We lined up outside Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 6am alongside some pretty awesome riders. The others guys in our batch are all racing and all potential winners so we naturally felt a little intimidated and a bit out of place but we enjoyed the hype anyhow.
The whole group stayed together through Bizley and then Glen (Harrison) was the first to make a break. We rode with Graham (Bird) and Hanno (Smit) until half way up to Cunningham Castle when they put the hammer down. It was on this climb that Tim (James) also came FLYING past us after he had a small nav mishap in the sugar cane fields.
Julia and I spent the rest of the day alone and it was great! The route down through the Umko valley was clear and flowing and lots of fun... Until my gear cable snapped, then the fun stopped and it was bushman mechanic time. Fortunately we didn't lose too much time but I have lost a couple gears.
The Hella hella climb (Approx 6km and 600m altitude) was even more painful than expected due to my sore knee. We have both been struggling a bit with tired legs that feel a bit like they did an expedition race two weeks ago... Wonder why? Oh yes, they did. My right knee in particular has been giving problems but hopefully it will feel better after a bit of rest. Julia has been her usual chirpy and positive self and riding well... She is such a great riding partner (and life partner) ... Lucky me!
We had a brief but lovely stop at Allendale (the first of 25 support stations) and then carried on into the early evening arriving at Centecow at 18h15. We have had a lovely dinner and are now planning a 5 hour sleep before getting back on the bikes at 1:30am and heading for a Ntsekeni breakfast!