What a day!
“I wasn’t expecting it to be this tough!” – Jaco du Plessis, once he’d made it up the gnarliest climb for the day.
Much had been made of the day in the briefing; as opposed to yesterday where sand was the main dish and rocks the snacks, today it was very much rocks and climbs and more rocks and climbs with just a sprinkling of deep sand river beds for a little added variety.
The day started innocently enough with a gentle meander past river-side farms before turning away from the river and diving into the beautiful, but harsh Western Richtersvelds rocky mountains. And then…
Imagine riding through a vast mountainous desert quite far from anywhere, when around a bend is a forest of balancing stones, or cairns if you will. With not a single sign or notice to say what this is about, it seems the perfectly quiet place that invites one to reflect on one’s own place and space in the world and leave a memory of whatever needs to be left there. The desert had touched many in more ways than just the physical.
Literally right at that experience, the group turned down a little used track to head south for first a stiff warmup of fast open winding jeep track, interspersed with riverbeds and boulder dodging, then, short sharp climbs before the big test; a series of successively steeper climbs the last of which is an intimidating test of momentum and bravery.
The group chose to send the more capable riders up the run, so as to walk back down to spot and help for those who might struggle. The steep track is eroded, filled with large loose rocks, is mostly all off cambered and has a wicked, very steep, chewed up switchback right at the top.
The controlled torque and versatile suspension of the Africa Twin, with much adrenalin and sweat, saw all the riders celebrating overcoming this daunting task at the top, whilst eating freshly toasted jaffles cooked over an open fire.
Although technically all the teams are in a competition against each other, there is a very apparent, ever evolving spirit of Quest camaraderie amongst them.
The last 80km was fast flowing jeep track, a welcome change from the pace of the previous two days where the average overall speed was just over 20kph.
With still 7 gruelling days left, it’s still anyone’s for the taking.