Tuesday 25 October 18:00 Day 11 RASA/RTR
Pink Floyd “Is there anybody out there?” lyrics
"Well, only got an hour of daylight left. Better get started" "Isn't it unsafe to travel at night?" "It'll be a lot less safe to stay here, your father's gunna pick up our trail before long" "Can Loca ride?" "Yeah, I can ride, Margaret, time to go! Maigret, thank you for everything" "Goodbye Chenga" "Goodbye miss" "I'll be back"
“Is there anybody out there?”
These lyrics speak to the fears and the loneliness of Freedom riders. Listen to the song. Better still play it the next time you ride off into the night. Make the second song “Into the Rhythm of the Night”, just in case the walls close in too quickly.
The Buffalo Herders are at Slaapkrantz, having slept here last two nights. Joyce’s garden (and the gardener for that matter) is looking absolutely gorgeous. The young Golden Retriever (shaved, so it looks like a Lab) Donna stole my sock and my right foot now feels a bit soggy. Four riders set off from Slaapkrantz yesterday morning. Jacky Shaw and Dave Templeton (the New Zealander Saffer) set off at 5am and Marelise and her wife Nicole half an hour later. None of them had cycled this section before. Jacky had lost her experienced riding partner Gary “Two Blankets” Preston who withdrew Rhodes. Jacky looked a bit anxious yesterday, the thought of riding without anyone who had ridden this section before being a bit overwhelming. I note with interest that they had a great ride to Kranskop yesterday, so all is well.
Actually these four riders are very lucky. Riding the trail as novices without having an experienced rider with you is a very different experience to the alternative. You only get one chance to do it for the first time, to get lost and to recover (hopefully) by yourself, or with another newbie. Lessons that will never be forgotten and which will pay big dividends in future rides.
Yesterday I wrote this whilst sitting at the dining room table at Slaapkrantz. I looked up to see Marelise and Nicole walking in through the kitchen door. They looked devastated. I knew that look. Their race was over. Nicole had chronic diarrhea for a few days and the Slaapkrantz exit was a bridge (actually isn’t a bridge it is a very steep, muddy slippery hill) too far. Man it is so sad and difficult trying to console a rider that has had to make the tough decision to withdraw. They have done well and will be back. Unfinished business, as there is for so many of us.
Race Office was be busy yesterday. The logistics of helping withdrawn riders find their way back to their home towns had to be planned and executed. Bus to Cape Town (Marelise and Nicole’s home) from Aliwal North? Friends in Bedford could come and fetch them? Rest for a day at Slaapkrantz perhaps and carry on touring, albeit off the Freedom Route? We eventually took them to Queenstown. Marelise had to drive most of the way because the Buffalo Herder was very tired.
In amongst all of this we have Alex Shapiro the videographer with us, helping Ian Henderson make his Freedom Challenge documentary. Buffalo Herders have moved up to a whole new level, we are now officially part of a potentially world class production. We are chasing the story (much like Freedom Writers come to think of it). Drone shots, wide-angle shots, low-angle shots, shot shots. News, views and interviews. Alex is very professional and we are still learning. Like “off the record” and “please don’t use what I am about to say” have to be respected by the film maker. However Freedom Writers have complete liberty to write whatever they want and I really do have some astonishing things to share with you. Juicy stuff. I just can’t remember exactly what these juicy things are. It is very early in the morning. Perhaps later in the report.
As far as race news goes we have some news to share. Janine Stewart had to pull out, unfortunately. Actually I don’t know why I had to add “unfortunately”. There could hardly be a “fortunate” pull out. Actually maybe there could be, but this is a family show so I’m not going to go there.
This releases, like Barabbas, and because he was riding with Janine, Mike Woolnough, to begin his quest to finally nail a RASA win. We will watch his push to the finish with great interest. I see that he is about to catch up with Mark Preen and Stefan “walk on water” Coetzee. Both of these riders are looking very strong. It would not surprise me if these three teamed up to the finish, helping each other along. Much like Tim James did in 2015, grabbing two unsuspecting riders, getting his win and ensuring that the other two had podium finishes.
Way ahead of the field is Andrew Rose. He will be escorted through the Baviaanskloof tomorrow by Elton the Buffalo Herder. Let me quickly do the sums. Andrew started 4 days before Mike Woolnough. Nope, Mike is effectively well ahead of Andrew as he will get to Cambria in two days.
Craig Bosenberg’s seat post broke yesterday and he spent the day riding standing up. This is an art in itself and not for the faint-hearted. The consequences of sitting down are considerable when one has a broken seat post.
Can Tim James and his son Murray press the “Go” button and challenge Mike? Not impossible. They are coming through Rhodes this morning having slept up at Tennahead (storms etc). By all accounts the 10th blanket Father/Son ride is proving memorable. What a thing to do.
Whilst dropping off Marelise and Nicole in Queenstown yesterday I looked for and found the SPCA charity shop. One hundred or so 1960/70s hardcover Afrikaans books found their way back to Slaapkrantz with me. Deep down I know there is a link to the Freedom Trail amongst these books. It could be a place where one of the authors was brought up, or perhaps the story itself might be situated along the trail. The cover art possibly may evoke Freedom Trail emotions. At this early stage we just do not know but rest assured we will leave no stone unturned in an effort to get to the bottom of this mystery.
On that note we end yesterday’s report today.