by Rohan Surridge

Mountain Biking - Blog Entry 18

Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 18

Mountain Biking - Blog Entry 18
Mountain Biking - Blog Entry 18

Day 35

Start: Graaff Reinet
Finish: Steytlerville
Distance: 171km
Climbing 1097m
While we were having a beer I sneakily let out that today’s ride would be around 175 km, but unfortunately this didn’t go unnoticed! After the immediate ‘you’re mad, we can’t do that’, I retired for a shower leaving the rest to ponder the plan for the day. When I got back, Colonel One Speed had gone thru planning in more detail than any of his helicopter flight plans and declared that he’d have to start at 3:00 am!!!!!! That’s madness I declared as I have got to know how we ride, but I could not convince the guys that we could do it in around 11 hours, so the compromise was that we’d get up at 3:00 am to ride from 4. For three well tuned machines after 30-odd days on the trail, still a bit crazy I thought!
With lights blazing the three of us rode off into the dark and cold, promising to pace ourselves so that we could achieve our goal. Night riding is always fun as it’s like riding in a tunnel, so we merrily reeled off the first few hours before experiencing a beautiful dawn over the Camdeboo Plains.
These plains are flat and could be considered boring, but they have their own particular appeal which can only be appreciated if you are prepared to look closely at the landscape, the vegetation, livestock and small wild animals. We rode through Karoo scrub, indigenous cacti, aloes, etc. Spring has sprung here and the flowers are out, so there’s a spray of different colours ranging from white and orange to pinks and lilac.
After crossing the Camdeboo, the trail leads back to the Sundays river valley and follows the river for a few hours as it snakes its way through the koppies and fold mountains as it approaches Steytlerville. I’d expected today to be a little boring and hard for me to keep pace as I enjoy challenging trail riding and am not built for fast flat tempo riding. Well, this area is certainly not boring as the variation in scenery keeps your interest so riding isn’t a chore.
As I write this, we are on Danie Craven’s son’s farm and the sun is still out, so you’ve guessed it, we made 171 km in 11 hours! My conclusion, beware Colonel One Speed’s flight plans if you plan to fly with him!
Today we made great progress south and from now on it is south and west to the Cape as the detours north and east are over! Hurray!

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