We are here! Paul Beales, Dave Fletcher (Orange Monkey-Cannondale) and I flew to South Africa from Gatwick on Wednesday. The learning here is that at 33 years of age I can no longer go 38 hours without sleep. It didn’t help that my seat exploded during the Dubai to Durban leg forcing me to assume a complex yoga posture for the remainder of the journey. We got to our accommodation just outside Pietermaritzburg at 8pm last night and our senses were immediately blasted with the humidity, insect sounds and silhouettes of low, wide trees stretching out across the open veldt. Today, despite our journey, plane food and, in my case enforced yoga we got out on course practise cos our first race is tomorrow (yikes!). The Giba Gorge race course is fast flowing with steep ups through dense foliage and, to make life more exciting, heavy rain forecast. Oh yes. It was the first time out of my new Lapierre Team Race today too and she didn’t let me down. In fact, thank God for super bling bikes compensating for sub optimal rider performance. South Africa is beautiful and vibrant and I think I am going to grow to like it here very much. Unless I have a crap race tomorrow in which case, I never liked the place and its weather and the course was badly designed. Plan B is to subtly substitute myself with Yoda the monkey. His lightness and nimbleness should, I think, make up for his not being able to reach the pedals. I ll get him a tiny Cratoni helmet. Safety first, Yoda.