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Tent life has become a routine by now. Photo credit: Em Gatland.

The morning starts as I wake up before my alarm, sometime between 4 and 5 am, to the rustling of my tent neighbours. I head to Seattle coffee and drop off my cup in the coffee queue. Then it is time to try desperately to eat breakfast: this is about the only time in my life where food doesn’t go down easily. Usually, at this point, I am convinced that I won’t make it twenty kilometres into the coming stage, and breakfast wants to come back for a second round. Early mornings are not my thing. Luckily the coffee perks me up, and then it’s time to collect my bike from the bike park and hope that everything is still working. A lot of rustling, swearing and seeking for clean lycra then occurs before I hoist my bag to the luggage truck. Usually, I am late for the start, and end up tucking in somewhere near the back of the batch.

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Start line banter eases the nerves. Photo credit: Em Gatland

Today we headed out almost straight into some awesome bushveld trails, a part of the Berg and Bush route. These set a good precedent and kept me fizzed for the coming district road slog.

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Water point 1 was stocked with so many treats that I had trouble fitting them all in my pockets. Determined not to end up on my own in no man’s land again: I clung to a passing group like a Jack Russell terrier, while simultaneously stuffing my face with date balls. This helped keep me occupied and make the somewhat uninteresting kilometres to water point 2 pass quickly.

Then the climbing really started: it was a relief to climb, simply for the change of movement on the bike, and it came with changing scenery, as we edged closer to the Drakensberg mountains. There was no single killer climb, rather a series of rolling hills with some fast, open jeep track descents in between.

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We headed into the lush green Natal Midlands. Photo credit: Em Gatland

Soon we were into the lush green farmland of the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands. The total change of landscape from the morning's bushveld made me appreciate the distance we had covered during the day.

Bagpipes welcomed us to the finish at Clifton School, Nottingham road. A quick single track descent through the forest brought us down to the school on a high note.


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The enthusiasm of the Clifton school children made for a very warm welcome. Photo credit: Em Gatland.

The welcome at the finish took things to the next level: the Clifton School children were standing by with water and chocolate milk, and I was inundated with offers of help to carry my bag to my tent, take my bike to be washed, and show me where the showers were. Things only got better when I saw the tea table groaning under a pile of cakes in the lunch hall.

Well fed and watered, I hope tomorrow goes smoothly as we ride 98 kilometres to Glencairn Farm with 2022 metres of climbing.

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The campsite at Clifton School is nothing short of scenic. Photo credit Em Gatland.

Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 5 Highlights