Thursday, 22 December 2016

Racing The Munga 2016 - Loxton ...or Not

Arriving in Loxton we signed in at 02h34 - two hours after Vaughn Roux and an hour and a half after Heinrich Visser and Jeannie Dreyer who arrived together. The most obvious thing in the race register was the entry "-SCRATCHED-" next to Vaughn Roux's name. Although it's a race it's never nice to see someone pull out of the event. Vaughn is a tough competitor and had captured our attention as he blitzed ahead of the field. It seemed like there was no stopping him. He had experienced hand issues during Freedom Challenge earlier in the year and it had returned to plague him again. All endurance riders experience hand issues, mostly in the form of numbness, but not as bad as Vaughn. To make matters worse he is a surgeon and his hands are the tools of his trade.

Heinrich and Jeannie had yet to sign out so that put Rafeeq and I in the same place as the race leaders. All that separated us at that moment was 90 minutes of sleep.

The plan was to eat, shower and grab a quick nap. Eating and showering went to plan. Sleep was another matter. We had indicated our intention of taking a short nap and were directed to a disused building that had a shower and then a couple of huge rooms with mattresses and blankets tossed on the floor. Perfect, I thought. Unfortunately my room was next to the bathroom and the geyser made a loud noise as it reheated. I contemplated turning it off so that I could sleep. After 20 minutes it reached operating temperature and quietened down.

That's when I heard the mosquitoes. There were hundreds of them. I turned my light on and saw them buzzing all around with a few more squadrons congregating on the wall above me. As much as I tried I couldn't ignore them. I even tried pulling a blanket over my head and made a point of burying my good ear in the pillow. Partial deafness it seems is no defence against the irritating whine of a mosquito let alone a flight of them.

After 20 minutes, with sleep out of the question, I got dressed and went in search of coffee only to be told that instant coffee was my only option. The one extravagance of The Munga is the availability of great coffee. Most Race Villages and water points had espresso machines and I had become fussy. Instant coffee checked no boxes for me. I knew the next water point would have good coffee and was happy to wait until I got there. I signed out at 04:14 and headed into the night.

I had been in Loxton for an hour and 40 minutes and all I managed to do was eat and have a shower. I had wasted more than an hour. Heinrich and Jeannie had left only 50 minutes ahead of me.

I rode 10 kilometres out of town and with sleep beckoning lay in a ditch next to the road. I set my alarm for 20 minutes and lay back. It was peaceful. Perfectly peaceful, not a single mosquito in my vicinity. Sleep came quickly.

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