With the Race to Rhodes riders finished and back at home, we turn our attention squarely to the remaining RASA riders who continue their journey onwards from Rhodes towards their finishing line at Diemersfontein in Wellington.
Let’s start at the back of the field where Jacques Tatersall has ridden a big day from Masakala through Malekholoyane past Tinana and onward to Vuvu. It’s tough being in his position, where the energy of the event has moved down the trail, and, it says a huge amount about his mental toughness and tenacity to be riding with such determination, notwithstanding his previously reported injuries. If not for this year’s race, then Jacques is putting in some big deposits in the bank, for years to come.
Staying at a wet, cold, and windy Vuvu tonight, are the three musketeers: Neville, Clint and Gerald, they, along with Caren and Tony, have had a good day’s riding, to be able to exit the Vuvu Valley before dark without any drama. They need to do the same tomorrow, so hopefully the weather plays along.
It’s been interesting watching Vaughn and Leon, they have hardly put a foot wrong as first timers on the trail, safe to say Gary Scoular owes them at least one beer for saving him from a long cold night on Black Fountain last night! On their way up and out of the Vuvu valley earlier today, they overshot the route, which resulted in some unnecessary trekking, until they finally met the dirt road and rode on through to Vuvu. Thankfully, the race director deemed them to have completed the traverse of the Valley, and no time penalty was added, so they ‘upped and offed’ to Rhodes – but things didn’t quite go according to plan, soon after the start of Lehanas, Vaughn phoned in to say he wasn’t well and was withdrawing. He made his way back to Vuvu where he will be collected tomorrow. So Leon, Werner and Gary continued, arriving at Tenahead just before 8pm - and decided to stay - yes they checked in for the night and will come down to Rhodes in the morning.
The trio of Tim Deane, Theo van Dyk and Bruce Hughes have had their foot flat on the pedal and got to Rhodes in time for dinner, which is early for them to be stopped, so it could be this is a pause and refresh with some night moves on the cards..
Leaving Rhodes for Slaapkrantz today were Ann Harrison, Brad vd Westhuizen and Grant Cowen – they seem to have made it comfortably and have settled into a good rhythm. They were surprised to find Hugh (chest infection) and Patricia (a fall) still at Slaapkrantz and probably saddened by the news that both are withdrawing from the race. It seems Scott Rutherfoord has also settled down in Slaapkrantz for the night, after having locked onto the train of Mike Woolnough and Tim James for most of the day. Having been pounded by heavy rain on the Kappokkraal portage, they sought shelter in a shed before continuing later to Slaapkranz. Mike and Scott stayed but Tim, hightailed it out of Slaapkrantz and off into the night for some solo portage time – let’s see what moves Mike makes next…
Stephen Kellerman had a late start out of Rhodes and got to Chesneywold at 7pm, after being caught in the rain for the last two hours of the ride. At least he can settle in for some of Minki’s excellent cooking. He was passed earlier this afternoon by the very steady Liehann Loots - who now no longer enjoys underdog status, but rather prefers to ride alone. It’s going to be a big move for Liehann to tackle the portages through to Slaapkrantz, alone in the dark! If he does indeed do this, he will very clearly be putting down his marker for the other race contenders.
Pierre Oosthuizen unhitched from his group of the last couple of days, after he took a fall and twisted his ankle. He settled in at Moordenaarspoort to recover. The other three, namely Greg Perret, Hagues Clauser and Richard Cole continued to through to Kranskop. Fanus Vorster seemed to have a solid day riding alone, this will do his confidence a huge amount of good, and the fact that the navigation is no longer as tricky, seems to be benefitting his progress. He’s holed up at the interim stop of Brostelea for the night.
The lure of the pie shop in Hofmeyer today, saw Gerrit van der Merwe, Willie Esterhuizen, Chris Morris and Hayden Green comfortably make Elandsberg before dark, another strong ride by this quartet.
The race remains interestingly poised, the wet weather is becoming a factor and its hard to say at this stage if that will suit anyone in particular. It looks like those intent on breaking the proverbial elastic are going to have to do so by riding late into the night – Tim James may just have begun the fun and games.
By Charl van der Spuy