|Aasvoelberg in the distance|
There was a process of sifting through other peoples leftovers in their boxes and I scaled some sour jelly tots. My own biltong, trail mix and droe wors were put back into the common pile. I took some of Craig's soft Woolies biltong instead and topped up my Allsorts and easter eggs. I think I may have also snaffled some cheese wedges.
That night a huge storm rolled in with lightening, great echoing rolls of thunder and of course torrential rain. All I could think of was the racers who would be out in the middle of this and whether they would find some shelter. I ran through the route in my head trying to visualise the various options of farmhouses along the way. Not conducive to falling asleep. I had also opened my window a crack and every little noise sounded like an animal or creature trying to get in.
|One of the landmarks|
At 11:43 my GPS beeped at me. I fumbled for the lamp switch but it did not work. Thinking I had knocked the plug askew, I groped for the overhead light - nothing. The power was off. I had to leave my GPS plugged in case it came back on so for the rest of the night I had this regular beeping reminding me of the problem I was going to have the next day.
Ironically, Romansfontein was the first decent night's sleep I had on RASA 2009 but this time around, a good night's rest eluded me. Tiredness was beginning to accumulate. I was looking forward to the Aasvoelberg portage and navigation but dreaded the long district roads into Hofmeyer.
|Wrapping up before the descent|
4am eventually arrived but without courtesy of Eskom. Miraculously, Stefanie managed to produce the best breakfast of the trip on a gas ring and amidst a plague of miniature frogs. It was an egg frittata with cheese grillers sliced into it. Tasty! (Maybe it was frogs?)
It had stopped raining but was still dripping and threatening more. We opted to avoid the farm track and rode around on the district road. I had yet to wake fully and was disconcerted at the speedy pace set by Stewart as he hauled us along the gravel.
|Trying to stay ahead of the rain|
|Reaching the Karoo proper|
From there the gradient dropped off again which seemed to keep the mud at bay and we rode all the way to the bottom stopping eventually at the river for an extended clean up. I hate getting my feet wet but here there was no real choice. I joined the others and waded in and used the river's flow to get rid of what I could.
My GPS had long been switched off and I found it immensely disconcerting to be unable to track distance but then, it was always a surprise to know we covered large chunks of kilometers when we stopped at junctions.
|A bike shop?|
Fueled up and shoved along by the wind, we reached the Elandsberg portage, notorious for catching people out. It had its claws ready again this year but not for us. The track was so well defined from the gate, I had trouble believing we were right but fragments of memory popped up and some Google earth images lodged in my head finally convinced me.
|Tiger line to jeep track after the fence line|
I had begun to feel the effects of the previous four days and my legs were heavy with lactate. Despite propping them up, they were uncomfortable and I would pay the next day for not having done a good stretch and a bit of massage.
Race leader, Alex Harris finally caught us and impressed us with his efficiency. He checked his race box, selected his snacks, ate his meal and blew out again in an incredible 15 minutes. I snagged his unwanted Niknaks.
|Almost at the support station|
Elandsberg saved its spite for the two of them and you can read about it here. The tale of Mike and Casper's race is extremely entertaining and gives one another perspective.
(If you click on the pics, you can view them as an album and in larger format)