91km. Yzerfontein to Cape Town.
After the burn last night, I hung out at the beach with Mathias and ChrisP and we watched and listened to the waves as we reflected on the trip. We played at the edge of the waves, getting as close as possible without letting them touch our toes and then running backward as they came toward us.
In my usual uncoordinated fashion, I managed to trip on the totally unobstructed sand while we were playing this game. Landing on my ass and laughing uncontrollably, I could do little as the wave continued inward, completely soaking me with cold, salty water. So much for my plan to stay warm last night by sleeping in those clothes.
There was a lot of excitement and emotion this morning as we packed up our tents for the last time. I had trouble just getting out of mine on account of the zip tie that some of the guys had placed on it while I was sleeping. The combination of morning confusion and the urgency of a full bladder made this practical joke particularly effective. I had to laugh because they had zip tied my tent with one of the zip ties that I had given them the night before for the same purpose (well, for other people's tents, not mine!).
Carrie and I woke up early to help our cook, Kim, prepare pancakes for everyone. It was totally freestyle pancake dough; throw in some eggs and some flour and some water and, I'm sure, something else (I was too distracted to keep track). I really admire people who can cook without a prescription.
I rolled out of camp for one last time with Carrie, who rode with me for so much of this fabulous adventure. I have had the great pleasure to ride with so many cool people along the way. When you are riding together, it feels like you are always going to ride together and then circumstances change because this adventure is so dynamic and you start riding with other people and hanging out with other people and you don't get that satisfaction of having savoured that last ride with the other people.
It is like eating a box of smarties and you reach into the box for that last one only to find that you've already devoured it. I hope that one thing that I can take away from this experience is to more deliberately savour every smartie, every experience, every encounter with people. I wanted to have all of my friends beside me for this last ride, but if I could have just one, I'm glad that it was Carrie.
We took our time getting to the convoy-meet-up spot, which was a nice little spot on the beach about 40kms from our final destination. We took pictures and drank champagne and ate chocolate cake on the beach. I did an interview with some news guy. We could have stayed there all day, but the journey had to carry on.
At the finish line, we had a ceremony with speeches from seemingly important people who we'd never met and about things that had nothing to do with our lives for the last four months. I was pretty hungry and just wanted a beer, so my interest in all of that talking and formality was rather low. But I did receive a medal for my EFI, about which I am most proud. 15 of the 63 starters made EFI; each of our journeys filled with moments of pain and suffering and moments of sweet, sweet joy.
I also received flowers and champagne for my first place finish among the women. Seeing as I am fond of both flowers and champagne, these were welcome gifts.
We all headed back to the hotel to pack up our gear and prepare for a celebratory dinner. That meant getting all of the gear off of the trucks. We've been getting on and off of these support trucks for four months now and what happens on this last trip off the truck? The winner of the entire race fell from a ladder and badly broke his ankle. His achilles is badly damaged enough that it will require surgery and an extended stay in Cape Town before he can fly.
And, it turns out that he wasn't the only one with terrible luck today. On the convoy in, one of the other riders fell and cracked her pelvis. She will be stuck here for a while, too, while things heal up. We have faced so many challenges and dangers along the way, it feels so strange for this to happen now; Luke's run in with the car a few days ago, the truck disaster, and now these serious injuries. I guess that we are never really out of harms way.