Friday 10th August - Day 2
We are awake early, refreshed and relieved to find not a cloud in the sky. We put our wet clothes back on and move to the horses with renewed optimism for a big day. We agree we need to be on horses early so that we can start riding bang on the 6.30am start time.
At 6.30, Henry was still fighting both his mount and herder. It had spent the last 30 minutes striking at anyone and anything that would come within range. By 6.35 Jack had already raised the possibility of leaving him, with little regard for the 5 hours Henry had been waiting for him the day before.
By 6.45am, with all other riders out of sight, the horse settled just long enough for Henry to mount, before careering through the pony lines and boulting, at flat gallop, in completely the wrong direction. After wheeling it around 180 degrees, still at full speed, we set off in the right direction to start day 2.
Having not learned our lesson from yesterday’s mountain climbing episode, and still thinking that the race is won in the first 2 days, we decided to try and take another shortcut. A new day had bought a change of fortune and within an hour we had caught everyone that had left before at the day’s start.
We were joined by 2 other riders out of station 4 and the 6 of us kept moving through the undulating terrain to station 5. As we neared station 6, we had our first sand dune crossing was upon us, as the blazing heat zapped the horses with little water on this section of the race. This slowed the pace to avoid further penalty, which by this stage was welcome relief for us all as we were now in territory of having never ridden this far.
We moved out of station 6 and into a mountainous section before a long and flat last 20km into station 7 towards the end of the day.
We cleared vet and would have had 20 minutes to gallop along and find a camp for the night, but we decided to stay at camp 7 and take the guarantee of shelter and food. We had caught another rider and found out that the leaders were only 1 station ahead at station 8. The news gave us a much-needed boost after a tough first 2 days. We watched the herders hobble the horses and take them away for food and water for the night before Jack showed some videos to them of his horses back home which they were fascinated by.
After talking (call is charades) with the local herdsman, Jack showed them some videos of his horses back home that they were facinated by. Jack, sticking to his strategy of bribing the locals for the best horse with handfuls of cigarettes, helped us choose our horses for the morning.
We would find out later that at this point both Rob and Henry were experiencing dehydration and despite putting on a brave face and offering to ride on at the end of the day, the end had never looked further away for them at this point.
We were all sore, hot, tired but it was comforting to know that we were back towards the front of the pack and ready to ride again in the morning.
Day 2 Stations Travelled: 4
Day 2 Km travelled: 148