At the morning briefing, rider #2 Annemien van der Linde announced that she would be withdrawing by giving her place to the partner-less Leon le Roux, (his partner having fallen out on day 1 due to injury). Annemien had been struggling with a shoulder injury from a heavy fall on Day 1 that was affecting her team’s competitiveness and risking her safety. She decided that before the medic had any say in her future, she would withdraw.

It was an unexpected and emotional moment for all. She had long ago won the respect and admiration of her fellow competitors. Whilst out of the chance to win the main prize, she will nevertheless get to complete Honda Quest on her bike.

The newly re-constituted team of Jaco du Plessis and Leon le Roux has their work cut out to connect and strategize.

Honda Quest is now out of the deserts of the Richtersveld and today was a relatively short but incredibly scenic 124km through the mountains behind Kamieskroon Hoogte, the secret town of Karas and finally the Langkloof.

As opposed to the previous 4 days of high tension and extreme terrain, today was a noticeable change in rhythm that left the contestants reflective about how far they’d come. “it seems so long ago since we left Kaleo!”

We arrived mid-afternoon in Uitspan, a rustic farm camp, to team interviews – a long form conversation with the instructors to hear how they are doing, get context and insights for the dynamics observed and to answer questions or get feedback.

With the earlier break, as everyone is travelling very light, there was time for some needed personal admin. Also, those contestants who were mechanically minded or wanted to learn, went to work making a more permanent repair to the leaking case cover damaged on Day 2.

Before the sun set, the following 3 presentations were given;

  • Dylan Benyon – Okavango Delta
  • Andries Dippenaar – Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Neil Naude’ – Quiver Trees

Again, it is bitterly cold this evening and rather than risking a sleepless night in a freezing flapping tent, the contestants have all moved into the farms single small class room, and the crew the old farm workers house… it’s rather cosy!

Tomorrow is the longest day of Quest at 441 of gravel. It’s nicknamed the Great Trek, a necessary liaison to move the contest from the desert of the North, across the vast expanses of the Knersvlakte to get to the pearls of the Tankwa Karoo and Cederberg.