Saturday, 2 April 2016

Race to Cradock - Loutebron to Moodenaarspoort.

The hike-a-bike portage that spans the Loutebron and Bonthoek farmhouses isn't terribly challenging, but it was our third big portage of the day. To be fair, it has some navigational challenges but if you know the line it's straight forward. Some people got it wrong this year, and my brother slept rough here a few years back when trapped by failing light.
When you're tired it's a schlep. The jeep track that winds up the valley is bumpy and some sections are badly eroded. We walked a number of sections before we even got to the climb proper.

I felt a bit tattered but wasn't surprised given the distance and terrain that lay in our wake. Casper looked less than cheerful. Certainly not miserable, just a little less chatty. Mostly because he was a few hundred metres behind. A few fence crossing and a steep bike-on-back section had us on the ridge overlooking the Bonthoek farmhouse that lay a few kilometres away in the valley below.

Word had trickled back that the track on the descent was in bad shape. Nothing new about that. The track has always been bad, particularly if you are a sub-standard technical rider like me. A 20 minute walk and we were in the valley. 15 minutes later we were flopped on the grass adjacent to the farmhouse.

Casper set about fashioning the chunk of wood that had been keeping his seat post from collapsing into a more permanent fixture while I filled our water bottles. We had made good time and still had more than an hour of sunlight so weren't under too much pressure to press on. 20 minutes later, the newly shaped saddle supporting stick now lashed to the seat post with duct tape, we rolled down the driveway heading for Rossouw.

We made Rossouw before the sun disappeared and watched it slip over the horizon ahead of us as we made our way up the tedious climb out of town. By the time we reached the top of the climb we had turned our lights on and rolled into the interim stop at Moodenaarspoort farmhouse as the western sky faded to black.

The last 58km's had taken 6 hours 30 minutes. That's a smidgen under 9 km/h average. For those unfamiliar with the route it probably sounds pathetic. Trust me, it's not. The back to back portages of Slaapkrans and Bonthoek have bruised many riders over the years.

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