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RASA Day 13 18h00.

The Race 2 Rhodes is now done and dusted. Nigel and Beth finished this afternoon…well done guys.

With the last RASA rider filtering through Vuvu we’ll see the supports stations in the Sisonke and Maluti sections closing down till the October Summer RASA. Well done everyone. Without your support RASA wouldn’t happen. Many of you are aware there are two new support stations on the R2R section. Two Springs and The Rhodes Hotel. They have by all accounts been outstanding. This would have been a trial by fire no doubt…I don’t think most of us realise how much planning and effort goes into successfully running a support station. Special people!

Mother Nature has done her best to challenge this years participants throwing almost everything she has at these riders, slowing progress along the trail dramatically. With this in mind, and for those of us who are fair weather riders, I must mention entries are open for the Summer RASA, so best take advantage the longer days and warmer temps and enter now! I believe this 2nd summer edition is likely to be the last.

Fortunately it appears the cold front has passed and Mother Nature is gifting the riders with some fair weather in the next 10 to 14 days (I hope, starting R2P on Tuesday). The trail dries up quickly, so I expect to see faster progress and ecstatic riders along the trail.

So what’s happening in the last 24hrs or so?

Trail blazer, Mark Basel (on his 10th day), left Fietskraal this morning and is apparently aiming for A big day. Mark’s been the “steadiest” rider to date, had only one little night-time squiggle near Groenfontein (this is a new support station for him). I wonder if memories of his “Puff Adder Experience” at Newlands distracted him. He seems to be unperturbed by the adverse conditions, has just put his head down and moved forward at a steady and remarkable pace.

The “Cycloteers” are steadily moving on to Fietskraal. They unfortunately had to leave Becky to recover in Hoffmeyer after a fall on the Aasvoelberg. She hasn’t had to withdraw (tracking problem) and is currently at Groenfontein with Adriaan, Marco, the Bell’s and Rutherford’s. Lots of TLC needed for bikes and riders with these conditions. Grant will probably meet up with them in time for dinner.

Ingrid fortunately picked up Paul Moxley on the Elandsberg portage yesterday. Mox had been lost on the portage (and surrounds) for at least the last 24hrs. Rumour has it that he doesn’t have a compass……if thats true “The Fines Master” at Diemersfontein will have a field day.

The Denny’s and Gerard will keep the Meerkats (and the rest of the menagerie) company at Elandsberg. The Payne’s should join them later, if Mox’s tyre tracks don’t confuse them.

Nicky and Brad should get through to Hofmeyr without problems. They’re experienced FC family members who seldom put a foot wrong…bit boring for us Dot Watchers (DW’s) I’m afraid.

Gawie will enjoy Will and Stephanie's hospitality and is unlikely to risk his “belt drive or fork” on the Aasvoelsberg tonight…hopefully the descent (one of those exciting rollercoaster rides when dry) tomorrow will be drier and more joyful. Janine will join them.

The DW’s could watch Andreas, Ninke and Gary…they will need to go through the “Pivots” after sundown…that has caught out the odd rider (Janine included). Although unlikely with Gary being there, Gray did sleep out at Bontehoek (not sure if that was nav, weather, bike or fatigue related).

Jason, Andrew, Graeme and Gerald seem very comfortable at Brosterlea, and I suspect will leave the Stormberg portage for day time nav. Rowan and Justin will join them no doubt.

Pottie’s Brigade are also moving slowly in the right direction to Kranzkop, just ahead of them are Chris and Francis. The venison pie served there can not be beaten. Hope thats on the menu tonight.

At the pointy end of the field (the last racing batch), we’re on day 4 today. Despite a “collapsed” fork, Alex is on the way to Moordenaarspoort. All the tricky Nav (Kapokkraal, Slaapkrans and Bontehoek) done during day time today. He may even push on to Kraanzkop for that Venison Pie if conditions allow. He pulled up short of Minky’s last night and elected to stop earlier than expected at Hollywood farm (home stay rather than seep out) in the Sterkspruit Valley. It seems the “Polisiehond Modder” slowed things so dramatically that he made a call to wait for the mud to freeze in the early hours, and move forward more efficiently.

Mike Woolnough made an epic dash over Lehana’s last night in rain, sleet and snow to get to Rhodes. Progress was slow and he only got in this morning at 1am. This is the slowest time he’s done to Rhodes. Testament to the challenging conditions. He had a late start this morning following a 4 hr penalty (this must be served in daylight) for loosing his red tail light (compulsory equipment) and is currently crawling through to Chesneywold (and perhaps Slaapkrans) in that “Polisiehond Modder”. Begs the question that if he’d looked after his “toys” Mike, could he have got out of Rhodes and the Sterkspruit Valley before everything thawed?

These things happen in ultra races, a fall and something breaks, loose ones sanity or a piece of equipment, roadside running repairs…all taken in their stride.

Bruce and Enslin have cruised over Lehana’s after scribbling a bit when dropping down to Tinana last night. They’ll join Peter Roux in Rhodes tonight. I suspect they’re evenly match riders and will head out tomorrow as a group, at least for a while.

At the time of writing (17h00 and just before sundown) most of my DW interest is focused on Gavin’s plans and possible night antics. He’s just got in to Vuvu. Will he rest and recover, or risk Lehana’s / Mcambalala at night. So far of his 3 nights on the trail, Gavin has spent two lying in ditches or under bushes, without shelter, as result of serious nav errors. Remember this isn’t a race where riders carry tents or comfortable divvy’s with a sleeping bag.…just an emergency bivvy or space blanket that feels like a “chip packet”…most unpleasant way to spend an evening in current conditions. While his navigational skills may be questionable one can’t but admire his tenacity, resilience, single-mindedness and self belief….I’m off to watch Top Gun, down a few G&T’s and attack an Inch Thick Medium Rare Ribeye with Mushroom Sauce with Mash….good luck Gavin…I’ll catch up later….. All the best…Roger.

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