Marathons and Reflection was the theme of today.
An adventure bike has many roles to play, it’s been abundantly clear that the Africa Twin is quite at home in the rough stuff, far off the beaten track. The transition needed today, was the ability to make the distances between areas of interest shrink. We needed to join up the Richtersveld that we’d just come from, with Tankwa Karoo and Cederberg. Between these two areas was nearly 450km of all manner of gravel roads; from the wide smooth fast “magic carpets”, to the small shale badly maintained corrugation invested jeep tracks. Today the Africa Twin lived up to its legend as a continent crosser. It’s a fine perch from which watch the world go by and count off the kilometres.
Additionally, the each team’s challenge was to navigate and manage the entire group for 50km stretches. It one thing doing this with friends, it’s entirely another when there’s an eagle eyes instructor on your tail and a really big prize that is affected by mistakes.
Early in the day, one notable detour was to the grave of a Mr. Scheepers. What makes his final resting place worth stopping at, is that he looks out over a magnificent view surrounded by an utterly ancient forest of Quiver Trees. This was a topic covered the night before which meant that all of us, had a far deeper appreciation for these reasonably rare plants. Quiver trees being the African representative of the oldest living trees in the world. Mr. Scheepers holds company with trees that would have been well established even before the dark ages began!
Besides the navigation, the teams are watched closely for the entire Quest for their ability to ride together safely and effectively. When done well, it’s an efficient flowing dance of sorts that can be very rewarding. There were still a few spills along the way from getting it a little wrong; some were walking a little more gingerly this morning, pride being the main casualty.
This is how the marathon was run, and so we made our way across the vast, big sky, open spaces of Bushmanland and the Knersvlakte. Very together but also alone in our helmets; there’s a big difference between loneliness and solitude.
By the late afternoon, the contestants were treated to the gateway to the Tankwa Karoo – Gannaga Pass. Long kilometres of rolling plains suddenly drops away for a breath-taking escarpment view that looks out over the Tankwa Karoo to the blue Cederberg in the distance.
The last push was literally chasing the sun over small 4×4 trails on the Tankwa Karoo, not an easy task with sun low and in the visor.
We just made the Tankwa Tented Camp as the sun was about to kiss the tops of the blued Cederberg hills in the distance.
Tomorrow again, another change of pace.