Saturday, 9 April 2016

Race to Cradock - Kranskop to mist swathed Predikantskop

It had been a long day. Casper and I were tired. The food selection at Kranskop was more than adequate and certainly more than we could stomach. As I recall, Casper settled for a cup of tea and a carton of long life custard I had in my resupply box. My palette was also not up to traditional fare so I just had a couple of Weetbix, Banting style. Banting-style Weetbix I hear you ask - It's 100% carb's, how can that be Banting? It's considered Banting if you don't enjoy it ... Okay, I enjoyed it. Sorry Tim.

My resupply boxes were basic. In each I had a can of Coke, a small carton of Custard (Casper slurped his way through all of them), and a Chocolate Milk. I also had the occasional packet of Biscuits and some cheese wedges. The milk and Coke got the nod at every support station. They were tossed in my back pack and savoured en route.

22 minutes after walking in the front door we were headed out. It was now 22:15. We knew the stretch toward Brosterlea was going to be difficult. The first section is a little tricky and therefore interesting. Once we crossed the tar road we had as boring a section as you can imagine. Informed by past experience we knew sleep monsters lurked. What we didn't yet know is that the sleep monsters had invited a friend in the form of a heavy mist.

Before we had covered one kilometre we saw Janine's lights behind us. She was travelling alone and was no more than 30 minutes behind. She had mentioned that she was planning on staying at Kranskop for a few hours. We watched her lights turn away from us as she headed down the driveway at Kranskop.

If you haven't travelled the roads around that area you may wonder how we knew it was Janine. Firstly, the blue/white spectrum of Led lights are quite obvious in the otherwise dark nights. Secondly, we had only seen 2 cars in the previous 17 hours. The last one had been a farmer who had driven past a few hours earlier to check on who we were and what we were up to. That's how uncommon it is to see lights on those roads at night.

At the bottom of a long downhill we left the district road and proceeded to follow a Jeep track that wound through some farms before emptying on to another district road. A short distance later, as we made our way through a pedestrian gate that gave us access to a wetland we could see lights in the veld just ahead of us. It was Anthony and Fjord. Apparently Anthony had experienced more problems with one of his tyres. We got within a few hundred metres of them at one point before they found the jeep track that crossed the grassy plain and hightailed it out of there. We picked up the same track and followed them. It didn't take long to lose sight of them as they were moving faster and a heavy mist had settled.

Mist is a nuisance for me as I wear prescription glasses. Without them everything beyond arms length becomes a shapeless smudge. Initially the mist wasn't too bad and the occasion finger wipe sufficed to maintain adequate vision. By the time we had crossed the tar road and were headed along the corrugated gravel road that headed toward Burgersdorp the mist had reduced visibility to less than 20 metres. With glasses constantly fogging up I battled to find a good riding line. My fingers worked constantly like little windscreen wipers.

Riding while encapsulated in a small fuzzy bubble of light over a bad surface is not much fun. It's boring as there are no discernible landmarks to mark the passage of distance so you lose your sense of distance covered. I knew the road was fairly straight and climbed slowly before getting to the farmhouse near Predikantskop where it would switch to the right before snaking around a farmhouse complex before heading up the climb. Eventually, around midnight, the lights of the farm emerged through the fog. A few hundred metres later we were pushing our bikes up the steep incline that headed around the kop.

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