Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 2: Centecow to Masakala

By: Julia

Day 2  involved 21 hours of riding and hiking and LOTS of climbing. 

We left Centacow at 1:40 am in the cold of the night. Centecow is a lovely mission station on the side of the hill built around a beautiful old church.

Riding through sleeping villages under a star filled sky with the spoilings of the odd shooting star. 

This first section to Ntsekeni is a tough one. Lots if climbing with little reward. I was knackered. We were moving slowly. I had a progressively worsening chest, it was productive and made me short of breath very easily. This slowed our speed down considerably as well as a general weakness. Perhaps I was fatigued from the 12 hours of riding the day before or perhaps it was my system just saying 'take me to bed to get better', probably both. 

At about 2:30 am Chris says, " Jigs check here" ! Flip, it was a crack in his frame where the cross bar meets the seat post tube, it went all the way around. Out with the duct tape and cables ties for some African engineering. 

We finally made it into Ntsekeni at 9am for a brilliant brekkie. We took an hour off and had a few minutes of shut eye before heading out again. Getting to a support station is an obvious highlight for the warmth, food and rest opportunities but also to catch up on who is where and how your fellow riders are progressing. 

Leaving ntsekeni we took the old route through the valley which was apparently open again and supposedly an hour faster...this was not the case! 6 km took us 2 hours. Bike on back wading through knee high grass with uneven ground..... Not cool. 

The wind had now picked up but we could smell Sheila's soup on the stove at Glen Edward, we arrived at her door at 3pm and enjoyed her good cheer and a break from the wind. Over the farmers radio system there were reports and status up dates of bush fires. Understandably so with this dryness and wind. 

Leaving GE, back into the wind we knew there was a long slog ahead. Chris' knee was getting worse and riding was becoming more and more painful. I was still feeling weak. The last 30 km s, now in the dark takes you up and down three valleys where there are no roads and navigation is tricky. With no moon, not dropping into the wrong valley was crucial. Fortunately Chris' nav got us through cleanly. 

We passed one village where there was a bush fire between the houses. This put our exhaustion and pain into perspective. Good reality check. 

During this last section, Chris had twisted his knee, so that the itb stabbing pain on the outside was accompanied by sharp pain when walking on uneven surfaces. 

At last we reach Masakala at 22:45, as two tired riders grateful for the coziness our round house provided and asleep in no time.

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