West Coast National Park, riding around the spectacular Lagoon at Langebaan
Normally when we are 3 days into a ride, bits of our bodies start to go wrong. Days 4 and 5 are traditionally a low point for me, so this year I have been focusing on avoiding that. Better stretching is helping, as is a better understanding of the best foods to eat during and after the rides.
To help the legs back and neck I asked for a massage to be arranged after day 3 and 6. Purely medicinal of course! Today’s was wonderful and I’ve not had many better.
I have sore muscles under my shoulder blades from gripping the handle bars – that’s a new one! Sore buttocks, outer and tops of thighs, and outside of calves – all had a turn being massaged. It hurt quite a lot at times but I don’t expect sympathy!
My knee “crunch” from yesterday is now behaving. I saw a photo that Mark took of all of us cycling yesterday and it happened to be at the moment when one of my legs was up at right angle, parallel to the ground – it looked like I was lifting my knee too high, which means that my seat was too low. I told Mark and he checked out how I was riding and agreed that was the case. Immediately after he raised the saddle my knee felt more normal.
Hopefully that will help it maintain, and with a bit of luck improve. Today I took ibuprofen as a precaution and will do so tomorrow as it still isn’t completely right and I am nervous to put maximum effort through it, which is probably not such a bad thing anyway and will keep me cycling without pushing too hard and keeping energy in reserve which is what I’m aiming to mostly do.
I also have a really tender area on my shin, just below my right knee which may be part of the same thing. This hasn’t been an issue before but I’ll keep an eye on it – not that I know what to do about it anyway! I didn’t know there was much in that part of my leg to start hurting. We live and learn!
The rest of me is holding up ok I am pleased to say, so fingers crossed it stays like that.
Today’s ride was a really lovely 43 miles, with mostly gentle riding through a nature reserve near Langebaan. Mind you, it still had its fair share of steep hills. The “Black Mamba”, a half mile steep hill right at the end, was a bit tough but a bit of Bruce Springsteen blaring out of my phone helped a lot, and after about 5 minutes of cycling hard, it was done.
It’s now a few hours on from when I was writing the above. There was a spectacular sunset and I am very lucky to have a huge room with a jacuzzi bath (which I did use, but not for long) and an amazing big balcony which overlooks the water and sunset. I laid on the bed watching and writing the blog. Wow!
Dinner was at a restaurant around the corner. My pizza starter was like a main course and I thankfully managed to give 4 slices away. Fish for mains was a nice change and was also very good. I was absolutely stuffed, so couldn’t eat desert too. Note to self… eat smaller meals tomorrow!!
Back to the cycling. Again, we began on main roads with an uphill start to get out of town. I took a picture of a “Hello Darling” sign as we left town. There was a huge long hill quite soon and the road went up and up in about 4 sections. I took it slow as hadn’t worked out about my knee angle/saddle height at that stage.
We turned into a national park after about 20 miles and somehow managed with only snacks from the van (shock horror)! We cycled on a ribbon of winding undulating tarmac through lovely scenery which looked like the country would have done before any settlers came or developments happened. There were lots of small shrubs, gorse, hardly any trees and not much clear land. It was clear to see how easy it is for wildlife to hide and camouflage.
We still saw many animals including:
- a big bird of prey/hawk silently swooping overhead, with its shadow on us at times;
- ostrich and deer in the distance;
- several tortoises by the side of the road;
- many big fluffy caterpillars crossing the road; and
- a small white snake that looked mostly dead!
But the star of the show was when we came back from a spectacular viewpoint where we had seen the Atlantic Ocean and the coastal views. It was very windy, with cold chill in air, and completely deserted.
In the road was a huge snake! Mark said it was the largest puffer snake he’d ever seen and it was unusual. It was probably warming up on the hot road but got disturbed by us, turned towards us and then slithered back into the undergrowth. Many photos and videos were taken! The snake looked like it was digesting something or was pregnant. It was also fascinating to see it move which was mostly straight using what looked like internal legs. It was amazing.
We also saw another big McKay snake further down the road, but it just got back in the bushes before we could take a good look.
Then we went out of the park towards town. The lagoon was an amazing turquoise, my favourite colour. Then we cycled up the Black Mamba Hill, down the other side into Langebaan and we were done!
As it was a shorter day we had a few much-needed hours of rest and catch up time before dinner. Another amazing day full of wonderful memories. This is why we do these tours.
Follow all of my travels here on the blog. Thank you to everyone who has donated in support – I’m blown away with the amount raised so far.