A Final Word
The 2016 Freedom Challenge has come and gone. For riders in the Race to Rhodes and Race Across South Africa, some of the signs of their efforts are still fresh in mind, the vivid memories of places seen and people encountered along the way, the still familiar aches and pains for those that finished not too long ago. But as time slowly takes the edge off the hardships they experienced and bodies slowly heal and come back stronger, something more permanent comes to the fore.
After the blur of the finish and the sometimes rude awakening of getting back to normal life, the realisation of what they have been through slowly dawns on them and the overwhelming sense of achievement brings with it a new sense of pride. For some there will be unbridled excitement and wanting to share their stories with friends and family, for others it will be more of a sense of knowing, an inner smile that they carry forward with them. Either way, few are left unaffected by overcoming a great challenge and so to with the Freedom Challenge.
We would like to thank all the riders who set off along the trail this year, each facing their own particular challenge and overcoming it in their own special way. The Freedom Challenge leaves room for a person to test their own limits and to overcome many obstacles along the way - and long may it remain so. For all those new Whip Bearers and Blanket Wearers, welcome to the clan and well done for taking up the challenge and succeeding.
From the Race Office.
And in the end there were three - the trio of Neville Higgs, Clint le Roux and Gerald vd Merwe, who after a night out in Stettynskloof managed to regroup and get it done, crossing the finish line at 5pm this afternoon to a warm welcome from friends and family. For Gerald, the final cutoff had been beaten and he received his Blanket after finishing in 25d 11h. For Clint and Neville who started a day later, their finishing time was 24d 11h. The three of them have stuck together through thick and thin and will surely have many shared memories and stories to tell - for now though, all that matters is that they have finished and can wear their Blankets with pride.
As the sun sets on yet another day on the trail, the Race Office waits for the last three riders to arrive. The trio of Clint le Roux, Neville Higgs and Gerald vd Merwe left Trouthaven this morning to take on Stettynskloof, the final stage in their journey to Diemersfontien.
As first timers to Stettynskloof, they would only have known what to expect by the reputation of the place and the stories of those who have gone before. Any Blanket Wearer will confirm that it is a place not to be underestimated. Judging by the time they got going this morning, they may have underestimated it..
Having made fairly slow progress through the kloof all day, they found themselves about halfway with the light beginning to fade. It seems they have taken the decision to camp out for the night and are in for a cold and uncomfortable night in the kloof, waiting for daylight before they proceed further. If they get going at first light, they should get to the finish at Diemersfontein by late morning - where the Race Office will be waiting to welcome them home.
Brad vd Westhuizen set off from Trouthaven before sunrise this morning - a man on a mission. Having rested there yesterday, his first task was to locate his bike and then finish off what he had started by getting through Stettynskloof. His progress was hampered by swollen rivers after all the rain and the ubiquitous thick bush in his path but he steadily made his way up the valley, making it out just after dark. From there it was a slow ride through to the finish at Diemersfontein and he arrived at 22h30 to be greeted by the biggest crowd so far - all the riders and supporters at the FC Finisher’s Dinner. A fitting welcome from the many fellow Blanket Wearers and congratulations all around - well done Brad.
That leaves only the trio still out on the trail - Neville Higgs, Clint le Roux and Gerald vd Merwe are spending the night at Trouthaven, having arrived by lunch time from McGregor today. There will be a nervous anticipation in the air, the task is almost complete but the final obstacle still has to be conquered tomorrow. They should be well rested and up to the challenge - not much will stop them now.
In the early hours of this morning, Caren Henschel and Tony Wright crossed the finish line at Diemersfontein - after a very long day out for them which ended in the pouring rain - but nothing could dampen their spirits by then, they had persevered and finally earned their Blankets. Having ridden together from the start, they finished in 19d19h20min, a very good effort by both of them.
Catching up with the rest of the field today was a bit like watching a game of chess - one rider maintained his position while the others made a strategic move before their final assault.
Brad vd Westhuizen spent the day at Trouthaven, resting up and giving his injured back a chance to recover before his second attempt on Stettynskloof in the morning. He has used the time well, staying positive and is confident about his chances tomorrow.
The trio of Neville Higgs, Clint le Roux and Gerald vd Merwe completed the short hop to McGregor today, despite the wet weather. They arrived in time for lunch which meant they had the whole afternoon to rest and recover. Tomorrow they will move forward to Trouthaven and with the weather set to clear over the weekend, they look to have timed it well for a possible trip up Stettynskloof on Sunday.
For these four riders the end may be near but a finish is still not guaranteed - they still need to focus on the task at hand and continue in the same determined manner that has gotten them to this point - their Blankets await them.
The onslaught on Stettynskloof got underway early this morning as nine riders entered the valley at dawn. They worked their way steadily up towards the steep exit slope, beyond which lay a short ride to a warm Blanket. For the group of Hughes Clauser, Greg Perrett, Richard Cole and Gary Scoular, it was business as usual as they forged their way up the kloof and emerged by mid afternoon, then continued to the finish at Diemersfontein, arriving before dark. Apart from Gary, the other three have ridden together since before Rhodes, now their adventure has finally come to an end. For Frenchman Hughes, there will no doubt be many stories to tell back home. Well done to all of them for getting to the finish.
The next rider to emerge from the kloof was Fanus Vorster, who then continued to cross the finish line and receive his well deserved Blanket. His ride has been full of ups and downs and he went from the brink of withdrawing to completing a determined, mostly solo effort - well done for seeing it through.
Pierre Oosthuizen is another rider who had a tough ride - that was last year, when he got as far as Cambria. This time around, he was more determined than ever to get the Blanket and went out everyday, focussed and resolute, steadily making his way down the trail on his single speed. A few late night arrivals and early morning starts couldn’t break his rhythm and today the hard work paid off when he finally arrived at Diemersfontein and wrapped himself in his Blanket - well done Pierre.
Among the nine riders leaving Trouthaven this morning were Brad vd Westhuizen and Caren Henschel together with Tony Wright. Brad made it halfway up the kloof and then his tracker showed him making a u-turn and heading back. It turns out, he took a fall on the way up and hurt his back, badly enough to make it very painful to carry his bike - so he went back down, leaving his bike near the dam and seeking assistance from the manager there, who helped him back to Trouthaven. He’s not done yet as he will rest up tomorrow and try again. Tony and Caren have had a very long day in Stettynskloof but have made it out and are on their way to Diemersfontein, where the are expected later tonight.
The sweeps, Neville Higgs, Clint le Roux and Gerald vd Merwe, are in Montagu tonight, after a double stage from Rouxpos today. Neville had to take a detour to the local clinic to have his hand stitched up after he cut it coming out of Anysberg but he is on the mend and will continue with the others tomorrow. They are still hoping to finish over the weekend.
As the wind picked up in Rhodes, the first signs of incoming weather were the clouds forming in the sky - today’s arrivals had to battle fierce headwinds as they made their way down Naudesnek. First to arrive were the foursome of Rowan, Luke, Greg and Tony, who made it home in time for lunch. Not far behind them were Sean, Alan, Kobus, Francois and Juan, so the Rubicon was full house again tonight, this time with RTR Batch 5 finishers. Well done to all of them. The riders all spoke of the strong wind coming up Lehanas, with bikes and maps being blown from their grip, so things could get interesting for the others still out on the route.
Derik and Johann (RTR Batch 4) arrived in Rhodes much later - a long day from Vuvu for them too, with fierce winds in the afternoon and a long ride into town in the dark. But they made it and earned their Finisher’s Whips - well done.
In Vuvu there’s a festive group from RTR Batch 6 Jan, Andrew, Gordon, Willie and RASA Batch A Chris, Ray, Hayden, Fanus, Willie and Gerrit - no problems for them coming through from Malekgalonyane today but the wind made it’s presence felt along Black Fountain ridge. With conditions changing overnight, they could be in for a tough day tomorrow going over Lehana’s and could opt to go around via the Mcambalala track instead.
Tucked into the folds of the mountains at Malekgalonyane are the Wood brothers, Anton, Adam and Matthew, together with Ian and Tony (RTR Batch 7). They strayed out of bounds today after Queen’s Mercy and had to sit out a time penalty which put paid to any thoughts of trying to complete the ’Stations’ loop this afternoon. Tomorrow morning they will start with some tricky nav but this group is strong and should still get to Vuvu in good time.
Masakala is full tonight - a collection of RTR Batch 8 riders Nigel, Adrian, Arrie, August, Geoff, Richard and George and RASA Batch C Greg and Richard plus RASA Batch B Hughes, Patricia and Pierre. The RTR guys went astray on the way to the Little Umzimbuvu river crossing, which cost them a lot of time, allowing the slower RASA group to get ahead. They all came together again at Snakefield and made their way slowly through the last tricky nav sections in the dark. A few more errors in the dark eventually saw them arriving at 8:30pm. Pierre, Hughes and Patricia then missed a turn near Hebron village and added another dark detour to an already long day. At least tomorrow’s shorter day should give them alls chance to recover.
Still struggling behind them and staying at Glen Edward tonight are the rest of RASA Batch B - Hugh, Brett and Stephen. Brett still nursing a knee problem and Stephen battling a chest infection. A good rest tonight could make all the difference tomorrow but they can’t really afford any more half days if they hope to make it to Rhodes before the cut-off.
The party is definitely at Ntsikeni tonight - all of RTR Batch 9 Nikki, Nick, Johann, Steve, Richard, David and RASA Batch D Ann, Grant and Brad are there. Having ridden together the whole day, this group was able to rely on the experience of the few trail savvy riders amongst them and didn’t have any issues with the navigation. With two big days of climbing behind them, they can look forward to the relatively easier day to Masakala tomorrow. Mr Ngcobo will be sleeping with one eye open tonight as he is still expecting a few late night arrivals - Anton and Janine, who started today in RTR Batch 10, are still on their way and expected to arrive before midnight. These two are clearly intent on making a race of this, the question now is whether they will stop to sleep a bit or push on to the night..
Making her way to Centocow tonight is Ingrid (RTR Batch 10), who also started in PMB today. She plans to sleep there tonight. The rest of Batch 10 stopped at Allendale after getting off to a flying start this morning. Coen, Kevin and Jonathan all arrived before dark with Scott joining them. Unfortunately for Scott, he has to sit out a 4 hour time penalty for not closing a gate properly, which led to a horse getting out and a cal to the Race Office from the irate farmer - he will only be able to leave around 8am tomorrow. Clint and Neville (RASA Batch F) had a tough day today, with Neville arriving just before 7pm and Clint having to stop and rest near the top of Hela Hela before continuing - he did manage to complete the day by arriving just before 9:30pm.
A quiet day in Rhodes compared to yesterday, with only 2 riders arriving at lunchtime - Charl and Rob (Batch 4) have been riding together since Allendale and have ridden well, navigated confidently and made it to goal every day with daylight to spare. Charl adds a Whip to his Blanket and Rob, riding a single speed, earns his first whip - well done the two of you.
The other two potential arrivals tonight would be Phillip and Chiara (Batch 4) - last seen heading towards Mcambalala on the detour around Lehanas, the last word was that they would see how far they got but most likely sleep at Phillipsrus farm, then come through in the morning.
The group of riders staying in Vuvu tonight cruised through from Malekgalonyane in two bunches - the early arrivals were Tony and the Matthews brothers, Rowan, Greg and Luke (Batch 5) who made quick work of the Black Fountain single track and the descent into Tinana along the way. Later in the afternoon, the rest of the riders also came in with light to spare - Alan, Sean, Francois, Kobus and Juan (Batch 5). Also there tonight are Derik and Johann (Batch 4). They arrived at 5pm which allowed them to serve out some of their time penalty for an earlier rule infringement after Malekgalonyane, the remaining hour will be served before they leave Vuvu in the morning - so they are still on track to finish in Rhodes tomorrow.
At Malekgalonyane tonight are Andrew, Jan, Gordon and Willem (Batch 6). Also there are the RASA Batch A riders Chris, Ray, Hayden, Fanus, Willie and Gerrit. These guys didn’t put a foot wrong through the Knira river floodplains today and skipped over Mparane ridge in no time, then went straight out to do the ‘Stations’ loop, so they will be poised for an early departure tomorrow and should all get to Vuvu comfortably.
Masakala plays host to the RTR riders the Woods brothers, Anton, Adam and Matthew, as well as Ian and Tony (Batch 7) - under the expert guidance of Anton, they rode steadily through from Ntsikeni today, enjoyed a leisurely soup and coffee stop with Sheila at Glen Edward and arrived by late afternoon.
Ntsikeni is the place to be tonight, after the night off last night, Mr Ncgobo has his hands full hosting 15 riders - all of RASA Batch B: Stephen, Pierre, Hughes, Patricia, Hugh and Brett, all still inching their way forward along the trail. Then there are the 2 RASA Batch C riders, Greg and Richard with their new RTR Batch 8 mates, Nigel, Adrian, Arrie, August, Geoff, Richard and George - these guys are riding strong and came through from Allendale today without any hassles.
Centocow is quiet tonight but should see plenty of action tomorrow night when the first of the RTR racers come through.
Allendale hosts RTR Batch 9 riders Steve, Richard, Nikki, Nick, Johan and David, together with RASA Batch D riders Ann, Grant and Brad. It’s a long way from Pmb for the first day but this lot managed it without too much fuss. The only rider not with them tonight is Gerald (RASA Batch D), who fell off the bak of the group early on but was content to carry on at his own steady pace. He ran out of daylight while still in the Umko valley and decided to camp out there tonight.
The Rubicon in Rhodes is bursting at the seams tonight with 13 riders crossing the finish line today. Spread out across the afternoon, they trickled in, smiling and enjoying glorious sunshine.
First to arrive were Bruce, Alan and Rich (Batch 4) who arrived just after midday. They have had a solid ride, thanks to good route knowledge and previous trail experience from Bruce and a collective effort to recce sections of the trail beforehand, they were able to ride quickly and confidently through some of the trickier navigation sections. Always arriving with daylight to spare and always getting a good night’s sleep, they recovered well each day and maintained a consistent pace throughout their ride. Playing it safe worked well for them and they managed to get to Rhodes in under 5 days - well done guys.
The next to arrive were Frank, Marais, Harry, Neil and Lloyd, with Gareth soon after (Batch 3). As first timers on the trail, they all enjoyed the experience, despite how tough some of the days were. They made a few navigation errors here and there but never really got into too much trouble, managing to arrive before sunset every day. They also had virtually no mechanicals, only a puncture early on. Working together on the navigation was key to cracking some of the trickier sections. Will they be back? - mixed reactions to the question but nobody said no.. Well done on a great effort guys.
Then came Dave and John (Batch 2) - also first timers on the trail who had a fairly steady ride to start with but came up short on Day 5, opting to stay at Tinana Mission due to fading light. With them were Sean and Rebecca (Batch 2), who had been plagued by a tyre issues early on, a nasty sidewall cut on Day 1 resulting in a very long day to Allendale. For the four of them, the short day from there to Vuvu was a good chance to recover before the big portage over Lehana’s on the way to Rhodes. They didn’t quite manage to roll over the finish line together, more tyre issues just before Rhodes meant a long walk to the finish for Sean and Rebecca but Dave and John were waiting for them when they did eventually cross the line. Well done for persevering despite the setbacks and well done for getting to Rhodes.
After the crowds of last night, Vuvu is relatively quiet, with only Charl and Rob (Batch 4) staying there tonight. They came through from Malekgalonyane today and would have enjoyed the good weather while cruising the single tracks of Black Fountain. Their progress has been steady since Day 1 and they should get to Rhodes comfortably tomorrow.
Not far behind them at Tinana tonight are Phillip and Chiara - they also opted to stay there instead of risking getting caught in the Vuvu valley after dark - a wise move. Things went a lot smoother for them today, no major deviations from the route like the day before meant steady progress. They will most likely aim for Vuvu tomorrow and come through to Rhodes the next day, so tomorrow will give them a chance to recover from some of the late nights they’ve had out on the trail.
The route from Masakala to Malekgalonyane didn’t claim as many victims today, the riders seemed to have had their maps facing the right way and most made good time across the flood plains - RTR Batch 5 riders, the Matthews brothers Rowan, Luke and Greg together with Alan, Sean, Kobus, Tony, Johann, Derik, Kobus, Francois, Sean, Johan, Alan and Juan have all completed the ‘Stations’ loop in preparation for an early departure in the morning.
Masakala is also a busy place tonight with Batch 6 riders Jan, Andrew, Geoff and Willem in attendance. With them are RASA Batch A riders Hayden, Chris and Ray. With their collective route experience they had few problems along the route today and got in with plenty of daylight to spare.
Glen Edward serves as the hospital for tonight - Francois Marais will spend the night there - he has unfortunately had to withdraw due to illness.
Ntsikeni is empty tonight because the whole of Batch B only got as far as Centocow. Mr Ncgobo will enjoy the rest but he will be looking forward to a reunion with his two bearded ‘Sangoma’ friends in the morning.
RASA Batch B: Hugh and Brett, the Beards Stephen and Pierre and the Frenchies, Patricia and Hughes ,are all staying at Centocow tonight. An array of problems after yesterday led to slow progress today: Hugh and Brett got a bit lost out of Allendale but the real issue was a knee problem for Brett, which made them pull up short in an attempt to recover. The Beards only left Allendale after 9am because Stephen had to sort out his damaged rear derailleur. A few wrong turns on the way to Centocow meant another after dark arrival. Arriving with them were Hughes and Patricia, also a bit lost in the forests and also delayed by mechanicals while waiting at Allendale for Hughes' damaged wheel to be repaired. Hopefully things will run more smoothly for all of them tomorrow.
Allendale is bustling again this evening - the riders all arrived in time for sundowners this afternoon after a solid day’s riding from Maritzburg. RTR Batch 8 riders Nigel, Adrian, Arrie, August, Geoff, Richard and George are all there and tomorrow they will set their sites on Ntsikeni. With them are RASA Batch C riders Greg and Richard.
With a full week of batch starts behind us, the number of riders out on the trail is at full capacity - loading new batches in PMB on the one end and welcoming riders into Rhodes on the other. It will stay that way for a few more days until gradually the RTR riders all eventually head home and we are left with only the remaining RASA riders out on the trail.
It’s been another beautiful day out on the trail. Every day brings new stories and new heros and today was no exception. The batches are starting to get mixed up and the day in the life of a dot tracker is becoming increasingly challenging. Faster riders are starting to jump support stations and slower riders are doing half days to recover from navigational challenges or illness. An approaching cold front is about to make landfall in the Western Cape and with it will come new challenges. Brace yourselves fans and riders, life on the trail is about to become interesting. The trail is getting busy so we’ll do a walk through to see what stories and entertainment the trail has left us with today.
Way up high in Rhodes, Batch 1 and a few racing snakes from Batch 2 had their celebration dinner last night. They came to RTR with expectations, they saw and experienced an amazing adventure, they conquered their personal challenges and today they left as proud Whip Bearers. They are today’s hero’s.
Back in Pietermaritzburg, Batch 7 and Batch B got their turn today. Brothers Anton, Adam and Matthew are joined by Ian and Tony on their journey to Rhodes (Batch 7) while Patricia, Hugues and father/son Hugh/Brett and the partnership of the “Beards”, Stephen and Pierre, are en route to Diemersfontein (Batch B). The group started their first day cautiously and by late afternoon everyone sans the Riemers and the Beards were in at Allendale. The Riemers, Hughes and Patricia had all crossed the Umko by late afternoon and may be a bit late for dinner. The Beards also crossed the Umko river and passed the spot of Pierre’s infamous camp out in 2015, which makes this a record first day for him personally. Pictures from the trail suggest they are having the time of their lives and they will be relying on their legendary great attitude and sense of humor tonight to complete the long slog in the dark to Allendale.
Further up the route at Ntsikeni, Batche 6 RTR - that's Andrew, Jan, Gordon, Francois and Willem and Batch A RASA, Chris, Ray, Hayden, Fanus, Willie and Gerrit - had a solid day out with the first riders in the group arriving at the lodge just after 15h00 and the rest of the group just making a daylight finish around 17h00. Mr Ngcobo will be proud of his guests tonight and they will remember his hospitality for much longer than their day has been.
Glen Edward will be empty tonight which will give Sheila a break, this has been a popular stop so far. She’ll most likely be brewing away at her famous soup for tomorrow’s guests though.
Batch 5 are all in at Masakala before dark and have so far been rock solid with their navigation, pretty much flawless. Tony’s adventure racing experience seems to be paying dividends and he has been ably accompanied at the front by the Matthews clan. The rest of the batch, Juan, Francois, Kobus, Alan and Sean have been solid every day and will enjoy the vetkoek tonight. Derik and Johann from Batch 4 started from Ntsikeni this morning and seem to have hooked up with this batch after some ill health put a damper on their start the previous few days. Tomorrow is a short(ish) day and it would do their spirits well to try and stay with the group through to Malekholonyane.
At Malekholonyane, Charl and Robert are joined by Chiara and Philip who left from Masakala late this morning after a rough navigation day yesterday which ended at midnight - they have had another squiggly day out on the trail but managed to get in with light to spare. Just as well because they picked up a time penalty for using the 'out of bounds' road after Queen’s Mercy but were able to serve it out this afternoon, so it won’t impact their plans for tomorrow. Many others’ spirits would have been broken by the many route deviations but these two have remained strong in their resolve.
For a change Tinana is empty tonight and Ms Kibi will enjoy the respite.
Up at Vuvu a mix of Batches 2, 3 and 4 have aggregated to position themselves for the assault on Lehanas tomorrow. Becky and the Boys (Sean, Dave, John) from Batch 2 have improved significantly on their navigation and 'cautious is faster’ seems to be paying dividends for them. Vuvu will have no fewer than 13 guests tonight and I bet Race Office did a quick check on Google Earth to see if there are enough huts in Vuvu for this gathering. The chickens must have been in a flat panic this afternoon...
Rhodes will be quiet and lonely tonight for Glenn with no scheduled arrivals. Dinner for one … anyone? He sounded in good spirits early evening and is bracing himself for the barrage of finishers tomorrow.
All eyes are on the Beards tonight. Will they reach Allendale or will they camp out? Tune in tomorrow to your favourite tracking website to catch all the updates and live action. Until then … Lala Kahle (good night)
By Carl Scholtz
It was a busy day on the trail, with the first arrivals in Rhodes and a steady stream of riders still making their way along the trail towards Rhodes. The good weather continued, the only reports so far were of a fairly brisk breeze on Lehana’s today and some mist around Malekgalonyane and Tinana - other than that, the skies were clear and sunny.
Batch 1 were pipped to the post by Lee and Ollie, who started in batch 2, a day behind them. Their last 5 days on the trail have provided much entertainment for those following on the trackers, with daily excursions to lesser travelled parts of the countryside, some of them on the wrong side of sunset. But they have remained in good spirits the whole time and really embraced the spirit of the Freedom Challenge. Leaving from Vuvu after a late arrival last night, Lee and Ollie went past the batch 1 riders on the way up Lehana’s and arrived in Rhodes just after midday. Well done guys on a fantastic effort.
Batch 1 rolled in a bit later, having taken a leisurely time-out at Tenahead Lodge, before the last bit down to Rhodes. Although tired after the last 6 days of effort, there were smiles aplenty when they arrived. They hadn’t planned to ride together but seemed to gel into an amicable group by day 2 and continued that way until the end. Despite having a few long days out there, Rob and his son Murray, Dave J, Stuart and David H, together with Steve and Colleen never really put a foot wrong - a solid ride by all. Tonight in Rhodes they were the proud recipient’s of the first batch of Finisher’s Whips this year - a more worthy bunch you couldn’t ask for.
Leon and David Kruger, also from batch 2, arrived just in time for dinner after a very long day out on the trail. Starting at 03h30 from Tinana Mission, they got off to a shaky start confounded by early mist in the darkness. Their perseverance paid off though and they arrived in Vuvu by late morning, had a quick snack and set off for Lehana’s. Making good time over the portage, they reached the summit with light to spare, decided against a coffee stop at Tenahead and headed straight for Rhodes. Finishing in under 6 days, it was another great effort by Leon and for David, his first whip - well done guys.
The rest of batch 2 are staying at Tinana Mission tonight - a day of tricky navigation and a dollop of mist slowed them down enough to make Vuvu a goal too far for the day. Becky, Sean, John and Dave have stuck together for the last few days and will most likely finish together, the question now is will they go for Rhodes in one big push or aim for Vuvu tomorrow and finish the next day?
Batch 3 all stay at Malekgalonyane tonight - what should have been a relatively short day from Masakala, turned into an exploration of the Knira river floodplains on the way to Queen’s Mercy. This was followed by another deviation which put them into an ‘out of bounds’ area, resulting in a time penalty to be served at Malekgalonyane. They still had enough daylight though to complete the “Stations of the Cross loop and return to base camp, so all is back on track for Vuvu tomorrow. Joining them are Bruce, Rich and Alan, having come all the way from Glen Edward, they had a fairly long day. Alan has picked up a problem with a cracked frame, so they are trying to make repairs in order to continue again in the morning.
The other members of batch 4 are at Masakala, Charl and Robert arriving by late afternoon after having lost time early in the day getting out of Ntsikeni. Phillip and Chiara are also due in tonight - a very long day for them with many small deviations and a good deal of night navigation near the end.
Also part of batch 4 but now a day behind, are Derik and Johann - they are at Ntsikeni tonight after a relatively short day from Centocow. A mistake on the way into Ntsikeni cost them precious time though, so hopefully they can stay on track and make steady progress tomorrow.
Ntsikeni is full tonight, with the whole of batch 5 in attendance there: Sean, Alan, Francois, Kobus, Juan, Tony and the three Matthews brothers rode through from Allendale today and with three amongst them with decent route knowledge, it was plain sailing - no navigation errors and a fairly quick riding time being the result.
Batch 6 are at Allendale - Andrew, Jan, Gordon, Francois and Willem cruised through relatively comfortably, all arriving well before sunset. Andrew has a Blanket, so his trail experience will come in handy over the next few days. Also there tonight are the batch A RASA riders - Chris, Ray and Hayden all have previous trail experience and put it to good use today, riding steadily and easing their way into the first of many days on the trail. Fanus, Willie and Gerrit were not far behind, so all were in with daylight to spare. Tomorrow may see them putting their collective experience to good use with an early exit from Allendale, aiming for Ntsikeni.