Tomorrow is set to be less net ascent for the lead riders of the racing snakes, with near 2000m altitude being reached at Ntsikeni after huge climbing today.
While Martin looks set to pass May Lodge in Ntsikeni tonight (the 2nd overnight support station for a regulation ride), Glenn still needs to undertake the climb to Ntsikeni from Centocow later tonight, however. The route profile is a stiff one out of Centacow. The 1st 12 kms out of Centocow involve a climb of near 600m. Thereafter a tricky little night navigation section through Gxalangene Forest before the 2nd big climb of around 650m from around the 27km to the 37km mark. Thereafter the route rises more gradually, is 52.8km to May Lodge in total, and a cumulative ascent of 1,802 m with a cumulative descent of -997metres.
In Ntsikeni Reserve, the altitude is above 1,800 metres, which must surely have some effect on coastal-based riders who are not acclimatised to similar levels as are Joburg-based riders. And Alex Harris the Everest climber is based in Joburg (climbs Northcliff Hill these days), whereas Martin Dreyer lives lower down in Natal. With Waterval Boven his residence, Glenn is somewhere in between the 2.
But Alex has other issues to contend with right now, however. Tweets coming in indicate that his saddle has broken. Some running repairs required at Ntsikeni. Such is the nature of this race.
One or more riders may decide to move on from May Lodge tonight towards Banchory, not attempted often in the past. This is a relatively easy section once the riders have exited Ntsikeni Reserve, and is a net descent stage. It is a 36.2km section, but don't be fooled by the short distance. It can be slow going out of Ntsikeni Reserve as you're not exactly on one of those Joburg ETolled freeways. The net descent for the stretch is -741 metres, but there is still some ascent, especially in the initial stages, and the cumulative ascent is +628m.
Sheila at Glenn Edward may have to burn some midnight oil waiting for the lads. Glenn Edward is the 3rd day midday stop for the social riders. If these guys continue tonight, it may become the 1st night midnight stop tonight.
The following stage will be to Masakala from Banchory (Glen Edward) and is 59.5km, and this could conceivably be done before dawn tomorrow morning. This section also involves a net descent. But there are many ups and downs, with cumulative +1,205m ascent and -1343m descent.
From Masakala, the next stage is to Malekhalonyane 56.4kms away. This is the 4th night stop for the slow pokes. Cumulative ascent is +1029 metres and cumulative descent is -1003 metres, so a very slight net ascent. Its navigation near to Malekhalonyane can get tricky at night, coming off Mpharane Ridge, but Martin and Alex will most probably hit the section tomorrow during the day at this pace. Last year, Alex rested at Centocow, like Glenn is doing tonight, and then rode all the way to Malekhalonyane by late the 2nd evening. That may be more-or-less Glenn's schedule, so he'll have to be sharp with night navigation on the approach into Malekhalonyane.
And do I dare speculate about the possibility of riders moving past Malekhalonyane by tomorrow afternoon/evening??? Quite possible by the look of it. From Malekhalonyane the next stage takes the riders to Tinana Mission a cumulative ascent of +1226m and cumulative descent of -1380 metres, and a distance of 42.2km. If they come into Tinana during the dark hours of tomorrow night, the navigation off the ridge above Tinana Mission could make for the 1st bit of interesting navigation for the racing snakes.
If a rider does get as far as Tinana tomorrow night at some stage, the scene will be set to get to Rhodes during daylight on the 3rd day of the race, and to go past Rhodes before the 3rd day is out.
And now for the weather forecasts:
Seems like the conditions were good today for the racing snakes as far as we hear.
Tomorrow, the general picture along the sections likely to be covered by the riders tomorrow seems to be one with some likelihood of rain.
The weather forecast at Centocow is for 2mm of rain. See link:
Overcast but no rain is forecast for Ntsikeni tomorrow:
4mm of rain forecast for Masakala:
8mm of rain projected for Mpharane near Malekhalonyane:
7mm of rain forecast at Black Fountain, en route to Tinana: