|Early morning above Slaapkrantz|
|There's always a fence|
We left at 5am reckoning it would be light by the time we needed to do serious navigation. It was warm and when we reached the hike-a-bike section, we were all sweating profusely. It would get worse!
|Descending from Slaapkrantz portage|
Stewart and I studied the maps and watched the other riders disappear over the crest. Eventually we decided to follow and see where they went. Relief. They swung towards the spur we had identified and all was right with the world...until we reached the path and hiked our bikes up another steep jeep track. Swinging bikes up and onto backs creates for some interesting niggles and stiff muscles. Sweating again, we eventually summit-ted and ran straight into a fence.
|Loutebron farm house way below|
|Snack rewards on reaching the top|
We barreled along until we reached the split that would lead us to the saddle and the treacherous descent to Bontehoek. There is something very special about sitting at the top of the world, looking back on what you've negotiated with a bicycle. Riders who refuse to pick up their bikes and hike can never aspire to these views and the deep rooted pleasure at pushing through physical boundaries and limitations.
Finally I had the good sense to prod at my derailleur and sort of straighten it - at least that's what I think I did. It probably only needed millimeters of adjustment but it worked. My head did one of those spinning thingies and my happy mood was back. To add to it, the group waited for me at the junction and off we sped to Roussouw.
|Welcome lunch stop|
|Riding into the storm|
Dark clouds were looming in the distance and it seemed that we would ride away from them as we left the farm. The wind picked up and one could see the distant hills slowly disappear behind a veil of grey as the rain took hold. I'd been counting the time between lightening and thunder and it was definitely getting closer. A mere 7km from Moordenaarspoort, we were well and truly caught.
|Lashing rain and winds|
From hard packed dirt roads, we now had soggy spongy tracks to negotiate. In the forty minutes of rain, the roads had become soft and forgiving, sucking our tires into the mud. Nowhere was easier.
The turnoff to Krantzkop came quickly. Too quickly for Craig who shot past and ended up at the farm at the bottom of the hill. It was quite comical seeing him way below us, puzzling out how we had got to the farmhouse.
Once we were all ensconced, the guys built a large fire and all our wet gear steamed quietly as we ate our fill and prepared for the Queen stage of the event. One hundred and thirty kilometres to Romansfontein.
|After the storm|