Friday, February 25, 2011

birthday ride in groenkloof (sunday 13 feb)

A curios giraffe from this morning's Groenkloof-ride.

Breakfast, coffee and ice-cream at Moyos next door afterwards.

aaaaah, such is life :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The 11 principles of Mountain Biking Economy

Scarcity means that if there's too many people riding your favourite single-track, you have to go find another place to play. Mountain Biking Economy is the study of how mountain bikers manage their resources (weekends, bikes, single-track and riding buddies) to ensure adequate happy-hormone levels.

A dude named Mankiw coined 10 economic principles; i've added an 11the because mountain biking is sligthly more complicated than other economies:

1. There will always be a trade-off between different singletracks. To ride some great technical climbies and bridgies at Teak Place, you give up some cool giraffes in Groenkloof.
2. The 'cost' of riding in one place is what you gave up by not riding at another.
3. The benefit of riding always exceeds the benefit of not riding. It's is better to ride just a little bit on a weekend if time won't allow more, than to not ride at all.
4. Mountain Bikers respond to incentives. The better the tracks, company, variety, remoteness, roughness, stories and wildlife, the more riders will want to go there.
5. Trade can make everyone better off. You show me your favourite trails, and I'll show you mine.
6. Mountain bikers attract mountain bikers. The more mountain bikers you know, the bigger the possibility of getting invited to more exciting places to ride.
7. Don't rely on governments and other people to get it right. But sometimes they do (Groenkloof comes to mind)
8. A mountain biking community's standard of living is directly proportional to the variety of single-track close by. Happy mountain bikers are more productive, hence earn more, hence have more time to play.
9. Inflation is when all your buddies ride very expensive bikes, and you have to get a bike with more travel and tyres with more grip, so that you could keep up with them on the downhills. Either change jobs so you can also afford a very abusable High-Tec all-mountain bike and adventures like Freedom Challenge, or change riding buddies.
10. Mountain bikers face a trade-off between riding and working. The ideal is to always be able to ride, but most riders have to work to afford their hobbies.
11. If the spruit is swamped for weeks on end, or if all free time is used up for studies, dabbling into trail running or even just writing about mountain biking provides some relief :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time to say Goodbye

Snow at Lake Yamdruk, Tibet

A bike tour around Ireland, across Scotland and then on to Holland; a 3-day bike tour through the Baviaanskloof; another 3-day tour from Cape to Agulhas; a ride through the Himalayas from Lhasa to Katmandu. Some spectacular riding in Swaziland after we DNF'd a Swazi Extreme.

Two Sabie Experiences, a Sani2C, a TransBaviaans. Magalies Monster, Sudwala Mankele, a 24 hours at Northern Farms, Lionman, Sabie Classic. Sabie Shenanigans and Midlands Mally. A few proper adventure races, and a lot of sprints.
A wartrail where we had to outcycle a snowstorm up Lundean's nek.

Plenty of Groenkloofs, Spruits, Dark & Dirties and weekends in Waterval Boven.

Even an Argus tour or two.

I was a champion, I DNF'd, I was last, and I finished everywhere in between.

I broke a derrailleur in the Himalayas and on a Magalies Monster; broke the seat post bolt on a Sabie Shenanigans and another one on TransBaviaans a few weeks later. Broke a front derrailleur on Sabie classic mud and fitted the new front derrailleur after the first Sani2C stage, because there was no time to fix it inbetween. Phoned a friend late one Friday evening for instructions on how to make the rigid's 7-speed backwheel work on the Schwinn's 8-speed shifters 'cos the broken spokes would not have lasted for Lionman the next day. I learnt how to fit shifter cables at a very muddy (aren't they always?) Sabie Experience. I experienced the enlightenment of tubeless; the transformation from v-brakes to hydraulic disks; the upgrading to a proper (and working!) front shock.

I got horribly lost in the midlands at night during a Midlands Mally - and during some daylight Rogaines, and on some adventure races. On bunted Mountain bike events too -Wartrail and Induna, among other. I rode much faster than I should have on some downhills on Sani2C and in Sabie. Came off my bike very hard at a D&D ride a week before G4 challenge. And lots of other times, too. Some scars, some blood, lots of fun.

The Schwinn could do it all. Proper singletrack, pannier-touring on backroads, dirtroads and singletrack; locally and abroad; into headwinds, in thunderstorms, and by moonlight; through mud, snow and rivers.

It's time to say Goodbye to the trusted Schwinn - it's in the bike shop to get a new frame.

It had a full life, and will have lots of stories to tell when it get to the place where good bikes go. I hope the XTC would match the Schwinn's undying spirit!

Some of my favourite memories of the Schwinn:

An old castle in Ireland. Heard about it at the youth hostel where i stayed the night before, and spent the whole morning searching for it.

Giant's Causeway, Ireland. There was some very good singletrack against the mountains above the sea after this - one of the prettiest coastlines the Schwinn had the honour to ride.

Some spectacular singletrack on the Great Glen Way in Scotland. Have to go back there one day to go ride in GlenAfric ... without panniers  ...  notice the slick there on the front wheel ... which is what i did the singletrack below with.

More Great Glenn way.

Getting caught in the rain in the spruit ... those white things are not flowers, it's hailstones.

Team Dark&Dirty just before the Transbavians start. In the middle is Hans Wolfaardt (airbus plane crash May 2010)


Just before the pannier-clips broke off in the Baviaanskloof. Nothing cable-tie couldn't fix.

Potala Palace, Lhasa
Some prayer flags at the top of Yulong pass, Tibet

The hardtail at a campsite next to Rongbuk Monastry, a few kays from Base Camp.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The tyranny of the 'AND'

Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) suggests replacing the Tyranny of the OR with the Genius of the AND (in his book Built to Last)

In theory:
There's more possibilities in life than having to choose. Do both.
Not 'ride your bike OR study' but rather 'ride your bike AND study'.

This was exactly what i thought last year when i had to make up my mind about doing an MBA ... OR exploring lovely new places on my MTB. Embracing the Genius of the AND.

This AND-ing got me in trouble now:
The Argus tour is on 13 March. I've done a few (20 and three quarters, to be exact) so I thought i could dress up, Afrikaburn-style, and go have fun - not too concerned about less-than-ideal training time. Classes in Capetown start the day after that, so I'll sommer be in the area, ready for the challenge. The genius of the AND. Easy-peasy.

Except that I didn't bargain about all kinds of other interesting temptations that would appear on the radar. Like Trans Lesotho, which starts 2 days after classes finished in Capetown. In Lesotho.

I also didn't bargain on my boss' generosity to give me that extra leave to go do this ride :)

How on earth am i going to manage both? The AND suddenly became a tyrant. I have around 5 weeks to put in some serious training (inbetween business as usual, getting some sleep, and some serious MBA deadlines.) And I have to work out the logistics to get me and my roadiebike in Capetown for the Argus, then classes, then to Lesotho in time for the other ride.

Training starts tomorrow with a ride with some of my favourite ride-buddies. And if I ignore the logistics-problem for long enough, it might go away :)