9 June - wrap up for the day

Tomorrow should see the first batch of riders arriving in Rhodes - that’s PJ, Trevor, Nigel, Chris, Russell and John, together with Ernst - only the last little hurdle of Lehana’a portage to get over and the weather is looking fine and clear.

Batch 2 RTR is still split at this stage - Rory, Carl, Dan, Murray, Frans, Russell and Walter are sleeping at Malekholonyane, while Sergio, Fabio and Shaun are still at Masakala tonight.

Batch 3 RTR, that’s Leon, Gary, Andrew and Alex had a good day and got in to Masakala, despite losing their way coming out of Ntsikeni. The remainder of their start group, RASA batch A, opted to stop short at Glen Edward for the night to sample their host Shiela’s legendary Beef Stroganoff. Mike Roy arrived just in time for seconds and dessert.

Batch 4 RTR, Merak, Francois and Neil, together with RASA batch B riders, Rob and Tessa all got to Ntsikeni before dark, a solid effort on what is considered by many to be one of the toughest days on the trail. The last member of their start group, Singlespeed Pierre, sleeps at Allendale tonight, after his chilly night in the Umko Valley last night. Let’s see if some company and a warm bed help him recover for tomorrow.

Allendale is particularly festive tonight, with all of today’s batch sleeping there, except for Paul Erasmus, who had to withdraw at Minerva due to illness. So Anton, Tony, Tracy, John, Stephen K and Steve J, Maarten and Neville are all there - Neville is unfortunately man down with flu, so he’ll stay there tomorrow to recover and hopefully push on the next day feeling better.

9 June - news from the trail

With over 46 riders out on the trail already its getting harder to keep track of the action…

Batch 1 - RTR are out front and heading for Vuvu today, currently going over Black Fountain and no doubt enjoying the high mountain single track and panoramic views.

Batch 2 RTR split yesterday with Sergio, Fabio and Shaun electing to stay back at Glen Edward to sort out bike problems. They’re on the move again and heading for Masakala, with the possibility of pushing on to Malekholonyane later today. The rest of that group is already making good progress towards Malekholonyane.

Batch 3 RTR together with batch A RASA all left Ntsikeni this morning. Leon, Gary, Andrew and Alex (RTR) went far off route on the way out but did eventually find their way to Glen Edward. Now they are heading off to Masakala. The RASA guys, Johann, John, Paul, Alan and Ian also went slightly astray but corrected the error and got back to the intended Politque route. The time lost could mean another finish in the dark this evening but y now they are getting used to that. Behind them is Mike Roy who left late after a midnight arrival at Ntsikeni - another long day lies ahead for him.

Batch 4 RTR, Merak, Francois and Neil have all been through Centocow already this morning and are on their way to Ntsikeni. The batch B RASA guys, Rob and Tessa are with them and making good progress. The remaining RASA member, Pierre, is making his way to Allendale…he camped out in the Umkomaas Valley last night and only emerged this morning, seemingly none the worse for wear. he may consider trying to get through to Centocow for the night but there are many confusing forestry roads between him and that goal and not too many daylight hours left.

Batch 5 RTR with batch C RASA left PMB this morning: currently out front are John Loos (RTR) and Gert Peens (RASA) - unfortunately John’s riding partner Paul Erasmus has had to withdraw at Minerva due to illness. This may affect John’s non-stop riding ambitions unless he can convince Gert to tag along. Stephen Kellerman (RASA is also feeling a bit off this morning and still on his way up to Minerva, the rest of the guys, Anton (RASA) and Tony (RTR), Tracey and John (RTR), Neville, Maarten and Steve Jonstone (RASA) are all on their way to the Umko Valley.

7 June - the evening wrap up

With 3 different start days behind us, the numbers out on the trail are steadily increasing.

Batch 1 RTR had what can best be described as ’a day of squiggly lines’ - with an early start from Ntsikeni, things were looking good but soon they were exploring new lines up ridges and through remote valleys, much to the amusement of those watching their trackers. They all had a go at it but the prize for ‘track of the day’ must surely go to Ernst Behrens for his creative interpretations of the route. PJ, Trevor and Nigel were also in fine form but settled down as the day went by. Chris, Russell, John and Jeremy were lagging behind a bit for most of the day and ended up calling it quits in the village of Shen’xe - where the local villagers are looking after them tonight. Despite their somewhat shaky navigation today, the good thing is that they always eventually got back on track. The decision of the four who opted to stay in the village was also a wise one, since tomorrow is a shorter day and they should be able to rejoin their group again later at Malekholonyane.

Batch 2 RTR had a better day by comparison, although they did a bit of squiggling too - Carl, Russell, Dan, Walter, Frans and Murray got a bit confused in all the endless forestry roads at Nkonzo but after Centocow they really got going and ended up at Ntsikeni with daylight to spare. Rory had his nose out front briefly today due the errors of the others but was eventually caught again - he had a good day and arrived just as it got dark. Shaun, Sergio and Fabio navigated cleanly through most of the day’s route and joined the rest of the guys at Ntsikeni.

Batch 3 RTR and Batch A RASA left Pmb this morning - the RTR guys had Leon Kruger as their guide and made swift progress throughout the day, Leon, Andrew, Alex and Gary were in at Allendale at 16:20.

The RASA riders Johann, John, Paul, Alan and Ian stuck together and were an efficient team, they got through the Umko Valley cleanly but slowed a bit towards the end, arriving at Allendale just before 7pm - their first taste of night riding.

Last man home was Mike Roy (RASA) who rode most of the day on his own. He walked in to Allendale just after 9pm after a very long first day on the trail.  

8 June - early news from the trail

Mid morning on day 4 - the trackers are running, the riders are riding, some are walking more than riding but they are all on the move again.

Today's PMB departees (Rob,Tessa, Merak, Neil, Francois, Pierre) are making good progress to Minerva, the only exception being Pierre the singlespeeder who has stomach troubles, could it have something to do with all the rum he drank at the bar last night?

Johann, John, Ian, Paul, Alan and Mike all braved the cold and left Allendal at 5am this morning - they slipped through the Donnybrook forests without a hitch and are making good progress towards the soup stop at Centocow. Up ahead of them are the East London guys, Gary, Andrew,Leon and Alex (GALA) who are just arriving at Centocow.

Suspicions of the emergence of gravitational and magnetic interference around Politique are gaining traction - compasses seem to be misbehaving again today and the riders of batch 2 RTR are struggling to find the correct line getting out of Ntsikeni. These little detours all add time and effort but most of the riders eventually find their way back to the invisible red line - but the clock keeps on ticking. At the moment Rory, Sergio and Fabio are heading south and are way off route - their current course will see them reach the tar road south of the intended route and then need to do a few k's extra on the tar road to get back on track. 

Batch 1 RTR are enjoying their first 'easy' day on the trail (Masakala to Malekholonyane): PJ, Trevor,Nigel and Ernst blitzed through the Knira River floodplains this morning and if they don't come unstuck on the tricky Mparane ridge, should get to the next support station for lunch. Behind them are Chris, Russell and John, who emerged from their impromptu stopover in Shenxa village and had breakfast at Masakala - without their mate Jeremy, who was forced to withdraw this morning due to a chest infection. While Jeremy heads home, Chris and the guys should be reunited with their batch by this evening when they get to Malekholonyane.





7 June - early update

Clear skies, calm conditions but crisp temperatures - thats the word coming back from the course.

For Batch 1 RTR, this is day 3 and they have 2 tough days behind them. Thankfully today will be a bit less physically taxing, although the navigation is by no means straightforward. Their current movements make for interesting viewing on the trackers, with PJ, Trevor, Nigel, Chris, Jeremy, John and Russell struggling to get through the grassland ridges of Ntsikeni cleanly - a quick detour south was corrected but then again soon afterwards, they strayed too far west and missed a track down into the valley near Politique kraal. Ernst got through all of that without any trouble but then went exploring after Politique adding an interesting new twist to that section (the 'Politique Polka' ) but too he corrected his mistake. He was going well towards Pleasant View farm but then wandered off into the wrong valley, so he's had a rather adventurous morning so far. These guys will be relieved when they finally get to Glen Edward for soup later this morning. The good thing is that they are seeing their mistakes and correcting them - which means that they are getting the hang of things with regard to navigation. As their confidence grows, they are likely to make fewer small errors on their way to Rhodes.

Batch 2 RTR are on their way to Ntsikeni and some have had similar navigational problems on the way to the Centocow soup stop. The forests in that area are notorious for being confusing as most forestry roads all look the same Carl and the boys dropped off the ridge to go exploring in the Nkonzo forests but did well to get back onto the route again. They had another minor hiccup on the descent down to Centocow but corrected that too. These distractions have allowed Rory, Shaun, Sergio and Fabio to slip passed, so there should be an interesting reunion over soup at Centocow.

Batch 3 RTR - the East London crew of Leon, Gary, Andrew and Alex left PMB in haste this morning and made good time to Minerva where they are currently enjoying their mid-morning soup break. Not far behind them are the first of the RASA riders and the merry band of Johann, John, Alan, Paul and Ian are making their way up to the radio mast before they too get to drop into Minerva. Bringing up the rear is a very content Mike who is in no particular rush but still moving staedily forward. They should all regroup at Allendale tonight to catch up on the day's adventures.


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