Today saw the departure of Batch 2, the largest of this year’s batches on the Race to Willowmore with ten enthusiastic riders: from Cape Town we have Jonathan Williams, Craig Copeland, Rob Hill, Simon Harper, Jack Barrett and Sean Paul who were joined by the KZN foursome of Trevor Maarschalk, Russell Hanger, John Foord and Chris Harburn. Last night around the dinner table there mutterings about possibly pushing past Gegun but that hasn’t happened - a combination of hot temperatures, steep hills and the distractions of good hospitality and swimming spots along the way meant that they all arrived at Gegun by late afternoon with no intention of going any further for the day. So its a full-house at Gegun tonight and a bit of a bun fight for the best beds.
The front three riders from Batch 1: Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson, had a very leisurely start to the day, only leaving after 9am. They too had intended to put in a long day but the swimming pool at Koedoeskop seems to have been reason enough for them to pull up the hand brake and check in for the night. Ok, so maybe it did get a bit hot and they have all just finished the Race to Cradock but really.. clearly they are racing snakes no more.
Tomorrow sees the departure of the next five riders and it may be up to them to see if they can go beyond Gegun on the first day - we will have to wait and see.
On a more sombre note, the Race Office today received the sad news of the passing of Phillip Henderson of Toekomst in a motor vehicle accident last night. Our sincere condolences go out the his family. As a result, the support station at Toekomst is closed and will be moved to Koedoeskop Nature Reserve instead.
Another beautiful day in Cradock as the three riders of Batch 1: Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson, set off early this morning. It became clear quite early on that these racing snakes had become puff adders as the pace was leisurely and they took every opportunity to stop along the way.
They popped in for coffee and rusks with David and Verity at the bottom of the Struishoek portage and not long after, stopped in at the local pub in Pearston for a quick drink to quench their thirst and avoid the worst heat of the day. They did eventually reach Gegun by late afternoon where they have settled in for the night. Who knows what tomorrow may bring..
Batch 2 is readying themselves for the departure from Cradock in the morning, the excitement is building as they prepare to set off on their adventure.
The Race to Cradock delivered some close racing for the top spots and plenty of adventure for those content with a more leisurely pace. After some initially hot and dry weather, the last few batches ended up braving a few thunderstorms and some mud on their way to the finish. Most of these riders have already made their way back home but for three hardy souls, chapter two of their adventure kicks off tomorrow - the Race to Willlowmore.
Starting with the 18km climb up the Swaershoek Pass, they will have little time to ease their way into it but having had a full day’s rest in Cradock, Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson will leave with relatively fresh legs. The riders head south into game farming country as the route makes its way towards Addo Elephant National Park and the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, before turning west on the final leg to Willowmore.
The four batches leaving Cradock over the next four days will be the pioneers of this inaugural event - they can look forward to more heat and probably more rain but the varied terrain on this section of the trail, as well as the warm hospitality of the hosts should make up for it. We wish them well.