Tour d’Afrique

Missing Photos and bonus video

These photos somehow missed going with their correct posts:

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16 April: Tom retired director and documentary now author

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22 Apr: Thunderstorm camp

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Apr 25: Tallis getting the beer for the next Bush Camp

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Apr 28: Truck loaded up ready for another day on the road

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Apr 28: Namib Desert. Peter and Elaine Cox

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Apr 28: Crossing the line out of the tropics

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May 9: The mosaic bathroom in Garies

This is a video put together by another person on the trip, and is a good cross section of the trip

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20 May: lazy day in Dubai

After getting to bed at about 4 am we slept in until 9:30 am, then off to have breakfast before it stopped at 10 am. The WIFI was not working in the room and when we went to reception it turned out we were not entered into the hotel system at all! Finally we got room keys and WIFI. Staying here feels like hard work.

We spent the day relaxing – swimming, catching up with emails and blogs. I didn’t leave the hotel apart from to go swimming in the sea, plus I went swimming in the hotel pool.

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Brett had a quick taxi trip to get some more tape to wrap around the bike boxes, as we noticed when they came off the plane that they were starting to split in a few spots.

We had a very nice dinner upstairs in the hotels roof restaurant. A nice gin and tonic to start, then a lovely ceviche, then spicy tacos, with a bottle of Tempranillo wine. Very warm there today, 55 degrees. Hard to imagine we are heading home into winter.

We had an early night as have an early pick up at 6:30am tomorrow.

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19 May: Bye bye Africa, back to Dubai

Lucky Brett rung the reception at 6:30 re wanting the bike boxes early – as they were actually storing them at another hotel! We also rung the transport firm to check they were expecting 2 bikes in boxes, which they were. The shuttle turned up with a trailer which was the perfect size for two bike boxes.

When we were leaving the hotel I was walking along the corridor and I turned quickly to ask Brett something, and stood on my tip toes on my right leg – and managed to pull or tear my calf muscle so I am now limping.

We got to the airport with heaps of time to check in . I was overall under the weight limit but had to take 2 kg out of my checked baggage and put it into carry on. Doesn’t seem to make good sense to me, as it is in the same plane! Initially Brett was told he was 12.5 kg over, but after a bit of discussion they agreed to accept his Qantas allowance.

We had a meal at the airport before getting on the plane. The plane was not full, so Brett and I had 3 seats. The plane ride was uneventful, 9 hours to Dubai.

Pleased to be having a break in Dubai and don’t have to get straight onto the 12 hour flight to Sydney.

It took ages to get the bike boxes, then we found we were waiting in the wrong place. Once we got the boxes we then had to check into “left luggage” then make our way to the travel company Arabian Nights, who were taking us out to our hotel in the Palms. The Palms is a man made area of reclaimed land in the shape of a palm, and each frond has houses and hotels with mostly direct beach access.

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Photo credit: Wikipedia

It was 2:30am by the time we arrived at Aloft hotel, and we were told there was a problem with our booking. If we checked in now we would have to check out at 2:30 am tomorrow. We explained a number of times that we had a 48 hour booking, and we were not being picked up until 6:30am.

Eventually it got sorted out, then the room key card was broken! We eventually got to our room and ordered room service, which took about 45 minutes to arrive. The person who delivered it was very insistent that it was paid on the spot, not put on the bill. Luckily I had got some cash at the airport.

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Departure day in Cape Town, final chance to offload some stuff

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18 May: Back to Cape Town, visit to Robben Island

Today we left just after breakfast to get back to Cape Town and check in at the hotel before our trip to Robben Island. We were booked on the ferry at 1pm. Luckily our room was ready when we got to the hotel.

We caught the ferry to Robben Island, which is 6.9 k from Cape Town.

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Back in Cape Town and ferry out to Robben Island

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Cape Town and Table Mountain which constantly taunted the prisoners on Robben Island.

In 1846 Robben Island was a Leper Colony, from 1961 to 1991 it was a maximum security prison for enemies of apartheid. In 1997, 3 years after the end of apartheid, it was shut down as a prison.

Nelson Mandela was a prisoner here for 18 years from 1964 to 1982. The cell that he slept in had a light bulb burning 24 hours a day, and he could walk the length of his room in 3 places. There was no bed to sleep on – it was a mat on the floor, and the toilet was a bucket.

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Robben Island Prison

We had a tour around the Island and an ex-political prisoner was there giving a talk about his experiences. Overall it was a pretty sobering tale, but one where hope was never lost and where the inmates had many years to talk and debate about how South Africa should be governed for the benefit of all its citizens.

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Robben Island Prison

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Robben Island Prison

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Robben Island Prison

After Robben Island we stopped at a Belgium restaurant. I had Fish soup plus pate. The soup was quite nice but the pate was more like a terrine than a pate that I am used to, and I didn’t really like it.

Back to the hotel to go through my gear one more time to see if there is anything else I don’t need, to try and get under the weight allowance.

Then an early night to make up for expected lack of sleep on the 9 hour plane ride to Dubai tomorrow.

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Back into Cape Town from Robben Island.

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16 May: Day One in Stellenbosch

Today we are doing a wine tour by bike which a bit like a busman’s holiday. The company is called Bikes ‘n’ Wines and our guide is called Ethan. As well as doing these tours Ethan is also doing a tourism guide course to give him more options for employment. Tourism is a big industry here, the taxi driver Colin who dropped us off is doing a sommelier course.

Riding a mountain biking is a big adjustment from a cyclo cross bike, especially how hard and sudden the front brakes stop you, plus riding without cleats. Also mentally convincing myself I could ride this bike on the terrain because it was made for this stuff, such as through sand, uphill, and over jumps and bumps.

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Amongst the vineyards

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Ride n’ Wines

We went to 4 vineyards
1. Neethlingshof, which was fantastic we had a wine and food match
2. Dewal wine
3. Skilpadvlei, where we had wine and a cheese platter
4. Lovane, where we had wine and a chocolate platter

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Ride n’ wine through the Stellenbosch vineyards. 1st off: Neethlingshof Estate est. 1680

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Neethlingshof Estate

The wines were Chenin Blanc, Pinotage (a cross between a Pinot and a cinsaut), plus a mixture of other red and whites. It was a very pleasant way to spend the day but would have been challenging doing the ride without a reasonable amount of bike experience and fitness.

We had dinner at a place called the Fat Butcher. We had a nice Shiraz. I had lamb rump chargrilled rare to medium (had to be returned once as it was medium to well done). Brett had a steak called the Collins which was flambéed in Cointreau.

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15 May: Cape Town to Stellenbosch

Yesterday we had put all our washing into the front desk. Instead of it being a price per bag as per usual, it was per item. When I filled out the form I assumed it was in South African money.

We were woken up about 6:15am by loud banging on the door. It was the laundry – all the riding shirts and other shirts were on individual hangers, and the socks, undies, riding pants etc were all in gift wrapped boxes tied up with ribbon!  When we went to pay the bill we discovered the cost was actually in USD and our washing cost $250 USD. No wonder it was gift wrapped.

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Early morning delivery of the laundry 🧺

Today we are heading to the wine region called Stellenbosch via Cape of Good Hope which has a lighthouse and was very important for shipping.

At the Cape we climbed up to the Lighthouse and then went to the restaurant for lunch.

I  had line fish as a main and an entree of four fresh oysters, each with a different topping
1. Strawberry, basil and balsamic
2. Pickled ginger, coriander, chili and sesame
3. Burnt pineapple and pickled melon
4. Apple, lemon and fennel

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Oysters for lunch at Cape Point

On the way back we stopped at St James beach and saw the Iconic Boat/bathing sheds, plus we stopped and saw the penguins. On the way to Stellenbosch we went past a huge Shanty town, home to over a million people. It went on forever.

Then up to Stellenbosch to the Oude Werf Hotel. The hotel is built on the site of the first church in South Africa and the hotel is the longest running Inn in South Africa.

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Staying 3 nights at the Ouse Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is like Martinborough but on bigger scale – there are 160 vineyards and numerous restaurants.

We had dinner at the hotel. Brett had a trio made up of
1. beef boboties – a traditional meal mince with turmeric, rice, raisins and tomatoes
2. chicken, mushroom and leek pie
3. ox tail stew 

I had the beef burger, and we shared Creme brûlée’s for dessert.

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Drive to Cape Point Lt.Ho

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Cape of Good Hope viewed from the Cape Point Lt.Ho.

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14 May: Day Two in Cape Town

The site where our hotel is located used to be a prison and some of the bricks in the dining room are original from when it was a prison.

Today we have to get up early as we are being picked up between 730 and 7:45 for a City Tour – we have a tour of Table Mountain and the city. Plus it is Brett’s birthday.

We are lucky as today is not foggy or windy. At times you cannot get up to Table Mountain for 1-2 days at a time due to wind, and then other days you can’t see anything due to the fog.

There were 7 other people in total in our group. We spent two hours at Table Mountain which is part of the mountain range that Cape Town sits below. Table Mountain and the other mountains are older than the Himalayas.

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Cable car to the top of Table Mountain

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View over Cape Town waterfront from on top of Table Mountain. Robben Island out in the distance.

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Table Mountain

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Table Mountain

We then went into the city to the common gardens where vegetables were grown for the early ships and then to an old area of housing fill of brightly coloured housing. At the common gardens there were lots of squirrels plus people trying to sell paintings, carved animals and pens, plus people carrying bags to collect your trash for a donation.

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Cape Town. Bo-Kap

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Bo-Kap

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Bo-Kap

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VOC Company Garden

We went to the Slave Museum which was quite challenging to think humans can treat other humans like they did. Harrowing tales of how men, women and children were treated and their total lack of rights.

After the tour we went to the waterfront for lunch. After lunch we looked around and bumped into a number of TDA tour riders, and then caught up with emails etc. Then we went out for Brett’s birthday dinner.

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Serious business: Birthday lunch!

We had booked to go to Kloof Kitchen, it was really nice . Of course we ran into other TDA riders there (Fredrick and his girlfriend, Lorraine, Romy and Boulder).

The food at Kloof Kitchen was great, we had soup, baked camembert, lamb, steak, and a cheese board. Yum.

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Morning tour coffee spot

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VOC Company Garden

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VOC Company Garden

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Cape Town City Centre

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Cape Town City Centre

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VOC Company Garden beneath Table Mountain

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V & A Waterfront

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Cape Town Fish Market

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V & A Waterfront

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V & A Waterfront

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V & A Waterfront

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V & A Waterfront

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13 May: Day One in Cape Town

Awake of course I was at 6 am even though I don’t need to be. We are moving hotels today to the Portswood, right by the wharf district in Cape Town.

I finished packing and then went down to breakfast, another round of goodbyes to various riders.

When we were waiting for the van to take us to the new hotel Carl and Fritz turned up with a new Dougy that they had found at the Chinese market. We found Lulu and took photos of her and Dougy 2.

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The Wildcats with Dougy

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LuLu overjoyed to get Dougy back

Once we had checked in and sorted out getting the bike boxes stored it was time to meet up with Barry Mahon who works at CCDHB and is currently holidaying in Cape Town. Barry and his wife Sue come from Cape Town. Barry took us on a tour around Cape Town – up to look outs, to the beach, to the university and to a very nice cafe.

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Trip around Cape Town beaches and bays

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Hout Bay

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Barry and Kaye on Kommetjie Beach

We got to see a number of places we wouldn’t have otherwise. At the beach was a sign advising people to walk in groups of 4 or more and not to resist if you are robbed! A bit daunting.

There are self-employed parking attendants at most car parks who work for tips. They point out parks and look after your car while you are gone. In a city with 30% unemployment, and no benefits if you are under 65 and single, then people have to make a living any way they can.

Barry and Sue are about to head off on holiday to Botswana to a number of places we have ridden through. Barry dropped us off at 7pm at the Wharf and we went to a pub called Mitchell’s for dinner. I had a Mexican burger which was one of the nicest burgers I have ever had.

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End of the bike ride, time to be a real tourist. Shift from Lagoon Beach into the Portswood Hotel

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Coastal road Hout Bay

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Kommetjie Beach

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Cape Town University

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12 May: Yzerfontein to Capetown

93 km to ride with 730 metres of climbing and 720 down. Last day today!

As was expected, it was very cold overnight. I was awake from 4 am. The cold night was not helped by the tent being soaking wet with condensation. Yay the last time for a while taking down a tent and packing it away.

Wet tents are so hard to pack they just don’t want to go into the bag. I am pleased I also have a dry bag to put it into so it won’t get my gear in my bag wet.  Shirley is so sick of her tent that after pulling it down she threw it into the bin. To be fair her tent has had zip problems for a while. I am going to enjoy not having to grope around in the dark with a head lamp on, getting dressed and getting packed up. I also suspect it will be awhile before I eat porridge again.

We are meeting at lunch at 76 km to convoy the last 17 km into Capetown.

We had a cold foggy start to the morning and had to delay leaving camp until the fog had lifted a bit. There were quite a few hills in the morning to get up. Lovely farm land, very different from what we have seen till now – green and lots of cattle, plus an ostrich farm.

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Last day, early morning start from Yzerfontein

I am riding with Fritz, Carl and Tom. We have been told to make sure when we are going through Atlantis at 46 km to ride in groups. Atlantis is an area of high crime and last year a rider was held up at knife point and robbed. Atlantis was certainly pretty bleak, a mixture of apartment blocks and shanty town, it looks very poor and run down.

I found out later that Atlantis was created in response to the Group Areas Act 1950 that removed all black people living in Capetown and relocated them over 50 km from Capetown.

After Atlantis we had a head wind for about 20 km, then thankfully turned to the left and had a tail wind most of the rest of the way to the lunch stop.

We met at a lovely beach for lunch, with a great view of Capetown and Table Mountain, plus TDA have made an amazing lunch. We had about an hour to take photos of the view and each other before we left in the convoy.

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At the gourmet lunch spot on the beach after 70k. Cape Town and the finish only 20k away.

Unlike yesterday’s convoy it was fun, we had a police escort in front and back, and traffic lights were blocked off so we could go straight through. It was nice weather and flat and even though it took two hours the time went pretty quickly.

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Convoy with police escorts into Cape Town

The convoy ended at the Lagoon hotel, on the beach in front of it. It was very nice seeing families waiting for some of the riders, some of them had not seen their partners for 4 months.

We had lots of photos on the beach, of individuals and groups, then we went inside for a glass of bubbles and the medal ceremony.

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Finish at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Cape Town

Everyone who does the ride gets a medal, some people love to get these. Then the 6 riders who had done the entire ride – every f*cking inch – didn’t get a medal recognizing this, they got a certificate! I would have thought if you were going to give medals surely you would have one for EFI riders.

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Finish at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Cape Town

Next job was boxing up the bikes (Brett) and drying tents on hotel balcony (me). I was amused to find when I had packed up my tent that morning a snail had been included. I hope he/she enjoys their new life in the hotel garden.

Then I spent some time writing thank you notes and sorting gratuities for the TDA staff. Got it all just sorted in time for dinner. I sat with Shirley, Dan, Brett, Tom, Richard, Terry, Fritz and Carl.

Dinner was a nice buffet with lots of selections. After the main meal we watched a slide show that Lordan, the comms guy, had put together of the trip.

After the dinner a number of us went to the bar to continue celebrating. I was surprised to find I had managed to stay awake until 11.30pm especially since I had been awake since 4 am.

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After 23k the Wildcats stop in Darling trying to recruit another starter at the Marmalade Cat Cafe

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Finish at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Cape Town

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11 May: Elandsbay to Yzerfontein

146 km to ride, with 605 up and 600 down.

I woke up to a range of birthday wishes from family and friends which was lovely, plus bout of gastro – not so good.

It getting much darker in the mornings now so we are not setting off until 7:15 when it gets light enough, so won’t need to get up at 5:45 anymore.

I hadn’t told anyone it was my birthday until I told Peter last night when he came and chatted to us at the hotel, and he has told everyone. Peter even told the shop owner  when I stopped at 55 km to get a drink. I was sitting at a table drinking my ginger ale outside, next thing the store owner comes out with soft serve in a cup with a candle on top, singing happy birthday, followed by Peter laughing.

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With my birthday ‘sundae’ and shopkeeper

The first 12 km today included 7 km riding on a gravel road around the coast, with beautiful views of the sea and shoreline. After this it was pretty flat but with either a cross wind or a head wind.

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12k of gravel alongside the ocean leaving Elandsbay

We had to go in a convoy in groups of 12 – 16 from lunch for 67 km, due to being on main highway and we had to be seen to be a “bike event” because of police regulations. Two groups went with police escorts and I was in the group with Tallis. Unfortunately Tallis went way too slow downhill and on the flat and a bit too fast up hills. Of course all the climbing had to be in afternoon! I was getting helpful hints on how to maximise my speed by a couple of riders, so after 40 km I was getting stressed and had had enough and got in the lunch truck as it came past.  It’s my  🎂 🍰  I should be enjoying it! 

At camp I put up both the tents. I had literally just banged in the last peg in Brett’s tent when he showed up. He said he hadn’t waited behind a bush until I had finished.

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Last night in a tent, beach camp at Yzerfontein

After putting up the tents and having a shower etc we walked up the toad to a nice bar called Yzen Bru. They are also a craft beer brewery and I had a great IPA, best beer I have had in Africa, and also yummy pizza.

Most of the riders either stopped there on the way to camp or came back there.

Unfortunately at 5:30pm we had to be at the riders meeting. Tallis must have been worried that most of us wouldn’t turn up given there was great food and cold beer (I suspect he was right) so he turned up to remind us about the meeting at 5:30, and that we wouldn’t want to miss it as we were going to discuss a lot of details for the final days ride tomorrow.

The bar shut at 7 otherwise I suspect a few of the riders would have gone back.

Dinner was pumpkin, corn, salad, and garlic bread, plus fruit salad, chocolate and custard. I was pretty full from the pizza so ate a couple of pieces of garlic bread and shared red wine with Dan, Shirley, Fritz, Carl and Brett to celebrate my birthday.

We got our trip riding shirts to wear tomorrow.

Yay! The last night in a tent 😀. It’s going to be pretty cold. 

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Rider’s meeting and jersey presentation. Stephanie on the left, Tallis on the right.

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