In a race such as the RASA, it is somewhat more difficult to measure the half way mark than is the case in a tar road race such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour. There are places on this race where vehicles can’t go and bikes get carried, making measuring with a normal odometer something of an inexact science. And then of course there is the issue of the inexact science of navigation with maps and narratives, so riders probably all cover different distances, and the rider who navigated perfectly along the race route probably doesn’t exist.
But we do have a rough idea of the distance. Although we traditionally bandy the 2,300km route distance around, this is perhaps a little outdated, with certain sections having been cut out due to access issues. Today, the route is a little shorter, at just under 2,200km, or 2,192 to be specific based on best estimates. This means that 1,096 kms would signal the halfway mark of the race. This point would be about 24 kms after Grootdam overnight support station (overnight support station number 12).
Currently, race leader Andrew Barnes is nearing the 800km mark on his way to Romansfontein this afternoon, so he could be expected to reach the half way mark by Tuesday probably.
However, in terms of effort, the halfway point may be a little nearer for the lead riders, if one uses cumulative ascent as a better indicator of this. The reality is that the climbing is more extreme in the 1st part of the race on the Maritzburg-Rhodes section, with somewhere between the top of Lehanas Pass and Naudesnek Pass being the highest part of the race. Based on last year’s winner Graham Bird’s “planning sheet”, the total estimated cumulative ascent for the whole race was 34,865m. Halfway in terms of cumulative ascent would thus be about 17,432m. By Romansfontein this afternoon, Barnes and Tim James would have climbed an estimated 16,770m, and somewhere just the other side of Romansfontein on the way to Hofmeyr they will reach the halfway mark in terms of climbing, well before Grootdam.
In terms of time, too, the effective halfway mark for many riders would probably be before the distance halfway mark. In 2012, during his record attempt, Martin Dreyer reached Grootdam support station, in 5 days and 11 hours, on the way to his record 10 day 16 hours and 40 minutes. And even though he slept only around 3 hours per night, and must have been exhausted and way past his best by the 2nd half of the race, he was still able to speed up mildly to do the 2nd half of the race faster than the 1st. The 2nd half of the race generally seems to be a faster section.
by John Loos (blanket/whip)