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Oude Molen is always worth a cycling adventure: This Guinea Fowl eats out of Maureen's hand.

Oude Molen is always worth a cycling adventure: This Guinea Fowl eats out of Maureen’s hand.

Back in London I felt like I was on a cycling adventure.

I have cycled all my life. Well, pretty early I started to cycle to school. I have not owned a car until I moved to South Africa and have always favoured cycling to any other form of transport.

So coming to London back in 1999, where there were no cycle lanes and no understanding of cyclists as part of the traffic flow, it was an adventure. It was like a racing game where you have to dodge the cars and your prize is to arrive alive.

Cape Town offers a different kind of adventure. A wild one. As in this kind of peculiar journey I took today:

I’m cycling to Oude Molen and the first thing I battle is the wind. Amazing! Strong, but warm and steady. Sometimes the wind blows and it pushes you off the street, making your bike jump. But this wind was continuously beautiful. The perfect work-out.

I get to Valkenberg and ask guards at the gate how to get to Oude Molen. “No, not this way.” “Which way then?” “Well, around it, over the bridge”, she points. “Ok”, I mutter doubtfully.

Good that I have a mountain bike. I’m not into mountain biking, I’m into commuting. But in Cape Town, you’re better off with a mountain bike:

The way she directed me to take is a dirt track that goes up and down like a well designed BMX track. I’m not into BMX either. But this is manageable.

I don’t get it though: Where does this lead? I can see a bridge, but all I see after that is the M5. And yes, that’s exactly where this dirt track leads me to: A path right next to the expressway.

So now I am one of those crazies that I always bicker about when I see them walking by the side of the highway. Great.

I have to cross a bridge, which is for cars only and has a funny ledge to the side with no safety rails or any type of anything to keep you from falling into Liesbeek River. Fair enough. I’ll walk that then and skip the cycling for this one.

It takes me onto another long enough weird route to feel a tiny little bit lost and I become uncomfortably aware that I’m very alone out here until I finally emerge back into civilisation: A road leading to Oude Molen. I made it.

For the way back I was determined: This I won’t do again. It was pretty scary and whatever lies inside Valkenberg cannot be worse.

When I returned from Oude Molen however I was wondering how to make it through the gate and if they’d let me through. But when I got there the gate was open. Thank god, I thought or was this something I should be worried about?

Of course I got lost. I cycled into a dead end road and by that had no orientation. So here I am cycling in between buildings and through alleyways.

The windows have such a tight mesh in front of them, you can’t see inside. The back yards have high fences with spiky triangles on top. Luckily they are empty.

Oops no, not that one though: A man stands close to the fence and doesn’t move one bit.

And not that one either: Some guys are walking alongside the fence while others are sitting in the shade on a bench.

And of course I have to cycle right around it and of course the inmates start making noise about me. A nice but persistent greeting: “Hey hey you!” I answer: “Yes, cool, all good!” and give them the thumbs up. “Yeah!” they respond with thumbs up.

How do I get out of here? I wonder.

Somebody on the road. Is that a good thing?

She has a tag on her blouse – that must be a good sign.

I ask her for directions and it turns out I’m at the right place and almost out.

The rest of the cycle was easy with the tailwind in the back and I literally breezed along, getting  home in a flash. Revived, and also relieved.


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