Day 17: Conclusions

Posted by Gregory Gerhardt

Sitting on a cosy sofa. Mentally crawling my trek from Johannesburg to Cape Town, recovering the main experiences and key lessons:

The People: I've only come across positive and helpful people. From The Free State to the Western Cape - one of my central memories is the boer who would stop by with his bakkie to offer support: A lift, some water, his phone number - or just some words and a little chat in the solitude of my daily grind. The people along the road raising their hand for a salut, waving a  hello or the truckers giving me a motivational horn. These experiences stand in contrast to all fears and dark stereotypes that are being bred in- and outside South Africa. Maybe it just was the luck of the naïve.

The land: Within two weeks I've seen dozens of different landscapes and habitats: From colourful Soweto to the bushveld round Johannesburg, the Free State bursting with maize and sun flowers, the shift to drier regions as I approached Kimberley, the peaceful Karoo, to the fruitful and mediterranean terroir as I moved through the Windelands into Cape Town. All sceneries had some things in common: The red soil, the rich flora and fauna, the width and majesty of the space and the wonderful  skies.

The mission: I failed to walk all the way from Johannesburg to Cape Town. After 4 days I had to reduce my equipment to keep up with the daily average of 60 kms. After 7 days I felt that my body had adapted to the daily strain, however, not my left ankle. It felt worse from day to day. And that was the end of the story. That quickly, after one year of preparation. Good that I found a proper bike in Kimberley. What would I change if I had to repeat the trek? Option 1: The original equipment, solo, a max of 40 km per day - and no running (I got really impatient on two occasions after 14 hours on the road and started to run with my equipment; didn't help my ankle at all). Option 2: Very light equipment, the original average of 60km per day, incl. a support vehicle like I had it with Dania while I cycled.

Resetting myself: The past two weeks stand in total contrast to my ordinary life. The daily portion of nature, sport, exhaustion, adrenaline, and acquaintaces  have no doubt reset my mind - and tought me a lot about nature, my equipment, my limits, South Africa. Coming back to Cape Town I've enjoyed the most unusual things like sitting in car, going to a shopping mall, doing nothing. And I'm very much looking forward to continue my trek through South African literature. And last but not least I'm fully ready to get back to lots of work.

Thanks to all supporters, especially Dania, Ben, Wendy, Gerard, Mom, Dad and all friends who've encouraged me with comments on this blog.


Mit grossem Wille, Humor, Training und List, aber au Räge, Schmärze und sunstigem Mist, vo Joburg ans Cap in nur wenige Täg, ohni Bluetrain & Flieger, drfür mit Gepäck, bisch gloffe, gsegglet und lang marschiert, denn gradlet und dorum ebbe nümm frustriert, Mir alli hän gfieberet uss Noch und Wit, D' Dania samt Ben sogar grad in dim Knick, I zieh mi Huet und stoff uff di a, dr' Gregy, är isch halt scho no e Ma.
Werni (not verified)
Werni, du feine Schnitzelbänggler, das wärmt natürlig mi Basler Herz - nach dem schier endlose Muskelschmerz. Ohni Velo und Dania wär ich hüt wohrschienlich en alte Ma, jetzt schiggt sie mi drfür wieder an d'Arbet dra. Sitz vor dr Inbox und und beantwort die elektronischi Poscht. Zum Lohn git's hüt z'Obe e gorene Moscht.
Gregory Gerhardt
Hey Gregory, freut mich sehr, dass Du gut in Capetown angekommen bist. Grösse zeigt sich im Wiederaufrappeln! Unter erschwerten Bedingungen das Ziel nicht aus den Augen zu verlieren macht's aus. Aus Deinen Berichten spricht viel Faszination, unglaublich viele Erlebnisse - dieses Ziel nimmt Dir keiner! Mit der Rückkehr in die Schweiz lass Dir mal noch ein paar Tage Zeit, hier herrscht wieder Herbstwetter ;-) Cheers und bis bald Dani
Dani (not verified)
Herzlichen Dank Dani. War tough, schon nach einer Woche anzuschlagen. Das Fahrrad war schlussendlich aber eine schöne Alternative. Ich meld' mich diese Tage. In Vorfreude auf das Bierchen, Greg
Gregory Gerhardt
Well done Greg for completing the journey. Good to know that you can now relax and that you found the experience in general a good one and a learning curve. You have another exciting event to look forward to now. We wish you all the best. Ingrid and Cox
Ingrid (not verified)
Thanks Ingrid. I'm very much looking forward to the next one. Dania too. Poor one's feeling a bit heavy metal currently. ox Greg
Gregory Gerhardt
Well done Greg! Get some rest, enjoy the surroundings and welcome back to Zurich. I have some work for you :-)
Helena V (not verified)
Helena, I'm ready for office work like never before! Looking forward to see you and team soon again. Greg
Gregory Gerhardt
Thanks for sharing the journey with us!
Mark (not verified)
Welcome bru, forced to think about what the hell I was doing.
Gregory Gerhardt
Hi Gregory, A bit late BUT congratulations! Well done!!! I'm sure many would have quit after the injury. To keep going with “moonboots” on a bike takes balls ;-). It’s actually quite a coincident. I have the exact same problem with my right ankle. I’m training for a High-Alpine Training Week in summer and since I started hiking with a heavy load I have serious problem with my right ankle. But it might be the fact that we’re not twenty anymore :-). I was reading along your journey with great interest. Thanks for sharing! Would be interesting to know: 1. If you would do it again? and 2. If you can recommend this sort of adventure or short breaks from our daily in front of computer screens? p.s. There’s an idea I had for a long time and your adventure inspired me to follow through with it. For my idea I would like to use the domain (which I’ve already purchased) but was wondering if you’d be okay with me using it for my project? Maybe we can discuss it over coffee or at the next Web Monday.
Mike Bite (not verified)
Mike, indeed, I definitely felt that I'm turning middle age :). Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely. But I would change lots of things. 1) I would take far less equipment (e.g. no second pair of shoes, no sleeping bag, no insulation mattress... despite high tech equipment I ended up with more than 10 kg without water/food). 2) I would not walk more than 45 km per day and leave myself more time for acquaintances, nature, or allow myself a spontaneous lift, if a farmer offers transport on a boring stretch (and they can get long); Being an amateur sportsman I locked myself too much into my sports mission. 3) I would look for a more scenic route: More paths out in the fields, less highways. Can I recommend such an adventure as an intense break from work? Number one! I've never reset myself that quickly. I'm burning to get back to work. And regarding the domain. Please go ahead! I'm excited to learn more about your project.
Gregory Gerhardt
Hallo Greg. Gratuliere zur tollen Leistung und zur spannenden Dokumentation ebendieser. Bin erst heute wieder auf der Seite gelandet und habe vieles nachzulesen. War lange (eigentlich immer noch) in meinem eigenen Projekt gefangen... Wünsche gutes Ankommen in der CH.
Andreas (not verified)
Gut zurückgekehrt, danke Andreas. Bis bald im Westen, gutes Projekten, Greg
Gregory Gerhardt
Congratulations. I have successfully finished your trip. And like always, still locked in place. Good for you. Hope, you didn't got hit by an antelope. lol.
Claudiu (not verified)
Hey Claudiu, this trek was just what I needed to get everything locked in place! Lots of antelopes and wild animals, one snake, some spiders - but all peaceful and shy. The only thing that hit close by was lightning - long time I've been running that fast. Norok, Greg
Gregory Gerhardt
Gregi! Willkommen zurück und Chapeau zu Deiner Leistung. Zur Belohnung gibts eine Massage von Holgi und einen Carajillo von Choseeeeeee. lg & bis bald michi :)
Michi (not verified)
Thanks Michi, ohne meine geistigen Leitfiguren Holger und José hätt' ich's nie geschafft.
Gregory Gerhardt

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