Twenty minutes after leaving the garage shop I was on the outskirts of Vereeniging. Traffic was light and it was cooling down. I knew the route to the finish was flat and with a slight tailwind it should be fast.
After calculating the distance I had ridden I realised that I had overestimated the distance to the finish by 10 kilometres. It occurred to me that if I put in a solid 90 minute effort I could crack 36 hours. That meant averaging over 25 km/h. I was up to the challenge. After all, I had been at this for for over 34 hours so another hour and a half wasn't that much of an ask. I had worked too hard and too long to be denied the satisfaction of cracking 36 hours.
Traffic was light and the wind held. My headspace, body, and bike synced into a comfortable routine. I entered a state of flow. If it's not a term you are familiar with you might identify better with the term, in the zone. I rolled along at over 30 km/h without much effort.
20 km from the finish I saw a familiar smile. A riding buddy, Gavin George, and his wife Juliet were parked next to the road. They took a few snaps as I rode by and then headed off to the finish to await my arrival.
At one point, when crossing over the R59, I had to cycle into the wind and my progress dipped below 20 km/h. I kept one eye on the time and another on the intersection up ahead that would get the wind back in my favour. Crucial minutes ticked by. It was going to be tight.
By the time I had ridden through Eikenhof to Kliprivier Drive it was 4:50 pm. I still had 3 km to go. It was predominately downhill to The Mall of the South and then it was a short sharp climb to the finish at Thaba Trails. I set myself small targets. 2 minutes to the traffic lights, then another 3 to the bridge. That would give me 5 minutes to grind up the last climb to Thaba. As I turned off Kliprivier Drive into Thaba Trails I could see Andy and a small gathering waiting for me a hundred metres away in the parking lot. It was 4.57 pm. I had done it, I was going to make it in before 5 pm.