|The top of the Ladder|
This year's Freedom Challenge will be remembered for the fine weather and distinct lack of clouds - except for the strange little mushroom cloud that popped up over Gamkaskloof and hovered over The Ladder.
Two members of the Dikwiel Kommando rode out to investigate - Warrant Officer Waddilove and his trusty sidekick, Voorryer Rissik. They smelt a rat, so had the good sense to check in at the Prince Albert police station on their way out and notify the authorities of their plan.
They arrived at the first Big Gate - now electrified, barricaded and very locked! Waiting on the other side was a menacing pack of Mountain Men, intent on keeping them out. Words were exchanged but it was clear that these guys didn't want to be friends... Since the gate was locked and the fence was high, they set about finding a weakness and came upon a ditch through which they could crawl. The Mountain Men scurried to block their way with thorn branches - but unperturbed, the Kommando dismantled their steeds and crawled through. Once back on the road, a stand off ensued. The Mountain Men were led by a particularly fervent young upstart who tried to body block their progress - he managed to succesfully obstruct WO Waddilove but seeing the gap, the wily VR Rissik darted through and rode like hell to the base of the Ladder. He never looked back, so he never saw them 'arresting' his compatriot and escorting him to their lair at the base of The Ladder. In the meantime, VR Rissik arrived at the base of The Ladder to find the way blocked by razor wire. He whipped out his standard issue Dikwiel Kommando fencing pliers and set to work liberating The Ladder! His job done, he returned to the Lair to find his now detained partner.
|Voorryer Rissik in detention|
|Warrant Officer Waddilove waits for tea|
With the two of them under house arrest, awaiting the arrival of the local police, it took a woman's touch to ease the tensions - a Mountain Man's wife offered the prisoners a cup of tea and a pumpkin fritter. It was a long wait, punctuated by brief verbal exchanges but I don't think it ever really got to the point of being 'chatty.' Night fell and after four hours, it became clear that the police were not coming, so the Mountain Men spoke and told the captors they were free to go. The ever determined WO Waddilove informed his captors that he was proceeding up The Ladder, which they briefly objected to but realising the futility of further detention, objected no more. (Quite possibly, they realised that if he stayed any longer, their tea supplies would be decimated, so were more than happy to get rid of him). Looking outside, the mushroom cloud had started to disperse but was soon replaced by rain clouds. VR Rissik, returned to home base to report back on the mission, while WO Waddilove proceeded up The Ladder into the cold, wet night. He got through to the first inhabited farmstead on the way to Vleiland, where he was collected by Gerrit Roux (from Rouxpos) and taken home with the promise of waffles and ice cream for breakfast.
With the matter seemingly resolved for the time being, riders have been passing through the Kloof and up The Ladder unchallenged - possibly the Mountain Men are not as menacing as we all thought, or maybe they decided that a few weary cyclists were really not worth the trouble. VR Rissik reported that the pumpkin fritters were delicious, so who knows, the Lair could even become a support station one day... No doubt the Men of Law will have been consulted and have given their opinions and the skirmish may ultimately be resolved by the Men with Wigs but for now there is peace in the valley where, after the rain clouds finally dispersed, only clear skies remained.