Friday, 3 April 2015
My exact words to Casper were, "This is not cool. I don't get lost!"
I can imagine the deflating effect that had on him. All along he thought he had his own personal GPS guidance system and here is the middle of the bush it declares it doesn't know where it's going.
I saw a ridge off to my left and decided to go have a look on the off chance that it was the ridge we sort. Casper wasn't keen on traipsing his bike across the bush so found a perch while I set off on a little explore. As I climbed the ridge I saw a distant electric light off to the North. It was the only fixed point of reference in my black world. I was careful to check my bearing against this light so that I was able to retrace my steps to get back to Casper. After a few hundred metres it became apparent that the ridge I was on wasn't going to help with the nav. I turned back and made my way toward Casper careful to keep the light at my 2 o'clock position. I stopped paying attention to it for about 30 seconds and when I looked up expecting to see Casper's position dead ahead he was nowhere be seen. Instead I found the distant light directly ahead. It was a reminder of how easily you can get disoriented. I could see Casper off to my left.
Arriving back at his position I said we need to go back to the fence and start again. He wasn't keen. "It's so far! How are you going to find it if you don't know where we are?" It was a valid point. Fortunately the fence line ran East to West and was kilometres long. I set of in a northerly direction and we intercepted a track that I mistakingly thought was the one we wanted. After a few hundred metres I realised it was heading easy instead of South. We rode back down and resumed our search for the fence. Intercepting the fence we split up to look for the cycling shoe I had left on the fence pole which Casper found off to out left. Regrouping at the shoe I started going through the required navigation. It started raining and Casper decided to take shelter under a little bush. He looked like a dassie tucked under the little bush. While I was 99% certain of where we were it takes just a smidgen of doubt to make you start doubting. Random thoughts like "what is this is the other shoe I found?" can unhinge your confidence. As I stood looking out ahead of me toward where the jeep track must be I could see absolutely nothing so complete was the darkness.
Casper suggested we go to ground and wait for light. It was only a little after 1am. I figured it would take us over an hour to get to Elandsberg if we got the navigation right on our second attempt. Stuttgart was at least 5 hours from there and then it would take another 5 or 6 hours to the finish. And we were tired. We would have to take a nap somewhere. The prospect of racing my age had evaporated.
Always up for an adventure I asked Casper what he had in mind. He told me he had a black plastic bag which we could put on the ground. Sitting on that we could cover ourselves with a space blanket he had in his pack. Standing there in the soaking rain it did sound an attractive proposition.
I scrambled under the bush to join him. The black bag was placed on the damp earth and we did our best to get equal amounts of body on it. Then the interesting job of unrolling the space blanket started. It came out the bag as a long sausage and bit by bit we unfurled it uncertain how big it was going to get. Fortunately is was a large one and we figured that if we lay on out sides and spooned we could shelter from the rain and do our best to keep warm. That was the beginning of one extremely uncomfortable night.
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- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Just an ordinary guy who started riding in 2005 at the age of 45. I started with the ambition of completing the local 94.7 Cycle Challenge (94.7km). This is an annual road cycle race in and around Johanesburg. Some where along the way it become a race and not merely a completion excercise. I clocked a 2h54 in my first attempt only 6 months from my first trundle down the road and back. I was hooked and then discovered the magic of MTB. While my efforts on the road were credible, MTBing humbled me. Having said that, over the last 24 months I have competed in 9 multi-day events. I'm a very middle of the field rider, but I enjoy every minute of it.