Monday, December 21, 2009

a most pleasant Breedts' nek ride

I'm no roadie.

I tolerate district road rides like Breedts nek, because i know it's good training. So that i'd be able to enjoy things like Joberg2C, in stead of simply surviving it.

So when the hubbers organised a Breedts nek ride, I figured - why not. Nancy Drew's family has a farm in the area, which would provide safe parking and some boerewors rolls afterwards. Agteros organised some coffee and Nancy provided some carrot-muffins - yummie!

There were what - about 50(?) riders and they soon broke up into smaller groups with the racing snakes (who cycled the 60-odd kays from Joburg to Nancy's farm) way up front, and the mortals at the back.

Some beautiful singletrack through sunflowers, then off to the main bump in the road. The racing snakes went down to the shebeen on the other side, but the saner hubbers just sat around at the top of the mountain before racing back.

Some nice chats on the way, some bicycles to drool about, through the sunflower-tracks again, and then boerewors-and-swimmingpool-time.

It's good to be a cyclist.
And it's good to have friends who can organise rides like this one - THANK YOU NANCE!!

Rock & Roll

It was Thursday Night again.
We've had the official Dark&Dirty Year-end party ride, but with traffic between Joburg and Pretoria calmed down a little, I nagged Oupa Gerrit for a ride.

He agreed, and I dragged Gadget and Agteros to the ride to show them what REAL mountain biking is about.

Oupa Gerrit was the competent leader.
Herman (whom Oupa Gerrit poached on a Sani2C ride) was the sweeper. Between them were
- William, who forgot his light so bought a Pick&Pay emergency light
- Gadget, the x-freedom-challenger and my Joberg2C partner
- Agteros, an x-roadie whose conversion to mountain biking is almost complete
- Gideon, not a newbie, but because I haven't been there myself for almost the whole year, whom i've never met

We sped off to the top of Big Dipper. Searched a little in the grass for it. It was far gnarlier than I remembered it - only at the bottom did Oupa Gerrit confess that we weren't on Big Dipper at all - we found the right track, and then went on to the Cornwall RUSH. The last time I was there, there was still a gate and the downhill was all powdery. But WOW - all the sweetness and gnarly-ness of THAT downhill is back! Then on to St Georges, up Roetter's Route, then down on the Shebeen-Queen track to find the turn-off to the light-chase, where Gadget did some emergency-repairs to Agteros's brakes (it was HIS excuse) while the rest of us caught our breaths.

Then down Mine Shaft, through Blair Witch, and back to Roetters Route, this time down. Up that heartbreak hill koppie, then on to do Quadbuster, down Look-Ma-No-brakes at break-neck speed (this is why i cycle!), up Python, and on to Tour d'Tar.

I never wanted the ride to stop.
I never wanted the evening to end.
I wanted to be nowhere else.

Roetters Route has never been this fast.
Blair Witch was never this pretty.
Cornwall Rush hasn't been this gnarly for years.
Quadbuster was as tiring as I remember, Look-Ma-No-Brakes was FAR better than I remembered it.
Python has never been sweeter! The mud dried out a little, so it grips the tyres on the corners; I just wanted to go back and do it all over.

Has Tour d'Tar always started right at the bottom? And has Joburg always had THIS little oxygen?
Up Big dipper where William had an unfortunate incident with his bike and his cycling shorts and a rock and his bike's seat.

On to Cruiser and then back to the Moo Mall for some hot chocolate - a perfect end to a perfect evening.

Champions for the night:
- Night Light Chase: Oupa Gerrit
- Quadbuster: Herman
- Tour d'Tar: Agteros

Stats for the night:
- Distance: about 30
- Mechanicals: none
- Involuntary dismounts: William: 5; haven't seen any others - which is amazing considering what the wannabe-Big-Dipper looked like - not to mention Cornwall RUSH.
- Total vertical ascent: about 400
- Smileage: LOTS

THANK YOU to all involved - when can we do this again??

Friday, December 11, 2009

gumption traps

gumption: the energy you throw into what you're doing - the enthusiasm, initiative, sparkle

gumption trap: something that drains the gumption - energy sucker, enthusiasm damper

I just finished reading Robert Pirzig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - a book that is not about Zen, not about Art, and not much about Motorcycle Maintenance either.

But this is not a book review, it's about things that drain the gumption - cycling gumption in particular - and possible ideas on preventing it. Or at least minimizing the damage.

Gumption traps (said Pirzig) can be external or internal.

External Gumption Traps are things out of your control. Examples are

- horrible thick mud that collects on your mountain bike and builds up so thick that the wheels refuse to turn.
- ill weather - a non-stop south-easter, or never-ending cold fronts, or hail storms every afternoon exactly when you planned to ride.
- injuries / illness - you have all the gumption needed but can't put it to use because of an injury.
- mechanicals

Internal Gumption Traps are things within yourself. Examples are
- tiredness
- boredom

The essence of Pirzig's advice for bypassing Gumption Traps (in Zen & Motorcycle Maintenance) is to take time off. He calls it 'to go fishing'. Sit back, do something else. The answer will find you, you don't have to search for it.

I have seen this parallel principal at work very often with work-related problems. I would struggle with a problem on the database, not knowing exactly how to solve it, and then go onto Chain Reaction's website to browse through e.g. red bitsies for the bike - and next thing the solution would jump into my head. On a more dramatic note, i have gone to sleep at night with an unsolved problem, and wake up in the middle of the night with a clear solution - which i then immediately email to myself at work, and usually would work on the first implementation.

I have seen this parallell principal at work in cycling as well.
Some gumption traps that I have fallen into, and possible ways to bypass them:
The thick sticky clay on the first after-rain lap at the 24-hours
This was both an external and internal gumption trap. External because the mud simply didn't allow my to continue cycling. internal because I was frustrated that i didn't want to damage the bike (I spent almost R2000 at a bikeshop after some mud in last year's Sabie Xperience) and had to give the lap up.

Afterwards i was curious as to how other cyclists managed to cycle through the mud. I hubbed the question and got some pointers:
- Ride through every puddle you see. It washes the clay off and would allow the wheels to keep turning.
- Just keep pedaling. The clay will fall off after a while.
- Try to avoid changing gears.

The emotional trap I solved by standing back and changing the goal. Originally i wanted to do as many laps as possible. When the mud happened, I realised that I could either try to continue to race (and pay for teh damage) or just give up the race. I took a lot of time off, cleaned the bike as well i could, socialised with members of an x-adventure racing team, D&D buddies, hubebrs and other people i knew. Then went to sleep until i realised a long time later that that particular piece of mud was not part of the laps any more. I felt refreshed, the bike was reasonably ridable, and i got back on.
I'm going to have to train more to be able to ride through mud, but at least the take-time-off worked for getting back on.

the broken gear-cable at 94.7 MTB
I was flying - has a good seeding (2nd batch) and haven't been passed by many people in my group - in fact, I was passing people on the climbs and on the downhills. I felt good. Until the derrailleur stopped working at about 15 kays into the race. Stopped to check it out, and the gear cable broke off clean.

- learn how to fix it - or at least how it works.
When there's no gear cable, the chain goes to the smallest chainring - the biggest gear. A knight stopped and changed the limit-screw on the derrailleur so that the chain came to rest on the second-smallest chainring. This helped. A cycling-friend afterwards sugested that i could also have put a stick between the derrailleur and the gear where i wanted it. It would have manual gears, but it would have been better than singlespeeding in a difficult gear.

The ultimate place to see these make-shift fixes in place, is on Freedom Challenge. gadget epoxy'd a bottom bracket into place, the Gardener singlespeeded for a while, Doug rode with broken shoes, the tandem, the snowstorms and high winds and driving rain for days on end .... good grief, now that i think about it, the Freedom Challenge blogs are ALL about overcoming every possible kind of gumption trap - i wanted to still talk about getting bored with training, and with the ride itself, tiredness and other gumption traps - but there are far better examples of this out there - fiona's blog or doug's or the tandem story or gadget's story - so i'm logging off :)

It looks like rain, dear

It was the annual Dark & Dirty Xmas Ride. Decorate your bike, your helmet and yourself in Xmas attire and take the singletrack to Lawley Street to admire Pretoria's lights.

I braved the 2-hour-traffic to Pretoria to go empty my mailbox in Groenkloof. (I originally kept the mailbox as an excuse to go ride D&D - and it worked!)

I happened to have the bike on the car - still muddy from the 24 hrs.
Haven't been at a D&D ride for a very long time - was surprised (and relieved) to see so many familiar faces.

Dark rumbling clouds warned of wet weather to come. It was ignored, and QT made up songs as we rode.

Old familiar singletrack - I forgot what a joy it was!

End of the World, but the bridge looked totally different and crossing the road was scarier than i remember. Then Gauntlet, but perfectly good singletrack had to make way for Gautrain-excavations :(

Up King of the Hill to the old D&D centre, and then learning the Jinglebellride-song's words as we ride on tar up & down some hills.

singletrack, singletrack, riding in the night
oh, what fun it is to fly on singletrack at night

we riding singletrack
on our bikes at night
we're on our way to lawley street
where all the cars go 'beep beep beep'

*all together now*
singletrack, singletrack, riding in the night ...

On to Lawley Street, Pretoria's fairytale-Xmas-light-street - complete with horses pulling a pumpkin-cart - and some reindeers :)

Lighting-flashes, camera-flashes, xmas-lights, bicycle-lights.

When the rumblings became too loud to ignore, we headed back past the old D&D centre again - where the Hardies revealed their Xmas prezzie to us all: drive-through ice cream at macDonalds (where of course we all had to scream for ice cream)

The cloud rumblings became louder and the flashes more frequent, and bets were placed on whether we'll beat the storm to the Moo Mall.

We missed a turn-off and took a grass-route into the airforcebasewall-singletrack. Almost at the cemetry there were loud noises of surprise from Hardy. Legs on the singletrack. Don't know who skrikked the most - hardy or the body attached to the legs. Then the balancing act through the narrow-alley under the bridge and racing the rain on tar all the way to the Moo mall.

We reached the mall as the first drops fell. Still dry. The heavens opened. By the time all the bikes were on cars - about 4 minutes later - everybody was drenched.

Hot chocolate and all-day-Thursday-specials at the Spur. And some prezzie-exchanges.

Another uneventful D&D ride.

Here's to lots more for 2010.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'uge no more

received an email this morning from one of the most adventurous adventure race directers in gauteng the last few years. 'Uge events will not present any more adventure races. The organisers have careers and other things to focus on now.

they will be missed.

my first longer AR was one of their events - a 150 in Botshabello - they wanted to stop the race during a rainstorm after a freezing leg on a canal, but graciously allowed us to continue. Other teams were stuck on the dam, but they handled everything without a glitch.

there was an event in the drakensberg with a rock-climb at night, and abseiling off it, followed by en epic night-hike in a stunning forest. an orienteering leg when no-one could keep their eyes open any more. some cycling high up in a mountain.

there was taking a blind guy through grootkloof to see if he would manage the worst that a race director could throw at us when we were contemplating doing an AR with him (we couldn't do that due to date clashes - but it was because of an event that they were planning to put up, that we had that unforgettable experience)

there was getting sick after some tubing - and then jumping into - the jukskei, there was island-hopping in parys somewhere, some kloofing in krugersdorp - that one had some gnarly rocky descents on the bike-leg and an ice cream-stop in town - there was an event right in the middle of joburg with rhymes for clues - running and cycling without a map (we lost it and checked other competitor's maps every time we saw someone) around pretoria on a saturday morning - that was the event in memory of philip - A checkpoint in a cave somewhere near - krugersdorp? a sprint in parys with some hair-raising rock-climbing (for non-climbers) up the devil's chimney... a 65 event last year about this time with probably around 20 punctures, convincing some team members to convert to tubeless

the memories they gave us!

there will be other adventure racing events and organisers - the kinetic events were fun this year, and there are talk of longer events - but 'uge will certainly leave a gap in the calendar.

a 'uge thank you to the 'uge guys and girls who allowed us to be fully alive.

Monday, December 7, 2009

the dirtiest bike

I found some muddy tracks this weekend.
At Omni-motion's 24 hours at Rietvlei.

The race was stopped for 2 hours due to a thunderstorm.
When the tracks opened again at 7-30-ish, it was a fairy-land of red & white lights out there on the tracks. Some bikes made it through the mud. Some weren't so lucky.

After half an hour for 2 km's, i decided to give the lap up and dragged the bike back to camp. It was slow going - the bike was too heavy to pick up, and as soon as i stopped pedalling, the backwheel stopped turning. Believe it or not - up till that stage the rear derrailleur was still working. It took another half an hour to get it back, and then about 2 hours to get the bike ridable again.

Thank you to all the samaritans out there who helped with getting the mud off!

Luckily the organisers decided to cut that 2 km out of the loop, and i was back on the bike for another few loops.

A good weekend!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

4 sleeps till no sleep

Boss: Can we release early on Monday?
Me: I might be slightly useless on Monday.
Boss: K, how about Sunday morning then. 2 am?
Me: I'll be cycling.
Boss: 2 in the morning?
Me: Yes. I'll be cycling.

The expression on the boss's face was priceless.

It might not feel that good to actually try to stay awake at 2 on Sunday morning. But it sure will beat shutting servers down and running scripts.

The 24 hours start at noon on Saturday and ends at noon on Sunday. Technical (hopefully) laps of around 11 km. There is talk of climbs and forests and drops and bridges - round and round on the same track, getting to know the obstacles and going faster and faster over them - didn't clear this one on the last lap, now try something else ....

Lights are on the charger, camera is on the charger, just 4 more sleeps till Saturday.

Can't wait!

more info:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Riding, not Racing!

I've done 2 extremely muddy Sabie Xperiences, and kind of decided to not do it again because of the damage to the bike.

But when Fiona and Doug and Gadget (my freedom Challenge riding buddies in Joberg) all said they're gonna be at the Sabie Xperience preride, and with Dawn and Dave unavailable for playing, I realised I could either go with, or have no riding buddies for that weekend.

I have been tempted to do the preride before, but intimidated by my own (lack of) ability and what i've read from other people about the speeds that they do these rides at

Couldn't get leave for the Friday (due to a new product launch that didn't seem to fit in with my riding plans)

Left the office at 2-ish on Friday afternoon, only to be prevented from going anywhere by William-Nicol Traffic. Left Gadget's place at 5-ish. More traffic-woes, and we were free. Quick phone-call to Fiona confirmed that the day's ride was muddy and wet and long and awesome. Doug was battling with a cold, though, and didn't ride Another phone call to Steve (Honey) whe is lucky enough to stay in that area nowadays - also looking forward to the next day's ride.

We checked in and found the house-mates to be Colin and Graham - Colin, with whom i shared a downhill or two in Waterval-boven and a few other places - but more importantly, who has cycled events like La ruta de los Conquistadores and Trans Rockies - a LEGEND. and Graham, who has toured lots of the freedom trail SOLO. another legend.

It promised to become another weekend of cycling with legends, listining to their stories and admiring their bikes.

Woke up Saturday morning with the smell of freshly brewed coffee - Graham came prepared! We lubed the bikes, got our wind jammers out, and off we went. Doug was not looking well at all, but who can blame him for wanting to come with?

Out into the fog and through the pine plantations and through the fog. Admiring wooden specialized bikes, listening to stories, dodging mud-puddles, and just generally being alive.

Stopping for water, junglebars and bananas - then climb some more. A flat tyre, a cold that got the better of Doug, who opted to get into the ambulance - then climb some more. Wait at the top. On rare singletrackies, send the fast people first- partly so that you can see where the dangers are, but mostly for the enjoyment factor of all.

Up on to the reserve, and then on the level before the descent started. We had an ambulance, so

No mud-baths where 1000 cyclists went before you.
No queues on singletracks, and therefor no-one who jumps queues, and no-one walking perfectly ridable obstacles.

Some downhill at last, release the breaks and just go. The Trance's shocks were pumped a little too hard (due to the 6-hour-event the week before) and it handled even more unstable than i remember the hardtail - probably only because i haevn't been on the hardtail for a while!

Anyway - so we bomb down this hill and that - up that little climbie, then down again, and too soon the ride was over.

Washed the bikes, had an humungous chelsea bun (the size of a chocolate cake, really!), and then got clean to go watch the rugby in a pub.

Gadget organised some chicken liver pasta for supper - yummie!!!!

Then Sunday morning, more riding!

Doug looked a lot better, but wisely decided not to ride.
So we bid him farewell, and off we went - 'n climb on tar, some downhill, a wicked steep long breathtaking climb - and what a pleasure that it was ridable - mostly because there was no mud-bath where 1000 bicycle have gone before you, and the pathe was not full of people hiking up the mountain with their bikes.

Breathtaking climb, breathtaking views, awesome people. I wanted to be nowhere else.

More singletrack, more climbs, more downhills, a little mis-happie on a slippery climb that left a big gash on my knee, some attention from the medical team, more singletrack, more general feel-good-ness and alive-ness.

Too soon the ride ends.
Get clean, and head for Dullstroom for some pizza ans other fatty unhealthy foodstuffs and beer and hot chocolate.

Part of the reason for the ride is that the medical team can see where accidents are most likely to happen - and to work out their evacuation plans for the main event. There are 3 vehicles, so depending on the number of people who wants to ride on the day, there can be a maximum of 3 groups. People falling off from the fast group gets picked up by the slower groups. Your R100 per day's riding includes permits and a medical team that follows you in a car wherever possible - and who carries water and some energy drinks, junglebars and bananas. And priceless, the AWESOME riding buddies in what is one of South Africa's greatest mountain bike destinations ..... I'm afraid the Sabie Xperience 'main race' won't see me again.

But the preride .... i will be there next year. And i'll get leave for ALL the days of the preride.

THIS is the ride to do.
THIS is what mountainbiking is about (for me, anyway).

Mission accomplished

2009's 94.7 done and dusted.

I broke the rear derrailleur cable on the Mountain bike ride on Saturday. Saw Doug afterwards; he explained a little about how to replace it. Also bumped into Lesley, Brett and Chris, was good to see you all!

anyway - the cable was broken and the Trance only had 3 gears. And it was the day before 94.7. I phoned a friend, and Gadget kindly agreed to fix it for me. While he was at it, he replaced the bent jockey-wheel (how and when did THAT happen) and the front rotor that was bent since Ride2Rhodes. Luckily I had all the spares lying around in a bike-box since last year's Sabie Xperience, and topped up for Ride2Rhodes.

Was difficult to keep the bike appropriately muddy while having to replace stuffs on it.

So the bike was like new again on Sunday morning.
It was a quick 1-hour cycle to Karen's house - she stays just about where the races starts - and then a long walk down the hill with cyclists racing up the hill.

A few phone calls to collect DK and Agteros (a hubber who used his cold as an excuse to ride with us) and off ... and finally it was time to go.

One false start, as the wind brought down the blow-up thingy at the start - but then we could go.

Loved the bit on the M1 - Chris and Lindsay passed us - Chris wearing the same bright-green shirt than on the mountain bike ride the day before - says he has 5 of them. Also chatted with a few D&D-ers along the way.

The city-loop was SO cool - a few climbs, but none TOO bad. Old buildings, places you'd never otherwise see. Francois decided he's done enough waiting, and sped off into the distance. David decided he's gonna finish the junglebar before starting to ride again. So we left him.

Finally we hit the speed-sections of Jan Smuts.
Realised we were in cut-off danger when we left the waterpoint just in front of the Cartrack Building with 15 minutes to spare, an the one on Malibongwe with 10 minutes to spare.

At the next waterpoint, Karen's legs was hurting, so we decided to stop for a quick massage. Quick wasn't so quick after all, the queue was long and moved slow. We left that waterpoint well after the cut-off (didn't get our numbers taken because we were in on time)

Now the race was on.
Agteros fed Karen some energy gels, and we took turns tu push and pull. We slightly missed the next cut-off, but due to some technicalities got through. We raced hard and made the next one with 7 minutes to spare,. We knew we were safe, but the adrenalin was pumping, so we skipped the last few watertables and chased straight for the finish, which we made with 20 minutes to spare.

thank you dk and agteros for the help!

official time was 6:22.
Thought you had only 6 hours to complete the race, so fully expected a DNF. But the results show on racetec, yaaay!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Capestorm Rogaine

The concept: you get a map with points marked on it, more difficult points has higher values. Collect as high a score as possible within the allocated time.

Saturday was the 6-hour foot rogaine. Cindy is a brilliant navigator, and she just ran straight to the controls every time.

The 5 hour mountain bike rogaine the next day was a different story: I'm known for the proportions of my navigational errors, and Dawn hasn't done this before. I used everything Cindy explained to me the next day, and between Dawn and myself we managed to find the controls with only minor detours - AND had lost of fun along the way - there's some very good cycling at Lakenvlei! (and some mud, depending on route choices)

Lovely spot prizes from Capestorm, which includes a very green marathon t-shirt that i'll be using a lot to cycle with!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

work gets in the way

With the launch of a new product at work, I had to choose very carefully how I wanted to spend the very limited amount of free time available: cycling or blogging.

Naturally, i chose cycling.

Being a corporate firefighter, work will always interfere with training and playing schedules. So how to train for an upcoming 24-hours, or a JoBerg2C, or a possible cycle tour to Everest base camp, and still keep the clients happy - so that you'll be able to afford the adventures?

Some of my solutions:

Cycle to work.
Nobody loves traffic. So use that traffic time, that's wasted anyway, to cycle to work and back. There might be great off-road-possibilities between home and work, and you arrive at work in a good mood. Add detours if the distance is too short. It also is a good excuse to buy (and test) some decent lights for the bike (you need it for the 24 hours anyway)

Run after work while it's still light
So, you have to stay at work till long after it's safe to cycle through Delta Park all on your own.
Pack your running kit in, and go run in the late afternoon for an hour. Running is good for ... something ... Feel the freedom of running with a huge grin while everybody else is stuck in peak-hour traffic. Leave the ipod at home - use the running-time to think of nothing - and arrive back at work with fresh new ideas on how to tackle the problem that you were stuck on just before the run. Use running-days to stock up on hours at work, so that you have negotiating power for when you want to leave early the next day to go on your nightride.

Daylight savings: Cycle in the Dark
Being a mountain biker, i try to limit running to only those days when there's nothing else to lift my endorphins ... you need a car at work for various reasons (a trip to the bike shop during lunchtime for a new bottom bracket, for example) - so you can't commute. Enters night rides.
You bought the new lights for the commute anyway - might as well then go use it somewhere.
- The MTN bikepark is open on Tuesday nights till 8. Arrive at work early (or use credits built up during running-days) and leave early. Enough time for a few laps in daulight, and then put on lights for some night-fun. At night there are no wizz-kids pointing and laughing at you on the BMX-track, and nightriding helps a lot with skills (you're on the obstacle before you saw it ... nothing you can do, so just ride it)
- There's also the Dark & Dirty crowd that leaves on 19:00 on Thursday evenings from the Irene mall. This is arguably Gauteng's coolest crowd, and you will go home late, dirty and happy. Traffic from Jo-burg to Pretoria made it impossible for me to attend those rides, but as soon as the workload lightens, i will go that way again to fill up with endorphins. I will not, however, give up the commuting, night-riding in the bikepark, and running :)

oh, and get a rain jacket.

Monday, September 21, 2009

adventure sprinting

When AdventureLisa phoned me to ask if i'd join their team for the kinetic sprint, I knew i was in trouble - both lisa and debbie are very strong runners, and i've been concentrating on cycling for a while. oh well, do it anyway!

There were 2 running legs, 2 cycling legs & an obstacle course. We could do it in any order, but not 2 cycling legs after another. We started with a short rogaine-style run through the centre, followed by a very pleasant cycle on some dirt-roads in the area. The next run-leg was urban-styl in a gym! Lisa ran 1 kay on a treadmill, I cycled 1 kay on a spinb-bicycle, and debbie paddled away on a rowing machine. was great to cheer my buddies (and members of competition teams) on while waiting for my own turn. The last cycle was quick and lovely with some singletrack thrown in. Lisa's a brilliant navigator, so finding the controls was a given :)

here's a picture of us afterwards - yes, that's us on the top of the podium!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Newbies graduating to true mountain bikers

A new standard for Newbie Mountain bikers was set on Saturday when a few Mountainbike-newbies set out on a 94.7 training ride on their mountain bikes.

The main aim of ride, a joined venture between Cartrack and Momentum, was to introduce newbies to the thrills of mountain biking.

'I wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle', explained Vivek Bhimma, 'but then I allowed myself to get talked into riding the 94.7.

Bhimma was one of the riders who set off from Emmarentia dam early on Saturday morning. The ride started out with very unstable wobbly bicycles, but by the time they came back, they were negotiating roots, rocks, narrow bridges and gnarly drops like it wasn’t even there.

When they reached Republic Hill, a mountain known to have reduced hardcore mountain bikers to tears, they insisted on cycling all the way to the top. The mystery of why everyone wanted to go up, was soon revealed: It seemed like the newbie-riders were all undercover-downhill-riders. ‘That was fun’, Noleen Erlank explained as she reached the bottom of the hill with a silly grin.

The group later insisted on cycling up Delta Park Hill as well, just so that they could come down again. The customary coffee-break later in the day was also cut short so that the riders could go play again, this time through the botanical gardens.

‘I will be back’, Bhimma declared after the ride.

The next training ride will be on Wednesday 2 September at Kyalami.

In the picture: Karen de Vries demonstrating that she would be able to take a gap in a big bunch of cyclists with perfect aim on the bridge.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Birth of a MTB-hooligan

During the 2-odd weeks after Ride2Rhodes, while the RASA-guys were still on their way to Diemersfontein, I got very grumpy when there wasn't fresh news and blogs when I arrived at work. Mountain biking was, therefore, pretty much on the radar at the office when entries for the 94.7 (roadie event) opened. Fueled by Tour de France fever, and with the 94.7 route passing right by our offices, it was easy to convince the marketing people that our company simply have to enter a few cyclists and make a big party out of it.

A few fellow IT nerds agreed to ride with.

The team:
- A regular gym-spinning class-chick, who doesn't own a bike (probably never has) - no worries, i have an extra. I even have a roadie bike, so if she could manage that one, then she could ride on it and I'll ride on the hardtail.
- An ex-teacher ('I taught, nothing scares me') that tries anything at least once - he hasn't been on a bike for about 10 years or maybe longer, but no worries, his brother has a mountain bike and a helmet that he could borrow.
- An expectant dad who played BMX-BMX a long time ago, there might be a rusty old bike somewhere in the garage.

All of them smokers, although the expectant dad did give it up when he found out that his expecting.

K, so I kind of knew what they were in for. They probably didn't.

Groenkloof was going to be the first training ride.

So the soon-to-discover-mountainbiking x-teacher-IT-nerd-dude get on the borrowed bike and oh dear! The bike doesn't want to stay upright, it's wobbly and all over the place. On the first piece of single track he entertain us with a very nicely escaped endo, luckily no blood or broken bones. A few more near-endo's follow. He complains that the track is too narrow, and that there's too many rocks, and the track is too twisty, and why does it go uphill. Oh dear, what have i done, what was i thinking.

At the first (minor) obstacle the dude stopped, investigated, hesitated, and - most impressively - cleared it. With the same silly grin on his face that I see so often on mountain bikers' faces. Somewhere in the middle of the ride I saw a photo-opportunity and stopped to get the camera out. But the IT-nerd-dude ride straight-faced straight over the obstacle. 'What could i do, it was in the way', he said matter-of-factly. Oh dear, what have I done!

By the end of the ride there's a huge grin on the dude's face.

The next week Gadget Boy phoned. He's still nursing a sore knee from RASA, and not allowed to cycle. But he's going to Northern Farms, do I come with. Yes, and I bring the newbies with, to slow down the pace and respect that sore knee.

I had to go to a bike shop to get a tube, so invited the newbies with. The IT nerd dude decides that smoking is cheaper than cycling.

But on Sunday morning, he pitches at the ride with a brand new helmet.

The spinning-chickie gets on the bike. Promptly breaks a nail when trying to figure out the gears. The chickie is way too short for the (small) hardtail, but we lower the saddle, and off we go.

The IT nerd dude has a huge silly grin on his face. Downhill, some gravel to ease into cycling, then hit some single track. Both of them are riding with grins now (the expectant dad had to work - some IT nerds have to look after the machines while the others play)

Gadget Boy entertains us nonstop (and I mean NON STOP) with RASA stories. We ride single track and up and down and more singletrack and twists and turns. The grins get bigger.

Towards the end of the ride we approach that little droppie that goes into the tunnel underneath the highway. I know of a few collarbone-incidents there. There's a chicken run to the left, but it's still a rather scary drop. Especially if it's your second ride in 10 years. The IT nerd dude gets off his bike ... checks out the drop, picks a perfect line, gets on his bike ... and clears the freakin' drop!

With a huge grin on his face we ride that very sweet singletrack after the droppie, and then up through the trees - there he gets off, too tired to ride any more ... but on Monday morning the grin was still there.

A new mountainbiker is born.

ps next week's newbie ride is Saturday morning 9:00, starting probably close to the Botanical Gardens. Newbies (or RASA-riders nursing injuries) - let me know if you need details :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Endorphin Overload

If a rider hits a pumptrack in the MTN bikepark
and she does it by the moonlight and the starlight in the dark
and she ride the singletrackies and the droppies and the burms
then the endorphins emitting will be sure to light a spark!

The bikepark is open every tuesday night till about 8. That's about 3 hours of good mid-week riding if you can be there at 5.

WOW what a ride!

When you arrive, there may be a few riders, but by the time it gets dark, there's only one other rider with lights. The bikepark-staff put together a braai, and you have the WHOLE bikepark to yourself - all the burms and singletracks, the pumptrack, the jumpies (which you are too scared to jump anyway), the steep twisty climbs and the droppies, this side of the highway, the other side, this green route, that black one - all yours alone!

And an overload of feel-good hormones.

The familiar singletrack were even better at night, the bike picks the lines on the burms to throw you off this one straight into that one .... i can't think of a better way to spend a Tuesday evening.

Gadget - fix that knee of yours so that you can come play with!

Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots

When my adventure-buddy Gerard forwarded the Baron's email about the adventure race in KZN, I knew I was in trouble. It was about a month aftere Ride2Rhodes, and I haven't done much since. But I also don't know how to say no.

I've had some adventures with Pablo and Gerard and they're about the best people to go with on any adventure ... strong, lots of endurance, lots of patience, they both know how to navigate, they never get tired, and an excellent sense of humor - both of them. Gerard found the fourth team mate, a really good mountainbiker and, so i heard, an even better runner.

So Yoshimi was going to battle the pink robots again.

This race was going to be different: we would be our own support crew, with one team member driving the car while the others were racing - the driver would have his own set of control points to collect before meeting the team and swapping being a second, for being a racer again.

Teams would have to blog pictures of the controls. This would
- enable people at home to follow the racers progress
- minimise the need for marshals - if a team had a picture of them at a specific landmark, then the race organiser knew they were there
- force adventure racers to learn how to use technology! Yaaay!

Registered teams had about a week to figure out how on earth to blog their progress on - most of us used the travel-time down to PMB to figure this out.

At 6:00 on Saturday morning we received an sms telling us that we had to be at the Farmer's Market for the race briefing at 7. Aintree Lodge (where we camped) were very close to the start, so we had enough time to wander around the farmers market and breakfast on hot chocolate and huge vetkoek.

We received the instructions, and then had to go find the start of the race.

I was the second for the first leg - had to go find a shopping centre (car, boat on roof, bicycles on back, with trailer, through Pietermaritzburg without a map, first to the wrong centre, but DID manage to find the right one) to count the fish in the pond, and then drive to the first transition, get the bikes out, lube them, and wait for the team. They arrived in third place. We jumped on the bikes, and finally the race started for me as well. Some excellent navigation decisions by Gerard, some NICE downhills, quite a lot of climbing, and we arrived at the start of the paddle leg. only 2 members had to paddle, so I found myself seconding again ... we had to go take a picture of some or other waterfall somewhere, before driving to the next transition.

Wellll and THAT'S the reason why I’m not a navigator on adventure races! I got totally lost, finally found the waterfall after a whole lot extra kilometers, and arrived at the transition about 15 minutes after the paddlers.

We were still in third place, and while collecting pictures of controls, found Team Xtreme along the way. We teamed up with them and Gerard navigated us to the next transition point. It was about 30 kays, but mostly uphill, lots of Ride2Rhodes type riding often on non-existing or quickly-disappearing tracks, and it took us a very long time to get to the next transition.

Team Xtreme had a quicker transition, but our guys chased them down on the hike, and both teams came in just before dark. The transition to biking took a while, and we left shortly after Team Xtreme. I knew that we wouldn't catch them, or drop them on an uphill, and Gerard was the better navigator, so they wouldn't drop us before we found all the checkpoints, nor would they allow us to get away from them. They were far stronger than our team at this stage, cos their girl was doing the seconding and the previous long cycle-leg took some energy out of me. Some excellent navigation decisions from our navigator, a nice downhill or 2 and we lost them. They caught us again on a long never-ending climb, but luckily for us there was another 9slightly gnarly) downhill and we finally could get rid of them.

It was a toss-up between Gerard and myself about who was going to second the last leg, but I think I convinced him that I was more tired than he was, so I was the second again. It would have been an 8kay trail-run, but it was difficult to find the trails, and they decided to rather do a 21 kay road run. I loaded up the bikes, packed everything in, and then drove to the finish.... as i drove passed team Olympus (who also opted for the roadrun) it was -1° outside!

I pitched the tents (in that weather!) and then waited for team Olympus. Team Yoshimi arrived in second place!

This race format: seconding yourself:
- makes it much easier to enter a race - seconds are hard to find, and even harder to keep
- makes the race slightly cheaper - a dedicated second would probably have meant another vehicle had to go down
- was hard, because of the extra tasks that the seconds had to perform - finding shopping malls in a foreign town!
- changes the adventure into racing. I like adventure racing because of the variety - even though I’m not a strong paddler, I get to spend time on the water - but this time, we had to go with whatever race/second-combination was going to yield the best results for the team. This turned the adventure into a race (together with the much unexpected early lead)
- makes you appreciate dedicated seconds. Seconding is hard work! loading up bikes, unloading them, feeding them ...
- the changing of seconds was also hard - you'd come in from a race, but the next leg you are the second, so although you're hungry and tired, you immediately have to start looking after the other team members to get them out of transition as quickly as possible.

The blogging website couldn't handle all the traffic (the race organiser got warnings from Google saying that he's spamming the website!) but and it was great coming home after the race and experiencing the race through the other team's eyes! And it was great to have to learn how to blog from a cell phone - I'll know how to do this from a cellphone for next year's Ride2Rhodes :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

after R2R: other bees in my bonnet

Safely back home from R2R, I followed the Rasa riders' progress with mixed emotions.

A part of me SO wanted to become part of this legend.
A part of me was grateful to be back in the office, watching them cycle through the snow and mud from the comfort of my office chair.

And, while waiting for blog-updates and sms-updates and twitter-feeds to come through, catching up with life in general, and emails in particular.

One of the emails was from a friend ... about possible dates for her Everest-trip. Since January, when she conquered mt Vinson, I kind of suspected that she might go for all 7 the summits, and suggested that I'll get a few supporters to go cycle around the mountain when she's on it. Figured that it'd be a while before she would be able to get everything together.

And then, between updating the blogs and waiting for updates on the Freedom Challenge website, I stumbled across her proposed dates - next year April/May.

So I naturally had to go search for mountain biking in the Everest area.


A mountain bike race from Everest Base Camp to Katmandu.
Including a piece of road that is possibly the world's longest downhill, a drop of about 4000 meters over about 100 miles.

Although not that technical from a pure mountain biking point of view, I can't imagine a race that would have better scenery.
It includes one week of acclimatizing (and doing touristy things while doing so), a flight from Katmandu to Lhasa (with Everest probably not that far below you), one week of bicycle-touring to base camp (getting used to the altitude), 2 days in base camp to explore and get ready for the race, and then 5 stages of racing.

Now all I have to do is to persuade Elsie to go climb her mountain in July, instead of April/May :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the giants out there

It was perfect weather for PMB to Rhodes.
When we saw the guys (and girls) off in Rhodes, it was cold, and we knew it would be a hard and difficult journey to Cape Town, but everyone was cheerfull and expected to finish.

But the weather is not playing nicely any more. It is scary to read on the website about the people who are pulling out - I have cycled with some of those guys, and trained with some others, and know how strong they are - mentally and physically :(

Some of the strongest dudes and dudettes that I know, blog about how hard the days' cycling was. I read about gale force headwinds, stan's freezing in the tyres, painful knees that makes cycling virtually impossible.

Everyone here in the office is cheering them on, everyone wants the tandem to finish, I could already hear 'chariots of fire' as ordinary people cycle into Diemersfontein after an extra-ordinary journey ... I so want the people that cycled with me to Rhodes, and the people who trained with me, and the bloggers and everybody else to hurry up and finish the race so that I can concentrate on work again ....

And I want to shout 'hang in there, keep going' when I read about hailstorms and sore knees ...

But when does it become just a little stupid to continue? At what stage is it sensible to listen to your body and stop cycling and give up, so that you don't damage your body and can come back next year to finish what you started?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

what a ride

wow, what a ride ... 60-+ hours in the saddle (including interpreting the maps, crossing rivers and climbing mountains) to cycle 509.4 kilometers to rhodes.

a magical ride, some of the BEST (and toughest) riding i've done.

day 1: pmb - minerva - hella-hella - mackenzie; about 11 hours with 2616 m vertical ascent
Cycle to the townhall, some fodies, wait for the clock to strike 6, and off you go.
Mild distric road, chatting, bantering, mild cycle, first turn-off, a loong climb on forest tracks and later singletrack into minerva, rewarded with soup and bread, yum. in a tracktor and farm-implement-musuem :)

Then a steep downhill, more downhill, a rivercrossing or 2, map interpretations and more map interpretations, a very steep climb up hella-hella, followed by the BEST toasted sarmies and carrotcake EVER in the mackenzie country club. Hot showers, great food (lots of it) and chocolate eclairs :)

day 2: mackenzie - centacow - ntsikeni; just under 12 hours; 2658 m vertical ascent
Starting in the dark, lots of map-interpretations and discussions, totally wrong route, arriving in Donnybrook via a huge detour, them a stunning bit of forest-cycling (inlcuding some very nice downhills) into centacow. more stunning cycling along distric road and then offroad on cattletracks - the last bit of uphill cycling on cattletracks to ntsikeni in the dark, with a rivercrossing to get the feet wet right at the end. A huge logfire in the most beautiful cottage in the mountain, with bright bright stars and hot water for the showers. Soup, bread, supper, clean white linen, and no snoring (the snorers were in the other cottage)

day 3: ntsikeni - masekala in just over 12 hours with 1756 m vertical ascent
A rude awakening over grass and wetlands, took us 3 hours to do the first 13 kays. There were some rewarding downhills, though, a few kays on a district road with a headwind, some excellent soup, rolls and bananas in a farmhouse, and then a long climb over a ridge, with an apple-stop at the top. A downhill to match, more downhill, and finally some navigation in the dark to get to Masekala where there was no running water :(

day 4: masekala - queens mercy - malekonyane in 9 hours with 1016 of vertical ascent
The prettiest day of all ... into a massive plain and then downwards on whatever tracks you could find. Lettuce sandwiches at queen's mercy (supplemented with 2 cm of peanut butter and filtercoffee), then a stunning climb through villages, and up, up, up, and then lots more map-interpreting, some investigation down a valley, but back up, and finally DOWN to a farmhouse on an exhilirating downhill, and onwards to malekonyane, with a sharp steep climb, hot showers, vetkoek, a visit to the mission station.

day 5: malekonyane, tinana, vuvu in over 12 hours; 1976 of vertical ascent
starting in the dark with muddy singletrack, then district road, a climb, some downs, then off into the mountains for more singletrack, up to black fountain on cattle tracks, and then ... it looks like a bikepark up there ... wide playgorounds where cattle dragged wood ... lots of map-interpretation ansd searching for bicyclce-tracks, a very technical downhille (which the trance loved) and then onwards to tinana mission for a snack-attack of note: cheese-and-peanut-sandwiches, doughnuts, coke. followed by a climb on district road, and then 20-something of cobblestone winding up-down never-ending district road. arriving in the dark, was glad to see the school! interesting shower-thingy, and then sleeping in huts.

day 6: vuvu-lehana-rhodes in just over 9 hours (including about 2 hours of stops, but it was the last day, we had to make the most of it) 1546 m vertical ascent
starting in the dark, a downhill from vuvu, with the most stunning view of bicycle silhouettes against a red sky ... then up into lehana, lots of it ridable ... a few picnics on the way up - then more upwards around the corner, and downhill to the tenahead lodge for some tea and sarmies. onwards down to the top of naudes neck, ehtn down, and a loooong climb before finally a long sweet downhill, and then rolling hills into rhodes, with hot showers, food and clean white linen.

the rasa-guys cleaned their bikes and washed their clothes while the r2r-ers spent the time in the pub :)
woke up at 4 to see the rasa-people off, and then promptly back to bed, to wake up to a late breakfast. will be back next year!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Friday

It's finally Friday.
It became Friday too quickly.

One day i was contemplating if i shall jump in & do this ride. The wuzzie-one, at least.
The next day it was Friday afternoon.

Far too soon.

The race has started.
The runners were out there all day, first finishers expected any moment.
The first batch of cyclists start tomorrow, while some nutters decided to go do Induna as some last-minute training.

The bike is washed, the tyres re-stans'ed and trued.
Piles of cycling clothes, tools and winter-gear are now sorted, packed and ready to go.
Only thing left to do is to replace ride-snacks that mysteriously disappeared from the race-box during the last week.

Too soon.
Can't wait!!!

Good luck to the Freedom Challengers, the Rasa-ers and the R2R-ers!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Late autumn, a perfect day for playing in the Spruit. The muddy patches are mostly dried up, the winter dust hasn't dusted yet, and brown and yellow leaves all over the singletrack.

Sunday morning was a most beautiful day in Jozi. It was a windless day with clear blue skies and a few irresponsible mountain biker buddies that know where to find all the juicy technical bits. And know how to ride them.

'twas a ride to celebrate freedom - Freedom of the Spruit, Freedom to ride Mellville-koppies, Freedom to be outside in winter, to ride proper offroad right in the middle of Jozi. Freedom to start the ride only at 8:30 - and not the ridiculous early hours that the freedom challengers seem to think is appropiate to start a ride :)

And Freedom to play rather than train, because it was only a week to go to r2r, and finally - finally - it was too late; training would not make any difference any more.

A late long lazy brunch afterwards.

THIS is why I mountain bike.

On the academic side:
  • found a map board, hoping to fit it tonight
  • finally we have some bad weather here - may test some of the winter-gear tomorrow morning on my commute to work
  • finally downloaded the maps and instructions
  • capestorm stuff is on it's way
  • camera is still at customs - hope it gets released on time
  • bike needs a wash after sunday's ride only a pleasure to wash the bike after a ride like sunday's :D
  • top up the stan's in the tubes

Results of the accidental front-brake-experiment:

Accidently used the hardtail's front wheel on the Trance yesterday.
Juicy five brakes are compatible with hayes disks :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Filling a 100 litre tub

It's so much easier, doing the r2r.

You can, for instance, pack a clean set of cycling clothes for every day.
Warm (clean) clothes for the evenings.
A full-sized toothbrush :)
Big towel and soap.
Living up to the RASA expectations of looking like a tourist in the evenings, all clean and dry and smelling of soap.

You have, after all, 100 litres' worth of space.
Which is about double what the Freedom Challengers have, at 26*2 litre ... for about a quarter of the distance. Yes, lots of space.

With the Freedom Challengers' boxes already on its way to Capetown, and with all the talking and blogging about what they packed, and how, and how to get everything else in the 30-litre-backpacks, you feel a little left out. So you decide to go find a 100 litre box (to get an estimate of quantities) and put your stuffs together.
Just in case you have to go to the capestorm shoppie once more.

'If in doubt, take it with', one of the freedom challengers said, 'you can always leave it in the box if you don't need it.'
'I'll carry your fruitcake', you replied. 'I've got planty of space. Need me to carry some coke for you as well?'

100 litres. LOTS of space. Clean clothes for the evenings, warm stuffs, pretty pink fleeces and cute beanies with hair. Polar buffs. Gloves from the last time you climbed a real mountain.

Throw everything out in the spare room, box goes in the corner.

Big box. Lots of space.

Start packing.

In the box:
  • a few spare tubes
  • a chain
  • a tyre
  • half a bottle of stan's (cos you have it)
  • lube - wet and dry
  • a front derailleur (because you have it)
  • 2 skewers - front and back (because they were lying around in the house)
  • 2 of those little wheel-thingies that goes onto the derailleur
  • some tools
  • 6 sets of cycling clothing - shorts, shirts, long- and shortsleeved
  • a fleece or 2
  • fleece pants for the nights
  • 2 sets of legwarmers
  • 1 set of armwarmers
  • a fleece headband
  • 2 buffs
  • civvies for day after the ride
  • full sized toothbrush
  • sunscreen
  • odds & ends
  • rain jacket & pants
  • make-up and unmentionables, as suggested by Gadget and his buddies and buddettes
  • you're sure you read somewhere that someone recommended you take a sleepingbag with
100 litres. errrrrmm ... not that much space after all.

You'll have to rethink the game plan, then.
Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Gadget for you, you wanted pictures: Bike is packed and ready to go.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cycling with FreedomChallengers

I signed up for Ride 2 Rhodes.

The kindergarten-version of the Freedom Challenge, complete with a guardian to look after us :)

Gotta do a bit of training. Even though this is the novice-version, there would still be hills to climb. But when Dave suggested on Saturday that we go for a ride with Fiona and the Freedom Challengers, I was a bit wary ... these people are going all the way to Cape Town, and they probably trained accordingly - if their blogs were to be believed. Intimidating!

But I allowed myself to be talked into riding with them ... they would be cycling with full kit and apparently were tapering, and who could resist a ride in the Magaliesberg area anyway?

An early start on a coldish morning.
Dave lead us down a tar-hill to test the buff's ability to keep the ears warm, and to find out where toe-freezing-point is. Then up again, through the gate, and heaven. This is why i cycle. For dirt and pretty views and rocky climbs with gnarly downhills. On towards the dam, then down, another little singletrackie through grass, and coffee.

Then a portage - 'cos the Queen Bee said so, and even though i was gonna do the kindergarten-ride, i, too, will have to go over Lehanna. That's what they said, so I went with them.

'they' also confirmed a few other things for me:
  • the ride 2 rhodes is 6 days, not 7 - so i have enough cycling kit (the luxury of not having to carry everything, therefore being able to take clean kit for every day)
  • the 20 litre bag will be big enough, even with travel-size makeup and other unmentionables in the bag
  • thank you Fiona for all the tips on navigating! i'll see how much i can remember
  • apparenlty my pet cat looks more like a dog, but in the end they admitted that maybe it could pass for a lion-cub, which is feline, which makes it a cat.
  • my lift back from rhodes was in fact riding with us in the group (i only had email contact up till then)
  • blue is a very good colour for a camera - now it must just arrive in time, otherwise i'll have to take the SLR
There was a race at van Gaalens, so we couldn't ride my alltime favourite singletrack :(

The Freedom Challengers quickly replanned the route, and we went up the vegetable farm, a short climb, a nice downhill (the bike loved it!) then up some gravelroad, and then up a stunning little rocky climb. heart rate monitor's battery is flat, but i'm sure with the last remnants of last week's cold it would have been a ne max heartrate. All of them with backpacks approaching 40 kg's, way up ahead on the climb, and me trailing a km or 2 behind them with my 2 litres of water in my bag. (That's why I do the novice ride.)

Did I ever feel left out of all their talk about ice-cream boxes that had to be packed and sent down to capetown, or about their final preparations, or about parts of the route that i wouldn't do? Not at all. Just very thankful for a few things:
  • i didn't have to climb that rocky bit with a backpack almost as heavy as fiona herself.
  • i know people who know how to connect all the juicy bits in the mountain in the best possible way, creating a stunning ride :)
  • happy to be on my bicycle -the bike absolutely loved the ride
And mostly a little bit sad that the preparations are nearing it's end, and that their may not be repeats of a ride like this one :(

thank you, Gadget, for the entertainment provided :)

Good luck, all ye Freedom Challengers! Two weeks to go!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sani2C nonstop

We left Joburg early, to do the REAL sani2c - No riding up there, we had the bakkie with us.

Was cold at the top, the hot chocolate went down well with the views.

There was some good tracks up there. Dodgy at times, to try miss the 4x4s, hikers, donkeys and other traffic. Contrary to popular belief, it's not all the way downhill from Sanitop to Underberg. We arrived just in time for race briefing ... then off to bed in a tent just outside the hostel - getting up at 11, cos the race started at 12. What an uncivilised time to start a race - pablo and gerard had their hands full to keep me awake. A coffee-stop and some red bull at the Mackenzie-club did the trick.

No singletrack at night - partly to make the ride more doable. So no Nic's pass, we took the district road all the way to the bottom of the umkomaas valley - and out on the other side.

We defrostd a little when the sun came up. And slightly overheated when Gerard put Pablo on a tow, had to work hard to keep up with them!

Each team has it's own backup driver. Hein cooked up a wonderful breakfast - he even put out chairs for all of us, lubed the bikes, and he makes excellent coffee.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waterval Boven

Glenn has been busy in Boven. The Forest Track, Rim Trail and Contour Path will stay favourites - but he added a playstation and fourcrosstrack, extended the Contour Path, added a few bridges to the Forest Track, and extended the Rimtrail till right in town - it's rough in sections, and big fun!

Here's Paul on the playstation:

more playstation-madness. there is a chicken-run for the less adventurous.

Swampdog Grant on the fourcross-track:

the masterbuilder and some swampdogs on the top part of the Rimtrail.

a bridge at the bottom of the RimTrail

The fun part of the Contour Path (everything of this path is the fun part, actually)

A rivercrossing just before the exit of the Contour Path

A bridge over a fence as you exit the Forest Trail (wheely strictly optional)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Extreme Dinner - new years 2009

We were 3000 metres above sea level. It was cold and wet and misty and miserable and none of us were in the mood for celebrating anything, let alone getting into formal gowns and partying the night away. It was four hours after we left the car park on what was supposed to be a 2-hour hike. It was pitch dark long before we reached the chain ladders, and even though we knew we were only 300 metres from the hut, we couldn’t find it due to low visibility.

We pitched the tents and Gerard started making butternut soup. We were hungry and cold and wet. The walk up here was slippery and dangerous at places, the packs heavy with all kinds of nonnecessities. We huddled around a tuna-salad and washed it down with big gulps of Roberto’s sherry. The soup took forever, but finally it was kind of ready – we declared it 2009 and went to bed. It was cold and wet and miserable, but at least we weren’t that hungry any more. We would have the dinner in the morning.

1 January 2009 broke clear and crispy with the majesty of a drakensberg morning. We were 3000 metres above sea level and right next to the mighty tugela, a few metres from where it tumbles 900 metres to the valley far below. One by one people crawled out of their tents … and then 2009’s cork popped exuberantly and joyfully like a drakensburg-morning:

Jacques ironed his shirt.

The girls got dressed

Then we took some pictures

Had a bite to eat – a few bites, actually – the menu included, but was not limited to, a fish-dish, salad, lasagna, grilled chicken, couscous with balsamic vinegar and grilled veggies, tiramisu, cheese & biscuits, and chocolates and coffee … washed down with liberal amounts of sherry, bubbly and red wine.

And finally the dancing bagan (it's the speakers here in the foreground, living next door to alice)

The vitalstatistix for the midweek-weekend:
Carrying non-necessities up the mountain: 5000 kiloCalories
Shivering from cold and wet while pitching tents: 2000 Calories
Ironing shirt for early-morning dinner-party: 1000 Calories
5-course dinner for breakfast: -7000 gigaCalories
Extra portion of Tiramisu: -1000 gigaCalories
Memories: calorie-less :)