Friday, December 24, 2010

Andrews first fall

Andrew is at last a real mountain biker!! He joined Greg and myself for a nice Xmas eve morning ride, we did 50km's mostly off road. It was a really awesome ride and Andrew was a natural, he manged to keep up with us and made us really scared on how strong he will be when he gets his new bike.

He has now officially joined the  MTB riders club by having his first fall. He was going over a mound of building stones and hit a rock on the other side that sent him over the handle bars. It was a classic fall and as with most falls comes when it is least expected. He shot up, dusted himself off and gingerly remounted his bike. Here he is a few metres later full of smiles - welcome to the club Andrew.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Andrew comes of age

Great to get Andrew out in the early morning (his second ride this week). We did just over 31km off road, before my last day of work. After loads of rain the past week the route was very very wet and in some places overgrown. This was ended up being Andrew's initiation ride into real mountain biking where you come home looking like you have been standing in front of a big fan and some has thrown mud, water and other s**t into it.  It was good to ride with Andrew and he handled the stinky water that we rode through ok, hopefully the next pic of him he will be in new kit (as I am sure what he is wearing will smell a bit ripe).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday 19th December 2010 ride

Armed with my new toys (29er and Garmin) I joined Greg, Gary and Justin for a great dirty Mountain Bike ride in the Benoni outback. It was good to ride with the boys again, at least this time I could keep up. We had a good ride past Dunblane and then into the plots (route shown below), the pace wasn't to fast and there were a few stops to navigate the water hazards.
I took a nice tumble riding through some thickesh mud, I was behind Greg as he always chooses the best line when I couldn't keep up the momentum and took a dive in the mud as pictured below.

At least it gave the boys (as pictured below) something to smile about.

Great ride, almost 70kms loads of water, mud and a few more horse fly bites to remind me that this sport is not for sissies.

Friday 17th Dec ride

First ride with my new Garmin Edge 500 (early xmas present from my wife). Really awesome little gadget (thx to Greg for helping set it up). Now I can monitor amongst others my heart rate, cadence, ascent, calories burnt etc really love it.

Greg and me did a dirty 48km ride, after a few days of rain the paths and roads were very muddy. We had to wash them off in the river at once stage as the mud was really ruining our chains and cassettes. This was where the horse flies struck, I got bitten 5 times and Greg once.

Some of the roads were completely flooded and were not ride able as pictured below.

 No more bling on the new 29er

Back home a lot dirtier then I started.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First 100km up on the 29er

I did a few rides this last week on my new Giant Anthem X1 29er, wow what an awesome ride. I had a few early morning rides before work with Greg (just under 30km each) and a longer ride on Saturday with the Procycles team.

The Saturday ride was very memorable, we met at 05:30 at Procycles at Northmead, Benoni totalling 9 riders (including Paul, Ian and Glen from Procycles) and ventured out towards the mine dumps. Paul was the leader and really took us on an incredible route that I had never been on before. Some parts were technical and I struggled initially but the open single track and drop offs were incredible.  My sense of direction was really confused and I am not sure I would be able to assimilate the route that Paul took us on, when I thought we were almost back at Benoni we somehow ended up in Brakpan.

I had one classic fall - head over heals over my handlebars. I only realised at the end of the ride after Greg alerted me that my brakes were on different sides to what I was used to on my Trek MTB i.e. I thought I was putting on the back brake and instead pulled hard on the front causing the fall. These have now been swapped around and I won't be able to use this as a excuse anymore. It was really cool to ride with a big group of riders I think I will be doing this often in the future.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New 29er

After a dodgy week or so after my fall, life has taken a real awesome turn. I have purchased a new Giant Anthem X1 29er mountain bike (courtesy of a tax refund). I am fortunate to have Greg as a friend as he has immense technical knowledge about mountain bikes which really came in handy when choosing the right bike. After shopping around for a few weeks I think I got a really good deal with this new baby:

I couldn't wait for my first ride, unfortunately my front tubeless tyre didn't bead properly and with Greg's help we put in a temporary tube. Greg was awesome in helping me setting up the bike with the shock pressures, greasing the bearings etc. The first ride was incredible, much better then I would have anticipated -  I could actually keep up with Greg for a change.  The bike rolls very well and the upgrade in components is noticeable when changing gears and braking etc. I know I am going to have many years of fun on this baby.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday MTB ride 28th November

After a few days after my horrific close encounter with the tar and my wounds not really healed yet, I needed to go out and get back on my trusty old mountain bike.

This Sunday I was fortunate to be joined by my friend and neighbour Andrew (years of nagging finally paid off). We hitched our bikes and traveled to Dunblane horse estate in Bredell where we parked headed out to the vast open spaces. It was really awesome to be out riding once again, the broken nose hurt a bit when going over rough terrain, but I was in my element so it didn't matter much.

Andrew was strong - those training rides around the suburb really paid off. There was loads of puddles and mud and pretty soon I very dirty (my wife's words of caution echoing in my ears about keeping the stitches clean etc). At one stage of our ride the road was flooded (as seen below) and we decided to walk around through the grass. I didn't see the big DANGER sign and ended up waist deep in a trench - soaked to the bone and Andrew had to pull me out. Here is Andrew below - see he hasn't even started sweating yet:
We ended up doing just under 30kms - which wasn't bad for Andrew's first ride. I was really pleasant to be out in the open again, soaking in the majestic scenery and wildlife that really makes mountain biking such an awesome sport. Hopefully the bug would have bitten Andrew and I will see him out there with us in the future.

Tar faced

Little did I know that my first ride after the 94.7 would be so eventful, after riding with 25 thousand riders and flying down hills with speeds over 70km/h my first ride alone in an empty road would be chaos.

2 km away from home it started to rain and I thought it would be best to do up my new First Accent rain jacket - should I stop or not? This was going to be a bad decision, as I carried on and took my hands off the handle bars and started zipping up my jacket. I wasn't going fast enough and lost control of the bike and ended up face first in the tar. What a mess - nose bleeding profusely, chin cut, lip cut and nose grazed etc. Off home - quick clean and then drive to the Glenwood hospital emergency. 

I was fortunate that Dr Raymond Hogg was still on duty after his night shift, I had met Raymond before after he has treated one of our children (on recommendation of our friend Heidi). He patiently sewed up my face 15 stitches above the lip and they cleaned up the rest of the cuts etc Nose was also broken but there was not much they could do here, I was then sent for Xrays to make sure my chin and neck was not fractured. 

2010 has not been a good year for me with regards to accidents on my bike....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

94.7 Road Race 2010

On a day in Johannesburg when cyclists rule the streets, 24000 people race a lap around the city in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge. This Sunday I made it to the finish line - just! This is my tale of the race…

I was in starting group CC and after a good hour waiting in the hot sun we set off at about 08:20.

How awesome was it to ride on the highways and closed roads, this is what makes this race so great. A bit of a new longer route through the center of Joburg, great to fly down past Sunnyside Hotel this year instead of going  uphill (a mountain biker took a hefty tumble in front of me at 50km/hour - looked very sore), we went past Ponte (my training mate Peter went flying past me here) and on to the highway and back into the city through Ghandi square, M1 highway again, Mandela bridge etc. It was really unique experience riding here and I still felt strong at this stage. Then through the tree lined suburbs through to Randburg - hit my best ever top speed of 70km down Jan Smuts going past the Zoo.

Quick stop in Randburg to chat to my mates Brad and Zanne who were in their usual supporter spot just above Republic intersection. Breezed through without stopping once until the N14 highway, I was fortunate to ride with a good friend from the past - Robyn for a few kms up Malibongwe until she left me on the final hill. Great to see the supporters cheering on the side of the road - people were cooking breakfast on skottels, lying in blow up pools drinking beer, offering drinks and splashing water as you rode past...great spirit.

N14 highway and the rest of the race was pure hell, someone left the furnace door open  - the heat was energy sapping and the drags seemed to go on for ever and my feet really hurt. Eventually I had to stop under a bridge to cool off and re-energise. After initially vowing not to stop at any water points in the race - I ended up stopping at all of them from the N14 onwards, the heat was killing me. My average speed up to N14 was 24km/h and from N14 home, must have been about 10km/h - yuck. I had to stop to loosen my shoes as I couldn't feel my feet circulation was restricted. 

Eventually limped home 40 minutes faster then last year and vowed never to do the race again (until Monday morning where I already planned how to beat my time).

Reasons why the race did not go as planned:
  1. I wasn't as fit as I should have been - extra 2 months training would have helped (flu and foot injury really hampered my preparation).
  2. There are no hills in the East Rand for training- so the hills in the race were a struggle.
  3. False view that a road bike would be easy compared to the mountain bike last year (you still need to  be fit - I really missed the granny gear option though).
  4. To many kgs to drag up the hills - need to lighter for next year.
Next year I plan to slice another 40 minutes of my time and ride in pink with Brad that's a goal to train to.  Thanks to the organizers for an awesome well planned race.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday 7th September - MTB Ride

Awesome to be back on the MTB again, how I missed it (road riding really sucks - to clarify, because of the cars). This Sunday I met up with Greg, Jacques and Darren (great to have new guys ride with us - at least Greg had someone to keep up with him)

We started off from the gym at Lakefield and made our way out towards Serengetti and the great unspoilt plains of the East Rand.

After almost loosing Darren and Jacques, Greg and me had to wait a few minutes until they found us - gave Greg a chance to do some bike repairs.

We went past Serengetti and then past the Barnhoppers Model Aircraft flying club and did a loop around the sewage pipe hill - I almost took a swim when crossing the river (the line I took was really deep).

After about 50kms we had a break under the trees - ok it was more like a picnic for Jacques and Darren - they pulled out tupperware containers with potatoes, boiled eggs and minute steak. Wow this was a first for me and Greg, but it really works for them.

All in all it was a great ride, legs felt it at the end, almost 70km mainly off road, thanks to the boys for making it memorable.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ride with the Master

Ok - the blogging has slowed down -  mainly because I have been out of action with the flu and this is a MTB Blog and I have been riding road bike the past few weeks (eeck).

After a nice ride with Greg before work this week I realised how much I miss the good old mountain bike. Work had us going to the Vaal river for a few days and this was a great opportunity to ride with the MTB Master (Melt)- the man who inspired me to start riding a good year ago.

We got up at 05:30 and hit the road - not knowing where we were going but keen to find some tracks. We had an awesome little adventure finding paths and single track all over the place. Our exploring souls took us to places seldom marked by tyre but it was worth the adventure. We saw lots of mongooses on our ride and even had a buck dash in front of us.We eventually found a nice road next to the river that took us home (after jumping a fense or two).

It was really fantastice to ride with Melt and good to find new routes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heritage Day weekend rides

What a great way to celebrate South Africa's Heritage Day then a Mountain Bike ride in your own back yard. Greg, Justin (pictured below) and I headed off to Dunblane Equistrian estate in Kempton where the Rotary club was holding a MTB race. This route, we were all very familiar with as we do parts of it almost every weekend. We entered the 50km race and it was quite a pleasant race. The field was not too big and quickly stretched out, racing machines Greg and Justin powered off into the distance leaving me to help the novice lady riders at the back (joys of being a slower rider).
The route wasn't marked out the best and some people may have taken shorter/longer to complete the race. There was a horrible little loop just as you reached the end, they look you back up out for another 4 km stint. My load was shot at this stage and the ladies I was riding with powered away from me, leaving me defeated and deflated. Good race to finish, hopefully they will have more of them in the future. 

Greg fortunately noticed that I had a broken spoke when he was loading my bike onto his carrier before the race. We tied the offending spoke with a zip tie so that it would not get stuck in the chain etc. The next day, I dropped the wheel off at Procylces to get fixed, thus leaving me without a Mountain Bike for the Sunday ride.....

At last my new road bike that has been collecting dust over the last 2 months will see some action. I managed to get a ride with Peter and Victor (pictured below), they are really fantastic guys and it was an absolute pleasure riding with them. We did 70kms at an average speed of 25km/h, great route that we went on past East Mall, through Kempton, Pomona, Petit, Rynfield and then back via Kempton (Atlas road). 

My first experience on a road bike, I couldn't believe how fast and responsive it was (I was averaging over 40km/h along Atlas road). The cars speeding past were a bit of a worry but you seem to get used to them. I really had an awesome ride which totally justified my purchase of the road bike - come on 94.7 I am going to give you carrots this year. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday MTB ride 19th Sept

Awesome ride this Sunday, aiming for a 4 hour plus ride we set off from Lakefield, Benoni and headed out towards the Sandpan and then past Dunblane Horse Estate.

Pictured below is a tandem Africa style (taken whilst riding past him) - one rider 2 bikes....

After riding past the Barnstormers model aircraft field and over the sewage pipe, we met up with Paul from Procycles and the owner of Dunblane Equestrian estate (never quite got his name). They were plotting out the route for the Heritage Mountain Bike challenge to be held on the 24th of September starting at Dunblane. We rode most of the route with Paul (I tried my best to keep up with him and Greg), it was really great to find out about the race this Friday and also to do part of the route. 

Eish this farmer pumps sewage into his miellies - remind me not to buy from him...

Greg 'powering up the hill' - my co-ords are getting better, managed to take out my Blackberry and snap a shot without falling off...

Really looking forward to the race this Friday, 50km route that Greg and I have being doing most of in the past few weeks....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beast of the East route - Sunday 12th Sept

Today Greg and I rode most of the route that was used for the Beast of the East MTB race that was held last year. We parked our car at Barnstomers model aircraft club, so that we did not have to touch any tar at all and could have more time to play in the dirt (the pink tickets that our wives give us, have time limits, so we must make the most of it).

We rode the route counter clockwise to what was raced last year - this was pretty hectic because the first 10kms were uphill from Barnstormers. Greg pretty much sprinted away in the beginning and was averaging 21kms up the long hills before waiting on Sir Mytummy Isbigger Thenyours to catch up. We saw about 10 other MTBs coming the other way on the route - they knew we were tougher.

Below are a few pics take during the ride:

Check out how fast the 'treated' water is flowing out the sewage pipe into the river - Stan where's your boat?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday 15th August ride

What a great day for a ride - the weather has warmed up, yeah sumer is almost here. I was fortunate enough to be able to ride with Gerry today, it was great to get him back on the bike. We went for a pleasant ride out to the sandpan and then past Dunblain, into the open veld.

It is on days like this that you can really appreciate living in South Africa and be blessed with the opportunity to have mountain bike rides into the great outdoors. 

We did over 40km at a comfortable pace, there was a nasty headwind at the end of the ride that really tested the legs. Below is a photo of Gerry successfully navigating crossing the stream near Seringetti golf estate, marvelous engineering design of these rudimentary bridges used by the locals to not get their feet wet.

It must be noted that I noticed another way over that entailed only one short hope over a single tyre - sorry Gerry I should have given you more warning of the alternative (but I did enjoy watching you traverse this obstacle).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday ride 08-08-2010

Awesome ride today, over 60km of tough riding but a really great route and company. I first met up with Greg and his racing snake friend (rode to Clarens just for fun) - Gary. Next we went to Justin's house (fresh from World BMX championships) - eish riding with these guys could only mean one thing - tired sore body.

We went out past Dunblain horse estate and into the farmlands. A few short hills to get the heart rate up and plenty of sandy roads, with some water crossings thrown in. Pictured below are the 3 'strong' boys after 30 odd kms - hardly worked up a sweat yet.

Really great to be in wide open spaces, we rode past a game farm that had loads of buck and antelope. The legs were starting to hurt, but fortunately the guys slowed down at times to let me catch up.

The last 10 odd kms to Justin's house were really tough but I made it - thanks boys for waiting for me.

The light at the end of the tunnel:

New road bike

No I haven't gone to the other side and I am not about to shave my legs. I got a real bargain on a road bike that I can use for the 94.7 this year. Makes a nice picture hanging in my garage whilst my first love Trek MTB gets all my attention.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Country Challenge - Walkerville Sunday 1st August

Greg and me had a great race at Walkerville, the route was completely different to the races we had both done here previously, it was pretty fast not too technical, with a few hills thrown in for fun.

There was a small field (compared to the Nissan series at least), over 50 for the 60km and over 80 for the 37km races. Greg did really well, finishing in 22nd position in a time of 1:55 and I came in half an hour later at 2:25 (without falling once). The week before at Cullinan really made us tougher and more resilient to any mountain bilking terrain and conditions - the tougher it gets the easier it gets.
Now to get back to those morning rides - summer is around the corner, Stan you better get ready buddy cause I ain't going away.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nissan Series - Diamond Rush MTB Race

Two words can adequately describe this race - hills and rocks. It a really awesome ride very well organised and attended. The route itself was really tough - longest 40kms I have ever done. I only fell a few times so at least this was a step in the right direction.
Greg and me before the start.

First hiccup of the race was even before the start, as you can see from the picture above, I had left my gloves in the car. I only noticed this when we were lining up for the start (as pictured below). Fortunately a good looking angel came to my rescue and lent me her spare gloves for the race. Thank you Marita, you are an absolute lifesaver.

Most of the 40km race was held in game reserves, the scenery was spectacular - I saw a few buck running in front of us and Greg also saw a herd of giraffes going for a run. The race was very eventfull with loads of falls and accidents - I think there were a few visits to the emergency ward after the race. Greg witnessed a bad one when a herd of buck ran into the girl riding in front of him knocking her off her bike (she should have listened to the race organizers and not rode with her Ipod on and maybe she would have heard them coming - but hey this is Africa), being the good Samaritan he is, he stayed with her for awhile to make sure she was ok.

It was really great to be riding out there with like minded people, the spirit of everybody around me was incredible during our collective suffering. Pictured below was one of the hardest hills I have yet to climb (thank god me Greg and me did Rooiberg so this did not phase us too much). It was not only very steep but there was loose gravel so your footing was very tricky.

All and all it was an incredible journey that I am really glad I completed, the tougher they get the tougher you get.....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sunday 27th June - onwards

Good to be back on the bike again this Sunday, legs are getting stronger, managed to to alomost 50km (with a cappucino break in between).
Sewer is still over running (4 months later) - Greg being oh so carefull crossing the cesspit.

So what's a ride without a few falls, could hardly stand up after this one - front wheel got stuck in a hole deceptively filled with mud.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Polar bear rides

I did a polar bear ride on Wednesday morning and managed to convince Stan the man (no Ratty did not weasel out of this challenge) to ride with me on Thursday morning. 

I left home at 05:15 and the temperature was well below 0 degrees, I was fully equiped for the weather - 2 pairs of gloves, leg warmers, T Shirt, riding jacket, wind breaker, socks covered by thermal socks and a riding balaclava. 

Stan the Man came out of his house to great me with grunt and much to my surprise he only had his rding shorts on, a thin long sleeve T Shirt and fingeless gloves. Needless to say he is a real man as I was frozen even with all my gear on, I didn't have a chance to ask him if he was cold as I spent the whole time trying to catch up with him (either he was trying to get home as fast as posible or he has been secretly training). 

Anyway it was really good to get out in the morning and too have Stan join me once again - Woza weekend. Below is a picture of the sunrise over Korsman Pan taken with frozen fingure tips. 


Back in the saddle - Sunday 20th June

After 2 months of not riding the legs are heavy and weak, Greg the racing snake is stronger than ever and has to have a lot of patience waiting for me when we ride. We had a short ride out to the forest at the airport on Sunday, it was really great (slow and hard). Here are some photos of Greg after finishing the winding single track in the forest (notice the Rooiberg shirt).

The long frustrating road

It has been a really frustrating time in my life over the last few months after injuring my left foot. Months of treatment, ice baths and acupuncture. The good docters baned me from riding for 2 months (that is why the block has not been updated), the foot is still not better but manageble, so I will slowly be getting back into it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday 2nd May 2010

Loads of rain the past week led to really muddy ride. Greg and myself went for a +50km ride to test Greg's new saddle, chain, chain ring and cluster could with stain the Benoni mud (Stan was taking a much deserved rest).

Went went out past Dunblain horse estate and tried to find a way around the back of it to no avail. We met up with another rider - think his name was Craig? (photo below) and we rode with him for awhile (ok Greg did and I puffed and panted behind).

Fortunately Craig left us and we could ride at a more moderate pace. After Serengeti we went over Pomona road and past the Telkom tower we once again encountered the sewage works. This sewer has been overflowing into the small dam for the past month. It was a really kak job crossing over this sess pit of a stream, plenty of stinking mud to take home with us.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rooiberg Eco Ride 2010

Rooiberg Eco Ride 2010, wow what an experience (learning experience that is). The excitement and anticipation of the last few months finally came to fruition, as Greg and  me embarked on a memorable '3' day stage ride. Unfortunately the weather did not come to the party as it had rained for days and carried on raining most of the time we were there, needless to say the roads were extremly muddy and snotty. Below is the camp that we stayed at - room with 4 beds, shower and communual kitchen etc.

Plenty of rain, we had driven some of the route to the start and saw the condition of the road and hence below is a photo of the 'wet' Day 1 (maybe that is why Day 2 was so tough).
Day 2 - we did not really know what we were getting into, this was the toughest day in my brief mountain biking life. The route was really really tough, loads of hills (more like mountains) and difficult technical single track, loose rock and of course mud. 

This was before the pain started.
First serious hill 5km into the ride - aptly named Fat Bastard

I am supposed to ride this?

The Donga 3km of riding/walking on an enclosed walled ravine, plenty of water, what an experience.

Welcomed tea stop

Yes we rode/walked from one side of the valley to the other.

Self portrait after whilst resting up another steep walk up a hill.

Brunch in the bush, phew I needed the rest.

I finally caught up with racing snake Greg (by taking a few alternative short cuts), this was taken whilst walking up one of the infamous steep hills with loose stones so there was not much grip.
Till next year - where we will be better prepared and hopefully tame the beast this time.