Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 1 - A journey of 1000 miles begines with a single step

Hi Everybody,

Andre sent me the following post to be published but I can't remember what his password is (it's at home) so I have logged on as me for now...enjoy!

The clock struck 7, and nothing happened. The Freedom Challenge was waiting for the TV crews to finish their interviews, and finally amidst blaring sirens from a police escourt 16 Freedom Challenge riders and 6(?) Ride to Rhodes riders started the adventure of a lifetime.

There was plenty interest and chirps about my bike, but these were generally subdued once the guys picked it up and felt the weight of it. The variety of bikes and configurations was fantastic - from superlight backpack only setups, to paniers and bike mounted carriage options. It seems like it is important what you do have, not what you don't have - gas stoves, tackies, any thing you can think of will be loaded on one of the bikes if you look hard enough. Although I think that Allendale (our overnight stop) will have a year's supply od deodorant when we pull out of hear tomorrow.

We left Pietermaritzburg at about 7am and the group soon split up into tourists, and those pushing to double up on the first day - the rest of us somewhere in between. I rode with a group on the Ride 2 Rhodes route for the first few hours, which was stunning, up through plantations on logging roads and jeep tracks. We finally dropped down a new hardpack racing track down the side of a mountain to our lunch stop in the hamlet of Byrne. Yummies - butternut soup and bread rolls. From there we used a sneak through a little forest back to tar, and a long slow drag to the top of Hella Hella pass. It was here that I rode away from the group - not by choice, but just to keep moving.

Hella hella pass was not the nightmare that it was last year - the single speed actually makes things easier - just ride until you can't, then walk. No problem. So I finally arrived at about 3:45, which is about the same time as last year.

As I was arriving, Hannelie and Tim were leaving for the next stop, with Martin in hot pursuit. Glen left soon after to chase the whole lot down. I can see there are some itchy feet here, as some of the riders left behind were hoping to be with that lead bunch.

In terms of the single speed, it makes things really easy and stressless - just ride until you can't, then walk. In a short portage today I shot away from the others, so the lack of weight is definitely an advantage.

Tomorrow we're off to a place called Ntsikeni, which is a nice days riding provided you don't get lost. There is a portage late in the day, which might make things really interesting.

So far I am in much better condition than last year (mentally and physically), so I'm going to keep plugging away - Rhodes in 6 days. Then we'll see.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Matthew said...

Andre,
Its great to see you doing so well now that we can track your progress - it gives us geeks here at the office something to do before you update the blog.

I know you will be enjoying every minute and one day I hope I can see it first hand too.

All the best.
Matthew

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andre
Well done so far and keep up the good spirits. To be able to track your progress is great. Good luck.
Francois

6:28 PM  

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