Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Day 4 - Malekhalonyane to Vuvu

12 hours today.
Day started at 05h10 with 8 of the riders from Batch A who we have caught up with. Getting out of the support station was tricky. The Batch A riders going to Cape Town went off on their own mission and took a bit longer than us to get off the ridge. At one stage they were a few hundred metres from us and then we never saw them again. When I left the others to go to bed at 20h30 they were not yet in at the support station. More about that just now. We were really slow for the first hour to the start of the Black Fountain single track section arriving there after the Ride to Rhodes riders. They didn't have to drop off the ridge line and simply rode out of the support station on the public road. Given the difficulty of getting off the ridge they were about 3 km's ahead of up when we hit the public road. We past them crossing the river and they eventually caught up. Th conditions this morning were horrendous for navigating. Th narrative is visually based, such as "head up to the water tanks on th ridge above the village". The whole landscape was covered in thick fog. Fortunately we knew our way across the valley having done it on 3 previous occasions. The other 3 riders then joined us for a fast ride through the single track section. They seemed to enjoy the riding as they didn't have to deal with the challenges of navigativion and could just focus on the fun of riding a stunning part of our country. Eventually we had to head down the Vuvu valley. The Rhodes riders didn't have to ride the valley so made their way to Vuvu on the public road arriving a full hour ahead of us even though they rode nearly twice as far. Neither Glenn nor I have ridden the Vuvu valley before and were a little apprehensive about it given the tales told by previous valley explorers. It was horrible. The navigational challenges are enormous with plenty of scope for big mistakes. It is unpopulated, overgrown and often has no obvious tracks to move down. As mentioned earlier the other riders had not emerged from the valley more than 3 hours after dark. It is a nasty entirely unnecessary section that is going to get people in trouble. I do not want to get stuck in that valley after dark. One rider chose not to in through and used the public road instead incurring a time penalty which is a far more sensible option if you suspect you might not emerge before dark. As it is we got out with only 30 mins to spare which is tight. Having now completed only 5 of the 27 sections of the race I must say the changes to the route since I did it in 2007 have raised the level of difficulty to the point that the average person is going to battle to complete the event without incident. Tomorrow we take on the big portage of Lehana which we expect to be difficult given the challenges of man handling the tandem over obstacles.

1 comment:

steve said...

I took the road over phirintsu. That wasn't much fun either. Vuvu really is the promised land