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!