Some really good mountain-bike touring country close to Johannesburg reveals beautiful high escarpment areas in the eastern Free State. The springboard metropolises for these routes are Volksrust and Warden. My mountain bike and I got to and from these two centres easily using intercity buses. From Volksrust to Memel Volksrust (Elangwane), on the border of British Natal and the Transvaal Republic, was where trains used to stop with recruits for the mines. The selection process for recruits allegedly consisted of a finger pointed by the selector and the words "long one, long one" (heard as "langwane, langwane"), with the less-tall men sent back home. To ensure I would not be selected for underground work, I left Volksrust for Memel fairly quickly. From Volksrust, there are two ways to ride to Memel. One is to start out on the quiet tar road to Vrede and 20km along this, a gravel road to Memel is off to the left.

After 40km of this gravel road, four cars passed me from behind an...

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