Today was a slightly colder day out on the trail, with overcast conditions in some parts but thankfully not much wind. The riders are making steady progress and everyone is heading swiftly south towards the Baviaanskloof.
The sweepers Tim, Didi (Batch 5) and Gary (Batch 7) are at Romansfontein tonight - they are spending their last night in the Stormberg region and tomorrow will drop down into the Karoo as they head for Elandsberg.
Tonight Elandsberg hosts Kobus, Pierre and Leonard (Batch 6) as well as Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5), who all rode through from Romansfontein today. The all stopped to snack in Hofmeyr before moving on to tick off the Elandsberg portage before dark. Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7) were also with them in Hofmeyr, Ingrid moving on swiftly to Elandsberg before continuing to Newlands tonight. Charl was delayed with bike admin - after many attempts to repair a snagging freewheel, a substitute rear wheel was eventually obtained from a nearby farmer who was willing to donate it to his cause. The delay cost him a lot of time which left him no option but to head for the Elandsberg portage in the dark..
Up ahead at Newlands tonight are Wikus (Batch 3), Estelle, Matt and Graham (Batch 4) and Nigel and Sean (Batch 5) who have all ridden through from Elandsberg today, with a brunch stop at Newlands along the way. Joining them a bit later was Mark (Batch 5) who had finally managed to catch back up to his riding mates Nigel and Sean.
Scott (Batch 7) has had a good day out today - he started from Elandsberg and is still on his way to Gegun this evening, a great effort that should keep him in touch with the front runners, Jacques, Mike and Tim. He done a lot of riding on his own and doesn’t seem too phased about riding into the night.
Tim J (Batch 7) left Toekomst after his supper and will be riding through the night towards Bucklands - a long push from him that started early this morning at Jakkalsfontein.
At Bucklands tonight is Rowan (Batch 6) who spent today riding solo after dropping back from his riding mate Andrew B (Batch 6), who stays tonight with his namesake Andrew W (Batch 2) at Hadley - tomorrow the Osseberg awaits all three of them.
Today saw the first of the riders going through the Osseberg - a tricky section of bush and multiple river crossings before the Baviaanskloof itself. Jacques (Batch 7) was the first to go, starting at first light after leaving earlier from Hadley - he made it comfortably through to Kudu Kaya and then the boom gate before the cutoff at 13h00. This enabled him to ride through to Dam se Drif for supper. Later in the day, Mike (Batch 7), Graham and Sarah (Batch 1) also reached the Osseberg. Mike was through soon after dark with Graham and Sarah running out of daylight about halfway through. They will all stay at Kudu Kaya tonight and enter the Baviaanskloof in the morning at 06h00.
After yesterday’s incessant wind, today the weather was a bit kinder, with clear skies and only a gentle breeze. The riders made the most of the favourable conditions and good progress was made by most of the field today.
Still bringing up the rear were Tim, Didi (Batch 5) and Gary (Batch 7) who had an uneventful ride from Slaapkrantz through to Kranskop today. Not far ahead of them were Charl and Ingrid (Batch 7) who put in a slightly longer day from Moordenaarspoort, via Kranskop and Brosterlea to Romansfontein and arrived for a late supper. They are moving steadily through the field now which gives them the opportunity to meet new riders from the earlier batches as they go. Romansfontein also plays host to Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) together with Kobus, Pierre and Leonard (Batch 6) - they will be glad to have this long stage from Kranskop via the Stormberg behind them.
Mark (Batch 5) has had a long day today, he started together with Scott (Batch 7) from Brosterlea this morning. They both passed through Romansfontein for lunch and on to Hofmeyr, where Marks plans to stop tonight. Scott has been moving a bit quicker and has passed through Hofmeyr already and is on his way to Elandsberg tonight.
Elandsberg was a busy place today, hosting many riders for meals but tonight the sleepers are Nigel and Sean (Batch 5), Matt, Graham and Estelle (Batch 4) and Wikus (Batch 3). Matt and Wikus had a few mechanicals to contend with but fortunately race office was close enough to offer some assistance and they could could moving.
Newlands was also really busy today with various batches passing through but all those riders moved on to Jakkalsfontein for tonight - there we have Chris, Mark, Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3) who rode through from Elandsberg today, as well as Bruce, Lance and Grant (Batch 4) who started their day from Hofmeyr. They will be joined later tonight by Tim J (Batch 7), who left Romansfontein in the pre-dawn cold and is expected there before midnight. He seems to be getting some of his strength back as well as his appetite - last seen scoffing ice cream with his brunch at Elandsberg.
Rowan and Andrew B (Batch 6) left Newlands this morning and spent the day riding through to Gegun, arriving for supper. Rowan has opted to stay there and rest as he is struggling with ITB but Andrew has gone on to Toekomst for tonight.
Already at Toekomst tonight is Andrew W (Batch 2), who had a very short day today from Gegun. He is struggling with saddle sores, so is hoping the shorter day will help him recover a bit.
At Bucklands tonight are Graham and Sarah (Batch 1), who rode through from Toekomst today. They were joined there for breakfast by Jacques (Batch 7), who had ridden through from Gegun in the early hours - he had a quick supper at Bucklands before moving on to Hadley for tonight. Still on his way to Bucklands is Mike (Batch 7) - after supper at Toekomst, he headed off into the night
and is trying to reach Bucklands for an early breakfast in the morning.
With Jacques now out in front, he should be the first rider into the Baviaanskloof sometime tomorrow. From there the trail turns west and the run in towards the finish starts to take shape. We will watch to see how that unfolds in the next few days.
The bulk of the riders are now in the Stormberg region of the trail - an area that is well known for its high altitude and inclement weather. Today it lived up to that name as a stiff north-westerly wind blew throughout the day. The riders at the rear still had the relative shelter of the peaks and valleys near Barkly East but for Tim, Didi (Batch 5) and Gary (Batch 7), there was little incentive to continue out into the more open countryside to their west and they opted for a short day from Chesneywold to Slaapkrantz.
Also leaving from Chesneywold this morning were Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7) who did brave the wind and ventured as far as Moordenaarspoort.
Leaving from Slaapkranz this morning were Kobus, Pierre and Leonard (Batch 6) together with Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) - all of them battled the headwinds as far as Kranskop today, where they sought shelter for the night.
Just up ahead at Brosterlea are Scott (Batch 7) and Mark (Batch 5), who both rode through from Moordenaarspoort today. Scott had to turn back after he left Moordennarspoort late last night - a flat wheel that he couldn’t fix on the trail meant a 10km walk back to a warm bed there. Also starting in Moordenaarspoort this morning was Tim J (Batch 7), who is heading for Romansfontein tonight.
The mixed batch of riders that started at Kranskop this morning: Estelle, Graham, Matt (Batch 4), Nigel, Sean (Batch 5) and Wikus (Batch 3) were already battling the wind on their way to Brosterlea, making the going really tough. After the Stormberg portage, as the trail swung to the south, there some moments of respite but their later arrival at Romansfontein was proof of a hard day out on the trail.
Bruce, Lance and Grant (Batch 4) started their day from Brosterlea and passed through Romansfontein on their way to Hofmeyr today, arriving there after dark. Up ahead of them tonight are Chris, Mark, Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3), who rode through from Romansfontein. For them the wind blew hardest into Hofmeyr and they were glad to finally get out of it when they arrived at the Elandsberg support station. Andrew and Rowan (Batch 6) also left Romansfontein this morning and rode hard all day, they were determined to get to Newlands tonight and arrived in time to watch the rugby with the hosts.
Mike (Batch 7) also left Romansfontein this morning and passed through Hofmeyr around lunchtime, before ticking off the Elandsberg portage and moving on to Newlands, After supper there, he headed off again, aiming for Jakkalsfontein later tonight.
Andrew W (Batch 2) started yet another solo day on the trail from Elandsberg this morning - he was later caught by Jacques (Batch 7) and the two continued together to Jakkalsfontein for lunch and then onwards to Gegun for tonight. The struishoek portage in the dark could get interesting but Andrew couldn’t have asked for a better guide than Jacques.
Still with their noses out front are Graham and Sarah (Batch 1), who started from Jakkalsfontein this morning, battled the wind over the Struishoek portage near Pearston on their way to Gegun and are still on their way to Toekomst, where they will stay tonight.
Batches starting from Tuesday 12 June 2018 until Monday 18 June 2018.
Batching based on full field