Raoul de Jongh’s joBerg2c

Raoul de Jongh

Day 8 & 9: The Wobble & Push (3 & 4 May)

I didn’t write yesterday because I feared a backlash and didn’t want to appear to be hanging up the towel until I was able to really do what I do best… recover.

Stage 8 was radical in every sense. Long, winding, tough, singletrack climbs. A 30km 2% ascent from 46-76km in thirty degree weather added to the mix as well as a new 8km longer approach to the Umkomaas descent provided enough ammo to hurt on a good day.

Team Pure Planet Racing woke up with dual chesty coughs and to keep the body guessing I had slept 11 hours to try and break a rising fever I had. It seemed OK, but not gone, so we ventured off into the Umko valley – the famed descent that is the crux of Sani2c.

The new approach hurt as nobody was sure where it would end and nobody wanted to give up space in the line as you may end up behind a slow descender. Nic tore off the line as he wanted to rail the Red Bull section midway down the descent and I gingerly made my way across, hoping it would let up sooner than later.

The descent is just indescribable. For about 20km you hardly have to pedal as you ride the perfect singletrack down into one of the most beautiful valleys in the world.

I should just stop there, while I am ahead, and that was possibly the plan – check body stats at 38km and call it. I felt great at 38km so tried to soft pedal out of the valley and when the first water point hit at 44km, I was still smiling.

The next 30km slowly but surely twisted me inside out and left the soft squishy bits showing, those that don’t like sun, soil or the searing back pain that was starting to creep into my world.

Properly struggling as we hit WP 2, I doused my head (which was steaming I’m sure) in a bucket and tried to cool the core down. The last 30km are a bit of a blur. I merely turned pedals. I kept thinking about the money we had raised and just making it through the day.

Obligation came to mind. It was a good motivator.

Five and a half hours later, we were back in the athlete village where every second person was coughing up oysters or dealing with a bad tummy. War zone would be the best description.

The doctor took my vitals and gave me a firm talking to, so I will spare you the numbers and just say that I slept most of the afternoon and spent the rest of the time trying to cool my core down as my fever was raging.

In bed at 7:30 and around 1am, I woke up soaked but without the tell-tale fever signs. It was a positive, so I changed jackets and attempted to do the same again ie sweat myself out. By 5am I was awake and ready for the day.

My mission was simple.

Finish.

No matter how long it took. Somehow, we were still in the top 50 teams so we were off in A batch. I immediately manned the rear and basically had the first 20km of the day entirely to myself as I dropped off the back to avoid the dust and then just soft pedaled till the first B batch dudes came tearing through.

I soft pedaled some more to water point 1, where I had a chat with some people and thanked every single person for their care and attention. Again, I soft pedaled to water point two, where more thanks and appreciation were the order of the day. Big love for the volunteers.

Just before water point two, disaster struck as we came around a corner to find a stationary vehicle parked and a kid on the floor in total agony. The car had come up the road we were riding on and the kid had hit it flat on the bull bar at 40km/h. Nic and I had dropped out of the group to help another gent with his chain not five minutes before and it sent a shiver down my spine to think it could have been one of us lying there so close to the end.

Once the situation was settled and an ambulance was on the way, we soft pedaled some more into the new section of the last day. It was a beautiful, smooth piece of singletrack that lasted all of around 20km. It was a beautiful ending to the big week. We rode in alone to the finish line, a treat as we could pace ourselves and I didn’t have to hurt so bad.

Then it was over. Just like that.

Now I sit here in the airport, waiting for my flight.

Now what? We raised around R40,000 for our food gardens over the week. That is a huge success. We suffered like champions. Not a huge success in our books as we were making our way up through the field and I feel we would have cracked the top 10 by the end of today.

Now we turn our eyes to recovery before we pick a new adventure where we can use our skills and networks to benefit the larger community and create options for others.

Day 7: Adventure (2 May)

The viruses in the athlete village are running the show now. Our team has one very sick specimen and one barely hanging on to his health. Today, it called for a relaxing day as we want to finish and pushing for another day meant possibly missing the last two days.

So we donned our baggies to channel the inner Manuel Fumic and we were off at 8am this morning. Not surprisingly, our adrenaline got the better of us all the way to water point 1. Nic’s cassette lock ring came loose just before and it forced us to spend 15 minutes at the water stop trying to fix it. It was also where sense prevailed and we decided to chill.

So we railed the singletrack and soft pedalled our way in to Mackenzie Club. Something had to be done to save the day where we both felt flat and one of us is struggling to even speak.

It was 82km of total fun today. The singletrack was insanely good and it was a fast ride throughout the day, even when we were taking it easy.

The athlete village is a war zone right now. I have never seen so many sick people and it seems the dust from the first few days is to blame as the majority of the illness is related to throat and chest infections. Breathing in dust at 90% of maximum heart rate for three days is just not conducive to staying healthy.

But its not all bad. I am currently sitting on the grass abusing free wi-fi and athletes are all around me, sleeping and resting for tomorrow’s famed 30km downhill into the mighty Umkomaas valley.

Let’s hope the gods of health return to us overnight and we have some vooma to give tomorrow.

Until then…

Day 6: Partnership (1 May)

“Hey Dude, lets head for a quick beer to ease into the evening.”

“No thanks, I’m just going to chill here.”

It was the first serious sign that something was way off. A Lamond never passes on a beer and never greets a woman with a handshake. If one of those two are off, you know shits about to get very dark.

I had to wear earphones in the night to sleep. His coughing and spluttering volumes were high. I knew that as soon as the alarm went off, the day would start in an off way.

“This throat is not good.”

Roughly translated, in Lamond, this means that life has ceased to exist in his throat and that the pain level is an 11 out of 10. “Not good” in Lamond means hospital time. They breed these studs with a high tolerance to pain and a high aptitude for problem solving.

He was keen to race, but knew he would be off his best. I offered to let him skip the day, as any good partner should, but also only brought it up once, as a good partner should. It would be a day of true partnership.

We were right there at 20km in, going up Sneeuberg Pass. My legs seemed to have returned today and as a little natural break formed near the front, I was in the top eight and comfortable. Nic was just off, the intensity too much for his weary system, fighting for health rather than podiums.

I dropped back and gave him a manly shove to get him back into a small group and we nursed it over the top with the group to the water point, where we let them go. It was my time to behave as a metronome, setting the perfect, manageable pace for the day.

Words of encouragement were thrown around like rag dolls and we tried to focus on the scenery, the trails and really anything except his throat, which was on fire. He was coughing up oyster-sized, lumo colored chunks of phlegm from time to time, so really we needed to keep the intensity steady and avoid any real efforts.

The second climb of the day was a beauty, but tough on our progress as it required a change in pace or position on the bike every 10 seconds or so. A loose, rutted piece of trail that I will not forget in a while and one that climbed 600m into the sky before getting to water point two.

From thereon in, we nursed it. We had some fun down Face Plantation (where others broke legs, arms and faces today it seems from the stories I have heard) and I have to admit, I am flat out in love with my new bike. On full descend mode, there isn’t much I am scared of anymore. I am bridging groups on the downhill rather than losing time between them. Clearly, it’s all about the bike.

Once in our set up for the evening in Underberg we have taken every move towards Nic’s health – medical tent visits, sleep, massage, good food. We can only hope, as a team, that his health improves overnight as tomorrow we essentially start Sani2c, a daunting task on its own, never mind after six days of hard riding already.

I was immensely proud to be his partner today and when you come to these races, partnership is such a huge element to the week. We do everything together here and when one of us is in the dumps, the other has to be 100% focused on getting the other partner healthy / mended.

Thank you to all those who have gotten in touch regarding our fund raising efforts. I will return messages soon – my priority today is currently snoozing in the tent here and when he wakes I need to make sure he has everything he needs.

Day 5: The Grind (30 April)

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome – ANNE BRADSTREET

Day 5. We have the routine down now. 5am wake-up call. Whomever needs to drop the kids off at the pool first goes, the other stands in the queue for breakfast.

We dress, we pack, we banter and then we head to the line for battle. Where speed meets patience in this beautiful race across the country. We tow the line behind the Massey Ferguson. It’s a beautiful, moody, overcast morning.

We had it down. 1.5km in and right near the front of the entire pack – somewhere I have not been comfortable until this morning.

“Dude, your partner has stopped.”

“Raoul, Nic is calling for you.”

I stop and Nic is approaching slowly. His front derailleur is poked. Proper. No big blade on a day that requires it ALL the way. Our collective hopes for the day are out the window. Now is the time to play smart.

There is no ego here. Zero. A very rare thing and something I know I find only in my best friends. No animosity at the lost hope for the day. We make a smart, calculated call to head back to the start line and find our trusty mechanic Calvin. It’s a complete freak mechanical. It takes 8-10min or so to get it sorted as I watch the guys test it, then make adjustments, then test it again.

I stretch my legs and ready myself for the long, steady time trial the day will be.

“Raoooooooooooouul!”

My moment is here as the call from my partner comes.

And so, as the finish line is being packed up, the cars are heading out the gate towards the next overnight stop and the bemused onlookers gawk at the two guys in full elite-level balleur kit heading out the start gate…20 minutes late…we make our way out of Winterton. 98km lie ahead of us and so do 700 riders we need to pass.

15km in and we hit the first singletrack. It’s a 10km rolling tight singletrack and we still have 600 people in front of us. They are not fast in the singletrack, so we have to bundu bash around them giving pleases and thank you calls for an hour while we negotiate the wilderness of the grasslands.

Familiar faces urge us on as we keep the pace steady on and on. We collect so much grass in our derailleurs we have to stop to clean them before we mission onwards.

At the first water stop, we skip the queues and we estimated we are around 400th now. The rollers start to take their toll as we have done a lot of work so far. Nic is far more proficient than I am in the rough stuff and accelerating past 300 riders, two at a time, starts to bring the buzz to my quads.

After around 2h30, my head starts to get the better of me. My pace starts to drop and I have to make peace with the chase. That we are still moving smoothly and that this counts for something. Into the top 200 as we get to water point two, up a hill called “Steepest”. My body is not playing along but some banana bread sorts me out.

Through farmlands and open field we head towards the finish. I find a bit of mojo again with 20km to go and the last 20km go by smoothly. Just like that.

C’est la vie. We are not sure where we finished, or what our time was. It wasn’t about that at all today.

Nic and I got through this as a team today. Smoothly without any animosity or ego. We fought smart and will be back tomorrow with a little more vooma.

One must not try to trick misfortune, but resign oneself to it with good grace – ARISTOPHANES

Yesterday, we spoke with the lovely Xandile from ITEC about being a pro. We joked that there is more to life than mountain biking and if we have a bad day, it’s still a good day in the grand scheme of things. We are here to raise money, to network and connect so that we can create a prosperous future for others.

Around 50km into the day today we sped past Twitch, one of the kids from Songo who is riding the race. We have him earmarked for something great and we believe he has an amazing future. He is riding with a head cold, battling on. We raced in our Rhino Raid kit today and this was in a game farm where rhino are a part of the package. Rhino Raid is part of a new movement, which essentially comes down to raising awareness through gaming. Songo + Rhino Raid in one moment, right there. Both causes are important to me.

It reminded me why we are out here. That racing is only a part of it.

Day 4: Mojo Time (29 April)

There are days in the world that stand out from others. The magnitude of an event, for instance, that just blew your mind. One of the primary reasons I wanted to ride joBerg2c was this day – the one with the drop off the escarpment, the perfect combination of singletrack, dirt road hauling and steep technical climbing.

Did it deliver?

The answer is a resounding yes. Today was perhaps the best day of mountain biking I have ever had the privilege of riding. My trashed legs from a day ago held out much better today as I took a more conservative start to the day, opting for a game of Pacman towards the end.

We woke up to crisp, fresh air. It was certainly not as cold as yesterday and with 120km of cycling ahead, 1,700m of vertical to conquer and finding a way to not blow up with 30km to go, we had a big set of tasks ahead of us for the day.

I had to be very patient with my body today after everything I put it through yesterday. I soft-pedaled the climbs in the first 15km, letting groups go, hoping they would come back to us later in the day.

Today was the turning point for two critical elements in this race;

Firstly, I fell in love with my Trek Superfly 100 and together we rode faster than I have ever ridden singletrack.

Secondly, our partnership just clicked today. We rode as a team and it showed as we maintained our speed all the way to the end. The emotions that come with finishing strong are so much more powerful than just hanging on for the last 90 minutes.

I wish I could describe the scene as you crest the hill onto the escarpment and you see the rolling views, snow-covered Drakensberg peaks in the distance and the rolling green hills of KwaZulu-Natal leading the way in the middle. The transition from Free State to KZN was sudden and took my breath away.

The singletrack that led us off the escarpment was mind-blowing. Tight, technical and somehow, really flowing. The skill level required building it – incredible!

This led us down to the valley, where I suffered with the variance in pace (again) and I had to let the group we were with go, again. With 60km to go, they took off like there was nothing beyond the second water point except smooth downhill.

At 76km we reached water point two where I discovered the elixir of life. I was feeling tired, but like I still had plenty to give. The elixir was in the banana bread and I am sure it was the magic ingredient. I stuffed no less than 4 slices into my face and off we went to Spioenkop, the famous battleground and the toughest climb of the day.

We went past a sign that read “Slagveld” and we shared a laugh that Afrikaners sure knew how to not beat about the bush. There was a synergy in our movement now – a shared pace that suited my diesel engine as well as a flow in the single track as I hung to Nic’s wheel better than I ever had. He was having fun. I was having fun.

The enduro run was immense, requiring quite a lot of pedaling and leaving a tired, happy grimace on your face when you got to the bottom. Around the corner and voila!

There, just ahead, was the group who I dropped out of earlier.

“Amazing what happens when we are having fun.”

This comment motivated me to give a little extra as we hit 100km and there was only 20km to go. I followed Nic in the single track as tightly as I could and on the Puffadder climb, we rode without putting a foot down – his lines were exceptional and they added to my ability to bridge. At the top of the last climb – we were 30 seconds down.

I passed Nic about halfway down the climb, absolutely loving how my bike was handling and how my body was responding. The group reformed at the bottom with Pure Planet Racing setting the pace and taking us to Winterton.

We connected with some others in the group who had ridden Single Speed World Championships last year and one of them commented that they got all emotional thinking of the fallen Burry Stander riding the Skeleton Loop which we had just ridden as well. The memory of the man brought goose bumps to my entire body and a little more speed into the legs.

I could carry on about the finish from here, but really, the emotion I experienced there will stay with me all week.

We ride these races as a form of freedom. We ride them as a method of improvement. Yes, we want to do well, but the memory of Burry and his incredible impact on the South African mountain biking scene will live long.

It was the first time I was really touched by his legacy in that way and I want to take it with me to the finish in Scottburgh in a few days time. He was a big supporter of Songo.info – who we are raising funds for over this week.

Get involved. Futher the change. Be the change.

Day 3: The Headmaster’s Office (28 April)

On Saturday, I spoke about burning matches and entering the pain cave. I would be lying if I said today was any different. In actual fact, today I took a bigger box of matches out on the course, and if I have to be completely honest, it felt like I only sat in the reception area of the pain cave yesterday. Today was more like the headmasters office. I am hoping that the “showing off your jack lines to mates” vibe is next to follow.

Today I suffered beyond anything I have suffered in a long time.

The day started for me, around 3am when I woke up with an ice-cold face. Nic had been quite vocal about the cold at this race and I hadn’t really taken him seriously until 3:01am but now, I am a believer.

The athlete village is a buzz by 4:30am; an immensely irritating thing as there is no need to be talking about your “smashed ass” at this time of the day. No reason at all. Yet, the voices begin almost in unison with the flatulence. Personal space is limited in this environment & caring about it is even more limited as the days go by.

We started the ice-cold day as mountain bikers always start the day: By going absolutely flat out until they bomb. Every day. With 131km & 1750m of vertical ascent between Reitz and Sterkfontein Dam, this seemed a silly approach but it didn’t stop the masses from totally hammering themselves early on. Hope is the most powerful emotion.

Baffling.

Today went a little better and I was with Nic within 10km, but upon finding him looking fully in control, I checked my matchbox to find only a few left. I had brought a bigger matchbox today as mentioned earlier. Alas, it was time to consolidate and see what was possible for the rest of the day.

I tried to hide as smartly as possible and all was going to plan. We built a strong group and bridged across to the front pack of elite men around 30km and hung with them through the first water point. Somewhere around 60km, Nic had his water bottle decide it was time to fall through the bottom of the cage (attached to his seat post).

Nic and I have a partnership this week. It’s a very real thing. It was a tough moment for me, because I wanted to hang with the group as I was already hurting but I wanted to help Nic as well. I knew that if I dropped off with him, I would possibly not make the chase back.

I trusted he would get back & continued to the second water point with the group who had now split again. I hung with the chasing pack because that was all I could manage as the surges continued. I figured he would chase straight through and collected food for him as I expected him to bridge at any second.

It turned into a 15km slog for him and wore him down considerably. I also realized that half the food I had picked up had fallen out somewhere. By the time he bridged, he was hungry, grumpy and it turned out his seat post was slipping too, so I handed over the remaining food I had and hoped for the best.

All was going well and I was feeling superb, leading the group for a long section to make sure we rode smoothly and consistently. Just before an amazing piece of single track next to the river, I misjudged a corner and was suddenly in the back of a group of 20 riders.

More notably, I was behind three mixed teams. The girls can hammer like the boys, but their technical skill was lacking and every short, sharp uphill they would walk, which meant we lost the front of the pack. It meant another match was burnt each time as they sprinted to get back into the group and my triathlete legs eventually just gave that pain that means the back is done. I had no more matches and had to let the group go as there was a 400m sharp drag out of the single track. It was a gutting moment for me as Nic had just found his legs and I felt I had let the team down.

Gutted.

Simultaneously my stomach went empty and I had no more food with 10km to the next water point.

Outstanding.

Within 2km I had gone from being fully in control to knowing it was going to get very messy.

In fact, it was already messy.

I committed to going beyond on the day and chasing as hard as possible. I had no more power so I would have to ride with an economy I had never exhibited before whilst applying my mind to quieting the pain.

The water point is a bit of a blur but I know I threw in eggs, potatoes, bananas and 4 cups of water to try skip a sugar rush which would have been catastrophic with 40km to go. I embraced the suck as well as possible and whenever a personal demon / doubt found me, I opted to just shout it out and get back to business.

The miles were passing and our gap became more consistent to the group we had lost. It was around 2min and I was determined to keep them in sight. At 114km we hit the biggest climb of the day.

Torture.

I was snorkel deep in a world of discomfort as my back was completely seized and there was no power to climb. I went as hard as I could for as long as I could, then give a little more. This was the process to get over what felt like the longest climb I have ever done. Nic was quieter now and I knew the day was starting to take its toll on him as well but we were picking up the odd team here and there, so I pushed a little harder again.

Nausea had set in and the familiar goose bumps of being totally blown were persistent as we hit the Red Bull enduro section. What should have been an amazing 4.5km became just another downhill as I realised we had 14km to go from the top, which meant 9.5km of more smashing of my body before it would all be over.

I could haul on the flats and we would get closer to the group in front but every time the road went up it felt like I hit a brick wall. An immense fight between the mind and the body; a body that works so well most of the time. It was beyond negotiations and I just kept the pain levels constant and just as I thought I could take no more, we were within 500m of the finish line.

As always, there are lessons. I am sure that in a few days, it will all make sense.

Sure, we could have ridden slower.

Yes, it would have been easier.

But then, what would we have learned about ourselves?

Day 2: Burning Matches (27 April)

Affairs kicked off officially today. The racing snakes were chomping at the bit for some hard riding and mile munching as we fought our way and hauled our rear ends across the Free State for Stage 2 of joBerg2c 2013.

A mere 12 days ago at Ironman I never found the trap door that leads to that place I do enjoy; the pain cave.

On Saturday, I found the trap door about 73km into the day, somewhere between a potato covered in aromat and a swig of ice-cold water. I felt the tiredness creep into the legs. That deep, amazing pain. The one that comes from digging a hole that is just too deep to get out. As we pedaled out of water point two, I knew it was time to embrace the suck.

It’s one of those things that happens when pushing the limits. These are the necessary evils on the path to becoming a better human being. How we react to it is supposed to show character, poise and panache.

Right.

I’m not sure I showed any of those but I am pretty sure of the following things:

– I contributed even when I had nothing to give.
– I rode singletrack faster than I ever have chasing one of the best singletrack riders I have ever seen, trying to learn for the remaining seven days while digging a hole trying to follow him.
– I went numb, about 2km to go and just pedaled on pure joy for it being almost done.
– It. Was. Awesome.

Today was quite a bit shorter, but the pace in the first hour can only be described as á bloc as I tried to find some speed among the pack of guys and girls who seemed to think the race was over at 18km. It’s really like there was no plan except to hammer as hard as you can until you pop.

Except when there is a small patch of mud. Then everyone comes to a virtual standstill. It requires a sudden stop and a flat out acceleration immediately afterward to get back into the group. Not my forte, not my type of engine and not quite what I would have wanted, but I am here to try new things and throw myself in the deep end at times.

There was an explosion around the 18km marker as 100 teams seemed to suddenly run out of steam. Nic and I found a group that seemed to work and had a few guys contributing to the pace with us. We stuck with them until 44km when we joined a few more riders, but the new group presented my diesel engine with a specific problem.

Surges.

A couple of the teams in our group had a pairing of a much stronger rider and a rider hanging on. Every time there was a bump in the road, the stronger rider would get out the saddle, give 30 or so powerful strokes (perhaps in frustration) and their teammate would be hanging on for dear life. There would be “dead wheels” every time and it broke what was a great rhythm to the day. My diesel engine would rev only so high today so it meant slowly making my way back into the group every time.

This is what we call “burning matches” and it hurts my legs. A lot. I am built to go hours in a very specific zone, with consistency the focus. Eventually, my matchbox was empty and so were my legs. It was about this time that I found that trap door and when a slowly returned water bottle from the water point meant we missed the group heading out of the water point.

We exited 20 seconds down and never made the junction. We charged as hard as we could and my partner Nic was extremely patient as my power deserted me and I was only able to contribute for seconds at a time. I had to manage his power and get him to ride as smoothly as possible, guiding the diesel engine to the finish.

What a stud.

My contributions turned to riding over the top of each little rise with everything I had to get the speed going down the hill as quickly as possible.

The group was ahead of us. Slowly gaining time.

30 seconds.

40 seconds.

60 seconds.

Just as the pain became immense we hit the Red Bull enduro section and it was a welcome relief. Some of the best swooping singletrack I have ever ridden and the new Trek Superfly 100 I am on was incredible. It has three settings for the suspension – climb, trail and descend. It was the first section I had it fully open, front and back on “descend” and I was blown away by how the bike went.

I was railing corners and had a smile return to my dial for the first time in an hour. What followed was some of the best swooping singletrack I have ever ridden and I was urging Nic to ride faster and faster as we made our way to the finish, which we could now see.

I smashed through the wolf sanctuary and railed the last few corners home and then, just like that….

Day1: Neutral Stage (26 April)

This is no small feat, this race. Two days ago I was chatting with my far better half and she asked how far the race was. 900km, I uttered, almost nonchalantly.

“As long as your Epic Unsupported Tour?”

It was the first time she clicked that this was no laughing matter. Sure, we are taking the lassais faire approach to joBerg2c, but really, it’s a proper race of proper distance and overall, really, just proper.

The day started with a 5am breakfast and a 90min bus ride to the world’s biggest feed lot, where we kicked off affairs. The bus was frosty but thankfully, the sun had warmed affairs by the time we started.

For the uninitiated, joBerg2c is longer than the Cape Epic. I feel a little ashamed that a 900km mountain bike stage race doesn’t scare me anymore. There is a voice in the back of my mind reminding me that this attitude will bring the Gods of Mountain Biking to haunt me out there, so I have taken on a more serious tone today, as we took on the first stage. My legs are not quite yet recovered from Ironman, so I wanted to take it as easy as possible, but still “test” to see where they are, if that makes any sense.

Yes, it’s a neutral stage, but it’s 119km of neutral stage. It’s a bloody long way to be neutral and as such, we got up this morning with a goal to ride well, conserve on the “red line” stuff and get the legs ready for some fireworks on Day 2.

I am happy to announce that there are no fireworks in these legs yet. A small dig today showed only that I have a nice solid pace, but no punch.

Today was all about getting in the rhythm, feeling the groove and enjoying the company of athletes we would not normally be near in such an environment. Call it a tough group training ride with Fedgroup, RE:CM, Cannondale Blend and a few others. We donned baggies for the occasion.

To track us for the rest of the way, keep checking the website at joberg2c.co.za or download their fantastic APP in the Blackberry, Android or Apply APP stores. It will allow you to check out the race information, routes, stage profiles, tweets and more.

I also rode a new bike for the very first time. It was superb and I am very much looking forward to the rest of the ride on the Trek Superfly 100.

It was not nearly as cold as we expected and the day was a series of small bumps and lots of riding into the headwind. The two periods of more sustained “work” left me feeling a little empty, but I am hoping that after the massage, nap & great food here, I will feel a little better tomorrow.

It was a unique start to a long week. 783km to go after today and we hope to move a little more swiftly as the days go along. My partner displayed a quiet strength today, which I look forward to mimicking out there in the great African plains in the next few days.

Tomorrow we kick off the real racing & there will be no hiding. I look forward to sharing the stories with you tomorrow.

by Raoul de Jongh

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