Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My turn: Biking through Africa

November 22, 2010 |

Just got back from an exciting, beautiful, learning  experience on another bike ride. Ever been to Cape Town, South Africa? If you have, you know just how difficult it is to describe it without getting carried away. It takes pictures, of which I have many, many, many, to do the place justice. Generally, It looks very similar to the islands of Hawaii in a lot of respects.

It is summer there now, so I figured it would be warm and sunny every day, after all it is Africa. Well it was sunny and warm most of the time, but then we did have to ride in the rain all one day, and then a bad head wind the next day, but we didn’t complain; the ride was worth it.

Cape Town is a big city with big buildings, parks, beautiful waterfront, new soccer stadium, etc. It is situated at the base of a huge mountain named Table Top, from the top of which you can see forever, and then some. It is situated in a national park. Since I arrived for the bike ride the day before the rest of the riders, I had a whole day to look around on my own.

While up on Table Top mountain, I met the guy in charge of the entire national park. He noticed I spoke funny, and ask me where I was from. I told him, and then he asked me if I would like a personal tour of the park. I said sure. He told me that he was so proud of the park, and also of his country that he wanted people to know about both and that is why he made the offer to show me around. I eventually found out that this was not an isolated attitude; the people in South Africa really do love their country and want us to know it.

If you just went to Cape Town and nowhere else, it would be worth the trip. For us, this was just the beginning. The rest of the riders arrived from the U.K., the day after I did, and the following day we took off on the bikes.

The first part of our ride was through the wine country. This area looked like Napa, with all the vineyards, etc., but the scenery is truly more spectacular. Mixed in with the huge fields of grapes were cattle ranches, grain fields, beautiful hills, etc. There is no way to really describe it. We stopped and did some wine tasting at a few places, and sampled the fresh fruit also grown on the ranches.

We spent several days in the interior wine country before heading up over a high pass, and then zooming down to the coast. The scenery along the coast was breathtaking. We first visited L’Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. This is where the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet, and also where we spotted our first whale. It was difficult after that to ride the bike, watch the road, and also keep an eye out for whales.

After visiting the coast we again went back up into the interior, and I do mean up a big, big hill. While up in the interior we visited an animal preserve, swam in a large river, and ran around taking pictures of all the animals. We stayed overnight in this area. The next morning off we went heading back down to the coast. First thing we ran into a big bunch of baboons running across the road in front of us. We were all excited of course and took a million pictures. Later on we saw many, many baboons.

We got back down to the coast to a town called Hermanus. This town is on a big bay that is full of whales that come to hang around, mate, and have their babies. There were many, many whales here. You could walk along the cliff tops and see dozens at a time, along with some other animals, not in the water. You could stay here forever and never get tired of it. We stayed an extra day to get our fill of whales.

Then it was off down the coast along a road much like Highway 1 in California in the Big Sur area, without the trees. The cliffs were similar, the beaches were spectacular. Since it was summer, the flowers were in full bloom, and again were spectacular. We ended up for the next two nights in a little town called Simons Town, at Boulder Bay. Guess who lived here, surprise, penguins, hundreds of them. I can tell you we took plenty of pictures.

After we tore ourselves away from the penguins, we took off down the coast to Africa’s southwest extreme point and visited the Cape of Good Hope, and who hasn’t heard of that before. It is a gorgeous spot, is in a national park, and is inhabited by zebras, ostriches, of course baboons, and many other animals. Another unforgettable place.

Back on the bikes, we headed back up into and over the mountains on our way back to Cape Town. The scenery along this portion of the trip was the most beautiful; it just kept getting better and better. The mileage on this trip was only about 500 miles, if that — it was the sightseeing and the beauty of the place that was so spectacular. It is a place in the world to behold.

Fred Belt is a resident of Placerville.





District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment



Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8

Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17