Herewith Pawel’s account of his lonely and wet Cape 400km BRM. Good stuff.


18 Mar 2016. BRM 400. The Cape.

The usual week of “do I pack this or that” and of checking the cape weather forecast first thing in the morning. Flying complicates things a bit. Friday, got up early, drive to JHB, meeting at Accenture, drive to OR Tambo bleeding the work stress out of the body and missing the right off ramp. The airport a mayhem before the long weekend. The BA flight delayed 45 min on the ground.

Late start

Tamarinda shuttles me to her place, I frantically assemble the bike and pack the kit ( 1h flat), dogs nip at my hills and bark. Sweating like a pig. Must be the moisture in the air. Into the car and to the start at Vrede. Called Nico from the road – will be 5 min late. Drizzle on the windshield. They leave as I arrive. All seven of them. Never to be seen again. Brevet card etc. and I am gone 21:15. Starts to rain before I reach Stellenbosch. Glasses. Unknowingly to me three abandon in the rain.

1 minute

Got to the first control nervous with a minute to spare. It rains more as I go along through the darkness. I put on the jacket and the arm warmers. Get wet right through. The cycling computers die in the rain. Have you ever tried to operate touch screen phone in the rain? ( gps ). Even the high light setting is not enough. It becomes “let the force be with you” exercise – I ride blind and fast through the wet night smelling of fermenting wine skins. Wind in my face. Sometimes stopping to dry the glasses. “Do not go gentle into that good night” rattles in my empty skull propelling me on with new found courage.


Rain stops in Wellington – just as the weather forecast would have it. More clothes, stretches… Riebeek Kasteel.. Cruising through the ginger bread town listening to the clock strike 2 am on the tour. I forgot my credit card, a selfie will do. Starts to rain again as I leave – exactly not as forecasted. I could put the contacts in, but will I see the map? A board at the roadside says “Allesverloren” – and I think – “Not just yet.”


Moorreesburg, soaked I get into the 24h petrol station shop – coffee and water. The slowest guys are 1.5 h ahead of me. The faster ones 2.5. Road repairs – stop / go. I ride undeterred. Controllers give me priority – cars wait, sometimes I move off the road. Rain stops.

Aliens have landed

A row of mysterious red lights emerges on the horizon and they stay there for hours feeding my speculations as to their origin. To reveal itself in the down light, as I approach Velddrif, to be rows and rows of wind turbines. For a change the wind is from the back, almost.. I cruise… I have built 2 h lead on the cut off.. It stays like that till the end.. Could not eke out any more.. :-(. A pie, water, coffee.

Onto West Coast Park

Saldanha – an unpretentious Secunda by the sea. Pizza shop closed. Two Bar Ones. Iscor plant like a dark sinister castle. Getting warmer. Langebaan – ugly collection malls, security complexes and villas incongruously dumped on the West Coast wilderness. But drivers are courteous and give me wide berth. Where the hell did those hills come from… Crawling up to into the National Park… and through.. The sapphire lagoon stunning. The heat becomes uncomfortable.

The R27

The deceptive false flats sapping my strength in head wind. Turning off into Swartland. The route cut in small segments, each shorter than the Sunday morning ride. Fooling myself. Surely next 40 km should be no issue. And the next. And the next… Hills which don’t look steep at all roll towards the horizon of brown fields. I attack with gusto only to watch with dismay as my speed drops 22, 18, 15, 12.. as I click into the bearable gears. Wind. Why do I always end up practicing the Art of Suffering. So predictably.


Water but no pies at Darling. I don’t eat enough. Two chocolate milks. Some droewors. My biceps are killing me. I give in and pop two Tramacets. The colours come back into my washed out world. Malmesbury. It was much smaller last time I visited.. And not as hilly!! 40 km to Paarl. Just a Sunday ride…


The moon is big and high, the setting sun projects my shadow on the roadside and I have a company. Hello rider! Doing well? Huh! I dress up for the night and set up the lights. Thanks God for the second battery I lugged around for the last 20 hours. I just ride.. faster, slower.. into the wind. As it goes.

Almost there

Lights of Paarl emerge, the guys at the petrol station look incredulously at the brevet card. Cruising through tree lined streets, passing well lit coffee shops and restaurants. Then again the false dark flats of Old Paarl Road, the courteous drivers, slicing the distance into manageable pieces.

A 25 hour day

Last turn left, then into Vrede. At 22:15 – now it is finished. Tamarinda’s car is somewhat smaller now. Oh.. Just after dropping me off 25h ago she got into a pile up on the highway…. Flight back smooth and uneventful, full of the Cape Epic guys getting home. I get the emergency exit seat.

:-) p