Sun 4th 9:00am
The Race Across South Africa has been on the go for 13 days. In that time dreams have been realised and shattered. Goals exceeded, failures faced. Expectations raised and suddenly quenched. Bonds of friendship formed and tested.
There is so much going on which we the dot watchers are not privy to. The moment when a rider realises they can’t go on. The hesitation in picking up the phone to let a loved one or the race office that it’s over. I’ve been there. In the quiet moments before you activate the call or press the send button your dream unravels in your head. All the planning, excitement and preparation comes to an end. Whether you’re sitting next to a dusty road, sheltering in a ditch from a freezing wind or sitting in a room full of people, at that moment you are all alone with your thoughts. It’s hard and I don’t judge anyone who finds them self in that position.
Then there are those who get to the point of realising they can’t carry on but somehow against their better judgement they are able to step out the door and get back on their bike. That takes a level of determination that’s impossible to fathom.
Anyway, let’s see what’s happening on the trail. Roger and his Merry Men are progressing down the trail nicely. They had a moment a few days back when Andrew became unhooked going through Kudoeskop. Fortunately the Trophyless One (Roger Nicholson) went back and found him. They are looking to get to Cambria tonight but not before stopping for a second breakfast at Hadley having left Bucklands at 5am. I fear the allure of toast and coffee might result in them having to tackle the last few river crossings through Mordor in the dark. Hadley is a trap I avoid. It’s hard to leave.
Further back Derrick Bingham and Kevin Meier continue their charge down the trail. It’s been a smooth run devoid of fanfare. I think they have the best chance of beating Rogers gang to the finish line. Unless the racing Muppets manage to get out of first gear, but even the. I think they are too fat back. More about the Muppets later.
There is a jeep track that joins two district roads on the way from Moodenaarspoort to Kranskop. I, and many others, know that when you get to the final low level crossing it is important to slow down and stick to the left hand edge. If you charge through on the right hand side you will hit a raised concrete edge that resembles a step. Many a wheel has been damaged this way. That’s exactly what happened to Jason Wesson. His wheel folded up. As per the rules he had to sit out a penalty for a replacement wheel. Unfortunately for him when the wheel arrived it was incompatible with his bike. The rules state that riders are responsible for ensuring they spec right replacement part. Jason the. Had to sit out an additional penalty for another wheel. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Tracey Lentin was in the brink of calling it quits but had the good sense to take a rest day at Slaapkrans which reinvigorated her and she was able to get through to Moodenaarspoort last night. The hospitality at Slaapkrans could breath new life into a year old weathered carcass. This morning she was up and on her way to Kranskop.
Let’s talk about Muppet Mania. The foursome of Carlo, Gavin, Fjord and Chris, hereinafter referred to as the Muppets, provided a full nights entertainment. After taking far too long to get into Malekgalonyane the previous night they got a late start and only got to Vuvu at 4pm. I know Carlo was always going to do the Mcabalala route instead of going up Lehana’s Pass as he’d recce’d it a few week back and was convinced he could go up blindfolded. He obviously wasn’t convincing enough in selling this idea to his cycling mates. As a result he scuttled off 15 mins ahead of the gang. We were finally going to have a head to head comparison of which route was quickest, albeit at night. Lehana at night is slow. A lot slower than going up in daylight. So even if Mcabalala is a lot further it was probable that might work out very similar if neither party got lost. The dot watch army had nothing good to say about where Carlos chose to start his traverse. However he got stuck in and before long it became apparent that he wasn’t where he wanted to be. After many lengthy delays he was able to get onto the road and stay the long climb up to Naudesnek. Surprisingly, even after more than an hour of wasted time he got there at the same time as the Lehana line lads. The guys did have a few delays along the way and Carlo did start earlier so it was a draw. They continued down the mountain rain to Alpine Swift arriving at 2:30am. It seems the Muppet Gang is disbanding. Fjord bids farewell to his trail buddy Gavin who is battling a chest infection and will rest up for the day. Carlo, having achieved his first goal of bagging a Rhodes Sub-3 is taking his foot off the gas. That leaves Fjord and Chris to push on.
Doctors Axel and Casper had slight nav oops on Blackfountain but it wasn’t costly. They have a good chance of chasing down the others as they seem to have a better handle in the nav. But they haven’t given it a full go at night so it’s hard to tell.
Ingrid, doing Race to Rhodes in on track to set a record arriving later this afternoon. The current record, held by Janine Stewart, is 83 hours. Ingrid needs to be in before 5pm.