Rain and mud

8.15am, Saturday: Kevin has had to battle the thick mud the past few days, at times carrying his bike the mud was so thick. He is in for a wet weekend still, though. Weather forecast for today: 6.9mm of rain; Sunday: .4mm with temps dropping to 9C. In addition, waterproof jackets don’t stop the rain splashing up from the road, drenching him. And when he stops cycling, hyperthermia sets in quickly. Still, he is making good progress, with 80km achieved yesterday. He will enter the Eastern Cape today.

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Kevin has just ridden into Wasbank, some 20km south of Glencoe. “It’s a town with lots and lots of shops but almost all of them are closed,” he says. Except for a fruiterers, which has enough fruit to supply the whole of Joburg. There are more shops than people in the town, he says. “It is entirely, entirely weird.”

A man, who smelt of liquor, started attacking a boarded-up house with rocks. A woman looked out the window and started shouting at him, saying she’ll get the police. “It’s like a Punch and Judy show.”

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Blood river

Kevin passed near to Blood River today. The history of the battle is well known, commemorated for years as the Day of the Vow, giving Boers a Godly provenance. The day is commemorated today as the Day of Reconciliation.

Leading the Boers was Andries Pretorius; leading the Zulus was General Ndlela; the day was 16 December 1838. After the Zulus were deciminated by the Boers, King Dingaan had Ndlela strangled – the charge: high treason. The Boers helped Mpande take the throne after Dingaan was overthrown in 1840.

In 1971 a laager of 64 impressive ox wagons, cast in bronze, was erected. Across the river the Ncome Museum and Monument commemorates the Zulus who fell in the battle.

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Republic of Utrecht

Kevin passed through Utrecht at around lunch time today. It’s an interesting town, situated in the middle of a game reserve, with game roaming the town’s streets.

It has an interesting history too. The Boers, in the form of AT Spies, JC Klopper and CJ van Rooyen, who spoke fluent isiZulu, traded 100 cattle in 1852 from King Mpande, for a piece of land, according to Wikipedia. Van Rooyen was a friend of Mpande and had assisted him a few years earlier. The agreement with Mpande, dated 8 September 1854, read:  

“Under the authority vested in me as Panda, King of the Zulus, I herewith declare that I have traded one portion of my land to the undersigned emigrants in exchange for one hundred head of cattle, which cattle I have received on this date and have given the land noted below as the everlasting property of the emigrants.” It was signed with an X.

But nothing is everlasting, except in heaven, especially when greedy colonials are bristling on the crest of surrounding koppies. “The Republic of Utrecht existed until 1858, when it joined the Republic of Lydenburg. This republic joined the ZAR in 1860. Utrecht and Vryheid remained part of the ZAR until 31 May 1902, when the ZAR surrendered to Great Britain. After this, both towns (and their districts) were incorporated into the colony of Natal as spoils of war.”

Republic of Utrecht, a quaint idea. I wonder what Utrechters would say about that these days.

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Kevin was interviewed for an article on the official South Africa website today:


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1 000km!

Sunday evening: Kevin is sleeping at a friendly farm near Utrecht, where I tried, without luck, to find him a place to stay. 145km in those legs today, and back in the Drakensberg, and in KwaZulu-Natal. And he reached the 1 000km mark today, his 10th day!

If you haven’t tuned into his twitter feed yet, you should: it has great pictures posted by him throughout each day: http://twitter.com/gannaride

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Elton, Colleen & Rory

Saturday: Elton, Colleen and Rory joined Kevin for a few days. Elton says on his return to Joburg: “He is making excellent progress and left Badplaas early this morning hoping for a really ‘long distance’ day. {just looked at his tweets and now in Amsterdam after 123km today – great ride!}  Having ridden some of the route that he is following you need to appreciate that this is no cruise down district roads. There is some seriously difficult terrain to be crossed with heavily overgrown tracks in places. This was part of the ‘route’ that we did between Mankele and Misty Mountain on Long Tom Pass.”

And this was the sunrise at Badplaas:

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