We headed off on a section of sealed road, along with several of the other teams, in pursuit of checkpoint 85.
We had plotted our route around some higher point values, and while we veered off onto a less beaten track, many other teams continued along the sealed road.
It wasn't long before I wondered, even if ever briefly, whether those other teams had it right. We very quickly found ourselves on terrain that I would never dream of calling a "track/path". Sure, it was ridiculously steep (up and down) but more importantly it was so rutted out that I was at a loss to pick a line. I very quickly had no choice but to push my bike (up and down). On one of the ups, I was literally unable to push any more. I let my bike drop to the ground, gasping for breath.
I quickly experienced a pang of guilt. What if Miri saw me? I immediately scrambled to get my bike upright and kept pushing. I sneaked a look at my watch. You're joking... we're only 45 minutes in???
We eventually found our first checkpoint. I'd helped Miri decide which way was "downstream" so felt I'd contributed something. "Onwards and forwards!" Miri yelled for the first of many times. I was strangely very relieved to hear her adapt from "onwards and upwards". I'd already had enough upwards, thank you very much.