Day 9 – May 2, 2015
Official distance: 84 k
Descent: 1551 m
Ascent: 854 m
Terrain: Single track, Cane roads,
Conditions: Hot, Humid inland, Coastal wind
Kits: 12 Hours
I think I smiled all day long until I burst into tears at the finish line.
Karrie’s Day 9 Overview
The long overdue post from Day 9 – Not sure why I have been so hesitant to write this final day – Maybe it is because it means the whole adventure has come to an end. And what an adventure it was. I was asked today – why did I continue after I was injured? In actuality, it never had occurred to me that I should have or could have stopped on Day 2 since I had the physical ability to continue. Even when I went to the medics at the end of Day 2 they asked what I planned to do. The only natural response was to keep riding – I travelled half way around the world to ride from Joburg to Scottsburgh and I certainly had no intention of finding another way to the beach – I simply had to make it to the Indian Ocean. I was obligated to make it – so many of you supported me in spirit, in kindness, in encouragement and financially in support of 12 Hours and RhinoArt. I couldn’t just quit. How could I have worked toward this goal for nearly a year – training every weekend, buying all the right gear, countless hours on the trainer (how many seasons of the L-word did I watch while pedaling….), and how could it now come to an end, so soon, without finishing? Yet in the morning, as we lined up, how could it be Day 9 already? Although, at times it seemed like I would never make it the whole 950 k, yet I only had 84k left to go – that was practically a walk in the park.
Somehow Charlie and I got separated at the startline for Day 9 – I was near the front of our start group, he 80 riders back near the end. As I looked around – I was surrounded by a group of exhausted yet, an exuberant group of amazing people that I had spent the last 8 days struggling with, celebrating with and developing a wonderful camaraderie with. Will we remember one another’s names – likely not – but will we remember the group of strong, supportive, encouraging riders that made this such an amazing event to be part of – you bet! Always and forever. Just when you needed someone to say – “you are nearly there.”, “you can do it.”, “stay strong”, “looking good” someone would be on the sidelines cheering you on, or another rider would say the words that kept you pushing your pedals.
So how can I sum up Day 9? I was feeling strong. There were cane fields, climbs, farm roads, too many kids asking for chocolate, a switch to humid, tropical conditions, an unfortunate detour down the wrong route, kilometers of rocky river paths, more cane fields and the first view of the Indian Ocean. Before I knew it, I popped onto the final floating bridge and there was the finish line. THE finish line. THE Final Finish Line! We made it! I immediately burst into tears. I don’t think I have ever been so overwhelmed by a physical accomplishment. Where they tears of relief? Joy? Pride? Sadness? Fear? Exhaustion? Elation? I don’t know – Likely a combination of all.
Over the 9 days, we traveled through 500 peoples property in 4 provinces, rode some of the most stunning landscape I have ever been in, pedaled through swamps, across rivers, on train tracks, up escarpments, over mountains, descended into valleys and experienced South Africa as only a few can say they have. I am beyond proud of Charlie and I for making it together, for not giving up, and for the adventures to come because I have no doubt there will be others.
Charlie’s Day 9 Overview
Final day and it’s “only” 84k. Sore and beat up but ready to see the beach. I’m not sure why I didn’t figure out beforehand that the types of people that would take something like this on are going to be just as fit, prepared and competitive as me and mostly younger but put that in the lessons learned box. No longer all amped up at the starts but got a bit knocked off my game by seeing some “new-old” friends on the sidelines not starting the leg. Not sure if they are injured or missed a cutoff or what ? While I’m pondering all the emotions that I am going through about completing the race and what they must be going through not completing it, Karrie just takes off flying at the start. She’s up in the lead pack of our group and I have to work really hard to get up to them. I’m just getting comfortable with the pace and they all come to a screeching halt and turn around. We missed the single track turn off by about 1k. By the time we get back to the turnoff it’s back of the pack, wait in a queue for the technical features and try to pass at the wide spots. It turns out that the start group ahead of us did the same thing. After some pleasant riding we hit some steep climbs with many people pushing and not too concerned about leaving an open track so I take another crash but manage to not take Karrie out this time. I’m getting better at crashing for sure. Practice I guess. More water crossings and we emerge onto cane roads and make our way back into the mix with the usual suspects. It’s feeling sort of tropical with the cane, humidity and lushness. At the top of a hill we can see the ocean for the first time. Then its a long gradual downhill with a lot of big railroad bed gravel so the track is narrow and chattery with limited passing opportunities so I’m just trying to stay comfortable and look for the smooth spots. We wind along a riverbed with the same gravel track and then some rolling sandy single track before crossing the highway under an overpass and pretty much pop out onto the final floating bridge behind Karrie. This one is nice. It’s like plastic floating dock leggos. 3 wide so maybe 1 m, sturdy and fast rolling over a big lagoon. I bet the spectators think all the crossings are like this (vs pallets or the invisible bridges…) Luckily I don’t day dream too much as it goes to 2 wide about 3/4 along. Then it’s onto pallets on the beach and a short climb to the hubbub of the finish. Despite the missed turn, we only lose 1 spot. It’s been an amazing and incredible adventure. I’m glad to have made it and happy with our results. I couldn’t have had a better, tougher, more resilient and accepting partner and I’m crazier about her than ever. Karrie had booked us a really nice room with a view of the beach and finish. As we get ready to scrub off the dirt before heading back to the beach for a toast, we can only laugh at how fit, skinny, taped up, bruised, cut and battered we both are.
My final joberg2c selfie