This pic is taken at the start line.
Thank you for all your comments on FaceBook!! So happy you are enjoying the race reports. I'm enjoying writing them and hearing from so many of you.
Can't really believe I am writing that I finished this stage!
It was immense and a day that I will NEVER want to repeat again.
An excruciating 122kms with 2343m of climbing and only 1856m descent, it was a day full of emotions and teamwork. John was awesome, as usual. Pushing me (sometimes literally) past the pain and encouraging me to keep going. He is riding a hardtail which must be torture on all the bumpy farm trails and district roads, (there was one rocky uphill that nearly killed me) and he could be finished hours earlier if he were riding for himself, but he never complains and sticks with me the whole way. Did I mention he is incredible??
I tried to look for the beauty around us today, but the saddle sores and back pain leave me with a very narrow window of focus.
Some things that were very cool include:
Also, the longer you are on the bike, the later you get to camp. The fast riders have already showered, had a massage, done laundry, had beers (some of them), and organized their tent. When we got back today, it was already cold and late afternoon. That's tough when you're tenting and have to get up around 4:50AM in the cold and dark and your clothes are wet.
We finished today around the 8-hour mark. I can assure you it was not fun. And yes, I was racing if by racing you mean giving it 100%. Every chance we got to catch some speed, we did it. We used all of our strengths to better our position and when we (I) couldn't go fast, we worked as a team as best we could. John shouted at me to stay close to his wheel so I could get the benefit of some drafting. And we had the odd argument when I just felt like I couldn't keep up. John is working extra hard to NOT ride to his potential, and waiting for me when he knows he can be faster must be a real test.
So, while we may have come in hours after the people at the front, it doesn't mean we aren't racing. We are racing against ourselves, we are racing FOR ourselves, and we are racing to get to the bloody finish line as fast as both can together.
But when we finish the day and John says how proud of me he is, that's something special. And when I turned up at the water stop crying cartoon tears and everyone took care of me (including the guy dressed up like a crane - see photo - who kept telling us we looked fresh), it really demonstrates the spirit of JoBerg2C and the South African hospitality.
Unforgettable, yes. Fun, sometimes. Maybe.
Tracking my fitness and fatigue on Training Peaks (below)