Thursday, November 19, 2009

Riding, not Racing!

I've done 2 extremely muddy Sabie Xperiences, and kind of decided to not do it again because of the damage to the bike.

But when Fiona and Doug and Gadget (my freedom Challenge riding buddies in Joberg) all said they're gonna be at the Sabie Xperience preride, and with Dawn and Dave unavailable for playing, I realised I could either go with, or have no riding buddies for that weekend.

I have been tempted to do the preride before, but intimidated by my own (lack of) ability and what i've read from other people about the speeds that they do these rides at

Couldn't get leave for the Friday (due to a new product launch that didn't seem to fit in with my riding plans)

Left the office at 2-ish on Friday afternoon, only to be prevented from going anywhere by William-Nicol Traffic. Left Gadget's place at 5-ish. More traffic-woes, and we were free. Quick phone-call to Fiona confirmed that the day's ride was muddy and wet and long and awesome. Doug was battling with a cold, though, and didn't ride Another phone call to Steve (Honey) whe is lucky enough to stay in that area nowadays - also looking forward to the next day's ride.

We checked in and found the house-mates to be Colin and Graham - Colin, with whom i shared a downhill or two in Waterval-boven and a few other places - but more importantly, who has cycled events like La ruta de los Conquistadores and Trans Rockies - a LEGEND. and Graham, who has toured lots of the freedom trail SOLO. another legend.

It promised to become another weekend of cycling with legends, listining to their stories and admiring their bikes.

Woke up Saturday morning with the smell of freshly brewed coffee - Graham came prepared! We lubed the bikes, got our wind jammers out, and off we went. Doug was not looking well at all, but who can blame him for wanting to come with?

Out into the fog and through the pine plantations and through the fog. Admiring wooden specialized bikes, listening to stories, dodging mud-puddles, and just generally being alive.

Stopping for water, junglebars and bananas - then climb some more. A flat tyre, a cold that got the better of Doug, who opted to get into the ambulance - then climb some more. Wait at the top. On rare singletrackies, send the fast people first- partly so that you can see where the dangers are, but mostly for the enjoyment factor of all.

Up on to the reserve, and then on the level before the descent started. We had an ambulance, so

No mud-baths where 1000 cyclists went before you.
No queues on singletracks, and therefor no-one who jumps queues, and no-one walking perfectly ridable obstacles.

Some downhill at last, release the breaks and just go. The Trance's shocks were pumped a little too hard (due to the 6-hour-event the week before) and it handled even more unstable than i remember the hardtail - probably only because i haevn't been on the hardtail for a while!

Anyway - so we bomb down this hill and that - up that little climbie, then down again, and too soon the ride was over.

Washed the bikes, had an humungous chelsea bun (the size of a chocolate cake, really!), and then got clean to go watch the rugby in a pub.

Gadget organised some chicken liver pasta for supper - yummie!!!!

Then Sunday morning, more riding!

Doug looked a lot better, but wisely decided not to ride.
So we bid him farewell, and off we went - 'n climb on tar, some downhill, a wicked steep long breathtaking climb - and what a pleasure that it was ridable - mostly because there was no mud-bath where 1000 bicycle have gone before you, and the pathe was not full of people hiking up the mountain with their bikes.

Breathtaking climb, breathtaking views, awesome people. I wanted to be nowhere else.

More singletrack, more climbs, more downhills, a little mis-happie on a slippery climb that left a big gash on my knee, some attention from the medical team, more singletrack, more general feel-good-ness and alive-ness.

Too soon the ride ends.
Get clean, and head for Dullstroom for some pizza ans other fatty unhealthy foodstuffs and beer and hot chocolate.

Part of the reason for the ride is that the medical team can see where accidents are most likely to happen - and to work out their evacuation plans for the main event. There are 3 vehicles, so depending on the number of people who wants to ride on the day, there can be a maximum of 3 groups. People falling off from the fast group gets picked up by the slower groups. Your R100 per day's riding includes permits and a medical team that follows you in a car wherever possible - and who carries water and some energy drinks, junglebars and bananas. And priceless, the AWESOME riding buddies in what is one of South Africa's greatest mountain bike destinations ..... I'm afraid the Sabie Xperience 'main race' won't see me again.

But the preride .... i will be there next year. And i'll get leave for ALL the days of the preride.

THIS is the ride to do.
THIS is what mountainbiking is about (for me, anyway).

Mission accomplished

2009's 94.7 done and dusted.

I broke the rear derrailleur cable on the Mountain bike ride on Saturday. Saw Doug afterwards; he explained a little about how to replace it. Also bumped into Lesley, Brett and Chris, was good to see you all!

anyway - the cable was broken and the Trance only had 3 gears. And it was the day before 94.7. I phoned a friend, and Gadget kindly agreed to fix it for me. While he was at it, he replaced the bent jockey-wheel (how and when did THAT happen) and the front rotor that was bent since Ride2Rhodes. Luckily I had all the spares lying around in a bike-box since last year's Sabie Xperience, and topped up for Ride2Rhodes.

Was difficult to keep the bike appropriately muddy while having to replace stuffs on it.

So the bike was like new again on Sunday morning.
It was a quick 1-hour cycle to Karen's house - she stays just about where the races starts - and then a long walk down the hill with cyclists racing up the hill.

A few phone calls to collect DK and Agteros (a hubber who used his cold as an excuse to ride with us) and off ... and finally it was time to go.

One false start, as the wind brought down the blow-up thingy at the start - but then we could go.

Loved the bit on the M1 - Chris and Lindsay passed us - Chris wearing the same bright-green shirt than on the mountain bike ride the day before - says he has 5 of them. Also chatted with a few D&D-ers along the way.

The city-loop was SO cool - a few climbs, but none TOO bad. Old buildings, places you'd never otherwise see. Francois decided he's done enough waiting, and sped off into the distance. David decided he's gonna finish the junglebar before starting to ride again. So we left him.

Finally we hit the speed-sections of Jan Smuts.
Realised we were in cut-off danger when we left the waterpoint just in front of the Cartrack Building with 15 minutes to spare, an the one on Malibongwe with 10 minutes to spare.

At the next waterpoint, Karen's legs was hurting, so we decided to stop for a quick massage. Quick wasn't so quick after all, the queue was long and moved slow. We left that waterpoint well after the cut-off (didn't get our numbers taken because we were in on time)

Now the race was on.
Agteros fed Karen some energy gels, and we took turns tu push and pull. We slightly missed the next cut-off, but due to some technicalities got through. We raced hard and made the next one with 7 minutes to spare,. We knew we were safe, but the adrenalin was pumping, so we skipped the last few watertables and chased straight for the finish, which we made with 20 minutes to spare.

thank you dk and agteros for the help!

official time was 6:22.
Thought you had only 6 hours to complete the race, so fully expected a DNF. But the results show on racetec, yaaay!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Capestorm Rogaine

The concept: you get a map with points marked on it, more difficult points has higher values. Collect as high a score as possible within the allocated time.

Saturday was the 6-hour foot rogaine. Cindy is a brilliant navigator, and she just ran straight to the controls every time.

The 5 hour mountain bike rogaine the next day was a different story: I'm known for the proportions of my navigational errors, and Dawn hasn't done this before. I used everything Cindy explained to me the next day, and between Dawn and myself we managed to find the controls with only minor detours - AND had lost of fun along the way - there's some very good cycling at Lakenvlei! (and some mud, depending on route choices)

Lovely spot prizes from Capestorm, which includes a very green marathon t-shirt that i'll be using a lot to cycle with!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

work gets in the way

With the launch of a new product at work, I had to choose very carefully how I wanted to spend the very limited amount of free time available: cycling or blogging.

Naturally, i chose cycling.

Being a corporate firefighter, work will always interfere with training and playing schedules. So how to train for an upcoming 24-hours, or a JoBerg2C, or a possible cycle tour to Everest base camp, and still keep the clients happy - so that you'll be able to afford the adventures?

Some of my solutions:

Cycle to work.
Nobody loves traffic. So use that traffic time, that's wasted anyway, to cycle to work and back. There might be great off-road-possibilities between home and work, and you arrive at work in a good mood. Add detours if the distance is too short. It also is a good excuse to buy (and test) some decent lights for the bike (you need it for the 24 hours anyway)

Run after work while it's still light
So, you have to stay at work till long after it's safe to cycle through Delta Park all on your own.
Pack your running kit in, and go run in the late afternoon for an hour. Running is good for ... something ... Feel the freedom of running with a huge grin while everybody else is stuck in peak-hour traffic. Leave the ipod at home - use the running-time to think of nothing - and arrive back at work with fresh new ideas on how to tackle the problem that you were stuck on just before the run. Use running-days to stock up on hours at work, so that you have negotiating power for when you want to leave early the next day to go on your nightride.

Daylight savings: Cycle in the Dark
Being a mountain biker, i try to limit running to only those days when there's nothing else to lift my endorphins ... you need a car at work for various reasons (a trip to the bike shop during lunchtime for a new bottom bracket, for example) - so you can't commute. Enters night rides.
You bought the new lights for the commute anyway - might as well then go use it somewhere.
- The MTN bikepark is open on Tuesday nights till 8. Arrive at work early (or use credits built up during running-days) and leave early. Enough time for a few laps in daulight, and then put on lights for some night-fun. At night there are no wizz-kids pointing and laughing at you on the BMX-track, and nightriding helps a lot with skills (you're on the obstacle before you saw it ... nothing you can do, so just ride it)
- There's also the Dark & Dirty crowd that leaves on 19:00 on Thursday evenings from the Irene mall. This is arguably Gauteng's coolest crowd, and you will go home late, dirty and happy. Traffic from Jo-burg to Pretoria made it impossible for me to attend those rides, but as soon as the workload lightens, i will go that way again to fill up with endorphins. I will not, however, give up the commuting, night-riding in the bikepark, and running :)

oh, and get a rain jacket.