Yesterday was a very difficult riding day, today was expected to be even harder—the make or break day for our EFI.
“Don’t take long breaks”, Rupert had advised me. “Last year, even the best riders only reached camp at 4.30 p.m.” Tough climbing, dirt, and expectation of headwind in the afternoon would make today one of the hardest days on the entire tour.
We climbed some 1,500 meters, partly on extremely steep gradients, partly on challenging dirt, until we finally reached the lunch truck. With almost 2,000 meters of climbing over the entire day, my Garmin told me that I broke my personal climbing record!
Afraid that I might lose my EFI, I pushed hard in the morning. That was a blessing, because after lunch was mostly downhill, then tar—a lot easier than the morning for sure. Without even stopping a single time after lunch (other than briefly taking off some clothes), not a single bite from an energy bar, I miraculously pulled up all my hidden energy and pedalled to the best of my abilities.
What satisfaction when I reached camp before 4 p.m.! What happiness when I knew that I’d managed to ride EFI throughout our most difficult days! What sense of accomplishment, that surely also everyone else who rode the entire day must feel! We’ve done it! And doing something extremely difficult is highly rewarding, something we can feel proud of for days and weeks to come . . .
Stage 85: Clanwilliam – Dorp op die Berg (South Africa), 134km
Road & traffic condition:
Steep climbs and terrible corrugation in the morning, more downhill and mostly tar after lunch.
Luckily, not as cold in the morning, so no frozen fingers. However, unexpectedly, it started to rain an hour in our ride. By the time we reached the lunch truck at the top of the climb, we were all sweaty and hot. However, not moving while having lunch made us freeze within few minutes. Luckily, it got somewhat warmer again after the freezing downhill from lunch.
Very windy and chilly in the evening. The weather forecast says it will snow here by Saturday!
Chicken fajita station.
- Difficult riding day (for those who rode)—wine and cheese day (for those on the truck).
- Lots of interesting scenery—palm trees, lemon orchards, alpine vegetation, curious stone formations . . . Unfortunately, I was too focused on riding to take pictures today.
- Dinner around a bonfire at camp.
Hardest day done! It should, hopefully, be RELATIVELY easy from now on. ONLY 123km and 750m of climbing tomorrow—piece of cake! 🙂