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Explore South Africa Cycle Tour

On the 13 February 2010 Ruan Smit begins his cycle journey around South Africa. His journey is not about beating a gruelling time, or breaking a record. Rather it is a social experience. Along the 9 000 kilometre route, Ruan intends collecting stories about the people he meets. On his average 150 kilometre day, he will stop to chat to the people of South Africa, to enjoy food with them, and sleep in their surroundings. Read about his experiences here …

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

For the love – Ruan makes it home

Ruan Smit

Ruan Smit

Over the last two months I have had the most wonderful opportunity to meet a country and its people in slow motion. To look at everything and everyone at 25 kilometres per hour. I experienced a different South Africa, one that has opened up its soul in its diversity and given me much more than a smile on my sometimes lonely face.

The last 9000 km have taken me through 9 provinces and introduced me to 11 languages. I have met so many different people and experienced unique ways of looking at a beautiful country that has taken its own with every person … Continued

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A different forest – stories from the road by Ruan

Joburg Skyline

Joburg Skyline

The Johannesburg Skyline lies in front of me and it shows the various stages of growth that this city has experienced. Buildings rise ambitiously, keeping watch over a city that unites South African culture and serves as a place where dreams are hunted. I breathe deeply, this is it. This is 9000km, the last two months of a journey that started in the exact same place. As the cars fly past me on their way to another meeting and another deal, I get on my cycle and start the last stretch … Continued

Monday, 12 April 2010

Parys with a ‘Y’? – stories from the road by Ruan

Parys with a y

Parys with a y

Somewhere along the Vaal River on the Northern side of the Free State lies a little town that speaks a different language. This language is shown through a whole Saturdays worth of antique and art shops. You almost find yourself in a different country at a different time where red wine and discussions on art are at the order of the day. In the background of this little town you hear the calm flow of water that will at some point reach the Atlantic Ocean.

My first meeting with the little town of Parys is a saloon type bar a few minutes outside of town. My bike becomes a horse as I stable it and enter the scenery as if part of a wild west movie, but instead of being an outsider I am immediately treated as a friend. This sets the trend for a town that thrives on weekends and rests during the week … Continued

Friday, 9 April 2010

Pitching a tent – stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Kroonstad Sky

Kroonstad Sky

For more than 8500 kilometres I have cycled with a tent, sleeping bag and mattress not opening any of the bags at any point during this two month journey. In Kroonstad I had to. Every piece of equipment still in its packaging and with the smell of new I pitch my tent under the stars of this Free State town. As the little piece of blue canvass grows into a shelter from the cold night, I become excited and almost feel like that boy who pitched his tent in the back yard of his house 20 years ago.

I unzip the top section and from my newly blown up mattress I can see the stars hidden away by a singular tree that would shade me from the predicted rain. My thoughts start wandering and eventually ends at the point where I entered Kroonstad during the mid afternoon sun with a light breeze helping me forget about the sun on my bare skin… Continued

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Seeking the sun – stories from the road by Ruan Smit

We so often attach the concept of life to game, forests, water and people. But seldom do we see the life that farming produces. I am not only referring to that part of life that feeds our bodies and nourishes us after exerting ourselves, I am also referring to that part of farming that can nourish the soul, and the Free State has much of that.

I see a crop of sunflowers every so many kilometers around the city of Bloemfontein and it strikes me… the beauty of these yellow flowers has much more to offer than oil and butter. That plant that shows its face only to the sun has a beauty that few recognize. The crop I stop at is big and the flowers at full bloom. Continued

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Digging for Dreams in Kimberley – stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Digging for dreams

Digging for dreams

It’s more than just a really big hole, much bigger than a cavity filled with water in a region that is known for its dry heat. It is a whole that had many dreaming about a future that could be, a future that happened for many. And the history that was left by a hole that has no known end.

The road that leads to Kimberley, or the one that I choose to take is one filled with the beauty and inspiration of the Northern Cape, the biggest South African province, the province that allows one to be the self you inspire to be with people who allow you to dream to the edges of your imagination. Continued

Monday, 5 April 2010

And Douglas smiles – stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Douglas smiles ...

Douglas smiles …

When an Afrikaans man in his late forties from the ‘platteland’ starts telling you about something and you can hear his voice quiver ever so slightly, when his eyes almost gets hazy and he has to look away, when he catches himself using feminine words and needs to correct himself as he realizes. When this man is talking about the town where he lives you realize that he truly has a soft spot for that town.

Jakes feels this way about Douglas. A little town I met not too long ago in the Northern Cape near Kimberley. Continued

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

A River of Life – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit

the road ...

the road …

For nearly 500km I look at the endless Namaqualand and Boesmanland as I slowly move across towards the Orange River and the spectacular Augrabies Waterfall. At points it feels like the landscape is repeating itself and that I’m stuck in a loop of the same piece of road as nothing seems to change. For a moment I think, South Africa changes every 100km or so. How can it possibly be that this part is different? And as I take a closer look, as I smell the air and feel the dirt running through my fingers I realize I have not been looking, really looking … Continued

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Where love grows with flowers – stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Namakwa Flowers

Namakwa Flowers

For a while now I’ve been wondering if the landscape or space we live in has any effect on personality. Obviously it has to… But in Namakwa I found proof. There is a theory that the bigger the pond is, the bigger the fish will grow. Namakwa is like this. The vast open spaces, the bossies and singular trees of this area that proves its beauty but once a year has surely influenced the colourful people that live here.

The personalities you find here are big, strange even, but most definitely wonderful. Every personality is characterized by the many flowers that find its way up the dry earth between July and September. When you meet them at first like the landscape you’re not entirely sure what to make of what you see. But give it some time and the area flowers … Continued

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

An Elands Bay Road trip – stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Elands Bay

Elands Bay

On a misty morning in late March I put myself to the road and hope that what it has to offer is what my soul is in need of. Only the road and the spirit of adventure can truly know what I need to experience on a day like this and I’ve long since given up on forcing the outcome of this road

The mist hangs like a cotton cloud over the veld of the robust west coast. The shrubbery only enough to feed the few sheep that have become friends the last few days. A road I cannot the end of stretches underneath the gray cloud as work the tar, my legs burning in the cold morning air and the feeling of being alive pumps through my heart into the rest of my body. A smile appears on my face before I realize it and when I do I try and frame it for use at another occasion … Continued

Friday, 19 March 2010

There is a city… stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Cape Town ...

Cape Town …

There’s a South African city that invites you in the moment you enter her atmosphere, she leads you into a space where a combination of beauty, calm, buzz and history makes you feel comfortable as if you have find home after a long holiday. This city is home to many people, people that come from different spheres of life. Some with ambitious dreams, some that seek inspiration from the love filled air, others come here to break away or to avoid a long cold winter.

This city provides a non judgmental landscape in which you can explore your ideas. She provides you with new ideas and helps you to collaborate with other ideas. Her mountains, sun, wind, rain, trees and buildings form a perfect whole where many find a safe haven underneath her sky. Continued

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Adin ‘The no money man’ – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Adin van Ryneveld

Adin van Ryneveld

When I left Johannesburg a month ago I was introduced to Adin van Ryneveld via a friend on social media, which means that I’ve never met this person and that all the contact we’ve ever had was on twitter and Facebook. No phone calls, no e-mail.

For the whole month I’ve been on the road he’s been supporting my journey, when I fell off my bike he was the first to ask if I was okay, when the heat was more than forty degrees, he was one of the people telling me to drink enough water. Odd from a from a person you’ve never met before, well that’s what I thought … Continued

Friday, 12 March 2010

Say Cheese! – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit

"Say Cheese!"

“Say Cheese!”

When I left Johannesburg 4 weeks ago I decided to stop at the first wine farm on route to Cape Town. There’s just no other way, one can’t visit the Western Cape without doing at least one wine tour. So my cycle tour for one day became a wine tour, and it’s quite awesome what one can see doing the tour this way. Obviously tasting is limited but I wouldn’t mind arranging more of these in the near future.

On the R60 from Swellendam I travel towards Robertson and Worcester. A stretch of road that I’m not completely familiar with, but I’m so struck by the beauty of the landscape that more than 30km pass by on the cycle before I realize I have no clue where I am. It’s a misty morning and the mountains show me a majestical side of this world. I cannot help but see myself living here and exploring some mountain trails and enjoying a wood fire at the end of a long rainy day … Continued

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Kenton on Sea inspires – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Kenton On Sea

Kenton On Sea

You can’t plan an adventure, I’ve realized that so many times throughout this tour. Adventure has a mind of its own and it’s best just to let it go its way. That’s when the fun really starts. Kenton on Sea however was a planned stop long before I knew where I was going to find a bed on my first night, the reason being that we have some family friends that own a house here and they so willingly gave me the keys to their beautiful holiday getaway spot.

So when I left Hamburg, in the Eastern Cape, early one morning I was excited to go to a place I’ve heard so much about but never taken the turnoff to. I cycle through the most beautiful Port Alfred and find my thoughts next to the river and some boats. Yes, I’m ready for Kenton on Sea … Continued

Monday, 8 March 2010

A Gonubie affair – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit

Ruan in GonubieHonestly, before I ended up in Gonubie during this cycle tour I was never aware of its existence… let alone that I would be forever smiling after this extraordinary visit.  The first of the three whoop whoop girls I meet is Maureen, I’m staying over at her B&B called Porkys. Funny how I ended up here, Michelle who I wrote about in my previous article referred me and from there another story starts.

Porky was Maureen’s nickname since school because she used to be chubby, she smiles. And everyone still knows her by this name so it was the obvious choice. No pretences…

Her energy is contagious as she helps me get my cycle into her car. And from here on in she never stops bubbling. She is absolutely proud of the fact that she’s the first cyclist I’m staying with. Continued

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