The week started slowly with a lot of time being spent on maps and sorting through the 1:150 000 (25 maps) and 1:50 000 (89 maps). Obviously we can't take all of them although the detail on the 50's is so much more helpful.
So I spent my time choosing the most appropriate maps for which section which still leaves a huge pile of paperwork to prepare. There is also the guesswork of how long each stage will take because on paper, it doesn't look too bad. From experience, 72km can take 13 hours. It all depends on the terrain, the portages, the push-a-bike sections, the weather...who knows.
I met someone last week who thought it would take the winners about 6-8 days to complete the event. Man, he has no idea! There is a princely total of 25km of tar road over the 2300km. The rest is district road, jeep track, cattle/pedestrian track, bundu bashing, bike carrying and every other obstacle to bring your average speed down. Hey, maybe there will even be snow this year.
I'm really pleased I did R2R last year and the last section of the Freedom Challenge this year (www.plett2capetownoffroad.blogspot.com) as it remains reasonably fresh in my memory and has given me a lot of confidence for both ends of the race. It has also given me an excellent idea of what to expect and how slow the going can get.
Its just the middle which is the Big Black Hole. But the names of the places are becoming familiar as I link the routes and maps. Names crop up such as Slaapkrantz, Romansfontein, Toekomst, Bucklands. (Did you even know such places exist?)
Then there is the careful placing of the correct maps into the matching 2lt box. If this is not done properly - Disaster or being really, really nice to the other riders as you hang on to their wheels and hope they won't lose you.
Once we have finalised our map selection, there will be the notations to go on and finally the laminating of the maps to water proof them.
I haven't even mentioned the narratives which get changed on a weekly basis but are due to be finalised this week. These need to go with the correct map and without them, you are truly up the creek without the proverbial paddle.
The maps and the narrative go hand in hand and the plan is to figure out between them exactly where it is that the Race Director is sending you. Mess this up and you are in for a long cold night.