Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trail and Trout - 3 day stage race 2017

The inaugural Trail and Trout (besides the last 40km) was the best stage mountain race I have done in my 8 odd years of riding. It was absolutely incredible, it was small and intimate but also tough at the same time. Being the first event, the organizers kept it really small so they could foresee any teething problems, restricting the field to 60 riders. This meant that you pretty much had a chance to meet and chat to most of the participants or see them along the route. There were six Benoni Rough Riders that took part in the event - Becky, Michelle, Darren, Fabio, Wayne and myself. This was awesome we had so much fun together after each stage. 
Day 1, we started in Ezimvelo Game Reserve outside Bronkhorspruit for the start of our day (240km) journey to Dullstroom, first stop near Loskop Nature Reserve 84km away. The route was mainly jeep track, district road and a spattering of single track in between. Unfortunately I had a tumble next to the river single track, it wasn't a big fall just came off at a rocky section.  Except my back wheel was in the air and I was suspended over the front handle bars that were jammed on my thigh. My left leg was still clipped in and was stuck there for a few minutes, being at a weird angle I strained my calf slightly when trying to free my foot. Everything seemed fine and a eventually caught up with Wayne, Darren and Fabs (the girls were racing snakes with podium places in sight). Granny Hill wasn't too bad I spun up there and even helped push a elderly lady with her husband. The decent down to the finish was pretty hectic (no Sani manicured single track), so bumpy that Wayne and I stopped just so we could get blood back in our hands. Great day and even better rest camp, we got big A Frame tents with a stretcher and mattress each (much better then cramped Sani2C tents). No lugging boxes and bags for miles because the race was so small. Everything was so easy, no queuing for meals, showers, toilet and beers. 
Rough Riders at the start - me, Wayne, Michelle, Becky, Fabs and Darren
Sometimes you just have to stop for a quick selfie
Views were amazing
Blood circulation stop
Darren at hand to capture Fabio's fall
Tents on Day1 
Day 2 Phew I totally underestimated Day2 - weighing over 100kgs and climbing hills for extended period is not sustainable. Of the 84km on Day 2, we climbed for 50 of them. The route was pretty bland with lots of district road that was always at an up angle. After the second water point I hit a wall and could not keep up with Darren and Fabs anymore (Wayne had vanished in the distance). My leg was starting to bug me but I pushed through and was extremely happy just to survive and get to the finish. 
Start of Day2 - that is where the love stopped :-)
Photo by Eric through the eyes of Becky and Michlle
Darren and Fabio
The girls ready for action 
Darren with enough skill up the hill to take a selfie
So I managed to act like a roadie and hang on to Eric's car for a bit 
Introducing myself to my partner at the water point
Epitomises Day2 - climbing
Photo by Eric Vermuelan me and Fabs slogging away
Chilling in the V chairs  
Day3 So day three started at 03:00 when the rooster decided that it was time for everyone to wake up. Also heard some jackals cackling in the distance. Breakfast with the Rough Riders and then to stretch the stiff calf. Unfortunately I tripped over a tent guide rope when going to lube the bikes and in the process sprained my already damaged calf muscle. I was in agony and could hardly walk. Shit can't believe my luck - that is the last three stage races that I have had bad luck (Sani - broken seat post and Berg and Bush shoe/cleat breaking). I stumble to the start line and tried to pedal it out, was in agony for every pedal stroke. Hoping that this was not really happening to me and it would get better I attempted to ride day 3. I painfully rode with the back markers with Wayne patiently by my side. I made it to the first water point at 21km and knew that there was no way I could continue. I sent Wayne on his own to finish the last 40km and managed to eventually get a lift back to the finish with the route marshals. Not the best way to finish a stage race, especially as everyone said day3 was the best day. My calf is still painful as I write this and I am using crutches today to aid my mobility but hopefully it will recover in a few days.  
Michelle, Wayne and Becky 
Rough Riders at breakfast (Becky the photographer) 
Day3 selfie to prove I actually rode
Becky and Michelle, First ladies team home and Third overall AWESOME!!!
Beer courtesy of Mr Brown to numb the pain of the physio
All I can say is that this was an incredible experience that I could share with some amazing people, it was a well organized event and I will remember it for years to come.

Route 42 2017

Another Route 42 race in Nigel (my fifth one). This 75km MTB race, never disappoints always a great route with lots of variation - mielie fields, jeep track, rocky single track, a few climbs and a small forest section. It was a pretty hard race with Wayne and I keeping the back markers company. Becky got another podium and the fatties (Sean and Michael) did really well, Sean out sprinting Alistair for the finish. Greg and Claire did well also on the tandem - don't know how they rode some of the rocky sections as I struggled.  
Rough Riders at the start Sean, Mike, Becky, me and Wayne, Clair and Greg somewhere behind (Alistair is still putting his bum cream on at the car :-)

Action photo - lots of skill to ride with one hand
Sean giving me and Wayne some support at the finish 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hills, sore back and mashed banana

April has been a good month for mountain biking (910km in total - which was about 800km more then Wayne rode) - I would have cracked 1000km if my back was not injured and there was a few days of forced rest. There have been some great rides, testing the limits and slowly getting fitter. We had a great ride out to Bedfordview with Darren, Alistair and some of his mates. Alistair found every hill and made sure we did it twice for good measure - over 1200m climbing in 80 odd km. 
Taking a breather at the top of the Linksfield switch backs
We went on a soul searching ride in the mist towards the Mushroom Farm with the 360one legends, the week before their race. Incredible feat by Rebecca and Sean finishing the 360kms in under 24 hours and being on the podium for the 3rd mixed pair home. Doing the Benoni Rough Riders really proud. Aiden was also amazing coming in 10th overall in just over 16 hours. Here is Beck's blog: https://beckysands1967.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/the-36one-unfinished-business/ and also Aiden's blog http://www.aidencholes.com/2017/04/36one-2017-race-report/ - both really interesting reads and highlights the incredible achievements involved. 
Sean, Becky, Alistair, Mark, George and Shannon (Darren is too skinny to make the photo :-)
A couple of Big Red Barn (BRB) rides happend in the last week, this entailed a ride out towards Irene (finding a few hills) and then stopping at BRB for a quick coffee or breakfast before making our way back home. Distance for these rides was 95 and 105 kms - I really enjoy this route and its nice when we mix it up a bit and piss Alistair off when you change the route home :-)   
Dangerous Darren train dodging during Mikes detour over the train tracks to BRB.
Last ride for April was a spin out to Modderfontein bike park with Paul. Also a good ride but a bit of a slog on the way home because of the hills combined with a headwind. I had a bit of a lie down when turning and not un-cleating in time. This annihilated the banana I had in my back pocket and I had to settle for mashed banana as a mid ride snack. 
Anyone for a banana split?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ezemvelo MTB race 01-04-2017

No April fool here, what a great race at the Ezemvelo Game Reserve. A nice representation from the Benoni Rough Riders with Michael, Wayne, Paul, Darren, Fabio and Dustin smashing it in the heat and dust. It was a really great race, smooth flowing tracks with a bit of loose sand on occasion. The only draw back was the bottleneck in the beginning at a river crossing. After a short queue and chance to talk a bit of crap with fellow riders the race carried on. A few more river crossings left wet shoes for the rest of the race. The scenery was spectacular being in a game reserve outside Bronkhorspruit. Not much game could be spotted besides a Kudu buck running across the track a few meters ahead of me. I handled the race ok, pacing myself for most of the time but really felt the lack of hill training and the extra few kilos that have snuck up on me, near the end.  
Fabio, Darren, me, Mike, Wayne, Dustin and Paul
Darren, Mike and Paul patently waiting a the first river crossing
The last (heart break) hill before the end
Sunrise taken in one of the early morning rides before work

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Another day another sunrise

Great rides last weekend to the Broodblik and back on Saturday and Monument single track on Sunday. Legs were pretty heavy after spending 10 days overseas in Spain and England with plenty of over eating and drinking. Nice sunrises with the winter chill knocking at the door. 
Sunrise before off to eat pancakes and drink crap coffee
Mr Epic (Ashley), Becky and me selfie
Sean fixing a puncture in the crops
Banting breakfast at Hava Java after churning up the single track at Monument

Thursday, March 16, 2017

RIP Barry

With deep regret, Barry Mccallum passed away last week. Reading the 50 odd pages on the www.hubsa.co.za you realize what a impact he had on so many people's lives in the cycling community. I will miss my interactions with him on Twitter and the odd visit to Procycles on a Saturday where his sense of humor always cracked me up. 

I found found a post from my Blog in 2012 where I did a ride that Barry organized in the mine dumps:

I will hopefully be able to attend his funeral and join the memorial ride this Sunday. We will miss you Barry. 
Nice turn out riding from Procycles to Grapes
Stopped to have a beer a Barry's favorite haunt Grapes


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mike the Sushi King

February 2017 is here already, how time flies when you are having fun on the bike. Few great rides in the last month with a great bunch of riding mates. It is incredible what a nice group of people are on our riding group - The Benoni Rough Riders, always good banter on the WhatsApp group and there is always fantastic company on our numerous rides (except if it is raining then it is just me and Norman Nofriends). 
Early morning sunrise ride before work 
Sunday breakfast ride - other Mark, Mark, Juan, Paul and Michael 
Sunday afternoon ride with my son and wife...more fun and coffee
The last couple of Sundays we have made a point in our ride to go to the Monument MTB track that a group of guys have made for the benefit of the local riding community. They have done a lot of work there and it is a great flowing track that keeps you honest as you go up Monument hill a few times on the route. Normally we stop for a breakfast and coffee at Hava Java coffee shop on the way home, but this morning we only had coffee as Michael invited us to try his Sushi from his Sushi Bus (he had some stock left over after a event yesterday). Really tasty, we all tucked in, it was awesome and we are all very grateful for Michael's excess stock that needed to be eliminated.  
Michael the Sushi King 
#awesome
Paul, Sean, Mark and Anton tucking into the tasty sushi  
And of course I have to mention my long time mate Greg Heunis, always there to assist me with any mechanical issues that I have with my bike. Here he is putting 2 new tyres and a chain on my bike. Really thankful for the all the years I have had him practicing his skills on my bike... :-)
"I can't seem to get this bottle of Stans to fit inside this tyre"

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 bring it on....

So 2017 is in full force and here's hoping it will be bigger and better then 2016. We had some lekker rides at the end of 2016 - I did over 300km in the last week and finished off the year on 8914km. Nice time in the saddle - almost 9000km in 445 hours. That is an extra 18.5 days of life I scored getting up early riding with my mates.
Becky followed by Greg and Claire on the tandem behind
Group ride for Jess near Serengeti 
Jess now living in the USA joined us for a morning ride :-)
I had a dumb fall earlier this week and came down really hard on my hip and ribs. Pretty sore and left with some bruising and a fractured rib. Plenty of TLC and strapping from the Chiropractor.

Stopping to celebrate Becky's 10,000km PA milestone 
Pancake ride on the last day of 2016 - Greg is guarding them from Claire
Looking forward to more time in the saddle for 2017 with some awesome people. We have entered a new stage race in May called the Trail and Trout (Bronkhorspruit to Dullstroom) which will be incredible. Hopefully I will remain injury free and be able to enjoy the experience. 

 
First ride of 2017 at BCC - my wife was nervous of the new bridge
Customary selfie by the forest stop sign
Great ride today, followed by a breakfast at Hava Java. Benoni Rough Riders is expanding and we are getting new people joining every week. Awesome to meet different people and share our new and past mountain biking experiences. 

Action photo I took today after our  breakfast/coffee stop