Monday, October 18, 2010

Rawsonville to Diemersfontein 17 October 2010



The alarm woke me at 04:30, in time to start the day with some quiet time and breakfast. I managed to hit the road at 05:36. Merwida is about 15km further from the start of Stettyns than Trouthaven, so I had quite a stint to do before the "real challenge". I arrived at Stettynsdam at 07:39. Fortunately I have "walked" Stettyns in March this year, so I had a good idea of what lay in store for me. I tried to stay as true as possible to the narratives as I did discover during my previous excursion that there are no "short cuts" in Stettyns. The markers set out by the Adventure Racers also makes life a little easier, although it still is very easy to take a wrong route and discover it to late and then you have to back track. The previous time I took the wrong route past the Shakelton wreck and this time I wanted to make sure I do not make the same mistake again. This is were the discussion with the Avidon's the previous evening really came in handy. I did once realise I was on the wrong route resulting in some serious "budu bashing", but it probably only cost me 30 minutes. After this I decided to "scout" the route before I take my bicycle along whenever I was not sure about the route. This ploy probably cost me an hour and a half in wasted time, but I am convinced that it was time well spent as the waste would have been more had I taken my bicycle up the wrong ally! At least I managed to find the elusive track through the reeds, which takes about 10 minutes rather than David's 2, but if you do not find it, it could take you more than an hour to get through! Once I got out on the other side I could see the ridge where I was due to end. What caught me by surprise was the number of smaller ridges and valleys I had to navigate through before reaching the bottom of the final "monster". 150 meters of climbing in a distance of 200 meters, that is some serious climbing, especially with a 10 kg rug sack and 13 kg bicycle on your back. It actually is surprising what one can achieve if you put your mind to it! With this hill you just have to grind your teeth and keep on going. It is so steep that it will be dangerous to stop and put your bicycle down because you may loose your balance and that will result in some serious damage to your body. I managed to reach the top by 15:30. That is 8 hours from the dam to the top, a total distance of approximately 12 km! Once on top, it is a scramble down the hill to the jeep tack that joins up with the road out of the valley. I reached the bottom of the old Du Toits Pass by 16:30. Then it was just a grind up the old pass and down to Diemersfontein where I arrived just after 18:00 to end two days of amasing cycling. After this i feel I really do have the ability to tackle the Freedom Challenge. What really also amases me is that there are some ladies that does this. I have renewed respect for them after this trip up Stettyns! I hope to get another one or two real training rides in before next June.

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