I hear my comrades calling for me. Feeling a surge of bravado, I tell them to go on and I'll catch them. Finally, the guns fall silent and I stumble out of the cubicle. Eddie smiles and says wryly that I'll be a lot lighter now.
I speed off into the day. With 340km to go, and not relishing the prospect of riding on my own for a full day, I drop the hammer. Thirty minutes later, I see the group and bridge. I spend the next hour licking my wounds safely in the bunch.
We hit Villiers at noon. 180km to go. The next stage is the classic stretch to Deneysville on the Vaal Dam. This stretch is 88km long and is going to be a tester. I wolf down a coke, a sandwich and some bananas.
Twenty clicks later, and after using up way too many matches motor pacing a truck, my stomach goes offline. Godfrey reckons its from an insulin spike. I drop off the pace line. Godfrey rides me back on, but I'm belching and wretching. I tell the group I'll catch them and stop to take some Rehidrate. I then grind out another 10km on my own, before I see Nigel lying under a tree, at the side of the road, looking grim. I stop to see how he's doing. He's also got the dodgy tummy. We team up, both gradually feeling better as we ride the next 50km.
We see the Vaal Dam as night is falling and our spirits lift. We catch the bunch at Deneysville, and hurriedly refuel. It is 6pm now. We have been on the go for 15 hours. The previous night I could only manage an hour of sleep before the early start. Still, we are only 110km from home.
We cruise to Henley where I ingest as much caffeine as I can. This is a good strategy, as I put in long pulls at the front. At the Lido, the caffeine wears off and I am mashed. I just can't stay awake. I get dropped on Impala. I decide to sleep in the bushes. This is very uncomfortable, so after a few minutes I set off again.
On Butcher's Hill, my phone rings. It's Gill. Where am I? The bunch is waiting for me at the top. I'm relieved. It is now 10pm, when a "good Samaritan" sees this cyclist talking on his phone at the side of the road, and decides to offer "help". I watch as he cuts across three lanes, narrowly avoiding at least three sure things. He then stops 50m in front of me, and puts it into reverse. I jump out of the way as he narrowly avoids ending my ride. He asks if I'm okay. I smile and wave, as he speeds off. I'm happy to see the bunch as we crawl to the finish.
My Polar tells the following tale: 23 hours on the road, 16h25 riding time, 400.54km at 24.4km/h, 12198 kCal burned.
Thanks to everone for a wonderful day. See you all next month.
Edited by speedracer, 25 March 2012 - 05:27 .