Monday, 30 March 2015

Headlong into the storm.

When we arrived at Kranskop at 9pm stars sparkled in the moonless sky. When we came out an hour later with Casper having added sealant to his back tyre to put the tyre issue to bed it was overcast and pitch black. To make it more interesting my batteries of my headlamp and my spare bar mounted light went flat. Entirely my own stupidity as I forgot to get new batteries before the race. Nevertheless I had a dynohub driven light and we cruised through the first two tricky navigation sections and crossed the tar road south of Jamestown. 
The ride from the tar road to Brosterlea is hard because it's boring. Sure there are one or two steep climbs but the navigation involves just one right turn. What makes it hard is that sleep monsters, like trolls, lurk under every bush particularly when you have been on the go for over 18 hours. The trickier the nav the easier it is to stay awake. The converse is also true. 
This stretch wasn't without points of interest. Ten minutes after leaving the tar we approached a car on the side of the road with its hazards on. Clearly the driver thought we were another car and had gotten out the car to flag us down. As we rode past we heard him say "bicycle." Clearly we were a huge disappointment. We did wonder at his chances of getting help on this road at midnight. Fifteen minutes later we came across two inebriated souls who were carrying what looked like a 5 litre can of petrol between then and assumed they had been dispatched many hours before to get fuel for the car. Clearly their skills at tracking down shebeens trumped their fuel sourcing skills. But they seemed to have fuel, could still walk after a fashion and were headed in the right direction. I remember thinking "if they hurry they might just make it to the car before the storm hits." They at least were headed away from the storm. We on the other hand were heading into the teeth of the beast. 
For the last four hours we had watched the lighting storm ahead of us build in intensity. It started as a distant flash and had over he last few hours grown until it filled the whole sky ahead of us. I told Casper I wasn't going to get worried about it until I could hear the thunder. The very next lightning bolt produced audible thunder. We rolled on as the storm wrapped its arms around us without a drop of rain falling where we were. Nearing Gouevlei we decided to "suit up" and not a moment too soon. That was the start of 9 almost continuous hours of rain. After an hour it stopped briefly. Casper had sleep monsters crawling all over him so we stopped for 15 minutes. I spent 14 of those minutes listening to Casper snore away gently as he vanquished the monsters. I envied his ability to sleep so easily. The rain started again and we pressed on. 30 minutes later I realised that Casper hadn't vanquished the monsters. He had in fact piled them onto me. With another brief lull in the rain I tried to get some shuteye myself. After a minute it started pouring again so I gave up any attempt at sleep and instead had a running battle with the beasties all the way to Brosterlea. We were tired and cold and spoke at length about how good a few gallons of hot tea would feel in our bellies. The turn off to Brosterlea was like a kettle watched. It seemed as if it would never appear. Finally, it showed in the glow of our lights and we scuttled off in anticipation of something warm. We opened the door to the Silos where we could see Anthony Avidon's bike propped and discovered to our dismay that there had been a power cut. Given the intensity of the storm we had endured it was hardly surprising. It was 3:30am and we were tired, cold and hungry. The storm outside had worsened and we were in no hurry to run outside and play. 

1 comment:

Trackz said...

Echo your sentiment on the stretch from the tar road to Brosterlea, found it the most difficult stretch of the whole 600km.