Its been a long day out on the trail for the race office, starting in Prince Albert, then Anysberg, then Diemersfontein, then Montagu and finally back to Diemersfontein. Sorting out trackers and spares for riders has kept us on the hop - but what about the riders? The first riders home this year arrived at Diemersfontein this afternoon: Anton Wood and Gert Peens were welcomed home by a crowd of friends and family and were in a cheerful mood, despite the hard day up Stettynskloof. Reports are that the kloof is bushy and hard work, so riders may be looking at alternative lines to avoid the worst areas. Either way, they made good time today after an early start and arrived just after 4pm. For Anton its blanket number two and for Gert, his first. Their finishing time was 18d 10h 15min - a solid ride.
Trouthaven sits at the mouth of the valley leading up to Stettynskloof and tonight Jacques Tattersall sleeps there after and slightly shorter ride through from McGregor today. He will start up the kloof early tomorrow and is also expected at Diemersfontein by late afternoon.
Montagu was the scene of much activity tonight, with tracker swops and bike repairs on the go. Dinner was also on the go and Stu Brew, Ant Jankovic-Bessan, Mike Ward and Gary Green were tucking in after a long ride from Rouxpos today. Also there briefly were Theo van Dyk and Tim James, who ate and then dashed off into the night, heading for Good Hope. The trio became a duo earlier when Fjord Jordaan’s free hub packed up - he managed to keep things going by making it a fixie and that’s how he came down Ouberg Pass into Montagu. With Theo and Tim already having left, Fjord opted to stay and join the other group for the final two days to Diemersfontein.
Andrew Barnes left Prince Albert early this morning together with Andrew Hunt. On the other side of Gamkaskloof, it was Barnes who emerged solo, as Hunt had suffered a mechanical, a broken rear derailleur, and had to resort to a single speed patch job to continue, getting him as far as Rouxpos. Barnes went on to Anysberg and seems to have foud a bed there for tonight.
Also at Rouxpos tonight is a large group: Lee Fuller, Dave Telford, Gary Preston, Liehann Loots and Beat Jegerlehner and Maarten Witters. They were later joined by Ian Verwayen, Alan Haupt, Paul Dalton and Johann Rissik - a tough double under their belts.
Mike and Ingrid Talbot once again have a support station to themselves tonight, this time Dennehof in Prince Albert. They cruised through from Willowmore and will head up Swartberg Pass in the morning.
In Willowmore we have Andrew Blackburn, Nic Jordan and Mike Potgieter. Also there are Mike Roy and John Bowen, who arrived a bit latter, as well as the Marnitz Nienaber and Ivor Jones. They will all be heading across the flats tomorrow to Prince Albert, hoping the wind will be kind. Mike Glover and John Exley find themselves at Cambria tonight. After dispatching with the Osseberg without too mush fuss, they will now try the double to Willowmore in the morning.
The adventures of Pierre Oosthuizen sadly came to and end today when he decided to withdraw after arriving at Cambria this afternoon. He spent yet another night out after getting lost, taking a tumble, ending up in the river and soaking all his equipment. He strained his back in a fall a few days ago and this only aggravated it. He’s had an amazing ride and showed some plucky determination at times in trying to stay ahead of cut offs and has certainly kept his friends and family entertained.
Bringing up the rear are Mike Devereux and Nico van Zyl, who sleep at Bucklands tonight. Mike must serve the required 3h time penalty in the morning for having a new rear wheel brought in but he’s more than happy now that he’s rolling again and after Cambria, the two intend to start pushing a bit to make up for lost time.
As the Diemersfontein gates open for 2015 and the riders start arriving at the finish, we look forward to a week of blankets, pizza, wine and celebrations.