Day 5. Lovely Riding, Big Portages

Ongeluksnek to Vuvu (via Tinana Mission)
73km, 1710m ascent
Depart: 6h00
Arrive: 16h47

I didn’t quite expect this day to be so long and as usual we weren’t really leaving much time out there, we were efficient in our continuous movement yet the day ticked along. It’s a deceptive day, tricky navigation and lots of portaging. The usual route narrative got us through the day with tricky route options at Blackfountain which we did well, scaling up and down cliff faces which we did well, heading into the Vuvu Valley which we did well and scaling a mountain to the top of Vuvua which I didn’t do so well. My bike carrying techniques needed refinement, I was wrestling my bike more than I was progressing forward. More about that later though. All in all a tough day with lots of walking and scrambling with bike but actually very enjoyable. I took my bike up and down places I would never have thought possible or sensible .. perhaps it wasn’t sensible.

I really don’t want to be in that Vuvu valley all by myself whether day or night … and I am not really the nervy scary type, it’s just not a nice place, there be things in those long grass that I’d rather not bump into when alone. In a group I think we scared them away or perhaps they were still busy hibernating. As it was we managed to find our way on the maps and up to the radio tower … or was it a cell phone tower :-).

The Vuvu stop is legendary and it didn’t disappoint. The people of Vuvu make this stop special. We are hosted at Vuvu School where riders are fed, we wash from a bucket in a class room and it appears from experience they know what to expect as all chairs & desks are moved out wide, it seems Freedom riders like to splash! Toilets are long drops which were neat, clean and had lovely views in the moonlight :-). The highlight is no doubt the sleeping bit (see separate post on this topic) when we are hosted in vacated rondavels or houses of the locals. These people pull out all the stops and I hope they know how much we appreciate their hospitality.

Vuvu chicken is the topic of many a Freedom discussion so we were all looking forward to seeing what it was all about. In all honesty, we never got it, the chicken looked pretty normal and tasted very good. So the legend of the Vuvu chicken remains a mystery to me.

The local security chief quickly became an ally as he knew where the local shebeen was and ensured our supply of hydration was kept fresh all evening. Another hard day but the body is adjusting by now and we’re well past halfway. Tomorrow it’s Lehana’s Pass and I have butterflies in my stomach as the bike carry didn’t go very well today and tomorrow will be even bigger!

The hanging bridge at Tinana.

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