Friday, 15 February 2013
Beit Bridge to Popallin Ranch is day 1 of the Dragons Spine. We arrived at the Bridge at 05h20 and the border was already busy, about 40 baboons running around under the Bridge greeted us. We could see that the recent floods had caused a lot of damage to the roads and area. We were going to have to carry our bikes over the first 20 meters of road as it had been washed away. Once we had climbed over the mud, we were off, the road is a bit of a patchwork of tar that has seen better days, but it enabled us to ride at a semi road pace. The road runs right along the South African Border with Zimbabwe down the Limpopo River. It sounds better than it looks, the views of the river are majestic, but the razor tape and electric fences all along the river did put a dampener on it a bit. Any way we carried on riding, climbing gates, crossing rivers and watching illegal immigrants cross between the two countries despite the fences. The Army was not interested in us, they were polite and waved, and they have seen it before!! We passed a lot of new farms that were planting and erecting frames for what looked like grapes, and we did see a lot of repair work being carried out due to the floods of the past month, if we had rode a week earlier I doubt we would have been able to get through on this road. The route is not easy, but moderate so the book says, well we had to agree, but as an opener for the adventure it’s not bad, the legs have been warmed up. We arrived at Popallin ranch 5 hours after we started, the day was getting very hot, and we were glad that we had made it through with out getting lost. Popallin is an amazing place that is really busy in the middle of nowhere! The accommodation is great and they have everything here from White Lions, to an 18-hole golf course. Hospitality is still something that happens here, and not just a buzzword. Tomorrow we are doubling up on the days due to time restraints and it will be a 115Km day, we are going to leave early trying to avoid the heat, maybe we will maybe we wont! Today was a great start to a great adventure.