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January 13, 2011

Epic Unsupported Tour: Day 7 & 8

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After a few days over xmas in paradise (Kleinhoekkloof) with short rides and hard runs, it was time to head off to Wellington to Mischa Wines where Gary and his family would be waiting with open arms and much red meat. Plaas mense are the best people.

We had a Garmin map and knew the road would be pretty smooth, pretty flat and hot on the day all the way to Bains Kloof Pass where the road would tilt upwards before we plunged into the Wellington valley.

The day started cloudy but it was ominous that the sun would eventually win and we would roast at some point. We were 2 men short and knew the workload would be shared among the two Ironman guys (James and myself), with our Xterra dude (Hansel/Redman/TheKid) going to get a working on the rolling flattish roads out there. This was our territory and we wanted to get what would be easily the longest day of our trip out the way as soon as possible.

The combination worked perfectly – James and myself would make sure Ryan stayed in the middle and in the group and one of us would set a big tempo up front. By now all our legs were full swing into this and we made fantastic headway on the combination of tar and open dirt roads to Dan Hugo’s farm in Worcester. We were, in fact, an hour and fourty five minutes ahead of schedule when we got there, totally missing his presence and went into Worcester itself for a big meal of KFC to fuel the fat for the rest of the ride. With over 100km still to go we headed off on the tar road and would remain on it all the way. It rolled smoothly and we were motoring along, riding in the biggest gear we had most of the way, stopping only for water to make more carb drink.

70km went by in a flash and we hit the bottom of the Bains Kloof Pass and the two Ironman guys had a hit at the pass while Redman went into survival. I rode James’ wheel for as long as possible whilst making sure to remain as aerobic as possible.

Tough call when chasing someone so strong. Eventually I let him go and made sure to stay motivated and keep the pedals turning smoothly. It was big blade all the way up the pass after a long day riding tempo for the lads and I was super impressed with my form coming along so nicely.

We regrouped at the top and hit a great photo opportunity (picture at top) looking over the Wellington area. We hopped off the road and onto the single track of Welvanpas which was quite a shock to the system after a day of smooth riding. Both Redman and myself made tactical errors in our roadie state and came short, his worse than mine. James held his own on the single track and was now completely at home on my Zula.

After some getting lost, Gary came to find us and lead us back to Mischa where we had a swim, a big lunch and a tour of the farm. Mischa is very impressive and the guys work hard at making it one of the best farms in South Africa.

We had completed 170km in literally 5h40, averaging 30km/h on the mountain bikes. Suitably, we ate till we popped and then ate some more on the day.

We woke the next morning, 100km left, excited to get home. Redman was having some issues with his elbow from the fall the day before, so I carefully rerouted us without them knowing to include as much tar as possible.

We were in Durbanville for a breki quite early and opted to take the loop through Contermanskloof before we hit the headwind all the way home, to add some fun single track to the day.

To say the last 30km home was just a long slog, really just to get home and ride in the door. After so many miles out on the road, in the quiet, we could feel the buzz of the city as we approached into the headwind, almost telling us to stay out of there. The noise was unbelievable once we hit the Sea Point area and people were everywhere, which was quite a bit to deal with. Shouting, screaming, walking in the middle of the road, the chaos was maddening and made us want to go back to where things were simple, quiet and easy.

However, the privilege of riding into the door of your house after a trip like this was as expected, anti climatic and over so suddenly. We realized that the journey is just not over, its never over. This was merely another day in these amazing lives we lead, as adventurers. We were quiet and calm and still, talking smack.

A big thank you to my brothers who joined on the ride… Collin, Guy, James & Ryan, you were true troopers and when the going got tough, we all just shut up and got the work done. I would take you to war. Until the next one….

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