Words by: Steven Burnett
All this talk of race snakes is exciting, but we should never forget that all riders who take on this trail are pushing their boundaries in many ways. Despite the 8 day headstart that Batch 1 had over the race snakes of Batch 8, it looks like the first rider into Diemersfontein will again be the overall winner (FC trivia Quiz – when was the last time the overall winner was not the first to arrive at the finish?)
Martin Dreyer is the rider currently in that pole position, with ~160km lead over Alex Harris in P2. He’s the rider that all the early starters will be looking over their shoulders, waiting for him to come past like a steam train. It might be out on the trail, as the faster rider catches up, greets, chats and then surges ahead, never to be seen again (if you can keep up for a bit, even better). It might be whilst taking a break on the roadside or at a support station. Martin is known to be a real chatty guy on the trail, and there will be banter, tips and words of encouragement going both ways. They might not even see him, as he pulls in and out of a Support Station whilst they sleep. The only evidence that he was there will be an opened ice cream container and a name on the sign in sheet. No matter the moment, all riders who put rubber on the trail have a mutual respect for each other and the course itself. No matter your age, weight or choice of bike if you take on this challenge and get passed Rhodes (as all the riders now have) you’ve already done more than enough to earn the respect of your peers. In the end you are just racing the course, and yourself.
With the philosophical out the way, it’s time to get analytical and pose the burning question – “Have we reached peak Worm?”. In this case the Worm is the stretch of riders from first to last. On the 25thof June, with the final racing batch starting, Batch 1 riders were about 687km up the road leaving Kranskop (SS8). As we see it today, it extends from Rhodes(SS6) all the way to Toekomst(SS14) 730km away. There also exists the real chance that by the time the first rider gets into the finish, the last rider on the trail could still be more than 700km away, somewhere in the Baviaanskloof.
To the head of the Worm, we currently see Fanus Vorster and Derrick Muller (Batch 1) arrived at Toekomst(SS14) tented camp at lunch time and seemed happy enough to relax there till tomorrow. Brad’s lads (Brad van der Westhuizen, Nigel Basel and Richard Erasmus (Batch 1) and Richard du Toit (Batch 2)) are should join them later tonight after an early start from Jakkalsfontein(SS12).
The Payne brothers (Batch 4) are next inline and should make it to Gegun (SS13) tonight, they’ve been riding well and could well meet up with the head of the pack before being overtaken by our leader.
The rest of batch 2 (Johann Lombard, Willem Kamstra and Sandra Maytham Bailey, Harko de Boer, Philip Erasmus and Johan Radcliffe) are comfortably in at Jakkalsfontein(SS12). Starting from Romansfontein this morning there was a split with Charles Hughes and Francis Bradford (Batch 4) doubling up to Newlands(SS11) leaving Bryn Roberts, James Cruickshank, Graeme Green, Alex Kingwill and Radislav Zemandi (Batch 3) at Elandsberg(SS10).
Martin Dreyer (Batch 8) is to be found somewhere in the region of Hofmeyer tonight which puts him a smidgen ahead of his record run of 2017 at this point. The attractions of Romansfontein(SS9) seem to have lured a big party again tonight, with Andrew Ryan, Gary Scoular, Renier van der Merwe, Mark Basel and Grant Cowen (Batch 6) and Alex Kingwell (Batch 3) arriving for sundowners. After dinner we expect Gawie du Plessis and Kyle Dohne (Batch 7), Alan Rainnie, Mark Smuts, Kobus Nell, Francois Roux (Batch 4) to really stretch the bedding options. Grant Hill(Batch 6) is caught between groups and is on his own at Brosterlea(alt SS). The pair of Anthony Avidon (Batch 7) and Leon Kruger (Batch 6) are the last riders to be caught by the race snakes and it will happen tonight if they settle in at Kranskop(SS8).
The chasing pack of Alex Harris, Jaques Tattersall and Graham Bird are still quite close to each other and Liehann Loots has made it over the Bonthoek portages in the daylight so could catch them with a concerted push. Fjord Jordaan, Gavin Horton and Leon Erasmus find themselves at Slaapkranz (SS7) and will be looking at an early start. Our final rider on the route is Arno Crous who had an early start from Vuvu(SS5) and finds himself about 7 hours behind the aforementioned 3. If he doesn’t manage to catch them soon he could find it a long way before he sees another rider on the trail. Vasbyt Arno!
Looking ahead, there is a big weekend of riding required like no other. The alarm clock is set for 6am Monday 1stJuly. The significance of this is that it is when riders are allowed into the Baviaanskloof Reserve with escorts for safety from free roaming Buffalo. Riders may enter with one of two escorts per day, leaving from Cambria gate at 6am or 1pm. If riders miss a convoy then they must wait for the next departure. Martin is on track to make this gate, whereas Alex Harris, Jaques Tattersall, Graham Bird and Liehann Loots have got about 10 hours to make up somewhere. This plays a huge role in racing strategy, but the variables in riding conditions and possible rough weather play havoc with even the best thought out plan.
Words by: Ingrid Avidon
“The snakes are gonna get me, the snakes are gonna get me”. This was, and will probably be, the new mantra of the riders on the Freedom Trail. And who can blame them? The racing Snakes, especially Martin Dreyer, are moving quickly through the field. But, more about that later…
Let’s turn our attention to the other heroes of the trail: the men and one woman making their way to Wellington. And, with cold weather and very strong headwinds on parts of the trail today, the going was very tough for these brave souls.
Let’s start at Elandsberg, the home of Krimmel the Dassie, who is starting to look more like Sasko, the loaf of bread. I think he (or she) has over-indulged in too many Freedom Challenge snacks. Brad’s Lads (Brad van der Westhuizen, Nigel Basel and Richard Erasmus (all 11thday on the trail) started their day at Elandsberg and rode through Newlands Farm, over the Schurfteberg, to end their day near Cradock, at Jackalsfontein farm. They arrived in the early afternoon and are probably still enjoying a few, or many beers. The lone rider of Batch two, Richard du Toit (10thday on the trail) also departed from Elandsberg this morning and joined Brad’s Lads in their journey to Jackalsfontein, where he too will stay for the night. So, tonight is party night at Jackalsfontein farm! [It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right, put your hands on your hips and move your feet in time……]. Come on, I know you wanna join in.
Derrick Muller and Fanus Vorster started their 11thday on the route from Newlands farm and passed through Jackalsfontein en route to Gegun. As I type they are well on their way of achieving their end goal of Gegun. I wonder if they will be visited by the spooks that are said to inhabit the Gegun homestead. Those spooks are the same ones that made me turn right instead of left when I left Gegun last year.
Further back along the trail, a large group left Romansfontein Farm this morning and began their journey over Aasvoelsberg, through Hofmeyer and onto Elandsberg. The race was obviously on to see who would be the first to stuff their faces with pies in Hofmeyer. Batch four brothers, Adrian and Nigel Payne ( both 8thday on trail) were racing to the pie shop against Team Vibe (Johann Lombard, Willem Kamstra and Sandra Maytham Bailey; all 10thday on the trail) and the riding group of Harko de Boer, Philip Erasmus and Johan Radcliffe (all 10thday on the trail). I am not sure who arrived first in Hofmeyer, but I hope they all enjoyed their pies in Hofmeyer and did not suffer from too much heart burn and flatulence en route to Elandsberg. I just hope the guys remember that they are in the company of Sandra, the only lady riding the trail. The Payne brothers chose to carry on through Elansberg and onto Newlands farm where they will sleep tonight. The rest of the pie munchers have chosen to stay at Elandsberg and make Krimmel even fatter.
The Batch three group of Bryn Roberts, James Cruickshank, Graeme Green, Alex Kingwill and the walkabout Czeck, Radislav Zemandi (not to be confused with our transport minister Blade Nzimande), rode from Kranskop to with their sights set on Romansfontein. It is these guys 9thday on the trail. They were joined by Charles Hughes and Francis Bradford (both 8thday on trail) in their journey to Romansfontein. Rumour has it Radislav is still duct taped to James’ bike in fear that Radislav might pull a Derrick Bingham maneuver and end up back at Kranskop. As they all rode through the Battle of Stromberg and Vegkoppies I am sure the South African boys informed Radislav on the risk of pissing off a Boer. Let’s see how Radislav behaves when he meets the host Willem Terblanche at Romansfontein tonight. It seems that Alex Kingwall opted to stay at Brosterlea for the night and will continue his journey to Romansfontein tomorrow.
Last night, the interim support station at Moordenaarspoort farm gave refuge to Andrew Ryan, Gary Scoular and Renier van der Merwe. Chris Fisher tells me that Renier and Andrew tried to withdraw from the race at Rossouw, the very small town 14 km before Moordenaarspoort. One of them had wheel issues, and they spent a lot of time at the Rossouw police station trying to find a lift. But luckily, not even the police or Renier’s wife would hear of this kind of silliness. So, Renier and Andrew pulled up their big boy pants and walked to Moordenaarspoort. In RASA 2017 I slept at Moordenaarspoort on my own. I must confess that I was a bit nervous as the name of the farm does not immediately instill a feeling of complete peacefulness or safety. And, knowing that farms are generally named after some kind of event or prominent feature of nature, I was justified in my nervousness. But, once I was inside the warm cottage eating hot soup my fears were averted. You see, I was not alone. Yes, the stuffed Kudu and Eland heads on the wall kept me company for the night. And, in the end, there was no need to use the loaded bow I found on the couch. But, jokes aside, thanks to Danie and his wife for opening up their cottage (and supplying great food) to the crazy riders of the freedom challenge as the ride from Slaapkranz to Kranskop is very tough. I am sure Andrew, Gary and Renier were grateful for the chance to rest as they continued their 7thday on the trail en route to Kranskop where they will sleep for the night.
This morning, the awesome support station of Slaapkranz (Andre and Joyce) said good bye to Alan Rainnie, Mark Smuts, Kobus Nell, Francois Roux (all 8thday on trail) as well as Mark Basel and Grant Cowen (7thday on trail) AND Derrick Bingham (6thday on trail). Derrick Bingham must have experienced a bit of a mind F##K last night (Wednesday night) when he arrived BACK at Slaapkranz after having left Slaapkranz earlier that day. Derrick unfortunately took a left turn on the last Bontehoek portage (up near the top) and had to eventually return to Slaapkranz, almost going via Barkly East. Sorry to say, this morning, Derrick had to re-do the steep trek out of Slaapkranz (flippen hard) and the rest of the Bontehoek portages. Derrick, you have now joined an illustrious group of excellent Freedom Challenge navigators (including the likes of Tim James, Glenn Harrison, Mike Woolnough and Marnitz Nienaber) who have all gone astray on the route. But, I don’t think anyone has had to do the Bontehoek portages twice! I myself have also gone a wandering on the trail, but then I am just rigting-befok. I know David Waddilove is chuckling away in great delight knowing that the Bontehoek portages have lived up to their notorious reputation. In the end, the Slaapkranz departure group all arrived at Kranskop after a long, hard day.
Minky, the awe-inspiring lone lady farmer at Chesneywold, and her drive-way lined Disney gnomes, sent Leon Kruger (Chuck Norris) and Grant Hill on their merry way en route to Moordenaarspoort, or possibly even Kranskop. Leon and Grant are both on their 6thday on the trail. Leon, at the age of 65 years old is setting a blistering pace on the trail, and is gunning for a sub 16/17 day finish. His fiery spirit and no-die attitude has earned him the Chuck Norris title. I once watched Leon eat a whole firelighter (by mistake) as he thought it was a piece of nougat. No complaining. And, he once twisted his ankle badly on the Struishoek portage, but just strapped up his ankle (over his cycling shoe) and never took it off until his arrival at Wellington. No complaining. Leon is the man you would choose to take to war with you, if the need arose, or at least to the shopping centre, as he would insist on pushing the trolley. A true gentleman indeed. However, the strong headwind had other plans and Leon ended his day at Slaapkranz while Grant is heading for Moordenaarspoort, or maybe Kranskop.
This morning, the sleepy hollow of Rhodes was the departure point of Anthony Avidon (my hubby), Gawie du Plessis and Kyle Dohne. It is now their 5thday on the trail. While they were tucking into brekkie at Chesneywold, Martin Dreyer rode past Chesneywold. Rudely, Martin did not even stop for a quick cup of coffee! Such is the discipline and intention of this man to get to Cape Town in under 10 days. Gawie and Kyle were quick to grab their bikes in pursuit of Martin. A very strong, cold headwind has made the going very tough and Anthony chose to end his day at Slaapkranz, while Gawie and Kyle have chosen to push through to Moordenaarspoort with Martin Dreyer, or possibly even Kranzkop, as there is no telling when Martin will stop. But I am sure they will pop into Moordenaarspoort for some dinner and I hope they will not be too phased by the Kudu and Eland heads staring at their relatives (er….dinner plates). I did ask Anthony why he was struggling to keep up with Gawie who is riding a single speed. Anthony politely informed me of Gawie’s cycling pedigree. As an ex-pro cyclist he is a strong, strong man. Gawie is indeed riding a single speed and is attempting to better Glenn Harrison’s single speed record of 13 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes.
Now, what about those Snakes? Martin Dreyer (Dryer stuck on spin cycle) has already set a new Freedom Challenge record to Rhodes in 45h43min. Not too shabby for someone of 50 years old racing to Cape Town. As I type, I share the same problem as Mike Roy. Who knows where these guys are? They don’t sleep much. Just when you think they are at a support station and you report this, they move on, and on and on…..I have now resorted to drinking gin and eating cheese curls to cope with the stress of it all.
But, at 18:30 Martin is tackling the Bontehoek portages with Kyle and Gawie. Alex Harris, Jaques Tattersall and Graham Bird (Tweet) are heading towards Chesneywold. Leihann Loots is heading into Rhodes. Fjord Jordaan, Gavin Horton and Leon Erasmus are almost done on Lehanas Pass. Arno Crous is at Vuvu and will apparently sleep there for a few hours. All I can say is that the weather forecast is not great. The strong headwind will continue for the next few days and rain in certainly on its way. Go safely guys. You are an inspiration to us all.
I am going to have another gin.
Words by: Ingrid Avidon
Pictures: Lewellyn Lloyd
2019 might be known as the Chinese year of the Pig, but from today it will be known as the year of the Snakes. Today, the Racing Snakes: Martin Dreyer, Alex Harris, Graham Bird, Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus, Liehann Loos, Fjord Jordaan, Arno Crous and Gavin Horton start their journey to Wellington. And already the twitterverse and WhatsApp groups are gobbling up the data with dot watchers predictions of strategy, feeding patterns and sleep rituals of these physiologically-gifted athletes. By 7am drama had already reared it’s (gender friendly) ugly head in the form of a snare catching the wheel of Gavin Horton. In true sportsmanship style the other guys waited for him to free himself and the race continued. But, soon thereafter, it was every Snake for himself. More about that later.
Further along the trail riders were continuing their love affair with the beloved route we all know as the Freedom Challenge Trail. Some were questioning their commitment to the relationship; others were still trying to woo the affections of this beguiling route; and some were reveling in the excitement of a new love.
The Batch one departure group (aka Brad’s Lads; my name for them: Derrick Muller, Richard Erasmus, Brad van der Westhuizen, Fanus Vorster and Nigel Basel) left the comfort of Kranskop this morning en route to Romansfontein and arrived in good light. Let’s hope the farmers along the route have plenty of beers in supply as rumour has it Brad is feeling thirsty. It is their 9thday on the route and they are riding well without navigational mishaps, despite Brad drinking a lot of beer. But that probably helps him navigate better.
The batch two departure group (8thday on trail) of Philip Erasmus, Harko de Boer and Johan Radcliffe rode well from Slaapkranz to Kranzkop where is assumed they will stay for the night. Their navigation over the notorious Bontehoek Portages was spot on. Team Vibe (aka Johann Lombard, Willem Kamstra and Sandra Maytham Bailey) also rode (and navigated well) from Slaapkranz to Kranskop where they will most probably sleep tonight and eat a huge, tasty dinner thanks to Karen. Having said that Johann’s tracker shows him just past Slaapkranz, so I hope they have not left him behind, or maybe three is becoming a crowd? Hopefully this is not so, as their friendship started after meeting in R2C 2018 and was made deeper in R2W 2019, and has now resulted in team vibe riding RASA 2019. The lone break away from the friendship group, Richard du Toit, left Moordenaarspoort this morning and is riding through to Romansfontein. I wonder what they must have said to piss him off! Richard still has a long way to go, so I hope he will navigate the tricky section before Romansfontein correctly, or he is in for a dark and cold night. If he does manage to reach Romansfontein tonight he will be a day ahead of his group and could still get a beer at Romansfontein if Brad has not finished them all.
Batch three riders Bryn Roberts, James Cruickshank, Graeme Green and Alex Kingwill left a chilly Rhodes this morning and look like they will sleep at Slaapkranz tonight. They must have duct taped their fellow group rider, the notorious Czeck, Radislav Zemandi, to one of their bikes as he has not gone a wandering on the trail. It is now their 7thday on the trail. Joining them in their journey from Rhodes were two Batch four riders, Charles Hughes and Francis Bradford (6thday on trail). Charles and Francis will also probably sleep at Slaapkranz tonight, making Slaapkranz a pretty cozy place. I just hope there are enough beds or else spooning might become the order of the day (sorry night).
Leaving Vuvu this morning in their trek over Lehanas Pass (en route to Rhodes) were Alan Rainnie, Mark Smuts, Kobus Nell and Francois Roux. This group of riders started in Batch four and are now on their 6thday of what seems to be a blooming love affair (with the route of course). They passed through Rhodes and are now on their way to Chesneywold were they will warm up in Minky’s kitchen and eat fantastic home cooked farm food.
The Payne brothers, Nigel and Adrian, left Chesneyworld this morning and are riding through to Moordenaarspoort where they might spend the night. Or, they might push onto Kranskop and wake up the others around midnight. They started in Batch four so are now on their 6thday on the trail and are riding and navigating very well.
Mrs Kibi (aka the lifesaver at Tinana village) bade farewell to Mark Basel and Grant Cowen this morning as they continued their journey to Rhodes. They passed through Vuvu and are now in Rhodes were I am sure they will sleep. Mark and Grant started in Batch five and are now on their 5thday. Joining them in their journey from Mrs Kib’s house was Derrick Bingham from Batch six (4th day on trail). I am not sure if Mark and Grant indulged in the golden beverage from the local tavern, but their astute navigation through the Vuvu valley and up Lehana’s Pass suggests that they might have refrained from too much partying with Mrs Kibi. However, Derrick’s tracker shows him still on Lehana’s Pass so I hope he is safe with the others in Rhodes. Or, he might have to spoon with a Shepherd or melt his credit card at Tenahead Lodge and Spa. Derrick’s fellow Batch five starters (Andrew Ryan, Mrs Gavin Robinson, Gary Scoular and Renier van der Merwe) left Vuvu this morning and are safely at Rhodes. It is their 5thday on the route and they are making good progress.
Leon Kruger (aka Chuck Norris), Kevin Meier (R2R) and Grant Hill overnighted at Malekolenyane. These three riders started in Batch 6 and are now enjoying their 4thday on the trail. They rode really well today and are over-nighting in Vuvu . Kevin Meier will finish his R2R tomorrow and add another whip to his collection. Let’s hope the wind over Lehana’s tomorrow will be kind to these gentlemen.
Anthony Avidon, Gawie du Plessis and Kyle Dohne (Batch seven, third day on trail) left Masakala en route for Mrs Kibi’s house. They have managed the tricky descent off Tinana ridge (despite the dark) and seem to have arrived safely. Tonight they will enjoy the hospitality of the mayoress of Tinana, Mrs Kibi. , and maybe partake in the golden beverage. Unfortunately their fellow starter, Scott James, ended his love affair with the trail and has had to stop at Masakala.
So, what about the Racing Snakes. Well, they set off at a furious pace this morning. The charge was spear headed by Martin Dreyer who was first to arrive at Allendale Farm at 12:12 (in 2017 he arrived at 12:10). Martin continued his blazing pace to arrive at Centecow by 14:30. As I type he is fast approaching Ntsikeni Lodge and will most probably arrive at 18:40/45. About 2 hours behind Martin are Jaques Tattersall, Graham Bird and Alex Harris. Leon Erasmus and Liehann Loots are heading up past the Ndodeni village and Fjord Jordaan and Gavin Horton are making their way from Centecow Mission up through the villages. These are all pedigreed and experienced riders. Only time will tell who will crack first and have a brief nap.
Maybe the words of Mike Woolnough will put it all into context;
“We are just over 12 hours into what should be a 240 hour race so not too much should be read into the current positions — although it’s hard to ignore what Martin is doing.
There are mixed race strategies that will be at play after the sun goes down. Some ride hard and sleep long. Others ride well within themselves with a view to minimising time off the bike—they sacrifice speed and sleep for distance covered over time. I dare say the race begins proper at midnight tonight when we see what each of them do with starting freshness drained from their legs.
It’s going to be an interesting night of racing.”
As I sign off I know Mr Ndlovu has the fires burning at Ntsikeni lodge and is waiting patiently on the deck (with his crew of ladies) to defrost the feet and hands of these guys. His first arrival will definitely be Martin Dreyer. The Protea Cricket team could certainly learn a lesson or two about guts and determination from these racers.
By: Mike Roy
Picture: Llewellyn Lloyd
The night before the start of the eighth and last batch of FC 2019, a batch that will see a much-anticipated group of highly-strung pedigreed FC racers start their journey. It doesn’t get better than this, it is quite a few years since such a competitive field has been assembled. The big question is will the 10 day barrier finally be breached. Dot-watchers are in a frenzy, this is FC world at its finest. Anyone who is on the WhatsApp group “FC RTR & RASA 2019” – all 124 of us – will attest to the build-up for the start of this last batch. The old pros, Mike Woolenough, Tim James et al cannot wait. Neither can we.
Martin Dreyer, who will be starting his 5th FC and who is the current record holder for FC after his 10 days and change effort in 2017, is amongst this final batch and he will have his hands full with a final start day field that includes Alex Harris, Graham Bird, Liehaan Loots, and Jacques Tattersall amongst others. Memories of past battles.
Meanwhile, littered all over the peaks and valleys of Southern Africa, in various states of exhaustion and/or elation, lie the first seven batches of the 2019 FC. Today’s roundup catches up with as many of them as we can. Some feedback straight from the athletes themselves, a smattering of anecdotal comments from friends and loved ones and a healthy dollop of stuff that is completely made up. This is what you get when you outsource the daily write-up to pro bono journalists.
Contrary to normal practice today we are starting with Batch Six – why, because I’ve just got off the phone to Grant Hill and best I write it down before I forget. Grant tells me that Kevin Meier, whose journey will stop at Rhodes, distinguished himself on the plains before Queens Mercy by attempting to throw his bike across a (very) small stream. The bike, heavier than anticipated, made it only half way across and in attempt to save it Kevin and bike ended up waist deep in the middle of said (very) small but not-so-shallow stream. Not great at 7am in the morning in what was a bloody cold day across the board. I read somewhere -9 at Barkley East. Grant and crew (Leon and Kevin) are at Malek for the night, and the RASA duo amongst them are aiming for Vuvu tomorrow night and Chesneywold the night after, which will give them a solid base of 6.5 stages in 5 days, and a launch pad for a sub 15 day FC (I may have made the last bit up but it is possible I think). Derrick Bingham from Batch 6 is through to Tinana, a half stage ahead. “Too strong for us” says Grant, who is reflecting on the aftereffects of what, in his words, was a too-fast start for start on day one.
Batch Seven, who go by the group moniker of the Flaming Flamingos (prove me wrong here), appear to have had another good day – Masakala in two days. Seems very good to me. I’d love to give some personal feedback on the FF Boys but all I can come up with is that as a rookie and as an Eston boy Kyle is doing great in his home territory. Facebook (thank god for Facebook) tells me he has done his stint at Saasveld, who might not take that kindly to the Flying Flamingos label.
News from Batch Two (Team Kranskop) is that they have all made Slaapkrantz, a day stage in a day. Riding in to Slaapkrantz in daylight is just the most wonderful feeling. Who in their right mind would ride through Slaapkranz, I know I wouldn’t and neither would Advocate Gerrit Pretorius, a man who truly understands why it is we make these journeys. Hang on, it seems like Richard du Toit from this batch is on his way to Moordenaarspoort. Richard clearly isn’t in his right mind but he is a strong man, no doubt.
A trusted anonymous source, who one day may well reveal a vaccine for the HIV virus, tells me that Sandy and Willem pre-ordered (yes) gluten free burgers and sandwiches from Tennahead on their way down to Rhodes. This somehow seems wrong, but it happened and we are just going to have to live with it. I can’t tell you anything about Team Kranskop other than I am pretty sure that as I write they are happily lying in their beds, stuffed to the gills and thinking about a couple of scary early portages that face them tomorrow morning, especially if it has snowed (I’ll look up the weather forecast shortly).
Four batches to go. Batch One, including Brad’s Bunch – another day in a day. Slaapkrantz to Kranskop, as it should be. Batch Three, seemingly nameless but who shall forever after be known as the “Czech Mates”, I am sure had fun in getting from Vuvu to Rhodes. Even if they didn’t have fun they made it.
Batch Four is a little more interesting. The Payne brothers are doing what Grant & Co aspire to, and are heading to Chesneywold as we speak after starting at Vuvu, again 6.5 stages in 5 days. Dare I say another sub 15 day attempt coming up? This would be an impressive addition to Nigel’s canoeing resume. Charles Hughes and Francis Bradford are on their way to Rhodes after getting it wrong in the Vuvu valley (to put it mildly). Once there, if they get there today, that will be 6 stages in 5 days for them. The last four starters of Batch Four are in Vuvu, on a schedule of a day for a day. They do not have a group name, which is unfortunate, I will leave this honour to tomorrow’s journalist.
Which leaves Batch Five. Renier, Andrew, Gavin and Gary who are also in Vuvu after a day from Malek, a day ahead of regular race schedule. The last two members of Group 5, Grant and Mark, left Masakala at 3am and seem to be on their way to Tinana to stay with Mrs Kibi. There is nothing to be alarmed about here, Mrs Kibi runs the half way stop at Tinana, and a very fine place it is.
That just about covers everyone. Enjoy tomorrow. Oh yes, the weather forecast for tomorrow –I’ll pick Rhodes. Max 13, min -3. Zippo wind. Ideal cycling conditions. Let the games begin.