Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Munga 2019 - Part 11 - Saaifontein to Fraserburg

I'm getting ready to leave and another cyclist arrives which catches me off guard as I didn't think anyone was that close behind me. It's Martin. Either he didn't sleep at Pampoenpoort or he's been riding a heck of a lot faster than I have. Probably both.

I make my way through the farm and see the new container accommodation that's been built at Saaifontein. Its impressive. Right now it's in darkness as no one has yet made use of the facility. I'm sure it's going to be put to good use over the next few days.

I'm back on the district road and the eastern horizon is showing signs of a new day dawning. I ride along Iooking back occasionally for signs of Martin's light. Even though we are deep into the race and our positions are unlikely to change significantly the thought of bagging the lowest numbered medal possible makes me scamper away from those chasing and dig a little deeper if I see a rider up ahead. I imagine it's ingrained in all of us whether we are front, middle or back of the field riders. The expectation of seeing Martins light spurs me to greater effort. It gives me heightened purpose and makes me unlikely sleep monster quarry.

First objective is to get to Fraserburg. It's neither a race village nor a water point but if you arrive in daylight there is a cafe where you can restock. It comes bang in the middle of RV3 (Loxton) and RV4 (Sutherland). Hopefully JJ's Cafe will be open when I get there because I could do with a bag of salted crisps and an ice cream. The thought of ice cream tumbles around in my head for all 47kms of the straight lumpy road. As I crest each lump I'm hopeful that I will be able to see town. It comes two lumps further than anticipated. The final run into town is a corrugated mess but with my ice cream quest within reach I'm not fazed.

I reach the outskirts of town and it occurs to me that it's still early and JJ's might not be open. I see a lone figure walking in the middle of the road up ahead. Apart from him the place looks deserted. I skip through a stop street without slowing and am promptly chastised by the lone figure. The absurdity of it makes me laugh out loud.

JJ's looms. Ah, the door is open. Disappointment averted. JJ's Cafe—or Jj's Cafe per the sign outside—is not your average suburban neighbourhood convenience store. But it's convenient in that it's on the route through town and in years past riders have banged on the closed door at night and managed to rouse the proprietor. That qualifies as Convenient with a capital C.

The entrance is barely shoulder wide and squeezing through there's no doubt that I'm not in a Woolies Food store and that's okay because there are no queues and I only have eyes for 3 things: Ice cream, salted crisps and Coke. Coke and Almond Magnum ice cream are easy to find. Salted crisps present more of a challenge. Mrs Ball's Chutney or Spring Onion & Cheese flavours are not going to cut it. It's obvious that Salted is best because it's sold out. Well, sold out in the 36g size. A party pack will have to do.

A gent, who may or may not be JJ, is seated behind the counter by the door. He either has a penchant for sitting on small stools or suffers from acrophobia as only his head is visible above the counter. I pay and we make monosyllabic small talk.
"How are you."
"Fine thanks. You?"
Interesting chap. He couldn't be accused of being overtly vivacious or rude. He's right in the middle of that spectrum. It's like he's only there to facilitate efficient transactions. Much like a parking meter.

I squeeze through the door and take up position with my back against the wall of the shop facing the morning sun. The lone guy has left town no doubt affronted by my lack of civility and I have the whole street to myself. That is until Erik turns up. We chat, he snaps away with his camera and leaves town with the remnants of my party pack of crisps.

It's a beautiful morning and the wind has yet to pick up. It is in fact the perfect morning to go for a bike ride and I'm about to do just that.

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