Monday, October 3, 2016

All good...

It has been a great few weeks of riding - last weekend we went to Heidelberg and yesterday we had a great ride via Sentrarand. On both rides we did new routes that I have not done before. Awesome rides with great company. Heidelberg ride we went to the Telkom tower and then to Wimpy for a breakfast via the army camp. Was pretty shocking the lack of security as we rode through the army camp and then went out the main gate. It did however bring back some memories going across the parade ground (I begrudgingly did 2 years military prescription in 1987-1988). 
Ashley and Graham (the 2017 ABSA Cape Epic contenders) did the radio tower a couple of times whilst the rest of us mere mortals were stuffing our faces with Wimpy's finest. On the way back, the group split into two and I toggled in between the A and B batch, eventually sticking to the B batch after being finally dropped by the A batch :-)
'no tools Marius' getting help from the group
After a bit of bush whacking (my fault)  we found the track to the tower..
The bunch at the top of the Telkom tower hill
Muddy route under the highway (wasn't me) 
Was only a piece of wire holding the gate together to get into the army camp
The slog back 
Becky and I were pretty dead on the way home...
Yesterday we went to Sentrarand and Alistair (on his birthday) took us on new routes next to the railway tracks and then we stopped at the Parks for a great coffee and breakfast.
Fast wide open spaces coming back from Sentrarand 
Bench warmers are back - yes after six months on the bench we managed to get Greg and Hansie back on their bikes. Paul is yet to join us but he got his bike serviced last week and Strava says he went for a ride on the weekend (just need to verify if it was on a dirt bike or MTB).  
Greg, Wayne and Becky having the customary Mug and Bean coffee. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

New bike and other stuff

I was incredibly lucky in the month of August to get my new frame which was a replacement for the one that broke on Sani 2 Sea stage race, earlier this year. Dragon Sports are really awesome and honoured the 5 year warranty on my Giant Anthem frame. After spraying my handlebars, crank and seat post, Paul at Procycles assembled the bike and it looked like a brand new bike. Awesomeness!!!!
2017 Giant Anthem X Advanced :-)
Taking my new bike for it's first ride (with a coffee and a sunrise) 
Last weekend I did the Transvaal Galvanisers MTB race. It was an incredible race -  really awesome flat and fast route. This meant that it was flat out the whole time and you don't have much time to rest.   Much better then last year which was an absolute mud fest. I did the 51km race in a time of 02:15 which I was pretty happy with as I am still in the winter coffee ride slumber. 
Before the race with Sean, Brian and Becky (photo taker) 
They made a few ramps for the race :-)
Near the end of the race riding with Darren
So after last weekend's race I decided that it was a great route and to go and do our weekend ride there. As most of the Benoni Rough Rider crew are out of town, I thought it would be almost a solo ride but I was joined by Von, Ian, Jeff, Mark and Juan. This turned out to be an awesome ride - it is so great to do new tracks with some incredible people and do a bit of adventuring thrown in. We managed to do over 70km and stopped for the compulsory coffee on the way home. I think this will be one of our new routes.  
Von, Ian and Jeff (Mark and Juan taking a leak in the background)
Jeff fixing a puncture (yes people still ride with tubes)
M&B at Carnival City Mall (first time for everything)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Start of new things...

So almost three months after Sani 2 Sea I have got my new frame and am in the process of spraying all the old parts from my existing bike that would need to go onto the new frame (seat post, crank and handle bars). Hopefully my next blog post will be about my new bike - I am so excited and can't wait.  In the mean time I have been limping around on my old frame - trying to be extra careful that the compromised frame (frame is 2 inches shorter at the seat post clamp) does not snap completely. 
Compulsory portage over a river crossing at the Witklip MTB race
A couple of Saturdays ago Wayne and I did a new race at Bronkorspruit call the Witklip MTB race. It was a cold winter's morning reaching -4 degrees outside the car on the way there. It was also the first time I could use my new car (I got a brand new Hyundai Tuscon) to go to a race. This car is a SUV so it is higher off the ground then a normal sedan car and therefore great to ride on dirt roads and park in grassy fields for MTB races. The race was awesome - bedsides the fact that we had to wait 1/2 an hour to collect our race numbers in the cold before the start of the race. Also because of the delay at the start we had to start at the back of the race and had a couple of hundred cyclists ahead of us. There was loads of single track so we had to be very patient in the race and we slowly passed a lot of the riders but we knew we could never do a good time and just resigned ourselves to enjoy the new route. Wayne and I rode together and the route was great - I anticipated just district roads next to the mealie fields but in fact it was about 70% single track (a lot if it was purpose cut). We finished the 50km route with ease and saw Yvonne (one of the girls on the Benoni Rough Riders group) at the finish - she was the first lady home and also won the QOM spot prize also which was an incredible feat. 
Wayne and I at the finish 
New car which makes getting to races much easier 
August we are fortunate enough to have two public holidays - which means more time to spend on the bike. On the 3rd of August (holiday because of municipal elections) a bunch of 12 of us headed out to Big Red Barn near Irene.  This was a great 90km ride with a great group of people with a compulsory coffee at the half way mark, here are the Strava stats for this ride

Yesterday we did our first Apricot Tree 94.7 road race training ride. It was a pleasant ride with some awesome people however it reminded my of why I don't road bike anymore. The cars and trucks on the roads are too hectic and I am not too comfortable especially as I had a tangle with a car earlier this week. A lady went through a stop street and rode straight towards me (it was dark and I had my light on). I tried my best to get out the way but her side mirror clipped my handle bars. She was a bit shaken and confused saying she just rode towards the light - even though I was (oncoming) on the other side of the road. Close call but fortunately everything was fine on my side.  
The other reason I don't road bike - punctures (Sean fixing Becky's tyre)
My new frame and the start of a new era in my riding :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Coffee rides to see out winter

So the plan is to keep the legs turning over during winter, this is easier said then done given the cold and dark early mornings. At the moment it is down to 2 rides during the week, on a Wednesday and a Friday and then a longer one on the weekend. These generally involve coffee and a catch up with the few that brave the horrid conditions (Wayne seems to be Mr Consistency at the moment joining me in the mornings that we ride).

Ashley printed out some great mugs for the Benoni Rough Riders - I think the slogan on the cup is very apt and my wife says is very relevant to me.  
We did a great (81km) ride this morning (Sunday 17th July) to SentraRand and back with a great breakfast at The Parks restuarant at the end - 9 Rough Riders showed up for a fresh Sunday ride and it was really awesome. 
Me, Alistair, Ross, Marco, Michael and Wayne (Ashley, Robert and Mark had time constraints and couldn't stay)
Early morning sunrise when riding past Korsmans Pan (1km from my house) 15-07-2016
Loads of evening sunset walks with my loverly wife...and yes I have been putting these on Strava
Awesome to witness a sunrise and sunset on the same day 15-07-2016. 
No new bike yet as I am still waiting for my frame replacement (after it broke at Sani to Sea) - hopefully I will receive it at the end of July. I am still on the old frame with the 'temporary fix' that was done on day 2 of Sani - hopefully it will still see me out for the next couple of weeks. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

So the cold begins...

Life after Sani - after returning from our value for money Sani, I took my bike to Procycles to send to the Giant agents to see if I could if they would replace my frame under the warranty. Sean Brown was incredible in letting me use his new fat bike until my bike returned. I spent a week riding on the fat bike - wow it was a different ride and is really awesome. Good news is that Giant will be replacing my broken frame with a new one at the end of June - super amped. 
Riding in the mornings before work is getting harder, with the temperatures plummeting and the sun only rising once you get home. Plenty of the crew are hibernating until the weather warms up but as usual I will soldier on through winter. As long as we ride at least 2 times during the week and once on the weekend the winter fat rolls should be kept abated.
Incredible photo of the misty sunrise on my ride this morning
Fat bike riding 
Sean and Becky training for their Race to Rhodes race

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sani to Sea Trial 2016

Sani to Sea 2016 was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done. Having completed this race three times before, I knew what to expect but this year there were a few curve balls that made this race incredibly difficult. The omens were there even before we arrived at the start of the race when the car behind us rolled while trying to avoid riding into to us as we slowed down for massive rocks in the road left behind from an earlier protest action from the locals. 
This year I was doing the race with a fellow Benoni Rough Rider - Wayne Korsman which I was looking forward to after doing the previous 3 Sani's with Greg. 
GlenCairn Camp sunset Day0
Bumped into some other Benoni riders the first night
Before the start of day 1  
Day1 started off ok, the route had changed from previous years, as they added more single track in the beginning instead of the customary district road. Unfortunately, I had a small tumble 20km in when we crossed a railway line. The stones were slippery and my bike shot out from underneath me and I fell on the hard railway stones (spraining my ribs in the process). A bit shaken, I got back on and caught up with Wayne.  I had another silly fall after the floating bridge at 30km and this proved to be very costly. I fell sideways when my front wheel lifted while powering up a small climb. Unfortunately in the process my seat post snapped off where it attaches to the frame - taking the seat clamp and a few centimetres of my carbon frame with it. I was in a huge predicament now as I could not clamp my seat post onto my frame. Wayne and me tried a few things with no resolve. I really thought my Sani was over. Fortunately, I did not take my rear seat post's bottle cage holder off before the race (even though I was not using it as I use my Camelbak for stage races) and this would stop my seat from going all the way down. I thought, let me try and finish Day1 at least. The next 50km was tough. I couldn't put too much pressure on my seat as the bottle cage was cracking the carbon frame and I had to stand a lot (but the seat was not clamped so it would swivel around adding to my discomfort). It was really difficult to finish but I did and my body was extremely sore at the end from the falls and the discomfort of a different riding set up because of the broken seat.  Wayne had to wait for me often, as I was slow and cautious - we finished in 6h01. 
Loads of great forest single track (note Wayne riding behind me)
Floating bridge was awesome
After washing our bikes and grabbing a quick shower after finishing Day1 I went to Paul from Procycles, he had a stand and was servicing bikes for some of his clients.  I gave Paul my bike and begged him to try and make a plan and do a temporary fix so I could at least finish the rest of Sani .  Next was supper and then a late physio appointment to try and repair (and strap) my body for the next day's toil. 
Customary selfie at the start of Day2
Amazing views going down into the Umkomaas Valley
Day2 - Bike had a temp fix and we started late because of out slow time the day before which turned out to be a disadvantage later in the day. Going down into the valley was awesome, easy and relaxed riding, getting a chance to look at the amazing scenery. But then the toil started at the bottom of the valley, there was plenty of mud as a result of the previous day's thunder storm. This proved very taxing, at one point we had to push our bikes and the wheels clogged up with mud and would turn not turn. After water point 1 I started to take strain and pushed up a few hills that I should have ridden. Wayne was ever patient and waited for me often to catch up. 
Spur (ex Nandos) stop at Water point 2
After a few bites of a burger at Water Point 2 we pushed on to try and get to Water Point 3 before the cut off. This is where I really hit the wall - my body was exhausted from the day before and the exertion from pushing and riding through the mud. Wayne pushed on ahead riding at his own pace, I really struggled, still riding but ever so slow. My Garmin's battery died which made it even harder not knowing how far you had to go and also where to go, as the field was thinning out and there were not too many riders to follow who had GPS devices showing them the way (as the route was unmarked). I was not feeling well at all and at one stage had to sit under some trees for awhile to try and recover. I kept saying I have done this before and pain is temporary but failure is forever. It was starting to get dark when I rolled into High Flats Water Point 3 and there, they stopped me from going further because it would be too dangerous to finish in the dark (Wayne had waited for me but then left just before they closed the route so he could finish the day). Myself and a few other riders got a lift to Jollievet (the day2 camp), getting there after 6 o'clock in the pitch dark. After finding my bike (and Wayne) I took my broken body to find our tent and then off to the showers followed by a late lunch/supper. A long 9 hours of riding really punished my body and mind. 

Vernon Crookes Day3
Wayne having a wee with a view :-)
Day3 - after a horrid two days all I wanted to do was finish. Somehow my body recovered and I felt relatively strong, as I warmed up I started to enjoy the ride and stormed up all the hills. Wow what an awesome day, I enjoyed every minute of it and had fun. We started in the last group because of our slow time the day before and this group was incredible. It consisted of people all riding to enjoy the route and not race to the end. There was never anyone breathing behind your back waiting to pass, everything was in good spirit and there were jokes a plenty. We rolled into the finish after the floating bridge (with some added bumps) relaxed and elated to have finished this extreme event. Thanks to my fantastic riding partner Wayne, he was incredible and it was an absolute pleasure sharing the experience with him.  
After 20 odd hours in the saddle we really got our moneys worth....
Well deserved finishes medal

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Route 42 and some more

It has been a great few weeks of riding, I have had some really awesome rides and I am starting to feel fit enough to tackle my fourth Sani to Sea mountain bike stage race in two weeks time. 
On the 17th of April, Wayne, Michael, myself (and a few others) did the Route 42 MTB race just outside Nigel. It was an awesome race and was pretty testing at times, with rocky climbs and push your bike up hills. Michael did the race on his fat bike and Wayne and I spent the first 60km trying to catch him. This was the first race that Wayne and I rode together as a pair and it was good prep for Sani2C. The good news is that we are evenly matched and ride well together. It is going to be an awesome race and I am really forward to it. 
Me dodging the rocks
Nice shot of me followed by Mike and Wayne - in 3rd and 4th place :-)
Last weekend whilst a lot of the Benoni Rough Rider gang (7 in total) are doing the Joburg to Sea MTB stage race, Michael and I joined Rebecca, Sean, Pierre and Robyn for a great ride. Mike and I had time constraints, so we turned back early (the others were going to Rosemary Hill east of  Pretoria) - but I still managed to do 100km ride at a good pace. Becky and Sean were doing a 'recovery ride' after their valiant effort at the 360 One MTB race the weekend before. They cycled a whopping 283km in one day on some treacherous terrain, before sanity prevailed.  
Playing chicken
Train spotting 
Today was a public holiday in South Africa and it was a great time for an awesome social breakfast ride with fellow like minded souls. There were 12 of us that rode out to Duanblane, Cell Tower, Brick Yard, Motor Cross Track and then stopping for great coffee and breakfast at Hava Java Cafe. It was an awesome 75km ride which I really enjoyed (I spent most of the time chasing Ian - phew he is riding strong). Below are a few photos from the ride:
Crossing the train tracks to avoid the mud...
Welcome breather...
Rebecca (with a train in the distance)
Quickie breakfast (for R20) with an awesome group of people
I even managed to play waiter and went and fetched Sean's food that was taking too long