Epilogue – The After Life (day 1)
It’s a Sunday morning. Feeling decidedly strong considering yesterday afternoon was spent enjoying good wine and music in the fairest Cape. The mental anguish and physical demands of the Freedom Challenge remain vivid experiences with daily events and thoughts triggering flashbacks.
Memories, while becoming tempered with time are still tangible.
I have given up trying convey the process, the vistas, the rewards and the all encompassing drive that consumed me for three weeks on the Freedom Challenge. People seem surprised when I have no answer to the inevitable question as to what is to be my next big challenge. The Race Across South Africa was initially one of the many physically demanding activities on the ever growing list of challenges to pit my body and mind against Mother Nature. Somewhere in the Karoo the Freedom Challenge elevated itself to another category.
Having been at the start (Pietermaritzburg Town Hall) for the preceding five days to see the cyclists off and follow them on the road out of the city, a sedate and organised start would have been a fair expectation for us. Alas it was not to be. Halfway to the start all my maps (for the days navigation) decided that flying off the navigation board on my handle bars and scattering on the road would be a good start. Hence the Town Hall start was a rushed affair with the clock strikes ending long before we were ready to set off.
Minerva Station was the first soup stop.
Here the Johann & Peter Show (the Race Office’s less than complimentary name for us) received the first dressing down via one of the guardians who was supporting the people doing the Ride2Rodes. The Race Office had been unable to track us since the start. Due to our perceived level of disorganisation (it is a word) the failure of our tracker to make a debut in the Ethernet was concerning to all except us who were oblivious. We had real issues. Like not over heating and orientating maps.
The Minerva Station is the largest engine museum in South Africa. Minerva Station The bowl of soup and bread provided much necessary nourishment.
Next was the Mighty Umko river. The Umkomaas river was crossed at Hela Hela after which we followed a rather tortuous route out the valley towards the watershed between the catchment areas of the Umkomaas and Umzimkulu rivers.
Day One was completed. 100km in 12hours. The first of many days that would see us depart before sunrise and arrive at our destination after dark. A unique three week affair with the sun had begun. She was to be courted, chased, charmed and often cursed but forever sought after.