Saturday, 16 April 2016

Race to Cradock - Magdala to Hofmeyr

Sitting in the inadequate shade of a scrawny thorn tree wasn't helping our cause. I was all too aware of the time constraints that faced us. A quick estimate had us at least 5 hours short of the Elandberg portage. Last year we had scribbled around before spending a miserable night in the cold and rain huddled under a bush while waiting for the sun to come up. I wasn't going to risk a repeat performance. Come hell or high water I was going to get through the Elandberg portage before dark. We hadn't been there long before Gavin, in the company of Alex, rolled by. It was all the motivation we needed. We mounted our iron steeds and chased after them.

Alex dwindled in size and was soon out of sight. Casper had no problem closing on Gavin while I struggled to get going. An hour or so later, just before the last house at Vlekpoort we passed Gavin who had stopped next to the road. I didn't stop to chat because it had started to rain. Fortunately the there was a barn a hundred metres ahead. Casper and I wasted no time in getting out of the rain. The drops were massive. The wind intensified driving the rain almost horizontal. In less than 5 minutes it was over. Not only had it stopped raining, the wind had abated. I filled my bottles from a tap behind the house that stood adjacent the barn and headed down the Vlekpoort pass.

The joy a riding without a headwind was short lived. As we bottomed out on the flat Karoo it picked up where it had left off. The next couple of hours were taken up with a mindless grind to Hofmeyr. There was one event that punctuated the tedium. My rear tyre had developed a leak. I pumped it up with a hand pump and it seemed to hold. I carry a CO2 inflator but seldom use it as the gas has an adverse reaction with tyre sealant.

Arriving at the pie shop in Hofmeyr we found the race office - Glenn and Meryl - were having walkabout time. I bought a bottle of Coke, a can of Iron Brew, and ordered a double thick milkshake. I knew the wind was going to be a factor on the long drag to the start of the Elandberg portage. We would need at least 2 hours to cover the distance. We had less than 3 hours of daylight left.

While we rehydrated Anthony rolled up. He said that Fjord was a little way behind. Meryl told us that Janine was also on her way from Romansfontein and was planning on sleeping over in Hofmeyr.

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