Waking up was a slow process even with the knowledge that we had to be out of Cambria by 5.30am to make the Baviaans Reserve gate which would be about a half an hour ride to get there. From there we would be escorted until we made the exit out the other side via the western gate. Mike Roy would follow some distance behind in his SUV and not be interfering with our progress but merely keep an eye out and hope we would have no confrontations with wild buffalo in this majestic reserve.
The previous day through the Osseberg and GrootRivierpoort was still pretty much evident in my sore muscles and aches but there was a job to be done and that was to keep moving forward and pushing on south. The temperature was rather chilled which was normal this time of the morning and the Baviaans kloof with its towering mountains all round would ensure daylight would still be a little way off from the 6am morning darkness.
The ride though the Baviaans kloof was nothing but tranquil. The beauty and unspoilt nature along with the incredible mountains flanking both sides of you as we made our way through is a feeling best described as peaceful. Climbing up the “big dipper” to the top of Bergplaas was an incredible feeling as I broke away from Neville and Gerald earlier making the summit on my own. I fielded a call to my wife as I hadn’t heard her voice for some days and with minimal signal managed to get through from the top of a windy mountain top. Sheltering out of the wind, huddled up against a bush to break the jet stream while waiting for the other two to summit, it was good to hear her voice and catch up on some quick news and hear words of motivation and encouragement.
The descent off Bergplaas was long but swift. All 10km of it! We stopped for a quick break to replenish lost energy reserve and were then off again. The wind had picked up considerably and the dash to Willowmore was slowly becoming a questionable exercise. Gerald had no choice and would have to push on as he had to make Willowmore before 6am the next day otherwise his race was over if he missed his cutoff. Neville and I still had two days in the bag.
We eventually passed through the Western gate and were on our way to Dam se Drif intermediate stop. The wind was really starting to become a challenge coming in straight from the front. My body and mind was continually trying to sync but it wasn’t working. Two short breaks again and we eventually arrived feeling a little weathered, turning down to the smallholding and entering the yard.
We quickly sat down to some delicious soup, breads and even a chocolate brownie type pudding along with coke and other refreshments. The mind was darting all over the place and it was past 15h00 and Willowmore was still another 90 kilometres away. Neville and I took the decision to rest up a bit and leave at 1am for Willowmore and then make a run for Rondawel after that. A massive day of 180km. Gerald had no option and it was sad to see him go as he rode out the gate at 16h00 making his dash for Willowmore in appalling windy conditions. To be on your own and tired as he was, the pressure was on!
Nev and I settled down for the night at around 7pm after all arrangements were made by our host to have breakfast pre-prepared for us and delivered to the little house we were staying at away from the main house. The wind blew the whole night. Gusting and at high speed. It was disruptive and I battled to lay down for the night and ending up not sleeping at all.....