I was halfway home on the way back from Dullstroom on Monday morning, and I had the article headline in my head already: Give credit where it’s due – The N4 is a good road to drive on.
Then, two large stones were kicked up by a truck which was part of a roadworks crew and hit my windscreen.
As I had just recovered from seeing my trusty 86 take a sucker punch to the face, I was pulled over for doing 137km/h in a 120km/h zone.
The article I had planned quickly become a tale of two parts.
Part 1 – The N4
I went to Dullstroom this past weekend, and drove from Johannesburg to the small town along the N4 toll road.
Fears of people leaving spike traps on the road and throwing rocks off bridges were present, but quickly disappeared as we drove along.
The road was smooth and clean for the most part – and well marked – and where is was bumpy or rough, there were groups of workers conducting roadworks on the tar.
It was great to see that despite all the bad things happening in the country, there are still pockets of public service that work.
The drive along the N4 never felt unsafe during the days we travelled, both in terms of the car riding comfortably on the tar and the aforementioned criminal elements.
The large majority of our 250km trip was along the N4, and I must give credit to our roads agency for making it a smooth and quick journey.
This was reinforced when we had to take an off-ramp, leaving the N4, to get to Dullstroom.
The quality of the road changed almost immediately, and we were soon dodging potholes in the compact Toyota.
Part 2 – The stones
On the way back to Johannesburg, it was more of the same.
The N4 was in fine condition on Monday morning, and we were making good time.
I had written half this article in my head and even had my partner take a few photos of the highway as we were driving. Hence the lovely headline image at the start of this piece.
Then the roadworks came.
We had been through this stretch of construction a few days earlier, but the number of trucks and machines working on the tar had increased substantially.
A truck driving to the left of us spat stones at everything behind it as its large wheels drive over the loose road surface, and two stones flew in close succession towards my windscreen.
The sound of glass being tortured was instant, as were the large chips.
“Ah come on.” This was all I could muster.
The annoyance of the stone chips must have travelled to my right foot, because a few kilometres later I was being pulled over by traffic police.
“Good morning sir, how are you?” I said to the officer in my friendliest voice.
He said good morning back, and then told me I was going 137km/h in a 120km/h zone.
“I am sorry. You have such nice roads here,” I replied with a large smile.
He looked at me and seemed slightly confused.
“Have you been drinking today?” he asked me.
“No, not at all,” I replied.
He said he was going to breathalyse me, and that I should get out of the car.
I asked my partner if she thought they wanted a bribe.
She told me that they did not want a bribe, and that I was being too friendly.
It sounded like I was trying to hide something. Something being the suspected drinking at 09:00 on a Monday while driving, she said.
After blowing 0.00 on the breathalyzer and receiving a R500 fine, I was sent on my way.
The moral of the story: Driving on the N4 on a Friday morning is great. Driving on a Monday morning is less fun.