Friday, 6 July 2007

Day 17 - Into the Hell

Rondawel - Prince Albert - Die Hel
130km, 1880m climb, 11 hours.
Am so tired of waking up in the dark and then riding through the dark in sub zero temperatures waiting for the sun to come up. Hands and feet are permanently numb.
The first 70km saw us leave the Karoo. Reasonably flat riding but the corrugations and sand are brutal.
During army training (nearly 30 years ago!) we were involved in conventional warfare training and advanced day after day in torrential rain digging fox holes every night and then trying to get some sleep as they filled up with water. After a few days during a simulated attack, diving for cover, a friend dived on top of his rifle and broke a few ribs. He was stretchered from the battle ground sporting a huge grin. I tell this story to set the stage for a near race ending incident last night. We were barrelling along at about 25 km/h, down a boring stretch of farm road, well after dark and dropped into a small depression. I went from 25 to 0 in 2 seconds flat. I had ridden into a small soft gravel stream bed. Very nearly went over the handle bars. My state of mind at that stage was, "if I had fallen and broken something at least I could have withdrawn from the race with dignity".
After a cold miserable start this morning we rolled into Prince Albert, upon arriving at the guest house, were given a breakfast of muesli, yoghurt and fruit followed by eggs, bacon, toast, tomato, baked beans and mushrooms washed down with orange juice, coffee, tea and coke. A quick shower followed and we were off again.
A quick 8km road section was followed by a 7km section that gained 800 metres of altitude. Stunningly beautiful but having done it on a 1X2 would rather suggest a 4X4. A 35km section then saw us plummeting into the Gamkaaskloof Nature Reserve at Die Hel.

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