Monday, 16 July 2012

Day 11 - legs back online and well greased

Got out of bed at 5am and found the breakfast table set for 4 people. A quick trip outside revealed that Tweet (Graham Bird) had arrived after we went to bed. That meant that Allen Sharp and Richmand MacIntyre were a mere 4 hours behind me at van der Venterskraal as they had been riding with Tweet. They had started the same day as I had. That meant I had thrown away all the hard work we put in the first 3 days. Tweet had started 2 days after me so was currently sitting in 3rd place after Martin and Alex. Trevor a full day ahead of me was lying 4th which put me in 5th spot and fading.
Tweet joined us for breakfast and then we headed out ahead of him. We made really good time to the dam wall arriving 85 minutes after leaving the farm house. I was feeling strong and was itching to put some distance between myself and the pursuing duo of Allen and Richmond. I have known Allen for a few years and have the greatest respect for his riding ability. Quite frankly, I was just very chuffed to be ahead of a rider of his calibre. I fully expected that they would be looking to make Bucklands that night which meant I should be looking to not be there when they arrived. I told Chris that I wanted to push on beyond Bucklands and he said that was fine. With the nod from my mate it was easier for me to put the hammer down and cruise through the Kwaas valley, cut back through Koffielaagte and make it to the "mandatory" tea and coke stop at the Karoo Stop coffee shop in Kleinpoort scaling 2 huge game fences single handed along the way. Suitably hydrated I pushed on to Bucklands arriving at 13:20. Hannes and Rini weren't there but the domestic worker Rachel was on hand to sort out lunch and give me some padkos. I called Meryl (the race office) to ask if Hadleigh, a farm some 4 or 5 hours on from Bucklands, was available as an over night stop. Her first answer was "just go there and use your charm." This was later modified to "I will call him and let him know." With this information and no cell phone coverage I headed off. The ride out the back of Bucklands, through Tretyre to the district road was right in to the teeth of a stiff wind. I consoled myself that once I hit the road and made a 180 degree turn to head toward the Grootrivierpoort I would have an awesome tail wind. Wishful thinking! Tucked in close to the Baviaans mountains there was no wind at all.
Just as it was getting dark my bike started making an unusual cluck-cluck-cluck sound. It took me a minute or so to figure out that one of the derailleur jockey wheels had seized. Fortunately I carry spare jockey wheels and had it replaced in a couple of minutes. The turn off to Hadleigh farm is unmarked and with the stop to change the jockey wheel I had lost track of where I was. I knew the farm owner Benny and his wife lived "off the grid" and had a Lister driven generator which I was sure I could hear from the road. Soon I was riding through a clump of trees which I remembered were just below his house but there was no generator noise. I turned back 100 metres and found a track which came out by the house which was in complete darkness. "This is great" I thought, "Meryl has sold me a lemon - Benny isn't even here!" After looking around for a few minutes I found a garden bench that would serve as a bed. Another outside room yielded 2 huge grey blankets which I assumed were packing blankets. One was placed on the bench, which by now I had dragged into Benny's workshop, as a mattress and the other would make a cozy blanket to cover myself with.
I carry emergency food, a metal cup and fuel tablets which I used to make myself tea and a cup of warm Future Life porridge. Warmed and fed I hopped into my makeshift bed. I hadn't even closed my eyes when I heard Benny's pickup coming up the driveway. Plans changed quickly. Benny was followed 10 minutes later by his wife just returned from a shopping trip to Port Elizabeth and 10 minutes behind her Tweet arrived.
A hearty dinner was rustled up followed by a warm shower and bed. Tweet explained that his strategy was to sleep 6 hours every night. So with the alarm set for 3:45 we turned the lights out at 21:45. I was amazed at Tweets ability to fall asleep so quickly. Within 2 minutes he was sound asleep.

No comments: