Day five: a fast day on the road – for both cyclists and walkers

What a great day!

We left Ladybrand spot on time at 09:00 and the team climbed out of the brutal 5km Ladybrand hill in great shape and this set the tone for the day. When we turned left to Wepener the Northwest wind decided that we could do with its help. It blew steadily all of the 95 kms to the little town on the banks of the Caledon River nestled deep in the heart of the Eastern FreeState Province under the hang of the closest of the Maluti Mountains.

The Lord Fraser was happy to welcome us back and everyone quickly settled into their rooms, showered and then spent the afternoon relaxing, reminiscing, looking at the photos of the day, listening to Buck Buchanan’s quips and Brendan telling us that he so enjoyed all the downhills and the wind from behind. “Just watch me next year when I am a few kilogram’s lighter!” This from Brendan. You should have just seen him pumping up the hills; he and Pete were brilliant today!

But I ride ahead of myself.

We had a loooong wait for dinner last night. I think the folk at the Cranberry Lodge were overwhelmed by the numbers. The food was really good when it came!

During the long wait Sparci Barnes complained about the misspelling of his name so in my abject apology I would like to correct this desperate mistake and from now on undertake to ensure that we spell Sparci correctly.

On the subject of the Sparc it is important to point out that this is a young man who pronounced on the second day that he could not and does not ride mountains. That myth was thoroughly dispelled today. He climbed and climbed and climbed and then raced and raced and raced and had the rest of us sucking hard to keep up.

The “walkers” complained bitterly about the accuracy of the report of yesterday. In order to correct any misapprehensions in the minds of our valued readers we would like to reassure our readers that every bit of yesterday’s report is indelibly accurate.

Today they set off at the crack of dawn in their motorised vehicle to ”walk”. The next time we observed the “walkers” in action was them flying past us in their vehicle at 132.52 kms per hour. Flying downhill!

Our next contact with the walkers was at the Lord Fraser where they were poured out of the pub to welcome the riders home.

However, this was all a BIG show! They were stone cold sober and were about to proceed on their “walk”, or actually the continuation of their “walk”. Apparently they “walked” 13.3 kms in the Ladybrand mountains and arrived in Wepener to complete their quota of 20kms a day – apparently they exceeded their quota and walked another 7 kms. It is truly terrific to have such accurate inside information from one of the chief walkers who cannot wait to divulge these interesting snippets at the end of each day. We have actually recommended her to the NSA as a potential new head of info gathering. This could be a great career idea for her.

Most of us are wishing that Spa in Ladybrand was here in Wepener as well because that was definitely a terrific way to finish a long day in the saddle.

Tomorrow we ride our second longest day; 132 kms to Aliwal North. We are hoping that the Northwester plays along and provides us at least some of the help we had today.

The walkers report that they will be walking around the spectacular Lotando walnut farm which is just inside the FreeState on the banks of the Orange River. If you are ever in this area it is very much worth a visit.

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