#BruisedButtCycleChalleng Cycling day 7

#BruisedButtCycleChalleng day 9 cycling day 7   Our toughest day yet!!!   After a cold and miserable break day when we washed the bikes in the 10 degrees heat, and only left the accommodation to get lunch and a lot of firewood.  We were exceptionally grateful for the twin tub washing machine and the tumble dryer.   We got the weather report and prepared for a tough day ahead.   We were up as usual at 05:30 and although it was windy,  we were grateful that the rain had stopped.  the weather report showed we could expect WNW winds of up to 56 km/h with NWN gusts of the same speed.  Until the ride I thought I knew the difference between wind and gusts, but we were pushed every which way – except from behind – to the point we were battling to keep moving forward.   In the past I have not managed to keep moving at less than 4.6km/h. Going up one hill we were doing a mere 4.3!   Once again we spent a lot of time in ‘granny gear’ – the equivalent of first in a car, reserved for difficult uphills.     When we started out at 07:20 it was a bitterly cold 7 degrees,  with a gentle breeze and no rain. We managed to bank 10 km when the wind got to it’s peak for the day,  and it only abqtd at about 17:00.  We moved slowly with our average speed for the day being in the region of 10.7 km/h on the gravel and our final average being 11.1 km/h.   We covered 86.2km on gravel,  with the total trip for the day being 93km.  It was an exceptionally long day with us only getting to our destination in the dark – very glad we light up like Christmas trees – at 18:10, with total saddle time of 8:25:17   Sometimes it is amazing how adversity can change one’s perspective.  We stopped for a refuel and as we were about to depart at 15:48 I noticed I had a little issue in the form of a flat rear tyre.  At that point we still had 25 km to cover and roughly two and a half hours of daylight left – including dusk, and we were pushing to get to our destination before nightfall.  However,  once I got the puncture  – which cost us just under 20 minutes – and we KNEW we would be cycling in the dark,  we were both much calmer.   I came as close as I ever hav to ‘hitting the wall’ a state where one is so exhausted that you simply cannot move.  Neale reminded me I had some booster and basically had to lead the way into the wind from there on.   Once again some spectacular scenery,  evn when the clouds opened up – the rain here is very cold – and we had the added joy of seeing a large (over 0) flock of Blue Cranes,  an Otter,  a Zebra and a mongoose.  We also had a river crossing on a manual pont / ferry.   Saying of the day “You didn’t choose your weather very well”  from a stranger entering the convenience store just after Malgas.   The contnder was “Arnold!  Never say that again! ” in reference to my comment on day one when we were cycling into a little more than a gentle breeze and I aksed if that as all there was! I think I made a mistake and asked for forgiveness many times during the ride