To lean on a baseball term - the RASA 2022 bases are loaded! As I write the the ant trail of Freedom riders stretches from the Umko valley to Rhodes. This stretch will get ever longer as there are still 4 days to go before the last riders hit the trail. By the time the final batch get underway on the morning of the 22nd the ant trail will be something in the order of 800km long. That’s 12km per rider assuming we have no drop outs. Actually it’ll be more as 12 riders have Rhodes as their end goal.
Talking of end goals, Arn de Haas finished his Race to Rhodes yesterday in a time of 4d13h55. That’s a respectable time. His race is a perfect case study for people who want to take a step beyond a stage a day strategy. In summary his race went down as follows:
Day 1: Allendale 16h03
Day 2: Ntsikeni 16h25
Day 3: Masakala 17h16
Day 4: Tinana 19h41
Day 5: Rhodes 19h55
As you can see he finished each day before or shortly after sunset apart from the final push which was simple enough to finish in the dark as he had already got all the navigation challenges behind him and had a simple ride to the finish. He is the current RTR leader in the clubhouse with 2 or 3 potential rivals heading his way.
The 7 other Wellington bound riders who started with Arn on the 13th are currently bedded down in Vuvu 53km and one massive portage short of Rhodes. Ingrid’s trio — Ingrid Avidon, Rebecca Sands (Becky) and Omphile Mothaung —have been joined in their daily travels by Quinton and Cindy Rutherford and Jeremy Steere. Paul Moxley overnights with the rest of them but has ventured out on his own often going off route but somehow managing to get back on track and stay in touch with his batch. Ingrid et al have also had their navigational challenges over the last 6 days. They got tripped up leaving Allendale on day 2 and then trying to leave Malekgalonyane they scribbled all over the place leaving their tracker snail trail everywhere except the proper line. They eventually ended up sleeping at interim/emergency stop if Mrs Kibi’s in Tinana. That gave them a grand total of 45km for the day. That’s 45 official kilometres. In practice they covered a lot more ground. Particularly Paul who ventured into formally unexplored parts of the Black Fountain ridge earning himself an OOB penalty along the way.
Today Ingrid’s posse made their way to Vuvu before pulling up the handbrake just after 1pm to give them a 28km day. The prospect of pushing over Lehana and flirting with the dark being more than they were willing to risk.
Joining Ingrid’s lot in Vuvu tonight are batch 2 riders Dave and Dawn Bell and Greg Fisher(RTR) who arrived at 4pm. Shaun Tischendorf, Gerald de la Bat and David Ackerman, also batch 2 rolled into Vuvu at 8pm having made their way up the Vuvu valley in the dark.
Malekgalonyane is bursting at the seams tonight. Batch 3 riders Janine Oosterhuizen, Estelle Labuschagne, Graham and Matt Denny, Renier van der Merwe, David McKerchar, Adriaan Giessing and Brian Kruger(RTR) have made steady stage-a-day progress down the trail after a wet start out of Pietermaritzburg 4 days ago. They are joined by Batch 5 riders Mark Basel, and Adrian and Nigel Payne.
Batch 2 rider John Bowen has fallen a day behind a stage-a-day riding plan but is still well inside a Rhodes cut-off. He is currently 10km shy of Malekgalonyane trying to find his way off the Mparane ridge which is a daunting task at night.
Grant Hill, Grant Cowan and Marco Pulvirenti who started in batch 4 (16th June) have moved steadily and are in Masakala. They are joined by Brad van der Westhuizen and Nicola Oats. Brad and Nicola have fallen behind a day due to Nicola picking up a hip strain injury. They’ve tapered off slightly to give the injury time to heal. Heading into Masakala are Andreas Diacon and Nienke can Schalk who also left PIetermaritzburg on the16th.
Anton Wood and Gordon Belton(RTR) who also started on the 16th are with seeing around in the dark after having opted for an older route from Snakefield. They are less than 20km from the warmth of Masakala but given their tracker scribbles it seems like the wattle forests will have guests tonight. The pair of them have had a horrendous day. They missed the turnoff at Glen Edward and trundles on toward St Bernard’s Peak adding at least 15km to their day. Time wasted which I’m sure they now rue as they wander around in the dark. Nienke and Andreas also added the St Bernard’s Peak loop to their day but it hasn’t impacted their day to the same extent.
Renn Holtzhausen and Craig McCarthy are holed up in the new interim support station of Two Springs. They picked up an OOB penalty earlier in the day and it seems that it has added to their progression woes. They are looking at getting cut as they are well behind the 8 day cut-off in Rhodes.
An experienced bunch of riders who started yesterday (17th June) are overnighting in Ntsikeni. They are Steven Kitto, Andrew Stetzkom, Gerald Holland, Graeme Green, Jason Wesson, Quinton Dry and Jon Shepard(RTR). They have a load of experience and are unlikely to excite the Dot Watcher army.
Todays start batch (18th June) has Gawie Du Plessis and Jacques Tattersall(RTR) at Centocow with Gary Scoular still making his way to Centocow as I write. Gawie has made his way from the East coast of Australia and is on his latest single speed which has been his mount of choice over the years. Jacques Tattersall claims to be a recovering RASA race snake and has proven it so far by only pressing as far as Centocow on the first day.
Finally we come to the gang at Allendale. Mike Potgieter, John Barrow, Michael Patchitt, and Paul Arno cruised through from Pietermaritzburg with raising any attention. Mike Potgieter has pledged R100 to the FC Scholarship find for every navigation glitch. Here’s hoping he gets terribly lost, every day.