Sunday 11th 18h00
Kemsley Wood crossed the finishing line today a little before 15h40 to be the first rider home RASA 2021.
Still covered in trail dust seconds before Chris Fisher inducted him into the tribe of blanket wearers Kemsley said, “I wanted to test myself, I never really have. I always wanted to see what I’m capable of doing.” For someone who by their own admission hadn’t to this point put themself to the test his achievement over the last few weeks are remarkable. He flew under the radar for much of the race only gaining my attention on his dash from Hadley through to Prince Albert with minimal sleep. Looking back through his race stats I see he has previously completed the trio of RTR, RTC and RTW. That he did them in that order would suggest he is a man with a plan. Although his finishing time, 16 days 9 hours and some change is unlikely to be fast enough for the overall win it is still fast. There was a time when 17 days 12 hours was good enough for overall honours. That being the case, I use 17.5 days as the bench mark of how someone has done. On that basis anyone going faster means they have put themselves out there and raced. Kemsley raced hard. His race strategy is a perfect study for people who are keen to do this race. His race end of day stops went like this:
His navigation was generally precise except for going off piste on the section between Blackfountain to Tinana. He was quick. Certainly quicker than the average rider. Today alone he rode the last section 4 hours faster than the riders he started the day with in Trouthaven. In places he even moved a lot quicker than the so called race snakes. That’s because he rode to a smart plan. He seems to have factored in the navigational challenges and set off early enough each morning to face the tricky navigation in daylight and still be in most nights before last light. Some days he arrived early afternoon where he was able to rest and recover. The last 4 days he seems to have discovered his inner race snake and managed to race to the finish recording a remarkable finish time. If Kemsley came here to see what he was capable of doing then he will need to come back. From what we’ve seen this year Kemsley’s search for what he is capable of has only just begun.
Roger Nicholson’s posse were clear of Stettynskloof before dark and have another 2 hours to get to their blankets.
Sandi Inglis arrived in Trouthaven for his final night on the trail. In his daily voice messages he has used and reused every superlative in the dictionary in describing the joy of his journey across South Africa. Only on two occasions was his enthusiasm dampened - hacking through Mordor and the ride to Prince Albert. He can be forgiven for a lack of enthusiasm for the jointed cactus (Katjies) strewn Mordor valley or the “Brutal, tough and unremitting headwind. Soft sucking sand, and violent awful corrugations” on the road to Prince Albert. He will spend the night reflecting on his race and anticipating the final stretch through the Kloof tomorrow.
Derrick Bingham and Kevin Meier are currently making their way to Montagu. They’ll have to decide what their next move is. Ride through the night to go up Stettynskloof tomorrow or settle down for the night? They’ve been aggressive up to this point so I don’t imagine they’ll be keen to settle for an early night. Perhaps they can go on to McGregor and leave with enough time to tackle the Kloof tomorrow. However that strategy doesn’t come without risk.
At this stage of the race some riders are starting to think about getting to the end. Others like Sarah van Eeden, Andrew Green, Derrick Muller, Brett Andrew and Pierre Singery, almost at Rouxpos, are content to maintain their stage a day momentum. The same can be said for Greg Perret and Richard Cole who are settled in Prince Albert.
Charl van der Spuy enjoyed the company of Gavin Horton on his trip through Mordor and on to Damsedrif. Once there he was happy to uncouple from Gavin when the latter headed off in pursuit of his race competitors. Charl enjoyed the company of Hestelle and Runè at Damsedrif overnight before lunching today in Willowmore before setting out across the plains to Prince Albert. I imagine he will settle in Rondawel tonight.
Jan van de Putte and Greg Philps are ensconced in Damsedrif. We’ve heard very little from these two. Unless riders reach out to us, serve penalties or post information where we can find it we have no news to share. However, they continue to move steadily down the trail.
Merak and Ollie Greaves in the company of Casper Venter, Greg Fisher and Carlo Gonzaga launched from Hadley and were through Mordor to Kudukaya in time to brush their hair and refresh their makeup before departing with the 1pm Baviaanskloof bus. Apparently Carlo and Casper were talking about heading on to Willowmore tonight leaving the other 3 at Damsedrif but I’ll believe it when I see it. They’ve had a long day already and the comforts of Damsedrif are hard to eschew.
Gary Scoular left Hadley just before first light and made easy work of Mordor passing the 1pm bus riders on his way up to Kudukaya.
Brothers Payne eased out of Bucklands and were over the final river crossing of Mordor before dark. The Braai fires will be lit and ready for when they arrive in Kudukaya.
Scott Danoher and Martin Victor are poised in Hadley overnight. Earlier in the race Scott had to serve a penalty for mechanical issues and dropped off the group he’d started with. He subsequently teamed up with and saw Martin through some tyre trouble along the way.
Paul Micklewood and Franci Joubert continue to show resolve as trail sweepers. Tonight they are in Bucklands no doubt dreaming about a romp through Mordor tomorrow afternoon.
A quick look at the front runners. Axel Poser caught op with Fjord while the latter waited for the Cambria gate to open. They rode together to Damsedrif in the company of Ergee (RG du Toit) and Jason Wesson. Axel put the hammer down out of Damsedrif and was joined by Ergee who up to Prince Albert was his erstwhile sidekick. Fjord teamed up with Jason Wesson and they set off in pursuit of the other two. They two pairs settled in Rondawel for a quick nap. Prince Albert was merely a pit stop before they set off to tackle Swartberg Pass. Currently Axel is through the Gamkaaskloof interim support station heading for Die Leer. Ergee damaged the muscles in his legs coming through Mordor and is concerned they won’t be up for the rigours of scaling Die Leer tonight. He has backed off with his sights set on Gamkaaskloof tonight. Jason has stuck with Fjord. They will be arriving in Gamkaaskloof shortly. Their plans from there are unknown but I imagine they won’t let Axel get away that easily.
Race pics | 11 July 2021 | Llewellyn Lloyd // Reblex Photography