Thursday, 21 April 2016

Race to Cradock - Newlands to Rockdale

The first challenge was to cross the Pauls river. After seeing how full the Fish river was we expected it to be flowing a lot stronger than normal. You can imagine our surprise at finding the river completely dry. Obviously the water flowing down the Fish river came from further upstream.

As we reached the district road I noticed that my rear tyre was flat. That was the third time in less than 12 hours. I pumped the tyre and heard air hissing through an unsealed hole. My tyre had run out of sealant. Casper held my bike while I removed the valve core and squirted 50ml of fresh sealant into the tyre. Valve core replaced I pumped the tyre.

I gave the tyre a spin and noticed a huge thorn stuck in the tyre. The accepted convention is to leave the thorns and just ride. But this was a massive thorn. It had pull-me written all over it. One tug and one flat tyre later the wisdom of the accepted convention was reinforced.

Now I had a gaping hole that wouldn't seal and I didn't want the last of my tyre sealant to spurt out. Plugging a tyre is not that difficult. You thread the rubber worm into the appropriate tool and poke it into the hole. But, have you ever tried doing that on a barely inflated tyre? It's nigh impossible. I turned the bike upside down and had Casper stick his finger over the hole while I pumped it up. Once it was hard I was able to insert the plug. With the tyre repaired I started packing things away. I imagine I was less than efficient because by the time I had everything stowed I noticed Casper fast asleep next to my bike.

We were now on the new section of the route. I knew we had to ride 3.6 km's and then turn right and travel another 13 km's before we rejoined the old route. The 3.6 kilometres was easy enough apart from a close shave with a handful of buck who were intent on heading in the opposite direction. They were shoehorned onto the road by game fences on either side of the road and tired quickly of trotting ahead of us. They turned and flashed past us close enough that Casper and I gave each other a man-that-was-close look.

As we approached the 3.6 kilometre mark I kept a careful look out so that we wouldn't miss the turn. That turned out to be a waste of careful. The road ended in an obvious T-junction.

The road ahead was a gradual climb. Not excessively steep, just enough to bore you to sleep. It did just that. We settled in a drainage ditch and had a 15 minute nap. One kilometre later we were nodding off again. The sleep deficit had caught up with us, 15 minutes wasn't going to make a significant difference. We decided it was time to take this sleep thing more serious and dialled in 45 minutes. I think I managed to sleep 44 minutes and 50 seconds of that. When the alarm sounded it felt like we had only been laying in the ditch for 10 seconds.

With sleep banked we were able to get moving. We had an hour or two left before the sun came up and wanted to make the best use of that time. The darkness wasn't as significant as the threat of being overhauled by Anthony, who was probably already on the move. He had mentioned that he was looking forward to seeing the folk at Newlands for breakfast. Being considerate he was unlikely to get there much before sunrise. In spite of having left there a few hours before we weren't that far. It would take a fresh pair of legs no more than an hour to cover the same distance.

I figured Anthony would ride from Newlands to the finish in 6 hours. It was going to take us a few hours more. I hoped he was hungry and the breakfast table laden.

Rockdale is an unoccupied farmhouse about 9 or 10 kilometres up the Garslandskloof road that was available for our use. The thought of a hot cup of tea galvanised me into action and I sped off up the valley ahead of Casper to get the kettle on. I had been told the key could be located near the back door. Well, I couldn't find it. I tried the front door and had a similar Old Mother Hubbard experience. I tried the back door again and came up empty handed. I rode back to the gate as Casper arrived and told him tea was off the menu. I found out later that there are two back doors. Really!!!

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