Wow! What a day!
After an early night, it was a very keen and rejuvenated group who took on their next task. As mentioned on Day 1, navigation was going to be old school, maps and compass. Today, the pairs had some core decisions to make; “There are two routes. Only one map per pair. Only one member per route. The better sand rider is highly suggested to take the right-hand route. Here’s the map. We set off at 8am sharp.” That was it!
Now all the competitors are above average to excellent riders. (The barrier to entry for Honda Quest is high just to guarantee that we can more safely travel to these places). For some, it was a more obvious a choice. But for others who are reasonably matched, it took a fair degree of burying the ego for the sake of the team to relinquish the seemingly more fun and challenging route.
Everything since the start had been focused on uniting the teams, now they had to, for the sake of the team, complete an individual task. But, also be brutally honest and realistic about each other to achieve it.
Many had assumed that one route was harder than the other, when in fact both routes were tough for their own reasons; one had a LOT of sand, the other very steep, loose technical climbs.
Solving the lack of maps puzzle also required some strategic bargaining with other teams.
The teams split up not 7km from the start and wouldn’t see each other again till much later.
The Hammerkop route has 30km of seldom travelled riverbed and jeep tracks wedged tight in-between the mountains of the Nababieb Nature Reserve. The entrance to this piece of riding heaven though, is guarded by a near impassable silty fesh-fesh section that took an hour to dig out the logistics landcruiser.
Fesh-fesh - a fine talcum powder consistency sand that is almost impossible to look elegant in. No-one likes riding in it, even the pro’s hate it. If you fall in it, it’s going to get EVERYWHERE.
Hellskloof’s Little Brother, on the other hand starts off as an innocent looking side track to the main gravel road to Eksteenfontein. It soon became a hardcore scramble up what could better be described as a 4km rough path up a series of waterfalls.
Reuniting with their partners much later in the afternoon, there were many laughs and stories of the sweat and fun. Not everyone escaped unscathed however, there were some who made it back to camp walking stiffly, hopefully the morning brings some recovery.
Back at the camp for the second night alongside the river, Hein Kumm hauled out a canoe to use as prop for his presentation on the Orange river.
His partner Hugo Minnaar took us on a fact filled journey about the African Rift valley.
Tomorrow, we turn south and away from river and the Hellskloof World heritage site. There’s still some of the Richtersveld to explore.