We were in some form of jubilent spirit because we knew we were close to "home"! We were saying we could smell Diemmerfontein! We spoke about what the moment would be like and if emotions would run high once we cleared the "kloof" on Sunday, all going well. There was plenty apprehension for the final onslaught onto the finish line and it didn't sound pretty. The three of us had endless discussion about what lay ahead in the next 48hrs. We agreed we would stick together as a unit of three. We would leave no one behind. Even through we would be going into the 'forsaken' Kloof blind, we would be doing so, determined!
We had passed the 2000km mark of this journey and embarking to Trouthaven 108km away where we will spend our last night on the Freedom Trail. We would be prepping everything. Stripping bikes down so there was nothing hampering forward movement while fighting thick vegetation and getting stuck the final leg Sunday morning. We want to be out the Kloof before sunset..... God willing!
We left McGregor at 5am on a dark, freezing cold Saturday morning. The Cape cold is different and it gnaws at you like a throbbing, dull pain. Just before dawn, I swear it must have been the coldest I had felt in a while and may have been reason we blitz the first half the 110km dash to Trouthaven. At sun up, we had the second pit stop but not for long as realized that movement was the best solution to stay warm. I think in the end, the shivering on the bike was the combination of cold and the excitement of finsihing this epic journey! The ride through to Trouthaven was uneventful with the odd dogs getting near to chase us and the majestic beauty all around us with the towering mountains and fresh water lakes all round.
At around 55km - dawn
We arrived at what I dubbed 'battle station' Trouthaven at 12.30pm after a solid 110km ride in from McGregor. We settled down for the afternoon and last evening and at the same time prepped for the coming final day. I set about removing saddle bags, handle bar ends, map board stands on the handle bars and it would later be the lights and onboard computer all in the effort to aid our trek.
This journey I have mentioned more than once, has been incredible. We would all take something away from it in the end. I have had many highs and many lows on the trail. The biggest low, Having being solid in my mind prep and positive outlook coming into Freedom, I had that one very dark day around day 18 outside Willowmore. I was so heavily fatigued having left the Baviaans Kloof at 1am and making a run for Rondawel at 180km away. My mind 'snapped' and it was really touch and go. You don't reason properly. You don't think rationally. I was ready to pull the plug just like that! That day I had Neville to thank! I have really appreciated his no nonsense approach to me! There is no time for pity parties on the trail. You were either in or you were out! Incredibly, he got me going. and I never looked back after that!!
As a Trio we have complemented each other quite well and have shared long days in the saddle and gone through the battles as one. There have been good days. There were also some hard days. We have shared many a laugh and it is so important as an ordinary cyclist attempting an adventure like this to carry a pocket of humour with you.
We had been blessed with good weather even though we had some heavy days with constant headwinds to contend with. Mechanically, our 'machines - and bodies had held together mercifully looking at some of the terrain we transversed with the minor common breakdowns occurring and seen to.
Our humble abode - last night out on the Freedom Trail
Yes! There was apprehension in the air by late afternoon.
Yet, we all had one thing in common. Determination!
With eyes are on the prize we're going for it!!!