It's another day on the trail. The wonderful part of being a rider is that is is exactly that. Another day.
Whether it's Monday or Saturday, October or November is irrelevant. Time is different when you're in the 'bubble'.
One of the gifts of the trail is how it forces us to be present. It's all about where we are at that moment and what we need to do to keep moving forward. Everything outside of that exists in another dimension.
Andrew Rose will rue the late start from Bucklands. Trail wisdom has it that one should be heading into Mordor at first light. A couple of lost hours spent searching for the trail meant an overnight stay in the valley and missing the 6am gate. He's taken a rest day and will tackle the Baviaanskloof in all its grandeur tomorrow. His ride to date has been incredible for a novice so all those who hesitate about doing the trail for the first time, Andrew has taken away your excuses.
Strava told me that Mike Woolnough put in some seriously long rides before the start of RASA. They're paying off as he now lies in second place on the trail but is in virtual first place for overall honours. It's all speculation because we know the trail can throw up some unexpected challenges and it's not over until eating pizza at Diemersfontein. I have a feeling that Mike might put in a big charge today. It's well over 200kms to Bucklands.
He's had some company with Stefan Coetzee and Mark Preen who have been solid from the get go. However, within the length of Struishoek portage, the strings were cut. The two of them are on are their way to Toekomst which is about 12kms down the road.
Craig Bosenberg , a South African now living in Canada, was inspired to reconnect with our wilderness and follow in the footsteps of friends who have done the race. He started on the same day as Mark but lost time with an injured knee and broken seat post. Despite a 3 hour time penalty today for the spare, there is a chance he could close the gap and who knows, maybe they'll be reunited and take on Mordor as a trio. Three is definitely better than one.
One then has to scroll a fair bit back up the trail to find Ian Henderson. He also started on the same day as Craig and Mark but I suspect it's the extra 3kg of film gear (including a drone) and the necessity to stop to and record the beauty of the trail that will make his journey extra special. He's made it to Groenfontein tonight.
Not too far behind him is Andy Wonnacott who seems to be riding well after a few wobbles before Rhodes. He's been able to distance the foursome of Dave Templeton (an orthopaedic surgeon in New Zealand), Janine Wencke, Jacqui Shaw and Guy Henderson. He's on his way to Groenfontein after an easy passage of Elandsberg.
The other four are novices but you'd never guess that. I hope I don't jinx them. They are all moving along beautifully with Guy getting distracted with swimming in dams, picnicking en route and taking the most incredible photos. They have Elandsberg in their sights for today.
Imagine your best friend and riding buddy is your brother. And imagine, that when the two of you ride together, you're raising massive funds for Reach for a Dream and the Freedom Foundation. The Payne brothers are all this and more. I was privileged to 'herd' them through the Baviaanskloof last year, and they are a reminder that the trail should be fun and that despite its hardships, it is a constant joy to be out experiencing life in its simplicity. Romansfontein is their choice of overnight stop today.
Clearly the couple that rides RASA together, stays together? Mike and Ingrid Talbot made short work of the portages after Slaapkrantz and are making for Kranskop. A power couple in the best sense of the word.
And then there are the Murrays. Tim's many years of experience allows him and Murray to perfect their daily adventures. I wouldn't be surprised if they make a habit of sleeping over at the inbetween stations. So will it be Moordenaarspoort or Kranskop tonight?
And before signing off, think about doing this trail on foot. Tomorrow, our four utterly crazy runners - Nicky Booyens, Andy Wesson, Dean Barclay and Peter Purchase - start the last leg of their dream to run the entire RASA route. My legs ache just thinking about it. More dots to watch with the Race to Paarl (cycling!) starting on Saturday.
As all our riders and runners move along the trail, so does the race office. One forgets the behind the scenes folk who move down the trail watching from the wings in case they are needed. Race Director, Herders, Scribes, Social Media and dot watchers travel physically or virtually, but always watching.
What an incredible family this is.