Day Two: Second Leg

Posted: October 5, 2010 in The Journey

Already tired, with the previous day’s events fresh in our minds, we set out cautiously onto the second leg of the day. Our trip so far had given us more experience in what to expect. We packed extra water for the journey, to keep Phil cool in the oppressive heat. We followed Brendon and Cowboy in the Rhino, making sure we couldn’t miss any markers and get lost again.

The second leg was not as far as the first, and immediately after leaving the rest stop, we encountered a train. Many parts of the trip run alongside train tracks, but now a train was trundling alongside us, and we were forced to wait at the crossing for it to finish passing. The dirt track continued along the tracks, and once we could pass it we set out to beat the train to the next crossing. Cowboy was driving the Rhino at this point, and he pushed hard to beat the train to the crossing as Phil and I followed as closely as possible. We arrived at the second crossing, having just missed the arrival of the train and waiting again. Our train chase lasted for three crossings each time the train got there first. Next time we’ll beat it.

The scenery rolled past us, changing from hills to flat grasslands dotted with industrial smokestacks and factories in the distance. We drove past old buildings that hugged the railway line, no longer used. After two hours of driving, we entered the town of Newcastle and discovered from one of the marshals (locals volunteering to stop traffic from driving into us) that we had arrived 50th out of 100 riders. Not only had we successfully made it through the second day, we had done it ahead of half the riders in the event!

We stopped briefly to assist a fellow rider whose quad has suddenly died only 3km from the end, and using one of the straps holding down our jerry can on the back of the quad, we fashioned a tow rope and the Rhino towed him into camp. We arrived with hours to spare. The sun was still high, we were covered in dirt, but thrilled to have beaten the longest leg of the trip with time to spare.

Later that evening Phil returned to camp after a long rest to attend the QASA auction. Every year in Newcastle the organisers hold an auction to raise funds for QASA, putting up small items (like drinking bottles shaped like spark plugs) and large items (signed rugby jerseys from the Blue Bulls and Western Province). The down run raised R55,000 and our auction for the up run raised R30,000 (with a lot of encouragement from Glen).

The tired and weary travellers  went to bed satisfied with the long day, and the not so weary travellers bundled into the backup vehicle to hit the local night life of Newcastle. Phil returned to his Bed and Breakfast with renewed confidence and optimism, ready to tackle the second half of the trip.

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