#CountryCyclist Ian Macleod very nearly came to a sniffly and despondent end a few nights ago.
I rolled in to Winterton with the beginnings of a flu: sore ear, blocked nose, shivers. That was on top of the sorts of aches and pains all the riders are feeling. After somehow crawling into a sleeping bag, I coughed my way into a sleep with no idea whether I’d still be in this event when I woke up.
With some fortune, I woke up much improved. I’d give it one more go and see if I could get through day 5 (at least I think it was day 5 – things get very blurry out here).
As luck had it, the next night I was booked to break away from the cold of the campsite and live it up at the fantastic Zulu Waters. We had cycled through it earlier that day, making it especially hard for me to continue up ‘Harder’ (the hill leading out of the game reserve) to the finish.
The rooftop jacuzzi, personal chef, fireplace and down duvet all appear to have had integral roles in my improved physical and emotional condition. More on this in a later post.
Today was our 7th since daparting Heidelberg. Described by many erstwhile riders as an unofficial rest day – at just 80km and with plenty of descending it’s got nothing on the hardest days – it was nonetheless rather a challenge. We headed from Underberg, though the timber plantations and dairy farms of KZN to the Mackenzie Club, Ixopo. The lesson: there’s no such thing as an easy day on a mountain bike.
Another treat was in store. I had my solitary physio session of the tour. I needed some needles in my right achilles tendon for some tendinopathy and general massaging for the rest of my pins. Many thanks to the folks from Adventure Physios.
So tomorrow #CountryCyclist heads off on the penultimate ride of this campaign. Starting with volumes of downhill, finishing with endless ascents, it is often the hardest day of the race.
Then, all things going well, it’s one final push to Scottburgh…