Interview at Tulbagh, where we melted into the furniture.
According to Johnny’s mum (hi Tes!), we are three sleeps away from arriving at Mouille Point. We’ve spent the day trying to stay out of the heat in Tulbagh, which is just close enough to Cape Town see a tiny speck of Table Mountain from the hills.
A woman fanning herself in a supermarket told us it’s 40°C today. We believe her. We had ambitions of re-visiting Moniki’s Chocolate factory and playing at being snap-happy tourists in the quaint and historical little streets of Tulbagh, but, you know what? Our guesthouse is air-conditioned. And Johnny and Alan are tired and are nursing injuries. Our achievements have pretty much been breakfast, a large number of phonecalls, emails sent via our cellphones, and a successful power-nap.
Amongst that, however, I got the team to stay awake and alert in the same room long enough for another casual interview. Seeing as we’re so close (oh man, so close) to the end of the tour, we decided that we ought to recap our highs and lows of the trip.
Let’s start with food! Where’s the best meal we’ve had so far?
DONNA: Masakala, without a doubt! Although Joyce’s chocolate pudding from Slaapkranz was amazing.
JOHNNY: For the most part, we’ve been fed a great assortment of food. We’ve been really well fed almost everywhere.
DONNA: Well, not everywhere.
JOHNNY: Haha, well, we’ve had some last-minute booking issues with people who found out about us a few hours before we arrived, so…
KIRBY: I loved the food at Moordenaarspoort! Danie’s wife, Regina, was really nervous because it was her first time making vegetarian food, and it was delicious. That tomato eggplant casserole was amazing. I hope she knows!
JOHNNY: That was a cool couple!
Okay, so what was the worst meal?
JOHNNY: Hahaha, Matroosberg for you, Kirby!
KIRBY: I felt so bad about that! The woman made me special vegetarian food but it was egg-fried rice with soy chicken. I really don’t like egg, or anything that tastes like meat! But she made such a special effort into making me a separate meal!
DONNA: Her breakfast pies were delicious though. What about that place where you didn’t even get a chance to tell the cook you were a vegetarian?
KIRBY: Rondawel! Haha, the woman walked in, talking the entire time, dished up a big lump of macaroni and mince for all of us, without a single chance for me to even let her know I couldn’t eat it. Well, at least she left us to eat alone and I could trade for the salad she’d made! The woman at Matroosberg sat down and watched us eat – she made sure!
JOHNNY: It was lovingly made though.
KIRBY: Her home-made bread was excellent.
DONNA: This one at Tulbagh’s quite good.
JOHNNY: That lodge!
DONNA: What lodge? I don’t think I was there…
JOHNNY: That hunting lodge we stayed at! In Kleinpoort…. It was a big, open shower with no curtain, and a massive showerhead with lovely warm water…
ALAN: Oh, that was a wonderful place to stay at. Luxurious.
KIRBY: My best shower experience was the outdoor thing at Indigo Skate Camp! It was just such a relief to end a horrible day with, hey, whaddya know, a hot shower… outdoors! And it was huge.
JOHNNY: Yes, it was a relief to have a shower, and it was a good outdoor novelty, but it’s definitely not my favourite one.
Which places have had the best beds?
DONNA: These beds are quite good!
DONNA: Don’t you mean the worst?
JOHNNY: No way, Vuvu was awesome.
KIRBY: No, it wasn’t.
JOHNNY: Oh wait, you’re right. We had two single mattress for four people… well, my nomination for the worst night’s sleep is Vuvu! Those mattresses were really bad. And they had the worst shower. And Alan was sick.
DONNA: That wasn’t even a real shower! It was a mobile pump with a collapsible curtain!
But it wasn’t the worst experience we’ve had.
DONNA: No no, those people really did a lot for us!
JOHNNY: They probably did more for us than anyone else has done on the tour, within their means. I mean, it certainly wasn’t the most comfortable place, but they really put a lot of effort into feeding us and housing us. They asked us what they could do to make us comfortable, they made us tea, we actually had really good food. That was a situation where people were actually giving up their beds for us.
So what’s been the worst place to stay at?
DONNA: Die Hel.
JOHNNY: That’s not fair.
KIRBY: Donna and I just got a raw deal and the people working there had kind of a crappy attitude. We called them the day before and made sure they’d be catering for us, that we were having lunch and dinner there, and when we got to their kitchen after driving down the insane switchbacks and squeezing the PeopleWagon into tiny tracks to make way for oncoming cars 100 times more equipped for the road, we got there, and woman running Hell’s Kitchen told us that they were out of food. So, we were hungry and angry.
DONNA: And you didn’t get a vegetarian meal.
KIRBY: I think it could be a really nice escape from the urban world but at that time I don’t think we felt isolated, we just felt stranded.
ALAN: Actually, Hadley was the worst! We didn’t sleep there at all.
KIRBY: Whoops, haha, yeah, the guy I called for directions was really confused about why I wanted to go there!
JOHNNY: Actually the people at De Doorns who took us in while we waited for you said that the guy didn’t have a great memory because he’d been shot…
KIRBY: Oh man, I didn’t realize! I just thought I was dealing with a cranky old guy!
DONNA: Oh, that’s awkward.
What was the best rest day?
JOHNNY: Toekomst. We basically had this massive house with a pool, tennis court, courtyard, private cinema, enormous garden… to ourselves!
KIRBY: Well, it was cool up until the home-owners showed up an evening before they were supposed to arrive. They were only going to come back the next morning after we’d left. That was awkward – we’d made ourselves completely at home and were wandering around in pajamas with drinks on all the surfaces and the family suddenly showed up, tired and hungry from their trip to Europe…
ALAN: To find that their cat had popped kittens in my room.
DONNA: Oh, what about Dennehof, in Prince Albert! That was such a beautiful place… Just arriving there and sitting down on their deck chairs with all the birds singing, the warm breeze blowing through the air – the people there were really nice. And their ice cream was the best! That home-made apricot ice-cream.
DONNA: Al’s not talking anymore.
ALAN: I liked Prince Albert.
DONNA: That’s where Johnny got his Prince Albert.
JOHNNY: For my helmet.
DONNA: We saw the best bike there too! The Prince Alfred! Man, that guy had customized his bicycle into something else. It had a radio mounted on the handlebars with surround-sound speakers, a canopy, a seat rest, a fan… so many attachments and modifications. That thing had everything.
DONNA: The Karoo is the best cacti-succulent-collecting spot!
KIRBY: The Karoo’s been, like, 70% of our tour.
DONNA: No, wait, then the Rouxpos farm was the best place for succulents.
KIRBY: Donna, you stole cuttings and snippets out of their garden!
DONNA: They were such a cute old couple too! That’s where we spent most of the day working on the maps, too. They spent all day cuddling and cooing each other around us. They were old and still in love.
KIRBY: I can’t believe how many cuttings you stole from them.
ALAN: That place had the best grapes.
So, who were our favourite people?
DONNA: The ozone man! Francois! The people from Stuttgardt. The farmer survived lymph cancer through holistic treatment… he has such an awesome attitude. And man, he was hilarious.
JOHNNY: Aside from being funny, he and the family were just so cool and comfortable around each other.
ALAN: Yeah, I really liked how free and open everyone was. Like, the kids were sort of free to say whatever they thought, but weren’t punks about it. They were just themselves. It was really cool to see that.
KIRBY: I had a misunderstanding when Amanda told me about the "worm tea". We had lunch with them and part of it was a garden salad with baby marrows. Then Amanda took us outside and proudly showed us their massive vegetable garden, and mentioned that they used urine to fertilize the baby marrows. But either she failed to mention or I didn’t hear her say that it was worm urine. I just thought that they’d sprayed the marrows with pee and fed it to us. Donna had to explain it to me afterwards.
DONNA: I think those people had us go to bed later than any other night. We were all exhausted, but Francois made us laugh so much at dinner that we just couldn’t leave. I wish we’d spent more time with them.
KIRBY: Andre and Joyce from Slaapkranz were the first people who really made us feel special – they were the first people who hugged us goodbye and looked like they were going to miss us!
DONNA: Haha, Andre’s the guy who called us farts! They had an amazing vegetable garden too. And Joyce’s food was great.
KIRBY: You didn’t meet the old German couple at Onverwacht though, Donna. The Jacobs. They were amazing.
JOHNNY: They had such a dry sense of humour! Mrs. Jacob joined us for coffee and Mr. Jacob looked up and flatly asked her why she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking food for the guests. Then she icily asked him why he wasn’t in the kitchen cooking food for the guests, and they made it look like they were about to engage in a very awkward domestic tiff… and then they both cracked up the routine and just laughed at it.
KIRBY: Haha, Mrs. Jacobs had this Damara lamb she was hand-raising, which followed her everywhere, but wasn’t allowed inside. So they left it on the front porch where it stared at us through the glass and fogged up the windows with it’s breath.
ALAN: That couple was just so worldly and wise. I loved that their entire farm ran on green energy… solar panels. I really wished we stayed there and didn’t just pop in for breakfast. They were so great to talk to.
Haha… okay, hottest day?
JOHNNY: The first day! That was something else. It was completely overwhelming.
DONNA: Yesterday was hot.
KIRBY: Haha, but we were in an air-conditioned PeopleWagon. We stepped out for cherries, chocolate and ice. And then stepped into an air-conditioned house and pool.
What about the best hill climb? You guys like doing those.
DONNA: Had to have been Naude’s Neck?
ALAN: Yeah, we annihilated that thing.
DONNA: Best stone-collecting… Naude’s Neck.
ALAN: Best spring water… Naude’s Neck.
DONNA: Best granny… the lady at Rhodes, who yelled at Kirby.
KIRBY: I liked her too.
DONNA: Best sunset?
JOHNNY: The worst sunset was Day 1, because we suddenly realized, “Oh no, there’s no light, and we’re not there yet!”
What about best and worst moments of the tour?
JOHNNY: I think one of my most uplifting moments happened when we saw Table Mountain coming up on Tulbagh. That pretty great.
JOHNNY: What about you, Kirby? Best and worst moments?
KIRBY: Hadley, where we had the accommodation miscommunication with the confused old man. I made things difficult for myself because I should’ve stayed at Kleinpoort and waited for Meryl to call me back with a new plan but I just drove into the dirt roads… where there was no cell phone reception. So, just turned into a worrying, frustrating drive through the Karoo. And I sort of had no idea where I was, most of the time.
JOHNNY: You, Donna?
DONNA: I’m not sure. I had a bad couple of days before I left. Not really sure what my best moments were.
KIRBY: I liked cherry-pickin’…
DONNA: Yeah, that was cool…
JOHNNY: Alan? Best and worst?
ALAN: Um… it’s all very blurry… I didn’t enjoy the two of us getting separated on the way to Anysberg.
KIRBY: Actually, Anysberg sort of sucked. I don’t think I even used the bath there. And the toilet was broken. But I guess that was also last-minute organizing, so I guess it’s okay.A
JOHNNY: That reminds me of my worst riding moment – getting lost on the way to Ntsikeni. That was the only time I’ve panicked. What that meant afterwards, though, was that I was a lot calmer when Alan and I got separated. At Ntsikeni, I just didn’t know where I was. I was completely disorientated, it was getting dark, I started talking to myself to calm myself down. I was worried about Donna, who was exhausted…
ALAN: Yeah, you looked liked you’d seen a ghost when we reunited at Ntsikeni, Johnny.
DONNA: That narrative was really, really inaccurate. The distances were really out. I think that was the day that I really realized I couldn’t do this trip…
ALAN: My worst day was after the ladder climbing out of Die Hel… that road was somehow really, really bad. I just couldn’t ride it, my knees couldn’t handle it… everything about it was just awful.
KIRBY: This is maybe a little cheesy, but I think that, every day when we meet up, whatever dark mood anybody’s in, gets lifted a little just because we’ve come together again. I mean, the first two nights were terrible. On Day 1 we got the meeting point mixed and left you guys hiding in the bushes from angry locals for an hour while we drove around Inchanga’s Valley of a Thousand Hills, and only got to sleep at like 12. The next night, Donna and I didn’t even make it to our accommodation – we got stuck on the mountain and spent the night in the PeopleWagon!
DONNA: Wow, Minerva had to be the worst night’s rest! Oh, that was my second night sleeping in the van too!
ALAN: I think that’s definitely the highlight of the day, seeing the van! It’s a definite relief: nobody’s stuck on a hill, we’ve all made it… everyone’s cool.
How’s your leg doing, Johnny?
JOHNNY: Now it’s fine, but it’s… buggered. There’s a tear in the quad. I fell onto my knee, the muscles tensed around it to protect it, and when I ride, it makes it worse. The treatment is rest, which of course I’m not doing… so at the end of the day I’m limping, but I can push it for four days.
How about your knees, Alan?
ALAN: Hmm… they’ve, well, just been consistently weak, and over-burdened, and stressed, and in need of rest…
What do you look forward to most once we get back to Cape Town?
JOHNNY: Seeing my family. And my Dad.
DONNA: I don’t know, really! I’m kind of… ambivalent.
ALAN: I’m looking forward to… not riding for a while. Like, a couple of weeks.
KIRBY: Cleaning my apartment. Wow, and wearing new clothes.
ALAN: And getting drunk.
KIRBY: We’re going to watch Pulp Fiction when we get back! Johnny’s never seen it.
By this time the interview was cut short because we’ve to go and honour dinner plans. Not that we’d made any reservations or actual plans. We just vaguely agreed to go out for dinner earlier in the day. And we have to begin our leaving process at least an hour in advance, because, for some reason, we find millions of small things to quickly do first before we’re all ready to climb in the PeopleWagon and leave.
Okay, we are seriously close to home. Like, we can almost see it. Literally.
All three unicyclists are on the road today (go-go Donna!) and headed for Riebieks Kasteel, a place which I know for a fact is sorely lacking of an actual castle. Not a proper castle, anyway. I watched Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, I know what to look for.
They're also being joined on bicycle by mister Steve Burnett, partly because he's a rad dude, heavily because he knows the way aaand we don't.
So, do you guys know the deal? We're arriving at Mouille Point lighthouse at 12:00PM on Saturday. And we want you to be there to meet us! What we're also trying to get together is a public posse: bring yourself and your self-propelled vehicle (bicycle, scooter…. unicycle?) and ride the last few kilometers to Mouille Point with the unicyclists. Make an entrance, that type of thing. We have a little bit of red tape to get through first, but please check back on the sight tomorrow for directions and instructions – members of the Facebook group and events page will also be sent direct messages about what the deal's going to be.
Wanna know how far these guys have one-wheeled across the country?
Blue Lagoon – Indigo: 65km, 17 hours
Indigo – Minerva: 70km, 13 hours
Minerva – Allendale: 50 km, 7 hours
Allendale – Centocow: 59 km, 12 hours
Centocow – Ntsikeni: 43 km, 13 hours
Ntsikeni – St Bernard's: 52.5 km, 10 hours
St Bernard’s – Masakala: 57km, 7 hours
Masakala – Malekhonyane: 58 km, 7 hours
Malekhonyane – Tinana Mission: 43.6 km, 10 hours
Tinana Mission – Vuvu: 37 km, 4 hours
Vuvu – Rhodes: 83 km, 10 hours
Rhodes – Chesny Wold: 66 km, 9 hours
Chesny Wold – Slaapkranz: 68 km, 7 hours
Slaapkranz – Moordenaarspoort: 34 km, 5 hours
Moordenaarspoort – Bosterlea: 93.2 km, 10 hours
Brosterlea – Romansfontein: 80 km, 8 hours 41
Romansfontein – Hofmeyr – 73.12, 10 hours 38
Hofmeyr – Stuttgardt – 105 km, 13 hours
Stuttgardt – Doornbos – 61.5km, 7 hours
Doornbos – Vandeventerskraal – 71.93 km, 8 hours 47min
Vandeventerskraal – Toekomst – 49.6 km, 5 hours 55min
Toekomst – Kleinpoort: 78.31 km, 8 hours 52
Kleinpoort – Hadley: 66km, 10 hours 46 min
Hadley – Cambria: 55 km, 10 hours 4 min
Cambria – Studis Damse Drif: 82km, 9 hours 48 min
Studis – Makkedaat Grot: 39 km, 5 hours
Makkedaat Grot – Willowmore: 50 km, 6 hours
Willowmore – Rondawel: 98 km, 6 hours 33 min
Rondawel – Prince Albert: 67 km, 5 hours 51 min
Prince Albert – Gamkaskloof: 64 km, 8 hours 16 min
Gamkaskloof – Rouxpos: 66 km, 9 hours 16 min
Rouxpos – Anysberg: 85 km, 12 hours
Anysberg – Zoutkloof: 93.5 km – 11 hours 30min
Zoutkloof – Matroosberg: 57km – 9 hours 40mins
Matroosberg – Tulbagh: 73.4 km – 9hours 16 mins
TOTAL DISTANCE: 2,294 km
They're actually going to do it.
On Saturday, these guys will have unicycled all the way to Cape Town, from Durban.
Man. PeopleWagon will be so pleased.
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