Still half asleep, I made my way out of bed just after 3am and went through the motions of getting geared up before heading out the door. A cold karoo breeze was blowing across the land under a pitch black clear sky with its sparkles of wonder everywhere, the galaxy above.
Along district road, and a different name on the map created confusion where we should have turned off the road to take a jeep track. This cost us an hour in trying to figure it all out. By now we had adopted a sort of very conservative approach to our race and that was to take one day at a time which is the norm but there would be no chasing any set number of days to finish other than complete the race within the 26 day cut off.
The vastness of the eastern cape countryside, out in the middle of nowhere is pretty amazing. We rode through the darkness, we walked somewhat on the steep inclines and floated off some of the descents.
On this day it was Gerald birthday!
At first light we decided to take our first break and of course a little celebration. No cake but bread rolls sufficed! Our plan was to get to Toekomst and then continue from there.
Our next move was to negotiate a section of the Koedoeskop Game Reserve. Winging it on jeep track and dropping gradually into a long and deep valley shadowed by surrounding mountains, it was a welcomed relief from all the climbing. We came across a locked gate which had us crawling under electrified fence line 20m to our right in a small ravine and we were off again!
As the sun whisked away off the horizon and darkness set in, so the endless climbing began There would be no reprieve, so it felt! I still passed comment in the darkness after endless grinding that if we climbed anymore at one point, we could have ended up in heaven! One must also not forget the number of game gates we passed through, and this I lost count of.
Eventually we were descending through a dark valley and in all honesty cannot recall much of it as I was staring to feel the fatigue of the day setting in. As much as the last 5km into Kleinpoort seemed to take forever, so the darkened town with a touch of light appeared out of nowhere as we entered. Normally one could see a town by its lights from a distance in the dark. Kleinpoort appeared magically out of nowhere, as suddenly as it appeared on the map!
As small as the town was, we struggled the first 15 minutes to establish where the accommodation was and being unmanned there was no welcoming life form to welcome us.
We eventually, with help of a local hearing us up and down the short main street, pointed us in the right direction.
At 20h30 we unlocked the door to our overnight establishment.....tired, hungry and another long day out!