Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Van Gaalens: it really is that good.

I love riding at van Gaalens with people who' never tasted that singletrack. I love the grins on their faces all through the ride, and how they glow afterwards. I love how for days afterwards they still talk about how they rode all the genres of Mountain biking in one ride. A bit of gravel, a bit of climbing on cement tracks, a bit of technical climbing, lots of singletrack, higher grade technical stuff, a bit of cross country. Some parts of the ride feel like fountains, some parts feel like Groenkloof, some feel like Sabie. Mud. dust. Rocks. Gravel. Sand. Depending on the route there may be a bit of farmland, sandy roads, a gravel road or two, rivercrossings, gnarly downhills, rocky descents, fast flowing singletrack, bumps, forests. Wooden bridges, skinnys, bushtunnels. Kilometers and kilometers of singletrack. A cafe along the way for a Fanta Orange break. A hidden singletrack high above the dirtroad. Steep climbs and hairy drops.

When Donald discovered the Daggapad on Saturday, I wasn't disappointed. Big grins from start to finish. Just before we finished the ride, we spoke about how varied the terrain was, and how it covered all the genres of Mountain Biking.
'Except Floating Bridges', Donald commented.

Here's Donald on the floating bridge that we crossed shortly after that remark :D

... and here's Zurika on one of the numerous bridges.

All that the world need is more singletrack. Can't ride there and be grumpy. Just equip the Cop17 delegates with bikes and send them on the daggapad. All will be well with the world afterwards :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pop goes the Nevegal

I loved the Nevegal. It had grip on muddy treestumps and could climb up slippery steps where other tyres (and nerves) failed. It wasn't the fastest rolling tyre I've ever had, but it inspired confidence and that was all I needed.

It was a warranty replacement for a Karma that burst overnight in the shop after the bike shop topped up on slime/stans/magic_potion. The bike shop didn't have Karmas in stock so rather than wait, I trusted my trusty mechanic's opinion that I would like this tyre. As always, he was right; I did :)

Until Sunday Afternoon.
The Trance was in the shop, so I did the 10 hours on the hardtail. Saturday's MTB Orienteering at Groenkloof too, and Sunday's 94.7 Mountain Bike event.

Then, Sunday afternoon while catching up on lost sleep, I heard an unearthly 'bang' in the kitchen. (What? Dont your bike sleep in the kitchen too?) It took a while to gather the courage to go investigate the commotion.

Found a flat Nevegal, and a piece of the rubber about 3 metres away.

I have no idea why it popped. The bike shop also couldn't give an answer. There was still plenty of thread on it, and I still wanted to take it places.

At least it didn't pop during hte 10 hours, or the Orienteering, or the 94.7!

This was the second Kenda that did this to me :(
I hope the Maxis Crossmark stay in one piece for a while longer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

94.7 MTB (13 November)

The 94.7 MTB ride is not one of the most exhilirating rides I've done. Too much congestion, too many people, too in-the-town. Boring extra loop just to add distance. Horrible to have to brave traffic twice for different number pickups for the roadie-ride and the offroad ride.

But I do it because it's on my doorstep. Can't really travel to Sabie and Baviaanskloof when i dont do the events on my doorstep, right?

It was a hot hot day. The event was advertised as 50 give or take a few. In the spirit of the last few years, I expected it to be take, rather than give. It ended up being almost 60 kays.

- The start was a bit of a mess with the commentator calling the short distances before the slower seeded bunches of the longer distance were called to queue.
- Seeding was a bit of a mess with the SMS confirmation of my seeding and the actual batch where i started being different.
- Watertables ran out of water (on such a hot day?)
- Lots of congestion at the start.
- Number pickup was a waste of time. 1 1/2 hours in traffic to get there, collect the number, then drive back. I much preferred the number-pickup on the same venue as last year.

The tracks was much more fun than previous years. It had something of everything: wooden bridges, singletrack climb, a gnarly downhill or 2, long boring climbs, a few rivercrossings (eeeeuuuwwww dont want to know what's in THAT water) and overall some excellent riding.

The congestion cleared up after the first 10 kays or so, and from then on I could enjoy the riding. A very good day out, and I'll definitely be back next year :)

Mountain Bike Orienteering: Groenkloof (12 October 2011)

It was a bright beautiful morning. The first rains of summer came and went, so the singletrack was dustfree and fast - not muddy yet, as it will become towards the end of Summer. Groenkloof and Fountains was green and alive. As I got my bike ready, I could smell the aliveness in the spring air, and in my head i could hear U2: 'It's a beautiful daaaayyyyy!'

I haven't been to Orienteering much this year, so it was great so greet long-forgotten friends from adventure racing, orienteering, mountain biking and even one of our Swazi-Xtreme seconds :)

Alex (Pope) scouted Fountains, so it was the first time that it was included in MTB orienteering. Yaaaay!

Fountains is one of my all-time favourite places to ride, so I went by singletrack as far as I could. It wasn't the most efficient, but it sure was the most fun :D

After collecting all the Fountains checkpoints, the route took us out the gate and we collected a new map. Took me ages to figure out where I was on the new map. Then on towards Groenkloof. This time I deliberately didn't stay on familiar tracks, but rather tried to pick the most efficient tracks. interesting to see how my favourite pieces of singletrack connects - and next time we need a shortcut home, I won't have to first complete all the singletrack - i''ll actually know a shortcut :)

Winning time was just under an hour; I took double that time, collected all the PCs, and went home with a lucky draw packet of peanuts :)

Already checking out the Orienteering calendars for the next MTBO.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kargo National 10 hours

Kargo National 10 hours
Kloofzicht Lodge
6 November 2011

After we completed 3 Towers, Linden Cycles gave Team Clueless matching cycling shirts for their next event - so naturally we had to go find another team-event. We entered the Kargo National 10 hours as a team of two, and convinced Zu and Mummy man to enter too - mainly so that we had someone to talk to during the off-laps :)

It was a beautiful sunny day. Adri & Zu pitched the gazebo while Mummy & I went out on the first lap.

I loved the format.
  • Doing laps mean that you get to know the course and each round you ride the rutted downhills faster than the previous lap - until it gets irresponsible :)
  • Doing the laps in a due team means that you can fill your waterbottles and check the results (and the competition) while your team mate is riding.
  • For every lap you do, your team mate add another lap to the score for which you don't have to work: Ride one, Get one free :)
  • Sharing the gazebo with another duo team means that there's always some company while your team mate is out riding. (Ironically the only person you never get to spend time with, is your own team mate!) 
  • Lap-riding is possibly the most social type of mountainbiking there is - spectators get to see their riders, and there's plenty of time between laps to check out the results.
  • During your off-lap there's plenty of time to see the top riders in action and to cheer your other friends on.

Adri was fast! When you're riding in a team, you can't dawdle like you would have, had you ridden solo. So each lap I rode as fast as we could (which wasn't nearly as fast as my racing snake team mate!). When the first set of results came out about 2 hours into the race,  we were slightly disappointed to see that we were the only female duo team. We noticed that the first mixed team had a 10 minute lead on us, with the second mixed team just 2 minutes ahead of us. Due to lack of competition in our own category, we decided to chase those teams down :)

Mummy man wasn't feeling great, but when they realised they were just 30 seconds behind the second mixed team, they chased them, and on the very last lap caught and overtook the first team to take line honours in the mixed due category. Congrats!

The solo woman's category was a titanic battle between the two lead girls changing positions all the time. Very well done Nicky on that very well deserved second place!

The day was nicely concluded with a swim in the swimming pool with a stunning view, then a hot shower, prize giving and a braai.

A good day out :)