Wed 14th 20h30
Today the weather has been a lot kinder on the riders. It’s still bitterly cold but the tormenting headwind and icy rain have relented for now.
Today saw the start of the second batch of RTP. The Race to Paarl ranks have been decimated by the Gauteng Covid lockdown, the rise of cases countrywide as well as the disturbances happening in KZN. These unfortunate events occurring at the same time have resulted in a full RTP field being whittled down substantially. Even so, Anthony Avidon the recent Freedom Circuit 400 race winner, along with Peter Roux who had swung a cutlass or 2 in the last 2 RTW events started out today with the intention of duelling nonstop on the way to Trouthaven. Darkness and common sense will probably mean a shop stopover before they continue on to the finish. Starting out from Willowmore at 5am this morning they have already overhauled a handful of RASA riders. It’s amazing what a fresh pair of legs can do across the barren plains to Prince Albert. When Peter Roux popped in to say hello at Rondawel Anthony would have none of it and pressed on without so much as a glance. They travelled at the same rate with Anthony arriving in Prince Albert a little under 8 hours 30 minutes after leaving Willowmore. Peter arrived 30 minutes later owing to the Rondawel pit stop. The typical RASA rider has taken anywhere from 12-16 hours to cover this same section. Granted the conditions today were better than those of the previous week but it’s the difference between fresh legs and legs that have endured multi week abuse. At time of writing Anthony was still at the Gamkaaskloof support station having arrive at 7pm. Peter has still to descend Elands Pass into the Gamkaaskloof valley proper.
Yesterday RTP riders Josh and Sally Hayman left their overnight stop of Prince Albert and pushed through Gamkaaskloof, up Die Leer and will be arriving shortly in Rouxpos.
In the guards van of the RASA train we have Franci and Paul who had a fast run from Kudukaya through to Damsedrif and then an equally fast ride on to Willowmore.
Scott and Martin have settled in Rondawel haven started out the day in Willowmore. They got in just before midnight the previous day and had a leisurely stay this morning. Rumoured has it that Martin has some mechanical issues that need addressing and hopefully he can find a solution in Prince Albert tomorrow.
Willowmore is well stocked with weary riders tonight. By the time Jan, Gary and Greg Philps arrived at sunset they found Casper and Carlo lounging around. Casper had an extremely early start from Willowmore and arrived mid afternoon. Carlo and Casper tiding companions for the last 2 weeks got unhooked in Damsedrif when Casper succumbed to Dehli belly. Not to be outdone Carlo, which at first glance appears to be a a case of Münchausen syndrome, also developed dehli belly which mysteriously resolved itself once Casper had caught up.
Brothers Payne missioned from Rondawel to Gamkaaskloof where they will spend a night in the valley also known as The Hell.
Rouxpos hosts the trio of Greg Fisher and Merak and Ollie Greaves. They reported having an awesome ride up The Swartbert Pass riding through fresh snow. “A winter wonderland” as Merak described it.
Richard Cole and Greg Perrett took a short ride to McGregor where they will have an easy day to Trouthaven tomorrow.
An army has assembled at Trouthaven. Sarah, the leading RASA lady, is joined by 7 other riders who will take on Stettynkloof tomorrow.
Today Stettynskloof was set to be a battlefield on which the race for overall race honours was to be played out. Axel left ahead of Fjord who was in the company of Jason Wesson. Axel had a 30 minute lead heading into the kloof. His lead evaporated quickly once he opted for an alternative route. That once choice cost him the race. Fjord and Jason forged ahead through the valley along the traditional route and made it to the finish line at 20h19. That gives Fjord a winning finish time of 13 days 14 hours and 19 mins. Jason stopped his race clock on 18 days 14 hours and 19 mins.
Race pics | 14 July 2021 | Llewellyn Lloyd // Reblex Photography