Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tree: 1. Cat-i: 0.

So there i was merrily cycling down the juicy piece of singletrack between the botanical gardens and Barry Hertzog. Flying passed a guy to come around a corner to a fallen tree. Quickly evaluate, yes, I'll have to sit very low, but I'll make it underneath. Oooh, it's very rutted under the tree, pick a nice line to clear that .... and completely totally FORGOT about the tree.


Hitting the tree with my helmet at about 20 kays per hour. Dude that i passed just now, must have thought 'what an idiot'.

Tree didn't move an inch. My head went from 20 - 0 in a splitsecond.

Sore neck & shoulders and lower back.

No other scratches, so get on bike, continue (now much slower)

Woke up this morning without the headache, but with a very sore neck & shoulders. Realised that Dark & Dirty-ing tonight in this condition (not being able to look around) might not be a very bright idea :(

That's how it came that I'm sitting in front of a PC at 18:07 on a Thursday evening, with clear blue skies and an almost-full moon later tonight ... in stead of on my way to the moo mall.

have fun, you okes!

Monday, February 22, 2010

carpe noctem

'You guys are crazy', the guy said as he left with the celebrity at the bottom of Cornwall downhill rush.
'but i'll be back'

That's what they all say, the newbies.
They all think cycling gnarly downhills in the dark is slightly crazy.

What is it, then, that makes them keep coming back for more?

The string of lights ahead and behind you when you get onto cruizer, your first singletrack for the night?
QT making up songs while we wait for oupa gerrit to fix a light on vetseun?
The technical challenges of unexpected short steep climbs or rocky ascends?

We know it's not the smell that transformed paul's bike into a scott stinky :)

maybe it's the thrill of rushing down cornwall
or the expressions on newbie's faces after their first downhill rush :D

seeing the river in flood while you ride on what's gonna become the new R21.
seeing, but not being part of, the traffic in the city way below.
knowing that in the other houses, people are sitting in front of their tvs with their tv dinners.

Bundu-bashing through the veld, then climbing up routter's route with 11 likeminded people. initailly 14, which included our celebrity for the evening, samantha oosthuisen - we were obviosly too hardcore for her :)

Personally, i think it's chasing lights down eric's trail that make people come back. staying on the bike always helps :)

Or maybe it's arriving at the top of quadbuster hill to champagne and cupcakes (thank you QT!!!!)
Or chasing down look ma no brakes, or python. yes, it must be python that makes people want to ride D&D again and again!

The roadies or epic-trainees come back week after week for tour de tar, or that tar-climb on cornwall. oupa gerrit might graciously allow you to ride in his slip if you don't want to chase the bunch and if you can keep up with him.

The mountain bikers come back for the final singletrack and kakiebos on cruizer.

Or maybe the the endorphin-overload, or the hot chocolate or beer afterwards.

Or maybe because while they're riding, they're alive.

Whatever their reasons: here's to many more!!

thx oupa gerrit who lead us, mummy man who swept, and clint and qt who kept us all together (and organised the cupcakes)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reliving the Cape of Storms tandem Argus

I found Kyle Damon's report about him and Matt's tandem Argus adventure today.

Having piloted a blind tandem in the Cape's best south-easter last year, with a stoker out-weighing me by about 30 kgs, I could fully appreciate Kyle's description of the (lack of) control over the bike - even without adding the wind factor and having to dodge falling cyclists down Chappies.

We didn't have the luxury of a support car - in fact, when we broke down on a training ride a month before the Argus, not even the official vehicles would stop to offer help - we were on a tandem and there was a guy with me, so I should be OK, mos.

Our ride might have been easier, though - at least we had all the gears (and we used all of them), both of us were sort of used to cycling, and we weren't constantly tempted with luxury rides and public excuses.

It's a fun description of a memorable day - go read it.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

negotiating traffic

My beloved spruit was still a swamp on the daily commute this morning. The standing water on the singletrack at the top of Delta Park was about a quarter wheel deep. And if you venture off the path to prevent smelly water from splashing up on your backpack, the swampy grass sucks the wheels in yet a little bit deeper. I drag the bike over carpets to park it next to my desk at the office, so I can't arrive at the office looking and smelling like after last weekend's muddy cross-country provincials ... so have to negotiate the mud and water ever so slowly.

It was no fun - can't go fast on the downhills, can't climb fast(ish) over obstacles 'cos there's sticky mud everywhere, and probably damaging the bike and the environment by making tracks next to the path when the path just gets too unridable.

So I thought I'll ride home on tar.

It was scary.

On the pavement around the office block and on to the Jan Smuts traffic light. Wait for the light to turn red, then pick up the bike and walk through the cars who filled the road so that no-one else can get through.

At a 4 way stop street I want to turn right. It just never seems to be my turn. Totally invisible, i wait for all traffic to clear.

No pavement, so I share the tar with cars trying to see how close to me they can drive. scary. note to self: go look on a map if there isn't something parallel to this road.

A traffic circle. How on earth would I ever get over this one? Cars turning left just not seeing me wanting to go straight over. It's never a bicycle's turn. Eventually i take a chance - scary, this could easily have landed me in hospital. Not worth it. note to self: go find something on a map thats even remotely parallel to this road.

Cool, a pavement! Hop onto it and pass all the cars that are stuck in traffic. Yaay!

Pavement ends, but cars are stationery. Big fun over the speed-bumps. The hardtail is much better at this than the trance :) Wow this was worth it.

k, so now into Jan Smuts again, and immediately exit left into Conrad. A pavement, so this is safe and easy.

Now up that 2 km hill in Conrad. Dodging cars coming in and out of parking lots. I'm totally invisible.

A pavement, but it's littered with building rubble with no space to ride there. Get onto the tar again, sharing road with cars who don't see me.

A traffic light is green, but cars coming from behind don't see me, so they turn left and I stop until light turns red, then move over to the middle of the lane, and wait there while trying to recover some oxygen and get the heart rate down to a readable level.

Aaaah finally, some pavements! I survived! Next traffic light is green. The driver of the car sees me and waits for me to cross before she turns left. I manage a wave and a thank-you grin while struggling for oxygen. My, this joberg doesn't have enough oxygen.

On top of the hill, on top of the world. Another green light, another driver who notices me and allows me to cross over before he turns right from the other side.

Pavements, and then back onto my backroads again safe!

some notes:
- Conrad would have made excellent hill-training, if it wasn't for all the car dodging in the bottom half. It's possibly better hill-training with all the car-dodging, having to multitask, in stead of just concentrating on getting to the top of the mountain.
- Cars do not realise that you're traffic too
- In a collision between a bike and a car, the bike will always loose.
- Some drivers do realise that bicycles are traffic too :)
- It's easier to get off and walk over traffic lights and traffic circles, than to wait for another driver to give you a gap
- speed bumps are big fun, especially when the cars are stationery (and thereford not able to cut you off)
- take the hardtail, there is some fun to be had on tar :)

Tar wasn't all that bad - but here's to hoping the spruit will be ridable someday soon.

was i ever a roadie? and how did i ever survive being this invisible?