Monday 5th 23:00
Let’s work our way through the field from back to front.
Father and son pair of Leon and Brian Kruger rolled into Rhodes this afternoon bringing to a close the Race to Rhodes. Leon has now completed 10 Freedom events including 3 from Pietermaritzburg to Wellington. By contrast this is Brian’s first. Leon did mention that Brian has started talking about doing RASA. That’s an all too common tale. Many a RTR rider has pulled up in Rhodes and is left looking down the road wondering what it would be like to keep pedalling all the way to Diemersfontein. Hopefully desire turns to action for Brian as it has done for many over the years.
Mike Nixon finds himself ensconced in Chesneywold where he is sorting out a mechanical. He seems confident of getting it sorted and getting an early start in the morning.
Slaapkrans hosts Franci, Paul and Martin as well as the chirpy brothers Payne.
If you look on the tracking site you’ll see Chris van Zyl’s tracker is still at Slaapkrans. His tracker tag has been struck through meaning that he has retired from the race. The race route is littered with these struck through flags—all the way from Allendale to Kleinpoort. They stand like gravestones marking the point of demise of fallen race warriors. It’s a little eerie. I digress. Chris van Zyl pulled on his brakes for the last time when he arrived at Slaapkrans last night. He decide that this race format is not his cup of tea, particularly the endless portages.
Gavin Horton is currently MIA due to his tracker being off. He must have turned it off by mistake while carrying his bike up the Slaapkrans portage earlier this afternoon. At a guess I’d say he must be in the vicinity of Moodenaarspoort and hopefully pushing through to catch up with his former race buddies who have recently arrived in Kranskop which is only 2 or 3 hours up the road from Moodenaarspoort with no nasty surprises along the way. It’s easy riding if you can stay awake. Gavin had a rest day in Rhodes yesterday after developing a bad chest coming over Lehana in the dark. The rest seems to have done wonders. He was moving well up to the point he disappeared off the radar.
Merak and his puppy Ollie rode through from Slaapkrans to Kranskop with their ever present riding companions of Scott and Greg Fisher. They chug along without too much drama. Well, if a new bike for Greg in Rhodes, an ongoing knee pain for Merak and a trashed derailleur and slightly buckled wheel and broken shoe for Ollie and leaking shock for Scott is inconsequential then we agree that they’ve had no drama.
The newly formed racing trio of Carlo, Axel and Casper have settled at Kranskop for the night. They’ve had 5 hard days on the trail. They plan to push through to Hofmeyr tomorrow.
Four or five hours up the road from Kranskop at Brosterlea is the current race leader Fjord Jordaan. He has worked hard to eke out a marginal lead. He left Slaapkrans at 18:30 last night and took 2 hours to move less than 2 kilometres down the trail. The speculation is that he couldn’t find the start of the portage. Once he found it he trickled down the route taking 12 hours to cover the the next 24 kilometres without him getting lost. In daylight it normally takes 5 hours. In spite of riding non stop through the night his speed improved markedly once the sun was up. He arrived in Moodenaarspoort where he got a couple of hours on a bed before pushing through. Even though the chasing hounds are only 4 or 5 hours adrift of him he has done enough to build up a lead that he can defend over the coming days.
Romansfontein hosts Gary, Jan, Charl, Greg Philps and Tracey. Tracey faces the prospect of her race coming to an end as race rules have cut-off’s which means she will have to be in Hofmeyr before 6am to stay in the race. She is nursing a damaged ankle which slows her sufficiently that she will not be able to get to Hofmeyr in time. Earlier she tried to convince Gary to go with her but he has issues of his own and wasn’t keen so she is stuck in Romansfontein waiting for the bell to toll. There have been pleas on online forums for race director leniency but those pleas have fallen on cotton ears.
Ergee (RG du Toit) rolled into Romansfontein just after midnight last night and treated himself to a lie in. He strolled out of Romansfontein at 11am and ambled through to Hofmeyr where he hitched his bike to the pole outside the recently refurbished Hofmeyr hotel. "Sjoe this is an amazing hotel! Thanks (have to bring my wife)". RG has also been struggling with bad stomach since KZN and will be relived to receive meds in Hofmeyr.
Groenfontein had four dusty warriors wander through their front door just after 2pm. Jason, Steven and Richard will head out in the morning after a leisurely afternoon and evening. Not so for John Buchanan who has called it a day after struggling with an injury sustained in a fall a few days back. His tracker tag will soon join the ranks of fallen warriors. Riders are raving about Groenfontein hospitality as usual. Thanks Frans and Amelia!
Richard Cole and Greg Perret got going out of Elandsberg an hour before sun up. After a brief stop at Groenfontein they headed up the valley and over the Schurfteberg mid afternoon arriving at Fietskraal as the sun was setting. A textbook day of riding—start before the sun comes up so that you finish the day before it gets dark.
Toekomst is packed to the rafters. Sarah, Pierre, Brett, Kemsley, Derrick Muller, Andrew arrived in dribs and drabs around sunset with the racing duo of Derrick Bingham and Kevin Meier rolling in a little after 9pm.
Sandy, now sans his riding buddy Craig who is receiving medical attention in Gqeberha, got an early start from Kleinooort and less than 2 hours later was having breakfast in Bucklands. He left there and pushed on to Hadley arriving shortly after midday where, not tempted by the prospect of facing Mordor in fading light, he settled for the day.
Roger guided his crew of Iain, Dominic, Sean and Andrew through the Baviaans Reserve to Damsedrif where Dominic was hoping they’d be treated to the delights of apricot chicken as per his last visit but alas he had to settle for stir fry which, while delicious, wasn’t what he’d spent the last week anticipating.
Lastly, our intrepid and hugely talented lensman Llewellyn is spending the night in Bloemfontein. He will be hiring a car and heading back on the trail tomorrow. Unfortunately his car fell over. Poor ol’ Jimny was no match for the marble like stones on the track coming down off Bottelnek. Gnarly gravel road - 1. Suzuki Jimny - 0. Llewellyn is unhurt and in good spirits.