Memory of the day

…Flying downhill on the Horlosiekrans, dirt road and surrounds lit by the full moon, road gradient, camber and surface quality all combined made the descent a surreal experience…

Each day has one of those memories.
Today (Monday) started off in a more disorganised fashion than usual. I slept through the 04:00 alarm clock (combination of a long day and nightly drenching sweats) – both which seem to be the norm.

Realising at 07:10 that your day is going to be at least three hours late is not ideal when planning on two sessions, an eight and seven hour session. So we saw the sun rise over the guest house in Prince Albert rather than the planned sunrise at the highest point of the Swartberg Pass. The latter we appreciated in the full day sun. The Swartberg pass is a well engineered gravel road comprising of endless switchbacks and a scattering of side ‘dry’ walls (ie. Stone dry walling). For the eventuality that the memories of mud had begun to fade, a road works tanker had sprayed the surface with water in order to ensure we would feel at home with mud caking the bikes.

From there it was into the Gamkaskloof (World Heritage Site). We had a brief stop in the valley for lunch – at a kiosk called Devils Kitchen probably named as it was situated in an area called ‘The Hell’.

From there we were to climb out of the valley via a route called ‘The Ladder’. Now it is not a conventional ladder but then a bike and a 12kg backpack is not exactly conventional equipment for ascending a ladder. History lesson for the day: apparently this rocky pathway dates back to the Anglo Boer War and was the route Denys Reitz & his Kommando used. Now why they were carrying mountain bikes up there I don’t know. Soon after The Ladder was the Horlosiekrans section described above.

After arriving at Rouxpos – the support station for the evening, we were asked what the most memorable memory is of the race thus far. After much thought, my response to that question is rather convoluted and rhetorical: Each day has its own unique memory and my favourite one is the one I am going to experience next.


Peter O’Farrell
KZN, South Africa.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose” (Steve Jobs 1955-2011).

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