Things started looking up around midday yesterday when we moved to our new accommodations at Emfuleni Camp. I know it doesn’t sound glamorous, but next to the slimy, mouse-‘n-mozzie infested backpackers, it’s paradise. We have en-suite bathrooms! And I’ve yet to come across a dead rodent, which is always positive. On the downside, however, the weather hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. Before the trip, I think every single member of our nine person crew thought: KzN = Durban = boiling hot. And then threw shorts and slops into a bag. Not ideal because we haven’t seen the sun since we crossed into KzN on Tuesday afternoon. In fact, I haven’t donned a pair of sunglasses since the Grasmere Toll. It’s been so frigging freezing that one of my fellow soigneuses almost bought a second-hand ski jacket from 1982, to try and keep warm. Check this beauty out in the pic below:
It’s available in one size only from the Fashion Palace at the Underberg Mall. Not that I can talk about trendiness. I’ve been wearing my slip slops with socks for the past two days, because my takkies are soaked through and because I saw no reason to pack closed shoes for my sojourn in “Durbs”. Yesterday, the boys had to peddle downhill through thick mud and arrived at the finish shivering and looking like they’d been rolling around in mud. But then they wanted to ride their silly little bicycles up and down big ass mountains…
Last night I learned that the job of the soigneuse includes washing dirty cycling kit and then…wait for it…drying it with a hairdryer. My little 1,200 watt travel hairdryer has never worked so hard in it’s life. It has also never seen the inside of a pair of smelly cycling shoes – at least it hadn’t until last night. The pic above is me, hard at work.
So, as you can tell, I’ve been working my ass off here. What has helped is that my fellow soigneuses are the personification of Domestic and Logistic Organisation. I swear, they should start a business. Before I even realise what town we’re supposed to be in, they’ve mixed the recovery drinks, planned the spectator routes, booked the boys’ massages and liaised re dinner. And they employ some of the most innovative methodologies I’ve ever come across. They hang all the washed cycling clothes in a cupboard, plug in a hairdryer and leave it on – inside the closed cupboard. This way, the clothes dry while they’re busy ordering sandwiches for the next day. How bl**dy genius is that? (I learnt this after I spent two hours holding a hairdryer over The Husband’s shoes).
And then today I stood in the freezing cold waiting to take pics of my boys at a watering point. The first pair in our greater group eventually pulled in and pulled up next to me to say hi, and to find out how I was doing. I asked them how their race was going, they gave me a quick up-date, told me The Husband and his partner were about 10 minutes behind them, and then they continued on their way. For the next few minutes, I stood in the cold with my camera poised. I even unzipped my warm top so that my supporter cycling shirt was visible (sort of). About four minutes later, I saw my boys. I screamed like a banshee to let them know where I was standing so that they could come over and say hi. Instead, the Husband yelled, “Can’t talk – we’re chasing the other team.” He disappeared and I was left with a photo of his elbow. By this stage I had blue lips, a bursting bladder and nothing but a portaloo to turn to.
I then hung around Tent City (where the riders finish their race each day and where some poor sods spend the night) for THREE HOURS waiting for the boys to decode their race performance, eat 42 burgers, get massaged and get their bikes washed. After coping with yet another portaloo, I was on the verge of losing it altogether. But just before I screamed, “THE BUS IS LEAVING!!!!!” I negotiated the most brilliant deal with The Husband. I promised that I would climb onto a mountain bike, put it into granny gear and ride a three day road race… IF…and only IF… he would be my soigneur for those three days. It might sound crazy, but remember, I didn’t say I’d make the cut off time, I didn’t say I’d refuse lifts from cute Netcare medics on the sly. I said I’d “do” the race.
Telling The Husband the Omo isn’t quite foamy enough while he washes my cycling pants, will be worth every agonising kilometre on the bike. I can’t wait.