The longest run homeward bound, 397km almost entirely off-road. After the long, tough days, no-one is fresh. Everyone is carrying some form of wear and tear, some more than others. However, the teams have acquired skills, forged friendships and settled into a rhythm.
On the bike front, the Africa Twins have not given a moments mechanical worry. We have had numerous front punctures though. It’s a function of the tough routes and standard tubes. The tubes can cope with every day running, but to be fair, they’ve been asked a little more than just “everyday running”!
From Uitspan’s little school house, we stopped off at a giant Quiver Tree Forest, the first of many we saw today. But here are some particularly fine specimens.
For large sections where the navigation was easy the pace was quicker. Over the Knersvlakte with its massive skies and Boesmanlands’ wide-open roads, the group made great time. Watching them ride side by side for company on the gravel tracks, it’s clear they’ve become so very attuned to each other.
There were few breaks to stretch the legs, a stroll around the interesting Fred Turner Windmill Museum, a cooldrink at the Ganaga Lodge with its magnificent views over the Ganaga Mountains and Pass.
That is how most of the marathon day went, navigating and reeling off the kilometres. In stops within the normal banter and laughing, there’s a sense of wistfulness that that can be felt too. This marathon stretch southwards towards home is another step towards an ending of sorts. The finish line is approaching in a few days, as it inevitably must. Once absolute strangers, now bonded brothers, will have to step off their Honda dream enablers and return to their worlds, forever changed. It’s the purpose of Adventuring; when done well, it helps us make sense of ourselves and our worlds. It’s no sin to wish it never to end though.
Unfortunately, there were two tumbles towards the end of the day, Shaun Engelbrecht suffered a puncture at speed on a gravel corner and if it had not been for his armoured pressure suit and skills aquired during Quest, he’d probably be in hospital. He escaped with not a scratch. His bike too, showed no signs of the accident.
Peter Loubser, the one instructor, hit a deep rut in thick dust, instantly bringing him down. Though he still made it to camp, he was much the worse for wear – a serious sprain but luckily nothing suspected broken.
It seems just yesterday we were in the deserts of the Richtersveld. Tonight, we’re in Perdekloof in the Tankwa Karoo under stars. The finish line beckons.