the taking of a photograph as it took place at the halfway point mentioned by TV Bulpin in Discovering South Africa, 5th Edition, on page 264. Allow me to quote. “Halfway between Schmidtsdrif and Kimberley, the tarmac road passes a curious isolated hillock which has been used as a gravel quarry. This hillock, known as Bakenskop (beacon summit) marks the centre of South Africa at its widest point, for it stands half-way between the East Coast at St Lucia and the west coast at Oranjemund.”
And so on to Kimberley. It really is a treat to have a comfortable base to which we can return, especially as I have been sleeping rather badly and just seem to be getting progressively more tired. We are in good spirits, however, in spite of the heat, which is really debilitating. We have been told several times that this heat is completely unseasonable and that it should really be cooler. Which may be a useful piece of meteorological trivia, but is really of small solace. We won’t be here next year when the weather is more typical.