“After 186 days, 11,589 kilometres and 9 vast countries, we reached land’s end”
The Locos recount the experience of pedaling to the Cape of Good Hope as a significant end to a 6-month transcontinental bicycle ride.
Traffic was buzzing through the steep, high-rise shadowed streets. Horns orchestrated their frustration as three cyclists blocked the intersection. With obscenely heavy bags and dirt coated clothing, it seemed as if the crawled up toward Table Mountain. As the cars dart around the wide bicycles, they curse for time added to their commute, but they have no idea how stoked we were to see them.
Cape Town sits at the South-west corner of the African continent, and had been our destination for 185 long days. we shouted joyously at every street sign with the city’s name on it. We made our excitement visible, for viewers might not know how far we rode, but we certainly do. We climbed 200 meters to Kayden standing outside his apartment with a cold six pack. We threw up our hands, and off the handlebars, lost control, ironically crashing into each other in the last 50 feet.
As with every city we enter, we discarded the mud-ridden riding clothes and put on the one ‘party’ shirt that didn’t smell like chain oil or peanut butter. A restaurant cooked meal and a pillow always a refreshing treat. This was the end of travelling on our bicycles, for we could leave the 200 pounds of gear strapped on the bicycles the next day as we rode to the end of the Cape peninsula.
For our last day of the Africa bicycle ride, we were joined by Kayden in a support car and our two UCSB friends, Matt and Mitch. The coastal road out of Cape Town took us past Table Mountain and the 12 apostles, a stunning mountain range that seems as though it was born out of the turquoise waters.
The Cape of Good Hope is a narrow landmass stretches toward Antarctica. The raw ocean’s power known as the ‘Roaring 40’s’ creates some brutal weather. As the mountains started dwindling and the land got narrower, we were greeted with 20 mph winds out of the South, and stronger gusts. Each kilometer felt like 3, and downhills required pedaling.
The five of us rode in a very tight line to reduce the wind’s force, rotating the unlucky leader. As each cove along the Western coast started to produce a new view, we’d shout , “that’s the cape,” only to repeat this process around the next corner.
We assumed incorrectly that this 90 kilometer day wouldn’t take more than a few hours. Into the afternoon the wind picked up strength and our legs did not. The ocean had that ferocious white-capped hue to its teal base. Each kilometer was to be earned, not given. It sure speaks to the nature of bicycle touring, for if I wanted the easy way to my destination I could’ve hopped in the car with Kayden. a flight from Cairo to Cape Town is an 8 hour snooze, but I am glad to look down at my handlebars and have 6 months of memories attached to getting to this very spot. The uphills and down, the with the wind, and the currently getting flown sideways as the wind whips around a corner.
The road ends with a parking lot and a sign for people to stand next to and smile. I sure was happy to be there, but there was a line of people trying to take photos with the engraved wood. We picked up our bikes off the pavement, propped them over our choulders and kept walking. We marched triumphantly over the rocky coastline and cautiously over the field of drying bull kelp washed ashore. We reached the end of the tide’s extent and slowly dipped the tires of the bicycles. We let the waves wash over our feet and probably wreck the chain with salt water. But we were there, grateful for each other and the bicycles that made the whole thing possible.