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South African SS1600K - an Iron Butt ride.

It was time I did another Iron Butt ride. I'd been doing really short days, of only about 350kms.

I'd organised with the security guard at the Springbok caravan park to let me out at 5.00am. He also kindly signed my witness form for the start of the ride. My "Screamin' Meanie" truckers' alarm decided to be dead for some reason, so I was left with no alarm, hence I woke up late at 5.20 but managed to get the ride underway by 5.52am. I'd refilled the tank the day before, so just bought some water at the only open servo which could give me the all important start receipt.

It was still dark, of course, even at 6.00am, as it is winter, passing into spring, here. It was relatively cold, but the electrics stayed packed away, although the heated grips were on. Because of the high chances of there being game on the roads, it seemed a good idea to take it slowly, although the speed did build up as I became more used to the dark. Just before dawn, some "lumps" in the paddocks off to the side of the road suddenly became gemsbok, when one stood and lifted its head against the light on the horizon. They were a decent way off the road, so I didn't worry too much, although I did keep a close eye on the paddocks from then on.

The sun rose behind some hills, and it was a glorious golden light bathing the land. Dawn - the time of day when it is so good to be alive, and out in the outdoors.

The roads out here are good quality and made for speed, with a 120kph limit. Very little traffic at that time of the morning, too. But the downside of these good conditions is that the fuel gets used considerably faster! Kackamas appeared on the horizon, so pulled in to get fuel, in the crisp, cold air. The servo attendants certainly gave me some strange looks!

It was wonderful riding in the cool to cold morning, but the sun quickly heated things up somewhat, although I never got around to stripping off any layers, as it wasn't THAT hot. Upington, the northern eastern turnaround point, soon came and went and I then headed southwest, through Brandvlei, a fuel and refreshment stop to Calvinia, the next turnaround point in the figure 3 that I'd mapped out for this ride.

The wildflowers were out in force again on this leg, with whole vast paddocks with carpets of yellow, or gold, or mauve, or purple, or white, or a mixture of all colours, with some reds tossed in there as well. Stunning!

Back to the east, heading for Victoria West through Carnarvon, both fuel stops. Past Victoria West, and onto the N1, the main highway between Cape Town and the northern cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, the capital. Darkness hadn't quite fallen by the time I reached Beaufort West, so I refuelled both bike and body, letting the full darkness settle in properly. I don't really like riding in the twilight, particularly when there are animals around.

Even here on the highway, the speed limit was still 120kph, and with not much traffic, I was able to keep up a decent speed while taking care to avoid possible animals, fortunately none of which appeared.

Due to this higher speed, I had to make another fuel stop at Touws River, as I may not have made it to Worcester, otherwise. The lights of Worcester soon appeared, and I tootled through town till I eventually found a servo which could give me a computer generated receipt. It was done, shortly after 11.00pm!

The attendant pointed me to a decent hotel which would still be open at that time of night, so I went there, to the Protea Cumberland Hotel, a rather large concern! But I was able to park the bike in the outdoor lounge area, so I was happy. The male receptionist kindly signed my witness form, after verifying the odometer on the bike as required. It had been a long, coolish day, and my body was still shaking a little from the last 3-4 hours of riding in the dark and cold. I hate heat, but welcomed the heat pump turned on to high for a few minutes! It thawed me out, but I couldn't sleep - still too hyped, I suppose.

Another one done and dusted!

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