I knew it was going to get nippy when I passed below the Sterkfontein Dam wall. The cold cascades over the wall and fills the valley below. But that problem was 25 km away which would take me about an hour. Once there I was prepared to quiver for 30 minutes or so as I was sure it would warm up as I climbed out the valley and over the next ridge. In the meantime I was looking forward to an hour of easy riding. Ted's imagined snores energised my legs.
Just around the corner from The Border Post I ran into the first mist of the night. In places it was fog. The difference, as detailed in an earlier blog from this year, is visibility. At times I could see no more than 50 metres ahead. Approaching cars, which would be visible for many kilometres on a clear night, appeared out of the murk and were gone in the blink of an eye.
My breathe fogged up which is usually an indication that the temperature had dropped into single digits. I checked my Garmin and sure enough it indicated a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius. I don't trust the temperature of the Garmin when the sun is out because it's on my handlebars and basked in sunlight. As a consequence it over reads. But some folk love it - "Hey dudes the ave temp today when we went for our 100 km ride was 55!!!!!!"
Yeah, whatever. Unless you typed that from a hospital bed, while you were being infused with a fire hose, it never happened. As the sun was asleep I was inclined to believe the reading especially since it also felt chilly. Sub 10 is cold but I'm accustomed to riding in subzero temperatures. I had warm gear but it wasn't yet required. My core was warm and my fingers were still fine even though I had short fingered cycling gloves on, so I pressed on.
The temperature did drop a little more as I passed below the dam but it was still comfortable. As expected the temperature rose and the mist cleared as I climbed up the ridge on a gravel road that would get me onto the N5.
At the junction with the N5 I stopped for a quick snack. I initially planned to sit down and enjoy a quiet 10 minutes. The trucks rumbling by in an endless procession meant that quiet was not an option. Then I thought of Ted and his fast Cyclocross machine. After barely 2 minutes I was back on my bike and pedalling.
Even though it was around midnight the trucks kept rolling by. Many of them hooting or flashing their hazard lights in greeting as they passed. I guess I was an odd sight. After all, I was headed to the tiny settlement of Kestell that has a main street barely long enough to hang a street name and I'm fairly certain no one goes there on purpose.
As I trundled along I was struck by the activities that continue long after the sun goes down. These trucks were delivering all manner of goods from cheese and milk to tractor parts. As I pedalled along I got a glimpse of the work done by these corpuscles that move along the darkened veins of our country while we sleep.
None too soon I arrived in Kestell and made my way to the filling station to top up with water. The shop and forecourt (forecourt makes the place sound a lot more impressive than it was) were shut up tight as a drum but the ablution block was open. A passing taxi stopped and disgorged its passengers at the same time I arrived. I used the tap located on the wall near the ablutions to top up my bottles while tapping along with the music that blared from the taxi. The passengers were friendly enough and before long they had shoehorned themselves back into the mobile disco and headed off up the road.
Before long the only sound was the gentle popping of gravel on bike tyres as I cut across some open ground to rejoin the route that would take me through to Reitz.