Boet Werrie June 20 Day 10: Toekomst to Hadley

Due to the long day before we decided to only get up at 5:30am, but thanks to JT we only started rolling after 7am.  We planned to ride thru to Hadley today (about 170km) to set us up to catch the boom gate at the entrance of the Baviaans Kloof open in time.  This is new on the Freedom trail, something the Baviaans Kloof bureaucracy forced upon the race office.
On the way to Addo.

We started off riding through the Darlington Dam section of the Addo Elephant National Park.  A place I always wanted to see, and saw a lot of wild life – no elephants though.  On the way down from the dam wall, we flew over a low water bridge and heard a “kink” sound.  We could not see that we dropped anything so carried on.

The start of the Gwaas valley

Riding thru the Gwaas valley
Whilst riding up the Gwaas valley, I struggled to get into a rhythm and my knees started to hurt.  My saddle bag kept on chaffing on the rear tyre, no matter how many times I stopped to tighten the straps.  Eventually when we went through the Perdepoort the chaffing got so bad that I got off the bike to properly inspect it.  
It was then that I saw the broken frame – I rode about 30km on a broken frame!  I was furious and dejected.  Another broken frame!  It’s not possible!

We were about 12km from Kleinpoort (a settlement of about 20 houses).  I said my goodbyes to Leon and JT.  Leon wanted to stay, but I refused.  This is an individual race, I had no idea how long it’s going to take me to fix it and they had to get to Hadley, else they’ll miss the Baviaans boom gate.  

Reluctantly they left. This is the Karoo, there are only hip height bushes around.  Not much that I could do but to get to Kleinpoort and see if I can sort it out then.  I resorted to a fast walk on the hills and putting as much weight as possible on the handle bar riding on the flats and downhill.  When I got some cell reception, I contacted the Kamp Kommandant, and send a message on the Whatsapp group.  I also phoned Elitza about the ordeal.  I assured her that I will finish the race, come hell or high water.

I couldn’t get any help at first at Kleinpoort.  So I went to the local padstal to get something to eat.  The padstal owner told me that I needed to find the general dealer owner, Willem.  If there is anybody that can help, he’ll be the person.  Willem was very interested in finding out why the frame broke and inspected it from all sides.  When I told him about my previous fix, he shoved both me and the bike onto his bakkie and took off to his house about 7km away where he apparently had a small workshop.

When we arrived I saw a fair size engineering workshop.  It only took a few minutes to find a suitable stainless steel pipe, cut it to the right length and hammer it inside the down pipe.  Willem was a little bit enthusiastic on the repair job, and hammered it in a bit too much, thereby cracking the bottom part of the down pipe and lifting the top part by about 2cm.  We had to cut my seat post stem so that my feet could touch the pedals again.  I tested the bike and everything seemed fine.

The fixed 2nd frame – stainless steel pipe right down its throat

Willem dropped me off at front of his shop and with a friendly handshake wished me luck.  He joked that if the frame held he wanted patent rights.  What a man!  I informed the race office of the bike fix, they informed me that Ollie form PYGA has flown a frame down to Port Elizabeth, and that I’ll be able to pick it up at Kudu Kaya (Cambria) the next day.  I declined the offer, having full faith in the fixed frame.

I also gave Elitza a ring informing her that I’m a relieved, happy rider again.  It was 4pm I had to get going properly to get to Bucklands.  Marnitz phoned me, according him it’s about a 3 hour ride to Bucklands, and a 5 hour ride to Hadley.  At that pace I would have been in at midnight in Hadley – I decided to go for it.

I got to Buklands 5:15pm!  When I got there, I slurped down the soup, whilst explaining to Hannes how we fix the frame.  His wife, Rinni, replaced the soup with the most delicious kudu mince bolognaise. 

 Kudus hunted on their farm.  That stuff was rocket fuel.  They explained the route out of the farm in detail.  I recited the route twice and then had to go to the cottage to sign in and out of the race register. There I met up with Brad vd Westhuizen (aka Engelsman) and his troops.  He knew I’ve done the Osseberg and Groot river portage before and I had to explain in detail what to look for and how to tackle it.  I wasted a bit of daylight minutes, but the Groot river portage is not known as Mordor for nothing.  They are all newbies and would need all the help they can get fighting thru it.

I got going at 6pm, after I forgot my helmet in the main house.  Hannes’s detailed route descriptions were spot on and I raced along climbing slightly out of the valley.  At the speed I was going, I suspect that there was a slight tail wind, but every time I stopped to open and close a gate I didn’t feel anything.

An hour and a half later, higher up in the Baviaans Mountains the rocket fuel ran out.  I had about another 10km to go and the sleep monsters where taking hold of me.  It was a proper fight.  I was imagining all kinds of things, even seeing the devil, with shining eyes and horns at some stage.  It turned out to be a cow.

The reaction of my riding buddies when I walked into the Hadley farm house was priceless.  I rode these sections in a little under 4 hours, it normally takes riders about 8 hours.  I gave my all and was feeling it properly.  I immediately went for a shower to get the cold out of my bones.  Then I got shoved in front of the huge coal stove by Anine.  She fed me a lot of food, and then some more. 

Bennie informed me that Marnitz will phone me on the landline in 20min.  Cell phones stopped working just before Bucklands, and we’ll have very little reception all the way until we got near Willowmore.  My concerned older boet wanted to know how the body was acting up, how’s the frame and then resorted to give advice on tomorrow’s section, especially what time to leave.  

He was fairly adamant that we had to leave at 3am.

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