The Atlantic Ocean!
If the day of the Stage Win represented one of my fastest on the Tour, the two days after certainly have been among the slowest. Dead and acidic quads can only push a girl so far up another 250k of hills. Somehow I forced myself to make it, because I knew today we would see an ocean for the second time in four months.
To get to the ocean, we all started the day with breakfast, a quick 25k and then a second breakfast at Wimpy’s, the South African food chain that is a sick highlight of our days. We “TDA’ed” the Wimpy’s, which as a verb can take on various meanings, in this case defined as totally overwhelming food consumption. After Wimpy’s we rode through charming vineyards and 70k or so of rough dirt roads. As we bumped and shook over the persistent corrugation, the sky darkened and a cold rain started falling. Between the raindrops, we could smell the salt of the approaching Atlantic Ocean.
Continuing on through a nice, nasty little headwind into Lambert’s Bay, we finally saw wild, raging surf in the distance! I was riding with Canadian Jenn who true to form, started crying. She’s all tough on the outside, but show her a baby elephant, Namibian landscape or symbolic ocean and the softie pours out! We rode for another 25k on a gnarly, seaside dirt road between a railroad track and hurricane strength surf to our destination and campsite in Eland’s Bay. We are camped right on the beach in a storm and the roar of the ocean is just fantastic. It feels like the damp cold of winter in Ireland or Maine. It also feels like we are at the end of the Earth…and I guess in reality, we are.
I can’t bear to miss any of the sights or sounds of this intense place in our final days, so I am pitching my tent in the wind and rain with other hardy souls, as the perhaps smarter souls scurry off to the nearest hotel rooms. I have already watched German Hardy relocate his tent to higher ground and an unnamed guilty party dig a drainage ditch around his tent that leads right into the TDA kitchen. The cook is going to be boiling puddle water tomorrow morning. By the sound of the surf right now, I’ll be happy if we aren’t hit with a ocean swell or tidal wave tonight.
At this point we are as far west as we can go (clearly) and will now proceed south for two days to Cape Town. The last day into the city is largely ceremonial, so tomorrow is the last real riding day and last day we will camp together. It has been interesting to observe group dynamics over the past week. Some people are over the riding and camping and just want to get out of Africa. Others could do this every day forever. I am just sitting here savoring every fabulous horrible moment of one of the most stirring and enriching journeys of my life (so far).
It has been absolutely “pissing rain” all afternoon to quote the British on this trip. Right now I am sitting in a tent that is unfortunately experiencing a somewhat disastrous flooding situation. I just discovered puddles and wetness on the inside of my bag which could make for an interesting and somewhat unpleasant morning tomorrow. It seems my tent and gear are done with this Tour. I however, have two days left to rock!