Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Race to Cradock - Slaapkranz

Anthony and Fjord should be made to attend a class or two of race etiquette as taught by Tim James. Tim has the decency to look exhausted after a good spell of riding. Anthony and Fjord looked a little too chipper for my liking. They looked like they were about to set off on their first ride of the week. I past them as I entered the kitchen of Slaapkranz. They were on their way out.

Anthony had been lingering at the support station for 45 minutes. I think he said he had been fiddling with his tyre. He mentioned that he had arrived as Alex was leaving. The race register showed that Alex had left 40 minutes prior to our arrival. By the time we left it would put us almost an hour behind him. We were 1/6th of the way into the race and already an hour behind. That would translate into almost 6 hours by the time we got to Cradock... Gulp!

'...by the time we got to Cradock' - I had already had a mind shift. Thoughts of getting to Cradock had respawned. I was tired, but no longer sore. There was still a lot of work to be done but it no longer fazed me.

Stepping out the door of Slaapkrans one is immediately faced with a tough portage. But the 'fun' doesn't stop there. The mountains in this part of the country are big. The Eastern Cape highlands are majestic, and lumpy, very lumpy. The next support station was 100 kilometres away. It's not your average weekend road bike outing of 3 or 4 hours of social trundle that ends with a big frothy cup of coffee at your local Mugg and Bean. I expected it would take us 8 or 9 hours to get there. The task is daunting particularly after a 105 km 'warm-up'. It is best tackled by breaking it up into more manageable sections; Get over the Slaapkranz mountain, get through Loutebron, portage over Bonthoek mountain, stop for water at the empty Bonthoek farmhouse, get to Rossouw, tackle the big uphill grind out of Rossouw, quick stop at the intermediate support station at Moodenaarspoort, finally roll on to the support station at Kranskop.

Sounds simple enough until you step out onto the lawn at Slaapkrans and catch sight of the scar that runs up the side of the huge mountain squatting behind the farmhouse. When you are tired it looks a bit like Heath Ledge, lipstick scribbled over his face, is grinning at you. It's a scruffy and daunting route up the mountain.

1pm. Our 15 minutes was up. It was time to take on The Joker.

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