This past weekend we went to Robertson and of course our regular midday ride

promised as much sweat as ever with the temperature 34+ - if you want to learn

how to deal with African sun, Robertson is really a good way to acclimatise!

We set off around 12:30, making our way through the little streets.  This

little town has more churches in it than some larger cities! ( is this

diversity or is it disagreement?) The little town of Robertson is alot of fun

to ride around in, the view of the mountains,  the cute little houses, the

parks, the churches and of course the regular sighting of the parachutes

floating serenely downwards....all set such a good cycling scene.

Around the back of the town closest to the mountains was the first leg of our

ride, we had not been there before and needed a change of scenery - luckily

you cannot get lost here, if you do find yourself briefly questioning your

direction, all you have to do if you cannot see the mountains, is just keep

going in one direction until you reach the other end of the town (which surely

cannot be longer than 6km, if that in some places). 

Although part of this expedition was to go buy some lunch we both found

ourselves thoroughly enjoying this particular ride and decided we would press

on much longer than usual and the euphoria seemed to suppress the hunger (or

maybe in hind-sight the euphoria may have been caused by a little dehydration

and hunger!)  Either way, we were content to keep on zooming around this

little town.

Our imagination tranformed the dips and turns and little traffic circles into

obstacle courses.  (These circles actually resemble giant mosquito bites in

the tar!  I dont know what these circles are for, except to serve as really

cool bumps to bounce over on the bicycle!) After a little imaginary off-

roading and traversing most of the actual roads in the town, we gave into the

hunger pangs and took a break under a tree in one of the parks.  BBQ chicken

and coke for the  main course.  I only realized afterwards that my hands were

filthy - I suppose once we are in the middle of Namibia, getting used to

eating with dusty or dirty hands now may be a good thing as we will not be

wasting precious water for the sake of a few germs!  Then again with the

vaccinations we have had I think we are pretty much immune to everything!!! 

(Well at least I hope so!) 

On the one end of Robertson is the cemetery, serene place that looked almost

forgotten by all except the obvious theives who could not resist robbing

something from inside part of the closed-off region of the cemetery.  I think

they missed the part where the cultures who bury their dead with valuables are

either long gone with the ancients or dont live here in South Africa!  It

makes no sense to me what a person can steal from a graveyard, but I guess we

will see more surprising things as we travel through Africa.

On our way back to the drop-zone (where the skydiving club is in Robertson),

we came across a new development of fancy little houses and could not resist

the little streets (and seeing as there was no boom yet, well, what would you

do!? :) ) Up and down the little streets we scooted, until we came across an

interesting looking little stream effort with a mildly challenging slope on the one

end and well this was in the direction of the drop-zone so we thought we could

find a short cut and bundu-bash at the same time. 

Risking not so severe injury but certainly severe giggles, we hopped over the

little trickly and dragged the bicycles up the slope, my bike trying to attack

me in the process!  (this was after lunch so it was not a figment of my sugar-deprived imagination).

Once on the other side we came across the gates on the

other side of the complex - which to our mild annoyance were locked (Yes we

were not meant to be in there!) So on turning around I spotted what I thought

may be our way across by following the little 'stream'.  Calling Jérémie back (as

by now he seemed to be riding back the way we came like the bats of hell were

after him) I showed him what I saw and he agreed we should try the route out.

Of course we were by now behaving like teenagers off-roading and were most

definately as blind to potential dangers as a teenager would be.  I was the

first to start riding off across this flat area where I began to notice little

prickling sensations on my calves, looking down I saw my wheels were flicking

paper thorns up against my legs.  Not really concerned I ignored it and rode

on.  Jérémie hot on my 'wheels' by now.  Getting close to the point in our sights

where we thought we may be able to get through, we noticed this was also a dead

end, with a sting.  Sitting below a shady tree were two bee hive boxes!  As

you can imagine we came to a very short sharp halt and turned around to ride

away again when both of us noticed our tyres encrusted, and not with paper

thorns.... we had just ridden through a mine field of devil thorns!  Tempted

to try pull a few out, then attempting to ride out of the mine field, now 

partially forgetting the bees behind us (not far away though), Jérémie heard

the sound he was dreading.... ppfffffffffffffff!!! pffffffff!!!!!!! Both of

his tyres expired in rapid succession!  Mine were still ok so I decided to

just ride away onto the tar road before I attempted any removal of thorns. I

stopped and carefully tugged on one thorn, pulling it out leaving this gaping

hole and then PPFFFFSSSS!!!! and so I put the thorn back in to the hole Very

Quickly!!!  This only served to buy me another maybe 2km becuase my front tyre

joined the ranks of the expired tyres and I ended up pushing my bike as well! 

And there we walked, post 14:00 sun, another litre of Coke to keep us going

and some good humour!! 

The moral of the story is this, never leave home with only one spare tube.  No

thats not it, never ride into restricted areas.  Oh gosh no thats also not

right, Never, and I mean Never Ever ride into mine fields of devil thorns! 

They are evil and were created for one purpose, to destroy your bicycle tyres!

But it was worth every kilometre of fun, every finger-licking drumstick and

slurp of Coke, every cool little twist and turn of which Robertson has many,

and every giggle and jibe for the irresponsible move to take a short cut

through a place we did not know at all!! 

And I would still do it all over again !!! :) :)

Next weekend though I think we will stay on the tar road and take a backpack

full of repair stuff!!!!!!!!

just in case, me thinks..... just in case..