Posted by: Silver | April 30, 2011

Cranbrook to Kimberley

Distance: 28 km
Ascent: 305 m
Cycling time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

As intimated in my previous entry, if you find a town round here, as often as not it’s because someone previously found something worth mining there. And so it is with Kimberley. Once the mine had nothing left to give, however, the town had to make a lot of changes, and one of the changes they made – just last year, in fact – was to pave over the old railroad that used to take the ore down to the main line at Cranbrook. And the result of this is something that has to count as one of the ultimate luxuries in my life at the moment: a 25 km long, smoothly-paved, gently-graded and, most importantly of all, TRAFFIC-FREE cycle path stretching all the way from the edge of Cranbrook to the centre of Kimberley. The only thing that could possibly have made my life any more blissful on this ride was a bit of sunshine to illuminate the occasional views of the Rockies that also help to make this route a cycling heaven-on-earth. Unfortunately, the weather was actually still wintery enough for a bit of snow to remain on the path, but this only helped to illustrate yet another reason why I bought the trike: unlike the two upright cyclists I bumped into at this point, there was no need for me to dismount and push, as my extra wheel ensured I was still entirely stable through the slippery bumpiness.

Kimberley itself is still struggling to redefine itself now that it can no longer call itself a mining town: its valiant attempts to transform itself into a Bavarian-themed ski resort are certainly bolstered by the number of German accents I heard amongst the residents I met, but overall, it was clear that the town still has a little way to go before it becomes the picture-postcard tourist destination it would like to be. However, I would heartily agree with my host’s assessment that “there are a lot of good people in the town”, and, thanks to him, I had several opportunities to meet a good number of them and tell them about SOS Children’s Villages. The first was after a slideshow given by the local minister and his husband (I mention that mainly to gainsay the reputation that small towns have for being small-minded and conservative…), when I was able to chat with several people over the wine and nibbles; the next was at the meeting of the local Rotary Club; and then, later that same day, I was taken to a jewellery sale/dessert party, organised by the local Gogo Grannies to support grandmothers in Africa raising sometimes huge numbers of grandchildren after their children have died of AIDS. It was wonderful to see so many ladies there, clearly already caring about the fate of orphans around the world, and I was given the chance to address them all and let them know about the work that SOS Children’s Villages is doing to address the same problem. As always seems to be the case, almost no-one there had ever heard of the charity before, but from the comments I received from people who came to talk to me after my little speech, I am hopeful that a few more supporters may have been born in Kimberley this week.

In other news: I have now been honoured with the 100th subscriber to my blog! Yay! For those of you who keep pushing to see a book at the end of this journey, though, I’m sure that’s still far from a large enough readership to tempt a publisher, so please keep spreading the word – for the charity’s sake as well as for your future reading pleasure! 😉

It doesn't get much better than this, Ranger...! The Rails to Trails path from Cranbrook to Kimberley

One of the views you get of the Rockies from the Rails to Trails: even more spectacular when you can actually see them, I'm sure...

Ranger enjoying his relaxed 'view' of the Rockies from the Rails to Trails; you can see the highway in the background here, but this was as close to traffic as I got until I got into Kimberley 🙂

I promise I have not zoomed this photo even a tiny bit: the deer in Kimberley seem completely unbothered by strange English women with cameras

The town centre definitely had some attractive features - like this rock garden/sculpture/thing, where I happily sat and ate chocolate in a brief bit of sunshine

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