Today was the day of punctures.
But before I write about the day’s cycling events, I need to thank Louis Shaer and his family, Grant Smith and the other old Queenians who so graciously hosted us for a braai at their home in Zastron last night. It was an evening of catching up with old friends for some of our cyclists, as well as good food and many laughs. Owen had us in stitches with his predictions of what the night may hold at the dodgy hotel he and some of the team were staying at.
Before we even left Mountain View Chalets we had to fix two punctures: one on Toni’s bike and one on Bruce’s. Then Clinton awarded the Pfizer Cap of the Day to Toni, for perseverance, gritting her teeth, keeping calm and just pedaling on.
Then we were off, carrying our bikes down the sandy, gravelly road to where it joined the tar. But I suddenly realised I was still wearing my takkies so I had to hail the support vehicle which was carrying my bag and do a quick swop. Major blonde moment.
Slightly further down the road Rodger realised he was wearing his Life Healthcare shirt instead of the Build It one, like the rest of us. So I didn’t feel too bad.
So then we were really off. And what an amazing day on the road. We started with a bit of wind which picked up during the day but fortunately it was mostly at our back or coming from the side. Granted, speeding downhill with a fierce crosswind was a bit hair raising, but exhilarating nonetheless.
Ryan had a blowout on one of the downhills but fortunately managed to bring his bike to a stop without mishap.
We were really fast, making it to our first 25km rest stop in well under an hour. We had a real stop (read: for tea, coffee, rusks and fruit cake) in Rouxville. Here we all posed for photos with the Chevrolet UTE Force bakkies and banners. It has been fabulous having these vehicles as support. They have been driven uncomplainingly by Louis and Richard, our two man video and edit team. From tomorrow we will have one more support driver so that Louis and Richard can film to their hearts’ content without having to worry about us.
The last 35km to Aliwal North were gloriously fast. Our speedy downhill towards the old iron bridge was slowed somewhat by some really vicious rumble strips. This was where Bruce picked up another puncture and Brendan complained vociferously about the impact on his bum.
After photos for sponsors at the Build It hardware store and GM dealership (Dampier Motors) we had lunch at Conville B&B, a stately 105 year old Herbert Baker designed home, and home for some of us tonight.
We are now relaxing for the afternoon. I am sitting on the lawn overlooking the duck pond and mountains beyond. Bliss!
Tonight we dine at the Spur and tomorrow it’s an earlier start to tackle the 100km climb to Penhoek Pass.