Thursday, December 29, 2011

Xtreme Dinner New Years 2012 - invite

 It's Xtreme Dinnertime again!

You are cordially invited to a celebration of (insert own reason) on 1 January 2012 at 7:00 on top of the Tugela falls (Amphitheatre, Drakensberg)

Dress code: Black Tie
We'll most likely leave Gauteng around Saturday morning (31/12/2011). Sleep in the mountain that evening, either at the top, or in Sentinel Cave on the way to the top (depending on numbers).
The Dinner will be on 1 January 2012, and than walk down & drive back later on 1 January, or on 2 January for those who want to explore more.

RSVP as soon as possible so that we can arrange transport/food/props. You'll need (among other things) a proper rain jacket, ball gown or tux (or similar), sleeping bag & place in a tent.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mankele: Come join the Joyride

Mankele \Man'ke'le\
(adj) Superlative degree of huge: big grin, huge grin, makulu grin, Mankele grin. He had a Mankele grin on his face after they avalanched downhill.
(interj) An exclamation of extacy, usually after a specifically technical or fast piece of singletrack. Mankele, but that was a good ride!
source: Adri's Dictionary of Montainbiking terms

The first time I experienced the Mankele-grin was after the inaugural Mankele-Sudwala marathon way back in 2007.  Afterwards I vowed to go back there to explore at leasure.

Years later I criss-crossed the tracks on foot, this time during an adventure race.  The morning after the adventure race (while all other sensible adventurers were sleeping or recovering) team Lickety Split explored the singletracks.
Again I vowed to go back to explore at leasure.

When Team Clueless finished the 3 Towers and experienced the Mankele-grin again on all the faces around us, we knew it was time to share the Mankele Secret.

Quick-quick we identified a few friends, a weekend, a campsite and a menu. Game On.

The first few car-loads of people and bikes arrived on Thursday evening before the Reconciliation long weekend. They pitched tents in rain while the left-behinders frantically baked last-minute muffins. On Friday morning the early-arrivers tested their bikes on the orange tracks while waiting for the last carloads of people and bikes.

The weekend followed a pattern exploring different coloured bike routes, lazing around in the sun around the swimming pool, eating, tubing and more singletracking.

The camping kitchen is well-equipped with kettles, stoves, a fridge, a microwave, sunlight liquid and basins.
The bathrooms are kept clean and we had no issues with hot water.
There's 2 swimming pools, a small shop, powerwash for dirty bikes and outside hot showers if you'd prefer to shower with your bike after a particularly muddy ride.

Some notes on some of the tracks:
Orange - I didn't get to do the full route this time, but it's the cross country track and sufficiently technical without being too intimidating. About 8 km of good fun. Includes a climb to get the heart rate up.
Yellow - This is supposed to be the beginner route, but two search parties couldn't find it. When we asked the guide for instructions, he frowned and asked why anyone would want to ride a beginner route. Indeed :D
Green - A fair amount of climbing with some excellent rewards through the bushtunnels. The stuff Mankele is famous for, and the reason why we went there.
Blue - Around 5 km of moderate tracks, with optional techincal loops. An excellent track for night-riding, albeit a bit short. Add a bit of pink to up the night-distance.
Pink - Don't be fooled by the short distance. It includes a decent climbie and some seriously cool flowing singletrack.
Red & Purple - I didn't get to ride these the weekend, but from the grins on Mummy Man, Nadine & Donovans' faces, it was some good riding.
Black - The best parts, but not for beginners, and possibly not for night-riding. The hardtail managed, but it probably would have been a bit quicker (and safer) to tackle those trails on the Trance.
Fourcross-track and kiddies track: great for riding with the kids, night-riding, testing other peoples' bikes, and adding a bit of distance and smileage.
Tubing - Tubes are included in the camping fee; collect them from Christopher at the gate. Make sure he pumps them. Small (slighlty deflated) tubes seem to be quicker on the river than the big ones. Remember to lift your bum in the rapids!

All the cycling routes are well-marked (except the yellow, which we couldn't find.)

Batteries properly recharged. Life is too short to not have a Mankele weekend every now and again!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dark & Dirty Jinglebellride

Too soon it was the end of another year.

We couldn't remember the Jinglebell-lyrics from last year, so we had to invent new ones.
End of the World wasn't as gnarly as I remember (it looks like it could have been used as vehicle-access to either a Sanral project or a Gautrain project)
Gauntlet was every bit as cool as I remember.
The lights was pretty, the tar downhills in the rain exhilarating, the company exquisite.

It's got to be Dirty
It's got to be diii-i-i-rty!
Too many people take second best
I wouldn't settle for anything less
It's got to beeeee-e-eeeeee DIRTY

Lawley Street lights.

Eric's glowing frame.

Oupa Gerrit sorting out his fairy lights. Rainproof and accident-proof. 

It definately looked like rain, dear.

Zu thinking about how she'd beaten Mummy Man up one of the long steep climbs.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Van Gaalens Mood Enhancing School Bunk Ride: Thursday morning

"I'm going slightly mad
I'm one wave short of a shipwreck
Missing that one final screw
slightly mad ... it finally happened"

It's the usual end-of-year craziness. And the usual end-of-year irritatedness. So when Dawn mentioned that she desperately needs a mood-enhancing ride, I realised I'm also running out of space to hide the bodies.

So we decided to bunk school on Thursday and go ride the best mood-lifter that I know of: Van Gaalens Daggapad. We didn't think that we'd get anyone else that would be able to ride midweek mornings, but we sent out a few invitations anyway, and before we knew it Leon, Adri, Anja, Brendan and Andy were up for the challenge.

Van Gaalens opens at 8 on weekday mornings, but they left the gate open for us and we arranged to pay  when we came back.

The skies looked dark, but the singletrack called. Brendan would be late, and we decided that he would catch up with us. (He's training for Desert Dash, so need the speed :) )
We left slightly after 6, and soon it started drizzling. Absolute perfect weather to ride in. At the top of the cement track we waited for Brendan to catch up with us while Leon checked out the Pofadder tracks. (Why would anyone ride the Pofadder when the Daggapad is just next door?)

Then we went down - first the rocky bit, then the fast flowing bit, and then into the forest. Reward aplenty for the horrible climb. We were riding superb singletrack while other people were stuck in traffic on their way to the office.

By the time we reached the hidden singletrack next to the dirtroad, everyone was grinning- and our working colleagues probably would be arriving at the office.

The rain came & went, so we never were soaking wet. But it was wet enough to cause a lot of mud and slippery-ness on the river track. Some of the trails that were easy on Saturday suddenly became more tricky in the mud. (Good luck to the 24 hour riders this weekend - it would be interesting if the tracks don't dry out soon.)

Is it legal to have this much fun on a mountainbike?

Dawn, Adri, Leon, Anja, Andy, Brendan - you are the coolest crowd; thank you for an awesome morning out! THANK YOU!

Adri & Leon sorting an issue on Adri's bike while we waited for Brendan to catch up with us.

Anja showing Adri and Dawn how to ride one of the numerous bridgies.