With Jacques (Batch 7) being the first finisher home today, the rest of the field still have some work to do to earn their blankets - it was a wet day out on the trail if you were riding anywhere near the finish but further back, the weather seems to be holding, at least for now.
Gary (Batch 7) left Bucklands this morning but struggled to find his way through Tretyre farm and ended up wasting time in the dark. He eventually came right and made it through to Hadley where he stopped to regroup - tomorrow he’ll head to Cambria. Tim and Didi (Batch 5) had ambitions to get through the Osseberg today and and push on to Dam se Drif. They left Bucklands really early this morning but underestimated things and ended up having to settle for beds at Kudu Kaya tonight instead.
Graham, Estelle (Batch 3), Kobus, Pierre, Leonard (Batch 6), Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) all left from Cambria this morning and surprisingly, the whole lot decided to push on to Willowmore after the customary lunch stop at Dam se Drif. Its a long double day and they will all be there later this evening.
Mark, Sean (Batch 5) and Wikus (Batch 3) stopped at Dam se Drif yesterday after most of their batch moved on to Willowmore - today they did the same, another recovery day for them.
Leaving from Willowmore this morning were Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3), Nigel (Batch 5) Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7) - leaving at different times, they had all regrouped by the time they stopped to refuel at Rondawel, then pushed on to Prince Albert for tonight. Unfortunately Mandy took a tumble on the way and injured a finger, for which she is receiving medical treatment. 
Chris and Mark (batch 3), Andrew W (Batch 2), Lance and Bruce (Batch 4) all rode through from Prince Albert this morning to Gamkaskloof. Only Chris and Mark pushed on though, arriving at Rouxpos well after dark, a long double day for them.
Up ahead at Anysberg tonight are Scott (Batch 7) and Grant (Batch 4) - they slept in the freezing cold Gamkaskloof last night are rapidly making their way to the finish with consecutive double stages over the last few days.
Tim J (Batch 7) left Rouxpos early this morning after a late arrival there last night - he rode through Anysberg, then Montagu and is currently at McGregor this evening. 
Andrew B and Rowan (Batch 6) started their day at Anysberg this morning and rode through Montagu and McGregor on their way to Trouthaven for the night, where they should arrive later this evening. Tommorrow a rather wet Stettynskloof still stands between them and the finish. 
Mike (Batch 7) has spent most of today making his way steadily up the same rather wet Stettynskloof - the persistent rains during last night and again today have not made it easy but he is determined to finish tonight and is expected at Diemersfontein later this evening. 

After leaving Trouthaven yesterday on his way to Stettynskloof, Jacques was aiming to get to Diemersfontein some time last night - but things didn’t quite go according to plan. Although he made it nearly all the way up the kloof before dark in the heavy rain, he ran into thick mist as he exited the kloof and struggled to pick up the scratchy jeep track after the exit. He eventually found a path and made his way to the nearby hiker’s hut to take shelter from the cold and wet. Fortunately there was an open door and a blanket inside, so he was able to get survive the rest of the night. At first light he got going again and knocked on the farm manager’s door for some tea to revive himself. From then on it was relatively straightforward and he finally rolled over the finish line at 09h40 after a long, cold and wet last stage of his RASA. His winning time of 12d3h40m gives him the 8th best finishing time overall - well done Jacques.




As the weather deteriorates with rain falling on the last few stages, the riders at the back of the field are still enjoying a few more days of dry conditions and hope that by the time they reach Stettynskloof, things will have dried out a bit.
At Bucklands tonight are Gary (Batch 7), Tim and Didi (Batch 5). They all rode through from Toekomst today, although Gary left earlier than the others and had some time do do bike admin at Bucklands this afternoon.
With his son Matt withdrawing at Hadley, Graham (Batch 3) joined Estelle (Batch 3), Kobus, Pierre and Leonard (Batch 6) and Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) for the trip through the Osseberg today. They were wise to get an early start and all managed to get through the multiple rivers crossings and thick bush  well before dark. Tomorrow an easier trip down the Baviaanskloof awaits them.
The group making the trip up the Baviaanskloof today consisted of Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7), Nigel, Mark and Sean (Batch 5) and Wikus (Batch 3). There was talk of pushing on to Willowmore but in the end it was only Nigel, Charl and Ingrid that did, with the others staying at Dam se Drif for the night.
Leaving Dam se Drif this morning were Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3) - they had an easy day to Willowmore, stopping to take many photos along the way. A good rest there this afternoon sets them up nicely for the long stage to Prince Albert tomorrow.
The riders who made it to Willowmore last night all managed to get going early: Chris, Mark (batch 3), Andrew W (Batch 2), Lance, Bruce, Grant (Batch 4) and Scott (Batch 7) all set off for Prince Albert in the early hours, with a lunch stop at Rondawel along the way. Scott and Grant decided to push on from there and are currently heading to a very cold Gamkaskloof for the night. At least its not raining there yet. The rest succumbed to the warm hospitality at Dennehof Guest House and settled in for the night.
Tim J (Batch 7) left Rondawel early this morning, driving in Prince Albert for a late breakfast. He then went on to Gamkaskloof, where he had a late lunch, before heading for The Ladder and ultimately Rouxpos for the night.
Just ahead of him are Andrew B and Rowan, who left Prince Albert very early this morning and had passed through Gamkaskloof by mid morning. They went on to Rouxpos for their afternoon waffles and are currently on their way to Anysberg for the night.
Leaving Anysberg early this morning was Mike (Batch 7) - he stopped for breakfast in Montagu and brunch in McGregor, before heading out into light rain on his way to Trouthaven. The rain got steadily heavier through the afternoon and has slowed his progress somewhat but he should arrive at Trouthaven later tonight.
And then there is Jacques (Batch 7), who this morning left McGregor after a short sleep and rode through to Trouthaven. After a quick refuel there he headed off to Stettynskloof around lunchtime - despite the rain falling, he had managed to get deep into the kloof before dark and is currently still on his way to the finish at Diemersfontein, where he will finish tonight.

With temperatures dipping slightly today across most of the trail and the forecasts predicting a further drop in the days to come, things could soon become a bit more challenging for the riders out there. There’s wet weather on the way over the weekend and also next week which will catch most of the field as they head into the Western Cape, with only the front runners likely to escape it. For those at the back of the field, this is a distant concern though, as back in the Eastern Cape, conditions are still dry.  


Today saw Tim and Didi (Batch 5) leaving really early from Jakkalsfontein and getting all the way to Toekomst, a good day out for them. There they bumped into Gary (Batch 7) again, who had ridden through from Gegun today, a slightly shorter day after yesterday’s long haul from Newlands.


The big group that left Toekomst this morning, Kobus, Pierre and Leonard (Batch 6) with Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) were initially aiming for Bucklands for tonight but decided to push on to Hadley. The Inn was already full though, so after supper at the Hadley farmhouse, they still had to cycle another 8km to the cottage at the Grootrivier which is used for just such occasions. At least it puts them a bit closer to the Osseberg when they get going in the morning again.


The reason Hadley was already full was because Estelle (Batch 3) had booked a spot there after riding through from Kleinpoort as well as the Denny’s, Graham and Matt (Batch 3) who had initially stopped in there for coffee this morning on their way to the Osseberg. Soon after leaving though, Matt unfortunately took a tumble on his way down to the Grootrivier crossing which left him with a badly injured shoulder. They then made their way back to Hadley to assess the damage and possibly rest up and try again tomorrow but on advice from a doctor, Matt has had to withdraw with a separated AC joint injury which will require medical attention. He is really disappointed and sad not to be going on with his father Graham tomorrow but will make make his way to the finish at Diemersfontein to see his father finish.


Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7) left Bucklands this morning and made it through to Cambria without too much fuss. Joining them in the Osseberg today were also Nigel, Mark and Sean (Batch 5) and Wikus (Batch 3)


A large group of riders left Kudu Kaya at Cambria this morning with the 6am shuttle through the Baviaanskloof - Chris, Mark, Mandy, Sarah (Batch 3), Lance, Bruce, Grant (Batch 4) and Scott (Batch 7) spread themselves out during the morning on their way to Dam se Drif. Mandy and Sarah decided to stay at Dam se Drif while the boys all pushed on to Willowmore, all arriving after dark but still in time for supper - a long double up for them. There they caught up with Andrew W (Batch 2) who had ridden though from Dam se Drif - he will be happy to have some company out on the trail tomorrow.


Tim J (Batch 7) started his day at Dam se Drif, passed through Willowmore for breakfast and a short sleep on his way to supper and another sleep at Rondawel tonight. Hhe will be aiming for breakfast in Prince Albert before heading off to Gamkaskloof.


Staying in Prince Albert tonight are Andrew B and Rowan (Batch 6). They are finally reunited after splitting up at Gegun. Andrew had a relatively short day which started at Rondawel, while Rowan came through from Willowmore. Sunrise on the Swartberg Pass for them tomorrow and they will likely be aiming for Rouxpos.


Mike W (Batch 7) slept in Gamkaskloof last night after a late arrival in miserable conditions. He passed through Rouxpos this afternoon and is on his way to Anysberg for tonight. 


After a long, cold day yesterday, which ended at Anysberg, Jacques (Batch 7) made it to Montagu by mid afternoon and grabbed an hour snooze there before heading on to McGregor for the night. A few hours sleep there and he will be on his way to Trouthaven and Stettynskloof, the final hurdle before the finish at Diemersfontein, where he is expected to finish tomorrow evening.






With the sweepers at Jakkalsfontein near Cradock and the leader at Rouxpos near Laingsburg tonight, the riders are strung out across the widest spread of the trail so far. Her’s how the day played out:
After a big day yesterday, Tim and Didi (Batch 5) enjoyed a shorter day from Newlands to Jakkalsfontein today to recover.
Gary (Batch 7) also left Newlands this morning but after a quick lunch at Jakkalsfontein, he continued. Unfortunately he turned off too early on the way to Grootvlakte and went walkabout in the hills, wasting precious daylight but he managed to self correct in time to get over the tricky Struishoek portage in fading light. He is aiming for Gegun tonight.
A big day too for Kobus, Pierre and Leonard (Batch 6) with Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) - they left Jakkalsfontein early this morning and after a late lunch at Gegun, continued to Toekomst for the night, arriving just after dark.
Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7) both made it to Gegun last night. Ingrid left early and in the dark she started heading back towards Pearston. She eventually realised her mistake and corrected just before sunrise. A long day out for her and she is still making her way to Bucklands for the night. Charl left Gegun a bit later and passed through Toekomst on his way to Kleinpoort and then on to Bucklands, where he is due later this evening.
Estelle (Batch 3) took a slightly shorter day today and stopped at Kleinpoort for the night. Matt and Graham (Batch 3) had to wait at Toekomst this morning for bike repairs and to serve out the remainder of Matt’s time penalty for a new wheel and pedals but once they got going, they had a great day out on their way to Bucklands, where they arrived under a full moon. At least the bike troubles are now behind them. Wikus (Batch 3) also rode through from Toekomst to Bucklands today, arriving with daylight to spare.. first one there gets to choose the best bed. The other riders coming from Toekomst were Nigel, Mark and Sean (Batch 5) but they decided to push on to Hadley in order to shorten tomorrow’s stage to Cambria. 
A busy day in the Osseberg with Chris, Mark, Mandy, Sarah (Batch 3), Lance, Bruce, Grant (Batch 4) and Scott (Batch 7) all going through today. Chris, Mark and Lance started from Hadley, while the rest started from Bucklands. Mandy and Sarah  got a bit oft behind but still managed to get over the last river crossing before dark, a great effort from the ladies.
Leaving from Cambria this morning were Tim J (Batch 7), Rowan (Batch 6) and Andrew W (Batch 2) - the first two at 6am and Andrew going on the later shuttle at 1pm after receiving further treatment for his saddle sores this morning. Tim stopped to rest at Dam se Drif but Rowan made it to Willowmore for the night.
Dam se Drif hosted Andrew B (Batch 6), Graham and Sarah (Batch 1) last night. Andrew had a late start but passed through Willowmore this afternoon on his way to Rondawel for the night.  Unfortunately Graham and Sarah had to withdraw and cycled out to Uniondale to get a lift home.
Out front are Mike and Jacques (Batch 7), still playing cat and mouse with each other on the way to the finish. Mike left Willowmore early this morning and had a tough day riding into wind and drizzle on the way to Rondawel. He arrived for supper in Prince Albert and is now pushing on to Gamkaskloof. Jacques left Prince Albert and passed through a cold and wet Gamkaskloof onnhis way to The Ladder. Soon after summiting this tough portage he got back on his bike to discover that his rear shock had lost al its air pressure, so he limped on from there in the hopes of finding a compressor at Rouxpos. Depending on the delay to sort this out, he may opt to sleep over but a quick fix might prompt him to keep going to Anysberg for the night. 

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