11 June - the daily wrap

Up front Batch 2 reached Rhodes today with what appeared to be a brisk portage up Lehanas by the bulk of the group, excluding Rory Field who took the seldom used Mcambalala/Philipsrust option. Snow is falling at Afriski and a dusting of Lehanas cannot be excluded. 

Batch 3 ably led by experienced Leon Kruger and his Team GALA are safely in at Vuva and would have by now tested the new luxury shower facilities.  Sergio/Fabio and Shaun have been slowed by mechanicals with Fabio’s bike,  which cost them time today. Arriving at Tinana late, they elected to push on. Normally that would be unwise, given the late hour but they went anyway. They then avoided the dreaded Vuvu valley by taking the road - this used to be an optional route choice but for the last few years already has been out of bounds, so normally they would be given a time penalty. In this case though they have come up short and have notified the race office that they are stopping to sleep at the police station on the way to Vuvu. Depending on their departure time in the morning, they may still have to sit out a time penalty at Vuvu in the morning as they must wait until 10am before going on to Rhodes. If they leave early, they will have to wait in Vuvu until 10am but if they only arrive in Vuvu after 10am, the penalty will fall away.

Batch 4 into Malekholonyane

The group from Masakala all enjoyed the easier ride today and other than a glitch here and there across the Knira flood plains that were masterfully corrected, made good time and no doubt enjoyed the extra rest. Niel/Francois caused some entertainment by missing the tricky Mpharane turnoff and were heading  for the Kingdom of Lesotho before they fortunately realized the error and neatly made their way back to Gladstone Farm. It appears the Mariazell Mission late afternoon cool down ride has now become standard practice to enable a slightly simpler and earlier exit in the morning - all of which helps in getting to the Vuvu valley with enough daylight.

Batch 5

John seems to have a new found riding companion in Gert Peens and they again rode very well into Masakala today with Anton, Tony and Fatbike Maarten not far behind. Comeback Kid Tracey Lentin and John were doing great and tracking near the old house just after Shenxa village - they came a bit unstuck here in the wattle trees and needed a few calls to the nav office to get them back on track. They are expected at Masakala by 11pm tonight. After her rough 2014 ride she has been solid this year but with a fair bit of night riding in the last few days, and will no doubt be looking forward to the easier day tomorrow.

Batch 6

After a super effort yesterday, Arno and Eddie, slept at Centacow perhaps aiming for a push through to Masakala. It does however appear that they may have got tricked by the myriad tyre tracks leading into Politique and lost some valuable  time correcting a navigation error. They have to settle for Glen Edward stop tonight sharing the fireplace with the bearded legends, Stephen and Pierre. The rest of their group crossed the Ntsikeni fence and they will be delighted to be in time to hear one or even two of Mr Ncgobo’s famous stories.

Neville Higgs was good for some entertainment value for the desktop jockeys today with seldom seen manoeuvres. First he did a zig and a zag around the Donnybrook forrest, then he drew a  beautiful lizard head into Centacow and finally a fish hook manoeuvre into Boshelweni  forrest. Masterful. But seriously, he pulled himself together later in the afternoon and got to Ntsikeni without any further excitement - a relief for him.

Batch 7 today

Today’s start batch has been rock solid with hardly a navigation twitch and they set a fast pace into Minerva for a very early soup stop. They all reached Allendale with light to spare but it appears they have been seduced by Allendale koeksisters and toasted sarmies. Des and Dane followed through on their race plan and pushed on to Centocow, arriving at Centacow at 21h05 - surviving 2 hours of drizzle and a close encounter with a massive porcupine.

The story of the day/night undoubtedly belongs to the proudly bearded pairing of single speed Pierre and his latest best friend Steven Kellerman. (Described by Mr Ngobo at Ntsikeni as "Steve and Pierre, the look-like Sangoma men") They are both eccentric in a beautiful way and those observing would pay big money to see and hear the dynamics as these two larger than life individuals are fast turning themselves into FC legends. SS Pierre has now taken 4 days to complete 2 ½ days of the route but he appears less than bothered and this super attitude is what will probably result in a most memorable experience for both as well as their fast growing group of admirers and supporters.

 

Todays report from Whip Bearer/Windmill Keeper Carl Scholtz