2300km, but where to start?

As you can imagine, a 19day epic generates a fair amount of copy.

You can go right to the beginning of the whole ordeal, or the startline/day 1.

I'm looking at moving from a general ride report to a more up to date what's happening site. Yes, Freedom Challenge doesn't just finish in Paarl! When i get round to it, there'll be a PDF of the 19days reports.

Send some feedback (I'm aware that the whole layout is just, well kinda rubbish!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 8

Just because a habit is hard to kick all were up bright and early and I pulled myself out of bed to join the chaingang once again. I'd steal a few extra minutes under the cosy duvet, using my (very necessary) achilles tendon stretches as a ruse. I hated the early mornings, and this was one of the dreariest. There was a bit of a new section and some riding across farm fields. Once again the mercury dipped into the negative and my brakes froze up, and to compound things we had a bit of a difference over what constituted a westerly track. Things got a bit heated (phew) and its a good thing no one listened to me, because I was wrong.sunrise, riders at bottom of photo

I quickly realised that my legs would not be joining the party today and I felt tired keeping up, so I hung back with the farmers when the group split after about two hours. We'd definitely moved into easier terrain, as the odometer rolled on with less effort and the hills just all crested with less sweat. We even got onto some tar (for 10 points - anyone know where the N6 goes?) for a brief while. The first group were just leaving as we arrived at the lunchstop, and we got treated to excellent soup for the umpteenth time. We also heard about Tim battling to find it in the dark, more reason to stay in bed when the sun goes down.
puddles still frozen

Fueled up the next spot was the Stormberg loop, an Anglo-Boer war battle site. The rest of the guys elected to give it a skip and shoot straight through to Molteno and visit the pharmacy, I took the green route turnoff alone (buoyed by passing a herd of Eland, the adopted animal/mascot for the route). Seems my luck ran dry pretty soon after that. I hadn't gone too far when my rear wheel made this terrible puncture noise of air escaping. Normally one spin of the wheel and Manny's does the magic quick fix. I spun in vain as only air came out till it went as flat as my spirits. I had just filled the tyre the previous night (a precaution I had planned to do twice during the trip). The worst thing you can do to a tubeless tyre is break the seal, but there was no other option.

The tyre was indeed bonedry, but all the sealant had seeped in a cricc-cross pattern following the threads of the tyre. I'd clearly ridden too far on a totally pap tyre and the entire sidewall had deteriorated. Unequivocally my own fault, and my risky decision not to carry a spare tyre was now biting me hard. Crisis management is an important skill in this game, as its very easy to lose the plot when the world is conspiring against you and the spirits are low. My best option was to pull out the cellphone. Not to call mom and cry, but I had loaded some music onto a memory card and it was time to play the blues. Delta blue to be exact, Oreo cookies if you know what I mean. Tube went in and we were 'On the Road again'. Now you have to realise I was now riding a scratchy path in the karoo with a tube and no tyre liners. So not even five minutes later I have another puncture to deal with. I switched tubes, but decided not to mess around further on this scratchy section and get to Molteno the easy way. This was off the race route, but I had to try get there during daytime to see the mechanic too and try see if we can get the shifter working. I might incur a time penalty, but the repair was more important to me.
the hub of Molteno

Well my route into Molteno was quite quick - maybe because I was chasing time, but probably because it went through the township. Big bummer was that the mechanic was not available and I'd have to try sort it out myself. Consolation was a pie and coke, hadn't seen a cafe for a very long time! The first group rolled into town just as I had finally worked out the right road out (took three attempts), luckily they had picked up some info about the accommodation from some tannie they bumped into and it was very different to the map. Of course I punctured again on leaving town and they went off ahead whilst I pulled out some tunes and threw Stu's spare tube in my tyre.
where's the time machine?

sunset and still on the saddle

Every now and then the support stations really kick ass. Romansfontein was one of the best. Will and Steph looked after us like kings, food was awesome, laundry was done and we had a real garage with tools to play with bikes. Will has done the Epic before, so knows his bikes. One of his friends Rudi de Wet happens to be a leading sports doctor and gave us a free consulation. So bike and body got fixed. We opened up the shifter and a whole chunk of plastic had cracked off. In a brilliant boer maak 'n plan involving drills and chicken wire (and a real boer), we got it working with 6 gears, which was a huge improvement. I also got a new tyre that was waiting for summer, to replace my deteriorated Larrsen TT. The Kenda Karma is a little bit lightweight, but with the use of the farm compressor I could go tubeless again.

the sneaky fix
The doc was another story, looks like an overuse injury to the achilles. Combination of so much walking in cycling shoes and long days in the saddle. Not going to stop the ride, but would have to be managed with anti inflammatories and some setup adjustments to reduce the load on the achilles. Once in cape town it's time to head to physio and start the recovery.

Stormfontein to Romansfontein – ~2000m
139 km, 13 hours door to door.

No comments: