Sunday, 8 July 2012

Day One. Go big or go home.

I arrived at the start of this years race with few real ambitions and a handful of "wouldn't it be nice if's". It would be nice to get to Rhodes in 3 days as it would be to finish in under 16 days. Last year my attempt to race hard had ended on day 2 with an inflamed ITB bringing play to a premature close. 6 months of pilates and boot camp style PT had hopefully provided some form of guarantee in that department.
I moved my start day ahead by one day to make my sub 16 day wish fit in with my wife and daughters departure for an overseas competition. As luck would have it, Trevor Ball, a previous finisher of RASA (2009, 2010) arrived at Aintree Lodge a day early. On hearing I intended starting the next morning he ran around getting his loose ends sorted out and duly arrived at the start the next morning. I was happy to ride with him as he is easy company and he was happy to rely on my navigational skills.
At this stage 3 days to Rhodes seemed such a stretch as I was still feeling a touch off colour with a lingering dose of lurgy. As the city hall clock chimed 6am we headed out into what promised to be a beautiful day for riding. We made good time and by 11:25 we had crossed the Umkomaas river and were beginning the challenging climb up Hella Hella. At that stage Trevor and I had Allen Sharp riding with us. We were unprepared for the heat and we all had to deal with some form of cramping which is something none of us had experienced before. As a result we only made the first support station at Allendale at 13:50. We scuttled out of there and made good time to Donnybrook. Just before Donnybrook Allen had told us we could push on without him as he knew the way and was planning on stopping at Centacow. Pulling into Donnybrook we noticed he had dropped off but weren't concerned. We had a quick coke and vanilla milk stop and pressed on toward Centacow. Just before 5pm Allen rejoined us covered in blood. Apparently he had tipped himself into a bramble bush just before Donnybrook and its barbs had mercilessly ravaged him. We rolled into Centacow at 17:25 sans Allen. He arrived a few minutes later having zigged when he should have zagged. While Allen settled in for the night, Trev and I tucked into some fodder and prepared to push on to Ntsikeni about 50km's further.
Shortly after leaving Centacow my chain snapped and was quickly repaired with a powerlink. We made good time and after stopping for trail side coffee brewed on Trev's mini gas cooker arrived at Ntsikeni at 1am. We had put just over 200km's with 5500 metres of ascent between us and the start in the first day. With the real racing snakes due to start 2 days behind us, we were the current race leaders.

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