On 10 April 2021 , after 4 days and 400km of cycling we stayed over at the Cranberry Guest Lodge in Ladybrand. Still 400km to go. My muscles are tired body was refreshed by the ever best and professional full body message there . At the dinner table after a quite a few beers and wines I was further uplifted by full of laughter and jokes team .”Not the same team when we arrived” . This was followed up the next morning by Mr Tony who praised us as one of the best ever teams ever “So far” which ” I think ” lasted quite a few hours later in the day. We were escorted out of Ladybrand early on 11 April by a 11 year old boy ” Jason”
Our high spirit was first challenged by a huge 295 m climb the first 10 km out of time. It was worth it when we stopped on top to view the town “Down there” from above and the the Drakensberg Mountains on the other side. The second challenge to our spirit was a rear flat wheel on Chanelle’s bike at speed on the first downhill. Then “Fluffie” (Leon) A nickname given to him by the team decided to follow it up just after with a front “snakebite” flat wheel and shortly after a rear well worn tyre went flat. The leader instructed him to change the tyre also!. Chanelle asked Fluffie if he ate too much which I think was a bit demoralizing. This flat wheel habit still followed us when Mona shouted “Flat wheel” 300m before the end of our 97km trip in Wepener. Our master just kept on riding and said he must finish with the flattie. Then he also had to change a tyre. This slightly lower spirited team was then commanded by the boss to ride eschelon like the “Tour de France riders”!  John , the most experienced rider then appointed himself as CPO (Chief Parletone officer) This unexperienced team then attempted in vein to follow each other and dodge the many irregular potholes. After many attempts to improve our eschelon riding we were shattered apart by the many potholes and incomplete training by our CPO. So much that some members did not notice they left an very important member kilometers behind. Stopping at the 50km lunchbreak was something strange to me with my serious hearing loss. The not so long ago best team communicated in low tone voices which I could not hear. The face expressions worried me. Lunch was well prepared by our chief organiser “Roger”. This even did not make the team smile. Not hearing well I asked Boss what is the problem. Just to hear that I was one of the members causing the trouble. Being a miner and always in trouble I decided just to say ” Sorry boss” and now I must try harder to be a good team member. Luckily the team regrouped quickly after our eschelon riding attempt. Our CPO then leaded us all the way with a injured back leg. I felt sorry for him but decide not to cause trouble again by lading the pack.
Todays ride was hot with spectacular view of the Drakensberg in the background and flat high grassland with sandstone koppies in the foreground. The total climb was 877m.
We were escorted into Wepener by their traffic officer up to the Lord Fraser Guest Lodge. Then the big bike wash and wheel changing started immediately .Our team spirit reignited at the dinner table with laughter , jokes , beer and wine drinking and all the hardship forgotten. We now completed 512km cycling with a total climb of 4,63 km. Being a serious retired and still racing cyclist it amazed me that the not so serious cycle team members with limited training do this long distance. This is special personalities with a lot of courage and go in life. Something that some experienced and well trained cyclists only dream of and never do.

Nico van Eck