Friday, 29 June 2007

Questions about the race.

I have received a few questions from people following the race on the internet. I will go through a few of them and give my perspective based on my experiences and the riders around me.

What is your typical day like?
We get up at 5, eat, dress, pack and aim to be on the road by 6 - first light is at about 06h30. We ride with lights until there is enough natural light. At the end of a days ride - just after sunset typically - we shower, eat, wash our clothes and prepare our bikes and get to bed around 8-9pm.

Are any of you guys suffering with saddle sores from all that riding?
Apart from some of the leaders I don't think any of the others are suffering from saddle sores. We make a point of keeping our clothing well laundered. We also also spend hours walking every day so are not in the saddle as much as the leaders. The leaders are also bombing through support stations and don't have the luxury of getting their washing sorted out like we do.

How do you know where to go?
We are given 1:150 000 maps showing basic roads, tracks and often very basic tracks(which may or may not exist) We also have a selection of 1:50 000 maps for the scratchy bits. Both of these show contour lines which are absolutely necessary for orienting yourself through tricky navigational sections. We also (not always) get narrative instructions, such as "Go past the brick structure and turning right head west until you intercept a track cutting across the mountain (approx 3 km)" The distances on the narratives are very approximate give or take a few km's. Some of the descriptions are laughable. For example "as you round the corner about 3km from the last junction, turn off right and crossing the stream make your way up the the village." Well the 3km was more like 4km. Crossing the stream means abseiling down a near vertical rock face some 50 metres high, wading through a river and scrambling out of the ravine to the village 1 km beyond. Straying from the official route is punishable by being confined to a support station for x number of daylight hours, the severity of which is decided by the race director.

Are you guys getting lots of punctures?
I am only aware of one puncture and it was a rider without tubeless tyres. Tubeless technology is amazing, you ride over thorns without a second thought. They pierce the tyre but it seals immediately and you just keep on riding.

Where do you stay?
We generally stay in farmhouses. Through the area that comprised the old Transkei around Matatiele we stayed in guest houses mostly catering for traditional cultural experiences. Many farms through consolidation of farms have spare homesteads that they have converted into guest houses or hunting lodges and we are accommodated there. In Vuvu we were fed in the local schools and then billeted out to stay in local families homes. I stayed in a mud brick house with a basic tin roof and creaky door and a rickety bed. It was comfortable and they gave us loads of warm fluffy blankets. Walkerbouts in Rhodes by comparison gave us thin inadequate blankets and no towels!

Any more questions you want answered just add a comment and they will be relayed to me. Have lost my MMS camera phone and updating via my cheap and nasty phone with SMS.

No comments: