Monday, January 26, 2009

Life at the edge

Just as the new year brings challenges that seem insurmountable, thank your lucky stars/planets /angels etc. that you aren't a teacher...................Imagine having to face this kind of monster every day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To Hell with the Full Moon

So it happened. The Inaugural Running of the Ultra-Extreme 3-day International Gamkaskloof Raid, aka Prince Alert Dikwiel Kommando

Congratulations to those who took part, commiserations to Willie Onderarm and Malcolm on their dns. You had nothing to lose by joining us as Jan Nel was going to whip our collective rears anyway. Full Stop. You see, Jan is an old racing snake, and wears a seriously retro piss-pot helmet to make you think he just a fashionista. Truth is, he rides like a demon and he had the helmet when it was new.

It's not often things go according to plan, even less often do they go according to dreams, but this weekend was Ed Zachary as I had dreamt it. I mean, who else can get DWAF to let water out of a critically low dam so that cyclists can have a swim?

The group was pretty relaxed and as gracious host, I and a three other gracious riders let the visitors experience a route free of our tracks. In fact we were forced to stop and sleep in order to let them get further ahead. It was only my snoring that prevented us from giving them a 6 hour lead. Thanks to my snoring, we were awake when Jan Nel came riding back towards Prince Albert, which he reached in a total time of 8h05min. That makes Jan the official ambulance driver for the Dikwiel Kommando.

The lead group Fiona, Marius, Audrey, Di, Ricky and Steve Porter set off "down" into Gamkaskloof at a cracking pace. We knew there was much to savour and were wise enough not to waste such a golden opportunity.

Full marks to Bennett for smiling when, at one of the little hill-top stops, I suggested that he get out of the bright moonlight and into the shade. (The moon was so bright I instinctively went to sit in the shade). Bennett is one you can count on when the going gets tough. And on top of it all he has STYLE. Serious style. Who else do you know who can do a ride like this in pyjama pants AND has a fresh pair for the ride out? Style Man se moer, Style Kid Rules!

Unable to navigate without our local knowledge, the lead bunch folded and we were forced to escort them into the BOSKAMP (geddit? B .O. S. K. A. M. P.) at about 06h30 on Saturday morning. Monica, Pippa, Lisa and Harry had laid out things in anticipation of our arrival. What a pleasure. Thanks Monica for the support.

This Boskamp is a credit to Cape Nature Conservation. Clean, tidy, basic, but with hot showers, toilets and beds with mattresses, what more could a weary cyclist want? It wasn't long before the beds were filled with rows of "shot pigs" (A Danish term I learned in another life)

It wasn't long before I decided that defection was the better part of valour and left David Waddilove to escort Fiona up Die Leer. Being the spirited adventure racer that she is, Fiona easily found the big tree next to the ruin at the top of Seweweekspoort. Fi, it was pleasure to see you again after about 25 years.

Through the heat of the afternoon the tension mounted as Marius was attacked by an over-confident fieldmouse and Audrey slept through the dust storm. I eventually managed to wake enough people to make a formal swimming party, joined by a serious-looking Dave.
If you hear that some intrepid cyclists had to swim through a raging torrent to get back over the river, it's true. Just ask the two GP 4x4 drivers who witnessed us struggling our way across the flooded causeway. One of them was so worried he did u-turn and drove away. Probably just a renegade member of the Ventersdorp Dunwiel Teerpad Brigade.

After a massive pasta supper we set out at about 9pm. Not 500m on I had a sidewall puncture, which eventually led to me putting in a tube. Anyone who tells you that, in the highly unlikely event of a Stans failure, ALL you do is put in a tube, has obviously never done it. I have still not plucked up the courage to pull that back wheel apart. Sand, Stans, Sticky. My faith in Stans is undaunted- I just now fear the midnight, sand-road conversion from Stans to tube more than I fear the taxman.

On arrival at the Gamkaskloof Restaurant, I was greeted by the same loyal comrades of the inward expedition. David, Steven and the incredible Bennett.

We knew we had the route to ourselves as the last lights went over the top of Die Slang before we even started it!

Savouring every moment, every step, every pedal stroke, we wound our way back towards soft beds, warm showers, food, coffee........ and then we came round the corner and found another skyline to cross...., and another....and another...........

There were moments, many moments (in fact some of them were hours) of absolute bliss. You know all the kak about transcending the pain? Well it's true, we were out in our own zone. Moonlight and Mountains. A mixture of endorphins, exhaustion and sleep deprivation. That's my drug of choice.

We rolled into town at about 9H30 on Sunday morning, even having taken time to rescue a tortoise from the Onderste Skilpad Rooster. Sirrias.

Juan, the unflappable Juan, was met by some urgent demands for food and coffee. Lazy Lizard food is brilliant at the best of times, but after a ride like this, it's bliss.

There's not much more to say other than thank you to all of you for making this work the way it did.

  • Steve Porter One Speed, One Time, One Damn Good Idea.
  • Dave Waddilove Solid dependable cycling china
  • Jan Nel For showing us his talent
  • Steve Thomas The smile says it all
  • Di Thomas Watching you fly uphill makes me wonder if the "Windhoek, Hunters,Windhoek, Hunters diet would work for me?
  • Marius and Audrey Those Killer Lights - George ATC reported sightings of UFO over the Swartberg, we locals know it's just Die Oog.
  • Bennett Inspiring young man (in pyjamas)
  • Ricky Inspiring young man (in Lycra)
  • Fiona Following her dream