Heidelberg to Frankfort 143 kms of tough.
There is no other way to describe our first day – it was tough.
Out of Heidelberg we had a cold gusting wind sniping at us from the left for about 40 kms then some reprieve for 20 kms with a wind from behind which pushed us along at a giddy speed. Little did we know what lay ahead. For the next 80 kms we rode into a head wind of indescribable proportions. Perhaps the worst was the short stretch over the bridge crossing the Vaal just after Oranjeville even though the road was newly built and very nice to ride on.
From then on it was head-down and tough it out territory and the team was AMAZING! You can take your hats off to them. The relief on arriving at our destination was emotional. All we wanted was hot showers, food and bed.
But it wasn’t all without our fair share of laughs!
Our day started with one our real veterans Rodger losing his helmet before we even left! We searched everywhere but no one thought of looking on top of the tyre of Ian Dorrington’s support vehicle. It seems that we will have to keep an eye on Rodger because the previous night he left his phone in the Queenstown rental car they were returning to Avis. And then there is his penchant for riding in the middle of the road which earned him a rebuke. People in the Free State don’t drive with cyclists in mind and so riding in the middle of the road is reserved only for those with a death wish.
Ryan Schnell holds the record for the most spills in one day. But that was under severe threat today from another Old Queenian, Setu Skepe, who gave it his best shot to unseat the spills king! His first spill was nothing to write home about, quite silly really, he mounted his bike and didn’t seem to realise you need forward momentum to remain upright and so he tumbled. His second effort was much more in the Schnell class. His wheel clipped Desmond’s backwheel and he took a real hard tumble. Perhaps that put him off any further attempts because he remained glued to his saddle until Frankfort after that.
Even the roadsigns conspired to let us know that the one thing we have no control over is the weather and as we turned towards Frankfort with 20 kms to go a roadside sign informed us that this was the road to Windfield! As though we didn’t know!
One of our most experienced extreme athletes, no names, no packdrill, mounted his Camelbak upside down and then surprise, surprise struggled to find the mouthpiece!
Our new Chief of Support did a fine job although he did put up with some abuse at the first stop when he seemed to be looking for everything. Once in the rhythm he was tops, He still has to learn to carry cyclists bags but we will get there!
We had two of the team attempting to look like ISIS bombers but one of them realised this did not only look silly – it is very difficult to drink out of a cycling bottle through your beautiful Barker buff!
Finally Leon ‘s bicycle receives better treatement than most cyclists – it had to have its own room in the main lodge. It was not allowed to stay in the self-catering section. We eagerly await news of its replacement. This should happen any day now because he seldom keeps a bike for longer than a year!
Read more tomorrow about our exploits on the road to Reitz!
Annie and Tony – first day bloggers.