Day Two: First Leg

Posted: October 4, 2010 in The Journey

Quick note: Jeremy here again. Quads for Quads 2010 finished yesterday at Carnival City. I’ll keep updating the posts as before, I couldn’t do it in time with the ride because of bad signal areas, but mostly because I decided to concentrate on making sure we made it through so we’d have something to write about 🙂

The camp site at Weenen was coming back to life before sunrise, as riders woke early to get themselves ready and prepare the bikes for the long day ahead. Some of the riders however were not rising early. The bar at the Weenen camp site had been full of people late into the night, with some only leaving at 3am. I recall this time exactly, as I was in the same tent as some of them when they arrived. Luckily Phil did not have to worry about being disturbed by the late night party crowd. He was staying with a very nice family 10km up the road, and so when I arrived to fetch him shortly before 7am, he was well rested and prepared for the hard day.

Everybody said that today was the longest drive on the trip – over 250km in total. We were all concerned about how the day would go. After the previous day’s difficulties, we were sure that if the day didn’t go well, Phil would not be able to finish Quads for Quads. But if we could get through the longest stretch, then Phil’s confidence would be back and we could  get underway.

We set off just after 8am, making sure to drive the right way out of the campsite. After a few minutes it quickly became clear that aside from the heat and distance, we had another enemy that we needed to overcome – dust.
As riders pass you, they kick up a massive cloud of dust. We’d seen it before, but outside of Weenan there was a constant fog of dust from the large group of riders all leaving at once. Because Phil is strapped into the Quad, he can’t raise and close his helmet visor. Keeping the visor down too long was too hot, keeping it open was hard to see. We quickly learned a rudimentary sign language so that he could tell me when the dust was too much so I could open and close his visor as required.

Ploughing through the dirt roads, the landscape was also very dry and hilly, with rural villages scattered across the hillsides. The roads were lined with local children, alternately cheering us on or holding out their cupped hands with sad faces. Some held out their hands for us to give them a high five, but as Phil was unable to do so, I gave it a try. Because I wasn’t driving, we went a little faster than we should have, and I think both me and the smiling boy on the side of the road had a nice stinging hand after our 40 kilometre per hour high five.

After a lot of driving through scenic countryside, we hit a stone riverbed. There was no water, but the rocks that barred our way were stacked haphazardly, mostly the size of basketballs. There were lots of riders backed up here, as crossing the rocks was treacherous. Brendon and Cowboy climbed out of the Rhino to help the riders across. They were just in time to catch the rider in front of us as his dirt bike toppled sideways. With Cowboy’s directions, Phil made it through the rocks and took a breather on the other side, before setting out again. The countryside flattened out, and the rest of the ride to the rest stop was a battle with the strong heat (over 30 degrees, but nobody could say for certain). We rode into the rest stop tired, hot and dirty. Phil was immediately helped out of the quad to have a lie down under a willow tree, happy to have a drink and a large bottle of cold water poured over his shoulders and body to cool off.

It was definitely the hardest ride so far, but Phil had mentally prepared himself for the long stretch and was coping well. A quick refuel later and we were ready to tackle the next section. We were all hoping that it would be shorter and easier, for the sake of Phil and the effect the long drive was taking on him.

He's the one with the plastic ears on his helmetSide note: I haven’t mentioned who Cowboy is yet. He’s a six year veteran of the Quads for Quads drive who helped us out a lot through the trip. He was riding co-pilot with Brendon on the Rhino, and he spent a lot of his time guiding us through the difficult to navigate areas and generally saving our butts!

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