Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Freedom of the South African singletrack

Magaliesburg Breakfast ride

"Oooh you going to love these trails", Dawn said as she put her armwarmers on.
"Tall order", i thought to myself as i fastened the helmet. I was still on a high from the van Gaalens Daggapad/Greek church trails the previous day, and didn't think that better trails existed.

Studies kept me out of riding for a few weekends, but 3Towers is getting closer and when the invitation about a Magaliesberg breakfast ride landed in my inbox, i couldn't resist.

I forgot what a cool crowd these Freedom Challenge Friends are. Once you've carried your bike over mountains through snowstorms and into gale force winds - once you've blogged and tweeted the race experience back to the impatient news-hungry followers - there's nothing that you can't do. It's bad enough if you do this once - but in Sunday's group there were repeat offenders, people who went back as guardians, one who finished FC with a broken wrist, another who should have stopped in Rhodes due to knee injuries, but continued - almost all of them already on the list to do it again next year.

Maybe it's the type of person attracted to these types of rides - or maybe I was just extremely lucky to get to know this particular crowd. They never seem to be in a hurry, they never make you feel bad that you're (again) the slowest rider, always there to help, to support, to encourage without even being aware of it - sharing dreams and trails, discovering new ones - and a sense of humour above all.

But I digress.

So - Dawn said i'll love the trails, and I was sceptical, but i wasn't there to play (I had my fix the previous day at Van Gaalens) and I was quite willing to tolerate a boring ride for the sake of training.
We parked at the Zennex garage on the Hekpoort road, freewheel down the hill, and then onto singletrack. The morning was a mix of dirt road, gentle climbs, surprise-singletrackies that would have Dawn emerge with a big grin - and some fast downhills for even bigger grins.

After Wimpy 'brekkie buns' in Magaliesburg we climbed a steep hill, then more singletrack, a quiet dirtroad that might have been uphill - to provide the training for the day - with Dave, Doug and Dawn babysitting me and talking me up the hill - until we reached some more singletrack.

Dawn was right: I did love the trails. I would love riding anywhere with them, but it's always a bonus to ride spectacular trails. Hoping to have more free time next year for many more of these rides :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting high on the daggapad - with the xtc :)

Van Gaalens Daggapad 10 September

My favourite singletrack is always the last one i rode. And my favourite friends always those who shared the last ride. That's the easy part. The difficult part is picking a favourite favourite. Which part of the daggapad/greek church loop on Saturday was the best bit?

Maybe the technical(ish) climbie up the cement track and beyond. Or seeing the riding budies' grins after the first bit of rocky downhill. Or hearing the screams of pure joy as you enter the twists and turms on the foresty bit - surrounded by pink blossoms and the smell of jasmine and aliveness.

Then you ride next to the river for a while, a short piece of gravel road, and onto more singletrack next to the gravel road. technical, joyful, FUN with exclamation marks. A bit of gravel road to a cafe for a Fanta Orange, then continue on the tracks next to the railway line and on to more singletracks and finally on the river-singletrack on the homestretch - where everyone agree that they aren't ready to go home yet - so a quick detour to the Greek church. The climb up was on singletrack and much less a slog than i remember from the last time i was up there - and the downhill back even better than i remember. Finally onto the bushtunnels and play-bridgies, and then home for a well-deserved breakfast. 

This ride has everything: technical challenges, fast flowing singletrack, rocky climbs, rocky downhills, fun trails, surprises, floating bridges, high bridges - life doesn't get much better. 

Only one question remains: When can we do it again?

A fallen tree in the forest. Fun flowing twisty tracks - lots of them :)

Some pink flowers next to the river after the first bit of forest.

on the way to the Greek church. The bike-entrance was too narrow, so we just lifted the bikes over the gate.

Chilling at the Greek church.

A rickety bridgie on the last rivertrail.

The floating bridge.

A high-bridge on the rivertrail.

The bushtunnel.