Sunday, 27 March 2016

The adventure - part one

“Looks like we made it
look how far we’ve come my baby
Might have took the long way
But I know we’d get there some day….”

Shania Twain kept me company in a manner of speaking.

That was long and hard.  I dug really deep.  I “mantra’d” up a storm.  I was slow and sometimes not so steady.  There were times when I swore A LOT.  There were times when I soothed myself with gentle humming.  There were moments when I sang really loud.  I talked to myself.  I cajoled and  encouraged me.  I wept a few times.  I laughed a little.

I spent a lot of time by myself and enjoyed my company.  I was out of my depth with the navigation on the portages and hugely grateful that Fiona stayed with me for those.

The days are pretty blurry – I can’t really separate out the descents and long dirt roads and jeep tracks.

 Day 1 - Rhodes - Chesneywold (68km) - Slaapkrantz (37km)

I started so strong and steady.  Fi and I started at 5am – a very low key start. 
I just kept peddling and enjoying the crisp clean air and the breaking dawn.  

Rhodes start - 5am

Fi taking in some R & R

I got into the lunch stop – Chesneywold – at just before 11 – having done 68 kms.
As I was leaving Fi arrived.  She came in pretty broken and was struggling a lot.  She ate lunch and stablised out the sugar levels and we spent the rest of the day together – and the next 3.5 days together.

We got into Slaapkrantz at about 4:15.  There were 3 gorgeous dogs there – 1 collie and 2 retrievers and they were so sweet and welcoming.  I sat on the grass with my recovery drink and .... well recovered!

Day 2 - Slaapkrantz - Moodenaarspoort (58km) - Krantzkop (38km)
There was a serious rude awakening the next morning on the Slaapkranz portage.  We missioned around a little in the dark getting to the start of the portage but not for long.  The portage is very steep and is a narrow path in the bushes.  I fell down a couple of times, dropped the bike and generally really struggled up the mountain.  I can’t imagine what that is like if there is rain.  Shoo I really swore my way up that thing.  The guys came up and joined us at the top having caught up.  The difference in men and women strength was very apparent to me that morning.  They were a fun bunch of guys – 2 farmers from the Eastern Cape – Adowan and Jac – and 4 Natalians – Trevor, Russel, Chris and John.  

Smiling after recovering at the top
Photobomb - top of Slaapkrantz

Everyone was faster than me on the descents but then again I am used to that.  I just made sure I stayed steady and in control.  There were 2 portages close together so it took a long time to do 20kms – I guess 4 hours or so.  

Overlooking descent in Bontehoek Farm

We got into the lunch stop at around 2 pm.  I really struggled with getting the soup into me and gave up after 2 bites of roll.  I cooled my legs down in the pool.  It was 30kms to the end but it was a really long 30kms and I was quite tearful near the end and pretty wiped out.  It was a 96 km day.

We stayed in Krantzkop that night.  It is accommodation away from the farm and the farmer dropped off the dinner.  Venison pie and veggies – again such a huge struggle to get the food in me.  I sat there like a naughty kid at the table eating "met baaie lang tan"de!
I went to bed dreading the next day which was 130kms.

I whiled away the time on the bike staying as focused as possible on the present.  I would not think about the next day or too far ahead.  It was too easy to get so overwhelmed then by the milage and by the huge effort required and the long hours on the saddle.  I would calculate how many kms we had done.  Then I would promptly forget the figure so as I completed another km I would start all over again working out the milage.  I tell you this went on for days!!  I am generally quite easy to entertain.

I had put tape on my bum to see if I could stop the chafing.  Every night or morning I would add another layer.  My backside was getting more and more painful.  There was always the bruising factor but the chafing is seriously crap and sore.

Day 3 Krantzkop - Brosterlea (49km) - Romansfontein (82km)
I chugged along during the day.  I focused on getting into a rhythm and staying in one.  I constantly encouraged me and I felt a little better than I thought I would.  We stopped at such a pretty farm for lunch - Brosterlea.  I left my juice bottle behind stupidly!  

Stormberg - beginning of the portage. Fresh cold water

Stormberg portage

About 15kms from the end I stopped to wait for Fi and stumbled as I un-cleated.  I hyper-extended my knee and fell to the floor in agony.  I was behaving like a soccer player rolling around and wailing.  Poor Fi had nothing in her and sat behind me asking if I was ok.  I walked a bit and got back on the bike - it was so damn sore.  My eyes kept leaking.  There was a crappy headwind which was really not aiding anything. I had also completely run out of liquids.  We slowly slowly made out way to Romansfontein and got in just as it got dark.
I was frozen.  The guys were eating dinner when we got in.  Stefanie bustled around us and got us sorted.  I went into a bit of shock and started hyper ventilating and shaking.  Someone mixed up my recovery drink and I held the glass with 2 hands trying to get it in me.  Gosh what a dramatic entrance.  I was sad I couldn’t get a slice of corn bread and butter in me but managed some dinner.  Fi was feeling pretty low.  She said to me that I may need to consider some options if I couldn’t cycle.  She suggested that we do 2 half days but then we would not be official finishers.  I said to her that I WANTED that windmill and was going to give it my best shot.  But I also said that she did not need to wait for me and could go on.  She did say that she had thoughts of not finishing and I could also go on without her.  We agreed to see what the next day would bring.
One of the racers from the guys behind us, Jacque, caught up to us in Romansfontein – he also brought my bottle to me from the lunch stop.  First I called him crazy for riding so fast and then I kissed him on the cheek for bringing my bottle.  Not much in the way of filters for me at that stage.
The bed was soft and warm.  I had borrowed socks from Stefanie and was so grateful to be in a safe comfortable restful space.

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