The turn toward Vereeniging couldn't have come soon enough. The sun beat down on me and I was tired. I wanted to get it over with.
That part of the country is ugly. The countryside is littered with the remnants of human endeavour. It's as if the sticky residue of human failure had settled in the grease trap that spans the Vaal river around Sasolburg, Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging. There are abandoned buildings, piles of rubble, scars in the earth from past schemes where land rehabilitation was never on the cards. Perhaps some of it was from mining or farming ventures that failed, or perhaps they flourished for a season before they moved on simply left their mess behind and moved on to decimate some new piece of ground. I figured it would be softer on the eyes, at least for a few short months, once the rain came and tossed an obscuring mantle of green weed over the human debris.
The road ahead, a frayed black ribbon draped over the dusty and disfigured landscape, was littered with an endless stream of cars, taxis and buses. I kept a watchful eye lest two vehicles converged on me from opposite directions. A bicycle has the status of a rodent when the road becomes too narrow for two vehicles +1. It behoves the +1 to rather be prudent than cling to ones right of way. On the upside, sleep monsters don't thrive in these conditions - I was wide awake.
I crossed the Vaal river into town and entered the normal fray of urban traffic. At least now there was some semblance of order and predictability and the road was wide enough to navigate without the risk of becoming roadkill.
I kept a lookout for a shop. My eyes were hungry for ice cream, crisps and a bottle of water. I was almost through town when I spotted a garage shop off a street to my right. I threaded through the traffic and made my way to the shop.
The shop was cool thanks to effective air conditioning. While tempted to linger inside and enjoy the coolness I knew it would be a trap. I grabbed what I needed and sat on the pavement outside.
It was almost 3pm. It was still hot and I was hopeful that the temperature had passed its zenith. I wasn't sure of the distance to the finish and thought is was about 60 km. That being the case I wasn't going to finish before 5 pm. My audacious goal of finishing in 34 hours had lapsed. My 36 hour goal meant a 5 pm finish. At least I should make it before sunset which was my softest goal. I ate my ice cream, munched on my crisps, and filled my water bottles. Sitting on the curb in the heat of the day, watching the ebb and flow of life through the surrounding shops and roads, 60 km seemed a long way off.