Saturday, 28 March 2015

Slaapkranz to Moordenaarspoort

The trip from Slaapkranz to the Moordenaarspoort emergency support station is only 57 km's but straight out the door you have to take on the back to back portage pair of Slaapkranz and Bonthoek. If you can knock off those first 22 km's in under 3h30 you have done well. 
Tim finished his lunch and scurried out the door while Casper and I settled into a routine that would continue through the next few days. The hosts would engage us in conversation and occasionally I would look toward Casper who would translate the gist of the chat. The hosts would often switch to English after realising I was a rooinek but that would only last a few seconds before they unwittingly reverted to Afrikaans.
Lunch eaten, bottles replenished we slide out the door at 12:50. At the bottom of the first portage which I refer to as The Scar we saw Tim a few hundred metres above us. I knew from previous experience that he was at least 25 minutes ahead. I swing my bike up onto my back and started the trudge up the mountain. It's was tedious. My shoulders and arms started aching and my thigh muscles burned but the best way to get up is to switch off your mind and keep plodding for the 30 minutes it takes. My mind was alert enough to spot a snake as it slithered past but I didn't break my rhythm. 
Having got up the worst of the climb Casper asked what the plan was. We could see Tim higher up on the mountain but I had no intention of climbing that high. We hopped a fence and contoured around to a nek where we hopped another fence and 
dropped down onto a cattle track. We could see Tim making his way down off the ridge in our direction. As the cattle track converged with the jeep track that would take us off the mountain we caught up with Tim. 
Out clever sneak around the top of the mountain had obviously played a role in closing the gap on Tim but he was also starting to look a little grey around the gills. 
The three of us settled into a comfortable and efficient rotation of opening and closing the gates on the way down to the district road. We had made good time crossing the first mountain and wasted little time in heading up the valley to take on the next.
Scrambling up the cattle track that leads to the last contoured ridge Tim slowed and soon Casper and I were hundreds of metres ahead. What we didn't know at the time is that he was busy donating the contents of his stomach to the mountain gods. 
We waited for him to catch up at the summit and trailed him down the mountain to the uninhabited Bonthoek farmhouse where we stopped to replenish our bottles. 
I scratched around for some rehydrate which I normally carry but came up empty. Casper gave him an effervescent electrolyte tablet which he added to a bottle and took a swig. Fairly soon Tim was on all fours desperately trying to not heave. I told Tim that he didn't look particularly legendary like that. 
We continued on to Rossouw and as Tim was feeling bleak we went to the Rossouw Super Shop to get some cokes. Don't be fooled by the fancy name. It is just a hole in the wall spazza shop. 
Tim couldn't finish his Coke and as we  started the grind out of Rossouw he told us to push on without him as he was going to go to ground in Moordenaarspoort until he felt better. We rode on without him and arrived in Moordenaarspoort about 10 minutes ahead of Tim at 18:40.

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