Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tshwane AR Club: DH Renegades (17 November 2012)

DH Renegades Adventure Race: No Rush

I have been wanting to go explore the Thaba trails since it opened more than a year ago, and I have been wanting to packraft since first hearing about the concept when scouting in the Drakensberg with Hardy almost 2 years ago. So when the rumours of packrafting were confirmed with scouting pictures, and when Hardy confirmed that the route goes through Thaba Trails, I gave in to my temptation and joined the Sweeping Team (No Rush) with Oupa Gerrit, Adri Ferrari and Duct Tape. Logistics were easy, as there was no need for seconds, and the race would only be one day (to allow the roadies to get some sleep before the 94.7 the next day).

Race briefing at Thaba Trails at sunrise. The race had to start very early to ensure that all teams would complete the 80-something course in one day.

The race started with 20-odd kms of cycling through Thaba Trails. Yum! The tracks were sticky-muddy with recent rain, and the trails were technical and big on fun.

Since we were sweeping, we had to remove the CPs as we went past them. The first few were easy, but when the navigation started to include route choices, we were not always sure that we were the last team.

When we arrived at transition 1, we indeed found out that there was a team behind us. Brendan went back to search for them, while the rest of us tucked into Lisa's bacon and egg rolls and Coke, while Adri updated our race progress on facebook :)

Next was a 20-odd hiking leg in a reserve. Old buildings, donkeys, hills, more hills and then some more hills.

We saw the sweepee-team on their way to the second last control, so we waited for them on top so that they could clip the control and so that we could remove it. We later received a message that they abandoned the control and were on their way out. We ran out of water, but still had to go pick up the last hiking CP. The fresh rain from the previous night left some puddles at the top - sweet, but I probably would have drank of that water even if it were a week old.

When we arrived back at the transition, we finished all the Coke and Cream Soda. Thanx Francois and Lisa!

The next leg was on our bikes again. There were some route-finding, a river-crossing, and controls inside old mines.

We arrived at the golf clubhouse where some teams already were enjoying finishers' meals. We collected the packrafts and were on our way to the river - a short hike, could have been 2 km?

 Quickly pumped the boats ...

Then got on the river.

A portage when the rapids looked daunting ...

... and then back into the water for some serious white-water fun.

Then deflated the boats before the hike back to the clubhouse.

 At the clubhouse, we collected the bikes and cycled back to the start at Thaba trails, where Hardy and Francois waited for us. A quick shower, and then we drove to the clubhouse for some hamburgers and war stories. A day well spent, and a race very well organised.

Thank you Francois, Hardy, the scouting team and everyone else who made this race happen!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Berg & Bush: The perfect event for MBA-legs (or any other cant-train excuse)

So, you love mountainbiking but you cannot do events like Joburg2C, 3 Towers or Sabie Xperience because you have no time to train?

Berg and Bush. The original 2-day.

The distances (65 and 50 km) are enough to present a proper challenge, but not too hard to take all day. You can be back for an afternoon nap.

The vertical ascent per day is doable and the singletrack is ridable without being boring. There's no 'lite' event, so no one will ask you that evening at dinner if you did the 'real' event or not. Spioenkop is enough of a challenge to provide a sense of achievement, and the speedboat-crossing adds some excitement. The river was in flood, so we couldn't do the Zipline across the rive. Will have to go back for that :)

Enter early enough to get a river-front tent. This is the view from the tent. Bikes still clean - clearly before the ride :)

Loading the boats for the 2 km speedboat-trip across the dam. some big waves made this a very interesting ride. And the downhills down to this river! Some of the best on this event ... and there were many good ones.

The view from the spioenkop-downhill. The track sometimes split into dualtrack. Was very cool to discover these splits and been able to fly down the singletrack without congestion :)

Lazy Saturday Afternoon.

Sundowners on Spioenkop, where master trackbuilder Gary entertained us with stories of charging rhino, and a history lesson.

well done, Berg & Bush!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

4 Peaks 22/23 September 2012

How far could 24 k's be?

If the expected finishing times for the different batches wasn't a warning, then the cut-off of around 9 hours should have been a warning. Clearly the brain was too full of MBA for logic ... and the MBA-legs would pay for it.

Finishing Stone last is better than DNF.
And DNF is better than Did not Start.
So from the beginning the plan was to aim to make the cut-off at the halfway mark. And even better would be to finish ahead of the sweeper :)

We (Zu, Adri, B and myself) decided to keep the sweeper and his dog Roxy company when everyone else started the race running. We soon caught up with the tail at the first bottleneck.

We soon settled in at a nice fast walk(ish) pace and conquered the first checkpoint. Here's Zu at the ladder just before the cutoff at CP2.

We made the cut-off at CP2 with about an hour to spare. Wee ate up the marshalls' nougat and drank up their orange juice, then we fed the sweeper-dog our droewors. Finally we ran out of excuses to picnic any longer, so we had to continue.

There was not much of a trail around the mountain and to Sekonyala's Hat. It was cold and windy and the low clouds kept spitting at us. The last few kays down the mountain was hard ... The MBA-legs wasn't used to this type of exercise.

Finally we reached the bottom and some level ground. Beautiful in the Donga.

Then a last rivercrossing, and we were home :)

Next morning we got on the bikes and cycled the bottom of the mountain-ranges that we hikes the previous day.

The mountainbike ride started with a rude steep climb up to a Red Bull stop, but from there it was lovely undulating singletrack and slickrock. Clear skies with beautiful views on the peaks that we conquered the previous day.

Couldn't walk for a week.
But I'll go back to do it again.

But next time I'll train a bit for the hike-part of the weekend :D

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Critical Mass August 2012

Left the car at the office in Parktown and cycled the 2.2 km to the corner of Juta & De Beer. A ride through unknown and beautiful parts of the city. Took about 3 hours to cover the 20 kays.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Woman's Day D&D Ride

If some bikers in pretoria hit a jeeptrack in the dark
and then ride around in circles in the xtc park
and they do it with no moonlight, just the starlight and a bark (cough, cough)
then the endorphines emitting will be sure to light a spark

(although a meeting with a rock could maybe leave a mark)

if the bikers then ride single-trackies just because they're there
and then stop on top of quadbuster for some chocolates to share
then waiting with their buddies, a freewheel to repair
and finish off with hot chocolate, chips and helmethair

- nothing can compare!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mankele Winter madness

Studies was getting too much, so when the BoomhuisBende organised a Mankele-weekend, I simply had to join. 

T'was too cold for camping, so we stayed in the chalets. 

Late saturday morning we climbed up the green route and then bombed down the bushtunnels. You haven't ridden a bushtunnel before you've ridden a Mankele Bushtunnel.

 The tubing-singletrack just next to the river was clearly not made for 29ers.

On Sunday we went up the green climb again, and then down the Avalanche route.

Mankele fun


There was some Gluhwein, a prawn curry, Mummy mans famous waterblommetjies, guitar serenades, hot chocolate, cranium, tripple chocolate muffins, skurwe abrahams and red wine. But mostly singletrack :D

Now back to the books.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Afternoon-commute through the Spruit

Emmarentia Dam Wall.

Victory Park

More Victory Park

Delta Park

More Delta Park

Monday, May 7, 2012

So Long, Dad

So long, Dad.

You taught me how to ride that little red bike that never had training wheels. When still in primary school you took us on long Sunday-afternoon rides to the Fisantekraal airfield to watch model airplanes and Cessnas.  To the Zoo on shorter Sunday rides. You played guardian for all my friend on numerous Apple Tours - 200 kays over two days, while watching over all the neighbourhood's kids that wanted to tag along.

My geek-streak probably come from you - I am now the proud owner of your miniature hit-camera.
At the end of each school-term you bought us each a lego-car. Which used to be your own until about the next morning, when the legos went into the big communal lego-bin from where our creativity could run wild.

You wrote poems and had a collection of books bigger than I could read through all the Sundays of my high-school years.

You taught me to play tennis, you played putt-putt with us, hiked with me and swam in mountain pools and in the sea. Sunday drives around the peninsula to find a nice braaispot, or to Ceres or Worcester to find the first winter snow. Visiting the grandparents in Ashton.

There were summer holidays in a caravan in Struisbaai. Kerriebraaivleis. Long hikes on the beach in the evenings. There were winter-holidays in Hartenbos, and road trips to far-away family in the Free State and Port Elizabeth. 

On Sundays you braai'ed. Skaaptjops, Boerewors en Braaibroodjies. En swart koffie.

Coffee and cheesecake over lunchtimes when I was a student in Stellenbosch.
A very windy big wheel at the Waterfront. 
You dunked your pizza in coffee.

You wrote love-letters to my mom when she was sick. You recorded songs for her. You wrote beautiful sad lovesongs for her when she left us too early.

A sense of humour to get you through everything, and a poem for every occasion.

You were a model granddad and hero for your grandson. You cycled with him (like you did with us) and taught him to play rugby and cricket.

You'd come fetch me on Saturday afternoons at the business school after a block of classes, and then we'd have coffee, sometimes cheesecake. Or a hamburger.

On Friday evenings when I arrived in Capetown for the Argus, you'd talk till 2 in the morning. Showing pictures of the latest hike and telling stories of the latest adventures with your grandson. And on Sunday after the Tour you'd wait with Braaivleis and a Braaibroodjie.  

There was no Argus and no braaibroodjies this year. You were in hospital, freshly diagnosed with the sickness that took you so quickly. We thought you would be able to fight it, then.

You were so healthy ... your idea of life wasn't a hospital bed. The cancer had no mercy. It caught you off-guard, you said. It caught all of us off-guard.

You never managed to teach me to sing, but I did learn to listen when the whole family made music :)
May there always be music and bicycles and mountains and forests and beaches to remind me that life is precious.

Totsiens, Pappa. Sê groete vir Mamma.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Autumn Zoo Lake Breakfast Ride

I showed a few friends the route that I cycle to work on commute days. we entered Delta park just next to the school, and then up to the botanical gardens before we turned away for a moyo breakfast at zoo lake.

The spruit was on its best behaviour yesterday morning. mud-sections gone, all that's left were fast flowing tracks. With oak leaves everywhere, people walking their dogs, jogging, riding with kids.

Lots of people greeted us or smiled at us - it may have been because of the grins on our faces. 'twas a happy place yesterday. 

Vroegherfs - NP Van Wyk Louw

Die jaar word ryp in goue akkerblare,
in wingerd wat verbruin, en witter lug
wat daglank van die nuwe wind en klare
son deurspoel word; elke blom word vrug,
tot selfs die traagstes; en die eerste blare val
so stilweg in die rookvaal bos en laan,
dat die takke van die lang populiere al
teen elke ligte môre witter staan.

O Heer, laat hierdie dae heilig word:
Laat alles val wat pronk en sieraad was
of enkel jeug, en ver was van die pyn;
laat ryp word, Heer, laat u wind waai, laat stort
my waan, tot al die hoogheid eindelik vas
en nakend uit my teerder jeug verskyn.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fun Gaalens

The Impi-challenge took place at Van Gaalens on Saturday, so we had to start early. It was a glorious morning after the previous night's torrential rains which left the tracks muddy. The backwheel slipped a few times, and the bike behaved quite different from what I had gotten used to. The cement-track climbed seemed much steeper than usual and I walked parts of it. (Will have to spend more time on my bike, I guess.)
Up and over the Daggapad, then along the railwayline. When we got back to the rivertrail, it was closed for the Impi-runners. We had to find an alternative route to get on the Greek-church climb. Nothing a bit of adventure-racing background couldn't fix. On the way down, we cycled on the Impi-spectators route, so we could get a glimpse of the fun that the runners had.

Often, after a particularly cool piece of singletrack, I wonder if there's anything better in life.
There is.

The absolutely best part of a Van Gaalen daggapad-ride is not getting to the top of the cement-climb.
It's not bombing down the rocky first piece of singletrack dodging cow-dung, or the flowing forest-part, or the riding slowly and chatting to each other on the gravel-road. It's not chasing one another on the piece of hidden singletrack that runs far above the boring gravelroad below. Nor is it the fanta at the fanta-stop, or the railway-track on the way to more river-singletrack. It's definately not the climb up to the Greek church. although it come close, the best bit at Van Gaalens is also not the easter-egg-end-nicknaks-picnic at the Greek church, or getting a bit of air on the downhill back to the rivertrack, or the rivertrack itself, or the floating bridge, or the screams of sheer pleasure from the other riders as they enter the bush tunnels. Or the coffee-milkshake afterwards.

The BEST bit of a Van Gaalen-ride are the facial expressions and remarks from people who rode there the first time. That's why I can't take all my cycling buddies there at once. Only 1 or 2 van-gaalens-newbies at a time, to keep experiencing the first-time-ecstacy over and over without running out of cycling friends :)


You can't buy happiness. But you can buy a bike, and that's pretty close.