So we left Elandsberg at 6.20 and were rewarded with a long fast ride towards Cradock. Crossing Baroda weir brought back fond memories of another life when I paddled a lot. We were flying for the first time since we started riding with an average speed of 20km hour.
And..there was no wind.
Some of the others in the group dropped off and then there were Carl, Doug and myself. What a great ride to Stuttgart, the next support station. We got there by 11 am catching Amanda by surprise.
Carl was cracking the whip as he wanted to do three stages in one. We wanted to achieve the double so were keen to press on.
We headed out by 12pm for about a 15k ride into the Garslandkloof. And that's when I lost my sense of humour for the first time. We rode hard to within 4km of the top and slowed to a muddy frustrating crawl.
Thick clay mud clogged everything and we lost an hour trying to get through.
Buts that's not all.
Next up was slush where the smow had melted into a mush and we had a 7k climb/push/slog to the top of the Skurveberg.
Winter wonderland any other time but not when your legs are toast from pushing through mud.
Finally we reached the summit which, I admit, was breathtaking.
Then I became an expert in downhill riding in snow. It was so bizarre to go through such a range of riding experiences. I wish I had a helmet cam. So I laughed a lot here and my sense of humour returned.
But light was fading and Doug and I rushed to get to Coetzerskloof before dark.
I lost my humour somewhere here again. Stumbling over rocks with a bike while trying to find a path, being ripped by thorn trees and the darkness deepening was not my idea of fun after an already punishing day.
But we stumbled on the track and worked our way through the valley. Then it was the final 8km to De Doorns SS.
Only to find they weren't expecting so many riders. So mattresses on the floor it was, a reuniting with Gadget and The Gardener and a job well done.
Two stages in one day!
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