It's a home, it's a lodge, it's a safe place. It is far away, it is remote, it is in the middle of town. I had all the support stations' names but they were only names to me until I took the step into the door. One thing I have to say before opening the doors to them is, that no support station should be more than 200m from the main/district road. There is nothing more demoralising than trying to schlep a tired body another 2km before getting to the farm house. Take Rouxpos for instance. It has two entrances, so if you are not paying attention and miss the first one, you just keep on pedalling until the second entrance. But the best is you can see the house. It is not hidden behind a koppie.
I have to add now, that this is not intended to be criticism about any of the places we stayed in. This is how I experienced it as I arrived on that specific day. Keep in mind, that I was tired, hungry, fed up and wanted a hot shower, enough food to last me at least 4 hours and a warm bed. It can also be used as reference in planning your stay overs for next year's ride. I made sure that I stayed in most of them.
At the end of Day 1, I arrived at Allendale farm. Dana and Ian know about cyclists and their needs. Almost immediately I had a plate of hot soup, more soup please and then a huge plate of warm food and while I'm eating my washing got sorted. A warm bed and a huge breakfast and I was on my way. Quickly and efficiently, no waiting.
End of Day 2 at Ntsikeni's May Lodge. Ah, what a pleasure walking into an oven. They had about 10 heaters blazing red hot heat into the room. Washing hanging all over in different stages of drying, but friendly and helpful. First some coffee, then soup, then shower, then a hot meal. It was so nice and warm in there, I didn't want to go out in the cold, to my room. I could have slept there on a mattress on the floor. Warmth, warmth and more warmth..
Arrived at Masakala in the dark. All was quiet and in semi darkness. We allocated rooms to ourselves and quickly unpacked, dragged all the bikes into the room and then went to search for food, in the food hut. Hushed silence and whispering coming from the kitchen part in the main hut. We said our "hello's" and got our 2l boxes. Nothing else happened for a while so we peeped round the kitchen door and asked if our food was ready. It was, so we took our places at the table and waited some more. Peeped round the kitchen again and asked if they could dish up the food. Slow process, but we did get our food and it was yummy. So was the breakfast the next morning and it was on time. We also got a heater to warm up our room, so we had a warm night's sleep.
Most beautiful pink for a hut! Masakala!
End of day 4 we arrived at Malekholonyane (check out the spelling because it gets spelled a hundred different ways) to loud cheers and clapping. Awesome! I felt instantly important. But the best of bests, they had vetkoek. I left my bike lying in the sun and dived in. Vetkoek and coffee. More vetkoek and juice and then more vetkoek. It was the best to arrive with still some sun left to clean bike, clean self and for washing to be washed, dried and folded. More clapping and cheering when we left, waving us on, on our journey. Friendly and super efficient.
The painted inside of the main hut at Malekholonyane
The main hut which housed the kitchen and more sleeping place and a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains
The whole hut to ourselves, with our own bathroom.