With Batch 1 arriving at Cambria today, the field is spread out over a stretch of a few hundred kilometres down the trail. Gavin Robinson, Jacques Tattersall and Leon Erasmus all enjoyed the Hadley hospitality last night and set off early to take on the Grootrivierpoort with its overgrown jeep track and eleven river crossings. Making steady progress throughout the morning, they arrived safely by mid afternoon and are resting up at Cambria tonight. Tomorrow they head west along the Baviaanskloof.
Batch 2 split up yesterday, with the KZN boys, Trevor Maarschalk, Russell Hanger, Chris Harburn and John Foord riding from Kleinpoort to Hadley today. A relatively shorter day for them today, which included brunch at Bucklands, they managed to arrive early enough to relax on the lawns at the Hadley farmhouse this afternoon. The rest of their start batch, the Capetonians, Jonathan Williams, Simon Harper, Rob Hill, Sean Paul, Craig Copeland and Jack Barrett left from Koedoeskop this morning and finished their day at Bucklands by mid afternoon. They seem to have settled into a good rhythm on their ride are are making good daily progress.
Batch 3 have a few experienced riders among their number and their steady rate of progress is proof of this. Doug Kennaugh, Dawn Bell, Colleen Cawood, Ray Sephton and Dave vd Westhuizen left the comforts of Gegun early this morning and rode to Kleinpoort today, arriving in time to head down the road for pies at the padstal. With good navigation and steady riding, things are running like clockwork and they are enjoying themselves immensely out on the trail.
Which brings us to Batch 4 - the racing batch. They all left Cradock in a hurry this morning with plans for a long day out on their bikes. Tim James, Mike Potgieter, Carl Scholtz, Leon Kruger, Dave Kruger and Ingrid Avidon rode together initially but the pack splintered on the way up the first climb. They made quick work of the Struihoek portage and all went through Gegun by mid afternoon. So far Carl Scholtz, Mike Potgieter and Tim James have arrived at Koedoeskop and the others are on their way. Carl has opted to stay for the night, Mike has already pushed on and Tim is heading off soon, after first having a short sleep to ward off some nausea. The fun and games will likely continue through the night as these guys ride deep into the night. For Dave, Leon and Ingrid, the indications are that they are likely to stop at Koedoeskop tonight and continue at first light tomorrow.
Another group of riders departed a chilly Cradock this morning for their Race to Willowmore: Batch 3 are Dawn Bell, Doug Kennaugh, Colleen Cawood, Ray Sephton and Dave vd Westhuizen. It didn’t take long for them to warm up though, the first climb up the Swaershoek Pass was enough to get the blood pumping. Later in the day they would have been wishing for those cooler morning temps again, the descent off the Struishoek portage in tough enough as it is - doing it in the heat of the day is never a good idea and it must have sapped their reserves. Although they had hinted at possibly pushing on past Gegun, they decided against it and will be staying there tonight.
The Batch 2 riders that left yesterday consisted of two groups from Cape Town and KZN: Capetonians Jonathan Williams, Craig Copeland, Rob Hill, Simon Harper, Jack Barrett and Sean Paul and the KZN bunch who were joined by the KZN foursome of Trevor Maarschalk, Russell Hanger, John Foord and Chris Harburn. They all left Gegun this morning and stopped in at Koedoeskop during the course of the morning. The KZN guys made it a quick stop and headed off again with the aim of reaching Kleinpoort. It was a long haul but they did eventually arrive just after sunset. For the Capetonians things were a bit more relaxed and after some careful consideration, they opted to stay at Koedoeskop instead.
Up ahead on the trail are still the three riders from Batch 1: Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson. Gavin left Koedoeskop at 03h30 this morning and was already in Kleinpoort by mid morning, a smart move which would have spared him from going through the dreaded Gwaas Valley in the heat of the day. Jacques and Leon left after sunrise and once again took their time - chats with farmers along the way and photos of the wildlife being the order of the day. They eventually caught up with Gavin soon after Bucklands and the three of them will spend the night at Hadley tonight.
Today saw the departure of Batch 2, the largest of this year’s batches on the Race to Willowmore with ten enthusiastic riders: from Cape Town we have Jonathan Williams, Craig Copeland, Rob Hill, Simon Harper, Jack Barrett and Sean Paul who were joined by the KZN foursome of Trevor Maarschalk, Russell Hanger, John Foord and Chris Harburn. Last night around the dinner table there mutterings about possibly pushing past Gegun but that hasn’t happened - a combination of hot temperatures, steep hills and the distractions of good hospitality and swimming spots along the way meant that they all arrived at Gegun by late afternoon with no intention of going any further for the day. So its a full-house at Gegun tonight and a bit of a bun fight for the best beds.
The front three riders from Batch 1: Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson, had a very leisurely start to the day, only leaving after 9am. They too had intended to put in a long day but the swimming pool at Koedoeskop seems to have been reason enough for them to pull up the hand brake and check in for the night. Ok, so maybe it did get a bit hot and they have all just finished the Race to Cradock but really.. clearly they are racing snakes no more.
Tomorrow sees the departure of the next five riders and it may be up to them to see if they can go beyond Gegun on the first day - we will have to wait and see.
On a more sombre note, the Race Office today received the sad news of the passing of Phillip Henderson of Toekomst in a motor vehicle accident last night. Our sincere condolences go out the his family. As a result, the support station at Toekomst is closed and will be moved to Koedoeskop Nature Reserve instead.
Another beautiful day in Cradock as the three riders of Batch 1: Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson, set off early this morning. It became clear quite early on that these racing snakes had become puff adders as the pace was leisurely and they took every opportunity to stop along the way.
They popped in for coffee and rusks with David and Verity at the bottom of the Struishoek portage and not long after, stopped in at the local pub in Pearston for a quick drink to quench their thirst and avoid the worst heat of the day. They did eventually reach Gegun by late afternoon where they have settled in for the night. Who knows what tomorrow may bring..
Batch 2 is readying themselves for the departure from Cradock in the morning, the excitement is building as they prepare to set off on their adventure.
The Race to Cradock delivered some close racing for the top spots and plenty of adventure for those content with a more leisurely pace. After some initially hot and dry weather, the last few batches ended up braving a few thunderstorms and some mud on their way to the finish. Most of these riders have already made their way back home but for three hardy souls, chapter two of their adventure kicks off tomorrow - the Race to Willlowmore.
Starting with the 18km climb up the Swaershoek Pass, they will have little time to ease their way into it but having had a full day’s rest in Cradock, Jacques Tattersall, Leon Erasmus and Gavin Robinson will leave with relatively fresh legs. The riders head south into game farming country as the route makes its way towards Addo Elephant National Park and the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, before turning west on the final leg to Willowmore.
The four batches leaving Cradock over the next four days will be the pioneers of this inaugural event - they can look forward to more heat and probably more rain but the varied terrain on this section of the trail, as well as the warm hospitality of the hosts should make up for it. We wish them well.