TDT stage 3

At the end of stage 2 the sag wagon was very late in, and some other vehicles in the rear convoy were even later.  There had been two problems.  The first was a lot of very slow riders at the back of the field.  The second was a fuel shortage.  Some of the trucks and cars needed to refuel but there had been issues.  The fuel place they stopped at was authorised to sell fuel to most of them, but not to the UN vehicles.  The logistics of the race relies on a fair bit of input from the UN, most importantly for water storage so we can all have showers at the end of the day, but also for baggage and sundry other things.  Apparently there had been protracted phone negotiations for more than an hour before the correct authorisation was obtained.

With the sag wagon so late, and the convoy behind it so late, our bags and hence our tents didn’t arrive until 8.30 pm, and dinner was also delayed.  So it was a late night.  Later though I found out that I’d had it easy. One of the trucks in the rear convoy had not got in until 11.30.  Luckily for them there was an Australian woman on board who had some local knowledge and was able to get a restaurant opened up for them, or they would have been starving. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Putting up tents

Doesn’t matter what you do in this country, it is worthy of an audience.  Just having a nap in the afternoon one is likely to wake and find many small eyes watching.  What will he do next?

What will he do next??

Because the third stage would be a bit shorter than the previous two days the organisers decided to delay the start by one hour, and send us off at 9am.  We had only 70 or so kms to travel, the first 50 being mostly flat and some of it reasonably smooth bitumen.  At the end of the day would be two steep hills, with an uphill finish into the pretty hilltop village of Illiamar.  We were warned many times before starting to expect very rough going on each of those two hills – steep inclines, loose scree, large rocks, pot holes and more.

Lining up at the start of the day

The smooth flat bitumen of the first 50 kms were fast and relatively easy.

Smooth bitumen - beautiful

I ended up sitting behind one of the top placed riders, getting a nice tow.  I’m not sure what he was doing so far back from the front – I suspect he must have stopped to fix a flat or something like that.  Whatever the reason he was on his way back to the front.  Sitting on his wheel was OK on the flat, but as soon as we reached the first hill it was clear that his young cyclist belongs to a different breed of human than I.  The transition from flat to hill was abrupt, and the surface was indeed rough and loose and hard to negotiate.  Within metres I was down to a very low gear, carefully crawling up this hill.  At the same time he was off, having barely reduced his speed.
The finish line at Illiamar was spectacular.  A long, straight uphill dirt road in pretty good condition.  Huts and houses scattered about.  But it wasn’t the geography or the town planning that made it so memorable.  It was the fact that the last hundred metres of road was lined on both sides with hundreds of cheering, clapping, smiling people.   It’s pretty nice to be cheered like that.
As on previous nights huge plates of food and reluctant but necessary visits to recently-dug-but-not-deep-enough pit toilets were part of the routine.  Cold showers and stinging saddle sores ensued.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sandra Smith
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 21:08:55

    Hahaa, very entertaining JP, you described the journey very well, could almost hear the crowd cheering and waving from here.Keep up the good work.Looking forward to your next enjoyable tale. SkSS


  2. Daniel McKenzie
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 13:57:38

    Hey John, looks great mate although the conditions sound very tough. Keep up the great workl! Dan


  3. scottsabode
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 04:31:22

    See, this is why I like blogs. Pit toilets, saddle sores, cold showers – I would never have known of these things had I not been reading of your experiences Dr J.


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