It was the first night I had an unbroken sleep - much needed with all the physical stuff and head cold I was trying to get rid of.
The others left at 2am and Doug, Gregg and I settled on a 6am departure.
Well, our day started in driving sleet and the damn wind. We had a short start to the first portage over Aasvoelberg which was visibility dependant. I have to say that I found the conditions exhilarating because I knew it wouldn't be something I would normally choose to do...ever! The top of the mountain had disappeared in thick cloud so we went to the farm Goedehoop where we met the Terblanches who had been there since 1960.
After tea and beskuit, they gave us the alternative route to Hofmeyer.
Within 15km, the landscape changed to Karoo and thorn bushes by the zillion.
Initially the riding varied from a hectic headwind to reasonable. But then we got rain instead of sleet and the roads became sticky red mud. The upside were the farmers who all stopped for quick chat.
But the 50km from the farm dragged on and on with this constant battering by the wind.
8 hours later we arrived at the pie shop, absolutely exhausted, hungry, wet and muddy.
We were determined to make a full stage despite the weather and we were reunited with the others who had gone over the portage earlier.
So we all set out for the last 40km. As we left Hofmeyer, the sun came out to the west where we were headed and we all took it as a positive sign.
Ma Nature had other ideas and it was soon raining again. But we organised ourselves into an echelon and the kms ticked by and finally we were at the legendary Elandsberg portage. We didn't get it quite right and did some detours but the return of the sleet may have had something to do with it. It was quite surreal to see swirling particles through your headlamp and bike light. Even more so were the stars which eventually made their appearance.
Eventually we arrived at Elandsberg support station at 20H30 happy to see the end of a long tough day.
I believe it is currently -5 degrees Celsius outside.
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