Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Free at Last!

Today I was released from my cardboard box - the same box I was unceremoniously dumped into after finishing at Diemersfontein, the same cardboard box that all Skinny's smelly riding kit was also dumped into after the finish! I endured a bumpy ride home by road while Skinny got to fly home like a rock star, not fair!

But today after he freed me from my smelly cardboard coffin, he also finally gave me a good wash and because it was a cold day, he even used warm water and soap! Then he told me that this unusually special treatment was only because I am going to be photographed for an upcoming issue of a local bike magazine - so now I feel like a rock star too!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 14: Trouthaven to Diemersfontein, 50km/8h

After the now customary oversleep, Skinny and Garth got going at 8am and we were ready to start the infamous Stettynskloof portage just before 9.

For a bike, this was a rather cushy day as I got to spend most of it taking in the scenery from on top of Skinny's shoulders. He did put me down a few times to drag me through some thick bush or dunk me in a river but on the whole I got to take it easy as he huffed and puffed his way up the valley.

After the kloof came the washed out downhill and then the cement track push up to the tar road of Du Toit's Kloof Pass. Skinny had to stomp on the pedals to get up the tar road pass and then waited at the top for Garth so they could ride into the finish together.

We dodged forestry workers and machinery in the plantations on the way down but in daylight, the route in was pretty straightforward and we rolled across the finish line in glorious sunshine.

Garth had a cracking ride, going off the front for 10 days on his own - well done, an impressive first ride!

Skinny Legs had a great ride despite all the hardships along the way and was relieved and satisfied to cross the line after 13 days 10h and 37min.

He should probably get a prize for the rider who neglected his bike the most but luckily I'm quite tough and didn't need that much attention.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 13: Anysberg to Trouthaven, 180km/16h

Late start, overslept again! Not the first time but Skinny's a bit tired these days and his alarm clock is pretty ineffective.

So well after first light, we rolled out of Anysberg and got the legs ticking over and four hours later, we rolled into Montagu. A quick snack and on to McGregor but the wind picked up and made it hard work! Skinny needed to stop for a coffee break which seemed to revive him and we charged off over the Coeniesrivier portage, arriving with enough light to spare. Alda and Elsa's good food at Kasra had to be skipped though because there was another portage waiting... At the top of this portage, we bumped into Garth 'Flying Flanders' and continued on together to Trouthaven. The last hour was a drag, with both riders battling fatigue and regular snack breaks only prolonged things - these guys eat a lot - and often!
We got to Trouthaven at 12:30pm and then they raided support boxes and ate some more!

It got a bit muddy out there and Skinny left me outside in the rain for the night to clean myself up.

Tomorrow it's just Stettynskloof and then we're done!

Fw: Day 12: Prince Albert to Anysberg, 180km/22h

Day 12: Prince Albert to Anysberg, 180km/22h

A long slog! Skinny had to walk up most of Swartberg Pass and was falling asleep as he went! Power naps got us through and once we dropped into Die Hel, the temps plummeted so out came the warm layers. At the top of Die Leer the sun was blazing so out came the sunscreen!

The road to Rouxpos was another slog into the wind, avoiding the dongas from flood damage along the way but the food once there was great. We scurried through Wagendrift before dark and then decided to pop in at Mrs Fourie for a quick coffee before going into Anysberg - bad move, we must have caught her on a bad day because Skinny got an earfull about riders arriving at all times of the day and night and how she's too old for this nonsense... Anyway, after an hour of quiet diplomacy and lot's of use of 'die Taal' he had managed to calm her down and we were able to carry on.

Bedtime at Anysberg was further delayed by struggling to find the right hut in the dark. Supper was a pot of gruel with rice to be heated up and there was only half a liter of milk, so needless to say, Skinny was a tad grumpy by the time he flopped into bed at 11pm. (At least there were some good boxes to raid for interesting snacks in the morning) I was allowed to sleep in the kitchen so no complaints from me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 11: Willowmore to Prince Albert, 170km/10h

What a superb day! Sunshine, dry roads and someone switched the wind off.
Skinny had been dreading this stage because too much wind would have meant a long walk and the corrugations are a nightmare without suspension - but none of that, the roads had been graded after flood damage and there was no wind.
Coming off a 23h previous stage, he got an hour's sleep in front of the fireplace at Willowmore and then suited up to go out again. A few urgent power naps got us through the morning. He had to spin like crazy - this is big blade territory - so towards the end he was tired.
Now we're at Dennehof guest house, he's already on his second glass of milk with his supper and I've been spruced up by Johan Rissik, getting a proper wash, a chain tightening and a lube - both ready to tackle the next stage!

Day 10: Hadley to Willowmore, 225km/23h

After a good recovery sleep at Hadley farm, we headed off to tackle the infamous Grootrivier Poort into Cambria.
After recent floods left debris lying rvrywhere, finding the road through was hard and the going slow. On the upside, I got a long overdue bikewash!

Lunch at Cambria was a quick, self-service affair before pushing on to Dam se Drif. The Baviaanskloof road has also been washed away so is very rocky in places. The weather was quite warm for a change but it rained on and off during the day.

Supper was at Dam se Drif, as well as a quick tumble drying session for wet socks. The road to Willowmore was wet and sticky and around midnight, the wind returned. Skinny has developed a bit of a wind allergy, so his reaction was to dive into the bushes for an hour's sleep! When we got going again, the wind was gone but the sticky mud remained. The slog ended at 05h30 in Willowmore where he is now stuffing his face again and then going to sleep a bit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 9: Toekomst to Hadley, 130km/14h

Wow, what a tough day! Left Toekomst at 01h15 with Sean W and made our way slowly and cautiously around the tricky Darlington Dam section in the dark. By first light we were just about through the never-ending Gwaas Valley and Sean wasn't feeling good, so we pushed on while he stopped to rest.

The relentless wind picked up and blew into our faces all morning. Those skinny legs were spent by the time we stumbled into Bucklands and he was in two minds about going on.... Some soup and bread and a pep talk from hosts Hannes and Rinnie helped replenish the reserves and Skinny decided to go on as it was only midday. The next hour drained all the topped up reserves however and by the time we got past Tretyre Farm, we had slowed to a crawl.

So Skinny had popped and with the difficult Grootrivier section looming, things were looking a bit bleak! Physically, this was a definite lowpoint so far and the only real option was to stop and rest up.

So we pulled into Hadley Farm where Benni and Anina asked many questions over tea and food and offered Skinny a place to stay and the deal clincher, a hot bath! So he's recovering slowly (and relieved to be out of the wind) and I'm parked outside waiting to see what happens next...