Cycling Through a Pandemic is a project sharing the stories and perspectives of cyclists from ten countries around the world, who embarked on journeys in their home countries during the pandemic. This is Rae Trew-Browne's story.
This Collection showcases the three day ride from where I live in Cape Town to where my dad lives in the Northern Cape, taking a route straight through the infamous and most brutal parts of the Tankwa Karoo National Park.
My dad has Bipolar 1 Disorder and for a couple of years, we have not really spoken. A little while ago he reached out to me after retiring to the Karoo in an effort to make amends and try to patch our relationship back together. I had planned to drive up to him but South Africa went into hard lockdown shortly after.
During lockdown, I started planning some routes for when we were allowed to go bikepacking again and a ride up to my Dad seemed like the perfect way to get exploring again. In early December he called to say that he was getting married again in February and asked if I could be a part of the ceremony.
The Tankwa Karoo is essentially a desert, and February is the hottest month of the year. On day two I recorded temperatures of 47 degrees Celsius (116 Fahrenheit), and despite carrying six litres of water for the 130 kilometre (81 mile) stretch without resupply, I ran out of water and suffered severe heatstroke due to the roads being too soft and corrugated to ride.
When I set out on this journey I knew that it might not have been the furthest trip I have ever done, but rather the most difficult, physically and emotionally.
I eventually made it to the sleepover spot on the second day after a backie
from a pickup truck, that somehow miraculously came past and gave me a lift to the next water point. It is a very barren area with little traffic so I was quite fortunate to have been found.
The third day of riding was a huge mental battle, as I was still so sick from the heatstroke but still had a little over 100 kilometres (62 miles) to ride through the Karoo to get to my Dad, but I had to overcome it to make it to his wedding in time.
I also made a short film of the ride which you can view here:
The plan for the first day was to ride from my home in Cape Town to the first sleep over spot at Klondyk Cherry Farm, roughly 150 kilometres (93 miles). Even though it is mostly tar, it was due to be a very difficult day with three major passes to climb.
The temperatures were soaring but my spirits were high, …
Little did I know when I began riding on the second day that it would become my hardest day on a bicycle. In my adventures, I am constantly pushing the envelope of where my limits lie. This time I pushed things a little too far and was very fortunate to make it out in one piece.
I always knew that …
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I awoke fairly late on the third day, still feeling very ill from the day before, I was in no shape to ride 100 kilometres (62 miles) through the Karoo but I had to get to my Dad in time for his wedding.
It was a good day of pushing deep and taking my body further than it wanted to …
Bike Touring Collection by BTZ Bremer Touristik-Zentrale
Bike Touring Collection by Johanna