Back some moments in time.....
The bruises and injuries were in the process of healing. My pelvis was battling to stay straight and making my back sore but I suspect that whole process is going to take months to come right. I spent a small fortune the week before the start of the ride on buying snacks for each day, medical stuff, energy and recovery drinks (you need a loan on your home for these!), cycle shorts, repairs of bikes, gosh it went on and on. I painstakingly worked through all my maps and marked out the route and put the notes on and made sure I understood as much as I could. I think that map process probably took about 20 hours. I packed up the snacks into marked bags for each day for Doug and I. Then I put my maps into marked bags for each day with my drink and recovery drink for the day. This order made each day's admin a little simpler. I packed my cycle clothes into daily bags as well. There is always some level of chaos in our house and I was trying to minimise this following me into the wilderness.
|Chaos before order|
|Yoh that is a LONG way to go! 18 maps, 1:50 000,|
550 thumbs (1 thumb = 1 km)
On the morning we left Colleen got dropped off at our house. I was inside with her making coffee when I heard Doug yell "No Kayla!" I rushed outside - she had taken an allen key and stabbed it into my back tyre - wooooooosh! Yip that level of chaos I was mentioning...
Anyway we set off and dropped Kayla off in Benoni for a sleep-over with her friend. We ended up going some back roads as there had been a big accident on the N3 and there was a big delay. We got to Pietermaritzburg just after lunch and did lots of admin. Doug had issues with his fancy map board carrier but managed to make a plan to make it work for him - he is really clever that way - he puts McGyver to shame!
It was so great to see Meryl (from the race office again) and great to have lots of excited chatter with the participants.
We were at the start 10 minutes or so before 6. There were a couple of extra people who were only riding for the day. It was a very inauspicious start - the clock gonged, we sort of looked at each other and Meryl said off you go!
It seemed a long way through Maritzburg before reaching Bisley Nature Reserve. From there we were really on the adventure. It took us about 4 hours to get to Minerva along a mixture of dirt roads, forest roads and single track. I fell behind the group quite quickly and this was to be the way it was for the majority of the journey. Minerva is a farm which has a museum of old machinery. It was a soup stop and refill of camelbak with water. It was a bit hot for soup and it wasn't great but my bum was happy to be off the saddle for a while.
|Old aeroplane engine|
|Linday and I|
We then headed off towards the Umkomaas Valley towards the infamous Concrete Strips and Hella Hella. The Concrete Strips are a steeeeeeeeeep descent towards the Umko river. My brakes and I squealed the whole way down.
|Concrete strips - this doesn't show how steep they are!|
Ian Waddilove has done a lot of work in the valley in making a very friendly path along which to ride. Apparently this saves loads of time as before the cyclists were bundu-bashing their way through the bushes and thorn trees. It was so lovely to ride alongside the river and very tempting to have a little swim!
We had a stop just after crossing the Umko and had gorgeous cold cokes and something to eat. I was battling to eat the snacks I had packed except for the sweets. The sandwiches and nuts were just not going down! It was also the 1st of reapplying lube to my nether regions whilst hidden behind a car door!
From there is was a long climb up Hella Hella. This is a 11km climb back out of the valley which took us about 2:30 hours. I walked most of it and rode little bits of it. Doug and I had driven this a few weeks back so I know what I was in for. My head stayed strong and I just got on with it. It is always better for me to see sort of challenges I am up against - I prepare mentally better for them.
We got into Allandale at 17:15.