Friday, December 30, 2011

Ride with the beasts

We had a great ride at Groenkloof Nature Reserve this morning. Andrew joined Greg and me for the first time at "Groenies" to get his taste of real mountain biking with some technical tracks and a few heart pounding climbs. It is always great riding here and fortunately after all the rain it was not muddy as the water runs off pretty well. We saw some game in the reserve - Giraffe, Wildebeest, Zebra and the herd of Sable antelopes that weren't too perturbed my us riding past.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December time again

2011 is coming to an end and it has been an incredible year. Greg and me have competed in our first stage race, we have upped our game to riding the 70km races instead of the 40kms, I beat my 94.7 time by an hour, my kids did 3 races, I did over 6000kms (300 odd hours) on the bike and the list goes on and on......

Well I am on leave for 3 weeks and I intend to see out the old year like I brought it in - on my bike (anyone who mentions this to my wife will be shot on sight). This is how my first week of holiday has gone so far:

Day 1 - kids did a race a Babas Lodge (14km), I was the roving mechanic and had to fix two flat tyres (there were some mean thorn trees out there).

My daughter Erin with a flat front tyre

Eager beavers before the start of the race
Andrew and the kids

Had to stop for this fellow taking his crap across the road..
Day 3 - Yes I did it again - another blind MTB Internet date. Greg and me rode with a guy I met on the Hub website - Pierre, he was pretty new to mountain biking and we took him on an introductory flirt with the dirt. He managed really well and kept up with us the the 40 odd kms ride that we did.
Day 4 - Great early evening ride with Andrew - we did 33kms before the sun set beat us back home. 
 Day 5 - Greg and me had a fantastic ride, we did just under 70kms and had some serious water hazards to walk around (and both got attacked by horse flies - ouch the bites itch for days)
Day 7 - What fun was this ride, a heavy down pour made the route we did a few days earlier almost unrideable. There was so much mud and water we slid all over the place and our bikes took a real hammering and clogged up real good. At one stage we passed a van stuck in the mud the man inside said he had been stuck since the day before and was waiting to be towed out.

Bike just a little heavier then when I started with all the mud attached to the wheels.

We rode on the railway tracks for awhile the sleepers were easier then the mud.

Greg you need some water wings there bud?

So much mud and water such little time....
We ended up doing 63kms and even with all the mud we managed to have and average moving speed of 22km/h which was pretty impressive given the conditions. OK week 1 done - can't wait for next week to ride off all that Christmas cheer. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last day of work

How cool is it to go on a 2 hour ride on your last day of work - need to get ready for my 3 week break where hopefully I will ride myself silly. Unfortunately on one of the routes that we have been using for years they are building a big wall blocking the way to the veld below Serengeti Golf Estate.

This will cause an inconvenience to a lot of Mountain Bikers that use this route...:(

Greg taking a rest while I moan about the new wall

Ok I think I need a shower after the morning's ride

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Riding stats for 2011

It was almost a year ago that my beautiful wife bought me a Garmin Edge 500 GPS for Christmas. Although my MTB riding has been the topic of many a heated conversation in this household, I know that she really supports my new found passion for the fabulous sport. The stats below however are top secret and she must never know that I spent over 314 hours of my free time (that is over 13 whole days) away from her beloved presence with my trusty mountain bike. And please don't tell her that next year is going to be even bigger, with our entry into the Sani2C we have to really stretch the legs and do some really big rides before May next year.....
Count: 177 Activities

Distance: 6,126.35 km

Time: 314:37:53 h:m:s

Elevation Gain: 41,701 m

Avg Speed: 19.5 km/h

Calories: 228,994 C

Nancy Drew ride

Yes we were a bunch of Nancy Drew's this morning, after a few days of rain we tendered stay away from the mud. It is not so much about getting dirty but about not messing up your drive chain and rear cassette as they get caked in the grimy muck that can do so much damage. It was however a pleasant ride this morning with Greg and Justin (who has just conquered the Roof of Africa), we did just over 60kms at 21km/h average. I am looking forward to the holidays so we can do some serious longish out rides.  
Justin and Greg scouting ahead for some mud less tar....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Early Mountain Biker catches the sunrise

Nothing better then getting up at 04:30, going for a mountain bike ride with your mate in the outback of Benoni  and to experience the thrill as the morning shakes off the shackles of the night.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 94.7 road race blog report

Garmin - details for the 94.7 race

Awesome ride today as I achieved my goal to crack the 4 hour mark (an hour faster than last year). Really chuffed with myself, after a slow start I managed to pick up the pace on the N14 highway and handled the last few hills with no problem. Fortunately the weather was not as hot as last year and it makes a big difference starting at 7:35 instead of 8:30.

Ok you want the real truth about my dramatic increase in performance - no it was not drugs or the almost 6000kms done on my MTB since the last race. I decided to become a real roadie for one day and shaved my legs (painstaking process of culling 42 years of growth). So there you have it, my slick little pegs took me home in record time.
Happy camper at the end of the race

Sunday, November 13, 2011

To be or not to be?

...well that is the question I now ask - whether it is nobler to be a road biker or a dirty mountain biker.

This quandary has been easily solved the the past few weeks - I like my dirt in double helpings please.

I have once again entered the 94.7 road race and a few weeks ago I dusted off my trusty old Scott road bike to have a few helpings of the tar side before the race on the 20th of November. I just managed to do just 2 weekend tar rides (75 and 80kms) before resolutely swaying back to my trusty Giant Anthem 29er.  Road is not too bad. but it ain't mountain biking - the exhilarating rush of adrenalin when you hit the single track, the beautiful morning sunrises as you venture through the veld and the constant concentration required as you vigilantly watch the track in front of you.  
One week to go before the race and once again the mountain bike was chosen as my weapon of choice this morning. We had a blistering 60 odd km ride at just under 23km/h (our fastest ride to date). And it was extremely enjoyable and that is what riding should be about, enjoyment - not worrying, when a massive truck goes speeding past you or a car hoots because you have transgressed 5cm into the road. But this a debate is for another time - I will be riding my road bike next Sun, why because it is easier and faster on the closed off roads.   

Am I ready for the race - well I am hoping that my almost 6000kms riding since the last 94.7 will hold me in good stead and hopefully the heat will not 'again' be a factor when I hit the N17 highway. At least I am starting a little earlier this year 07:35 as opposed to 08:20 last year. Watch this space for the race report next week and good luck to the 26 thousand riders taking part.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crashes - the story of my life

Ok so Terra-firma has a thing for me - the attraction is not mutual, as it unfortunately leaves me somewhat scarred, battered and bruised.
Early Monday morning, still nursing my bruises and cuts from riding at Sun City, I took a nasty tumble on a piece of track that I have done hundreds of times. My wheels caught the ridge in the middle of the road as I was about to turn into the single track and my bike just slid out from under me. This left a nasty painful graze on my leg (as pictured below) that has been a sore point (excuse the pun) this week, totally disrupting my riding plans.

I had to give the Nissan Cullinan Diamond Rush race that I had entered a skip, as I knew with certainty that if I rode the 70km as planned, I would fall exactly on my nice big roastie. Instead I had a short ride with Greg on Saturday morning and dusted off my road bike for Sunday.

Riding on road I thought would be uneventful - how wrong I was. I met up with some old roadie acquittance's at 06:00 at the Keg in Benoni and we headed out on old Pretoria road towards Bapsfontein. The road bike felt good and I was surprisingly averaging 28km/h for the first 35km. Then it happened - there was quite a lip between the tar and the edge of the road and Earl's front wheel slid off and he ploughed into the tarmac. Victor who was behind him, hit him and went over his handle bars connecting his head on the road. I was behind Victor and just managed to avoid the mangle ending up on the other side of the road. Long story short - Victor - hospital - stitches - plenty sore and Earl - roasties - broken bike and pride.

Can't say I am too fond of riding on the road, the cars are hectic and riding behind someone can also have its pitfalls. I was nice to get out and get a decent ride in though - we did 75km (we aimed for 100 but the accident shortened our aspirations), at least I know my road bike is ready to tackle the 94.7 road race next month.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sun City

The past few days I was fortunate enough to go to Kwamaritane Game Lodge situated just outside of Sun City in the North West province of South Africa. Holiday - not really, it was a work team building event. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to ride in new places and keep up my training, I decided to take my bike with. Where to ride is the question that was soon answered on the hub website, with Neil kindly answering my plea. Neil is a local at Sun City and is familiar with all the fabulous routes around the resort.

We met pretty early after 05:00, to get an hour or two in before Neil had to go to work. I managed to convince one of the roadies at work (Chris) to venture onto the dirt side and brought a bike for him to ride. Here he is below savouring some of his first single track.
The riding was spectacular, we rode on Thursday and Friday morning. Mostly on the route that the Sun City MTB race used the previous month. We were so fortunate to have Niel as our guide to take us through the route and through the golf course etc. Loads of single track, jeep track, sand and rocky hills that added variety to what we don't get in the outback of Benoni. I had a nasty fall on the first day that will leave its mark for a few weeks and Niel also had a tumble - the roadie was the only one not getting closer to mother earth.  
Sun City - golf course and Palace in the background

Neil after he had a 'lie down' when skidding around the corner

Neil and Chris (and my trusty stead) after the ride
 Not riding related but it was an awesome experience - we went down a 2km zip line/Foefie slide off the top of the mountain at Sun City. You get harnessed to the 'trolley' that runs on the cable that is connected to a tower 2kms down at the bottom of the mountain. I had my riding helmet on and managed to record the experience on my headcam.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bike or Bokke?

It has been exactly 3 years since my life has changed and I started riding mountain bikes. Pre my flirt with the dirt, I was a couch potato of note. Not many sporting events would escape my concentrated glare from the couch. I knew my rugby backwards and was on top of the Global Standings (for 12 rounds of the Super14 rugby competition) for the Superbru prediction game - sadly finishing 3rd out of 30,000 players at the end (used my heart and not my head being a avid Shark supporter). Unfortunately this was not a healthy lifestyle and my mates nagged me to start riding, as they got fitter and I got fatter.

And so I did, slowly ambling out doing a few kilometers at a time and then the bug bit and now my love for mountain biking has intensified so much that my wife thinks it's obsessive - but I have lost 10kgs and have never felt so healthy and happy in my life. So where am I going with this blog post? Well, I had a decision to make this weekend, either watch the Springboks play Australia in the rugby world cup quarter final or, escape to Nirvana on my trusty 29er. This was an easy one for me to make and it made me realise how my life and priorities have changed over the years.

Today, was one of the best mountain bike rides that I have ever done. Greg and I hit the dirt when everyone else was off to their mate's homes to drink, eat and watch our boys in green try valiantly to win a rugby match (my PVR was set of course).It was an awesome day for riding, not too hot or windy. We ventured out past Serengeti golf estate towards Irene. We had to do a detour at one stage, as a grumpy farmer would not let us through his farm (the security guard was ready to call the police). But the rest of the ride was great - we found some new routes - at one stage it felt as if we were riding in the Drakensburg, nature at its very best.

The ride ended up being the longest MTB ride we have ever done, 82kms at an average of 21km/h and 80% of it was on jeep track, district road and single track. It was so good to be out there for 4 odd hours to round off a good week of riding after 4 x 30km morning rides, thus totalling 200km for the week - Sani2C we not ready yet but we are getting there.....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Grace2Grace ****Blog Post No 100****

How fitting is it that this is my 100th blog post and it will be about the experience I shared with (amongst others) the guy who introduced me to mountain biking a few years ago - Melt Loubser and this was to be my first race with him.
Melt before the race
Melt and me were fortunate enough to be invited to the Brait Grace2Grace mountain bike race, situated at the Mount Grace Hotel in Magaliesberg outside Johannesburg, by our long time legal guru PJ Hope. This is a team of 2 race over 48kms in the Magaliesberg mountain. PJ and me were one team and Melt and Nigel the other.
Reb Hot Chilli Peppers team 1 (PJ and me)
The race started out pretty early at 07:00 (I was up at 04:00 to get there on time) and the weather was really windy - but at least there was no rain. PJ bolted out the blocks and we spent the first few kms chasing him. Nigel felt the pace really early as this was his first mountain bike race - but he was lucky to have Melt as his partner as he is a veteran mountain biker (7 Sani2Cs and 3 ABSA Cape Epics etc etc) and he pulled/pushed him most of the 48km route. The route was fantastic, not too technical and had lots of hills to keep the heart pumping - notably the long climb out the valley. The 4 of us rode together and had good fun along the way - Naaige was a good sport and really gave his all.
Pushing or being Pulled that is the question we all ask?
 We finished together as a team in a time of 03:22 (750m ascent). Afterwards there was a feast of note - so much complimentary food and drink, we replaced all the calories burnt in the morning ride.  Thanks to PJ from Reed Hope Phillips Attorneys for this wonderful experience it really was memorable.
The TEAM at the end
 Below is a short video from my headcam during the race - you will see proof of Melt pushing me off the track in response me chirping him...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Time to get more serious now..

OK now that the Sani2C entry has been acquired, its time to start putting the kilometers in and making the most of spring riding. This has to be the best time of the year to ride, the heat is not here yet, the routes have dried up and the long grass has been burnt short leaving magical single track exposed to being brutalised by enthusiastic mountain bikers.

We had a good week of riding: 4 early 5 o' clock starts before work, doing about 30km each time (interval training on 2 of them) and then a nice longer ride on Sunday. The Sunday ride, we did 67km at an average of 20.5km/h, 360m ascent. Awesome riding, the route we did was slightly different and it was so nice to ride through parts that are normally waterlogged and muddy.

In the afternoon I got the family on their bikes (after doing some TLC on all 6 bikes). Pictured below is my youngest and myself taking the Giant 1/2 wheeler for a long overdue ride. I attached it on to my wife's bike, as my 29er is too big and the rear shock bounces the back bike a bit making him a bit nervous.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Groenkloof ride 18-09-2011

At last summer is here and the horrid cold, dark winter rides are a thing of the past. Greg and me headed out to Groenkloof nature reserve in Pretoria. This a wonderful place full of trails, single track and heart pumping hills. We arrived just after 07:00 and had an incredible ride for 2 hours doing just over 30km with 500m ascent. Plenty of single track with a few rock obstacles thrown in to keep you honest. Greg had a nice fall (which is unusual) and I had a whopper, that left some of my DNA on the reserve once again. We did onion hill twice and it did not bring tears to our eyes this time - nice change from the Benoni flat lands.

We were also fortunate to see some game - herd of zebra, family of giraffe and plenty of impala buck. Below are a few photo's and a short video of some of the ride.  
Greg - don't stop there is no zebra crossing (they are just standing in the bush)

Yeah I ain't moving for no one!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sani2C Trial

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeha, Greg and me have finally got into the Sani2C mountain bike race. This is the acclaimed nirvana of mountain biking races in South Africa and is 300kms over 3 days next May. The race starts in Underberg in Kwazulu Natal and ends in Scotborough on the coast. Like every frustrated mountain biker in South Africa we have tried for years to get into this exclusive event – fortunately they included another day/event the Sani2C Trail and through loads of persistence we managed to get an entry. Now the serious training has to start, at least we have some time before the event....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Weekend in the bush

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to spend the weekend on  a friends private game farm just outside Belfast (Eastern highlands of South Africa). Below is a picture of the farm house which powered by solar power and water is from a nearby spring.
Fantastic to spend time close to nature with no cars, people etc. We took all the bikes with and had a few family rides which was great except the kids did not fancy the hills too much. On the Sunday I went on a nice longish ride through the game farm and down some district rides - exploring the area around the farm. Some nice hills that had me using granny gear a few times (over 600m ascent in just over 25km). Below are a few photos taken during my ride and when riding around in the animal trails when the kids were cooling off in the dam the previous day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nissan Down and Dirty MTB Series race report

It is not often that everything just seems to go right in a race and you feel invincible. Well this was the race that will go down in history, where Richard Dawkins rode faster than his mates and stayed on his bike the whole race.
The race started at Cornwall College in Irene just outside Pretoria and then headed under the R21highway towards the Eastrand (some parts Greg and me had the privilege of exploring the Sunday before). There were one or two hills that got the heart beat up in the first half of the 70km route, but fortunately our few excursions to Suikerbosrand had helped me not to be scared of hills (I passed a twitter legend @MTBBarbie_44 on one of these hills and introduced myself while riding past).  

At the 40km water point, to my surprise I caught up with Greg (he had started 5 minutes ahead of me in group D seeding with Clint). I was good to ride with him most of the way back to the finish, all the races we have entered before, I haven't even come close to him. I was averaging over 20km/h, which for a race I had not done before (in about 700m of climbing). I felt good and could have carried on, but unfortunately at 60km, we met up with the 20 and 40km riders and this was very hazardous trying to pass them on the single track next to the highway etc. The final single track near the river at the end was also a big disappointment (not because I had to walk over the bridges) everyone was off their bikes and there was a big bottleneck at the river crossings. We wasted at least 15minutes here. Last little hill back to the College was no problem - it was so cool to pass some of the slower riders (didn't think I would ever say that, as I am usually the one being passed). I also managed to finish ahead of racing snake legend - Clint which was also a big surprise (he had mechanicals but I will take the win anyway).

After the race it was awesome to meet some of my twitter mates @hopeleighm @gmyburgh and had a beer with @clintcosgrave, @jacquescoe etc. Really chuffed with my time - moving average time (less the stops for the bottlenecks) was 3:27 - an hour faster than my last Nissan race at Hazeldean.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting ready for Nissan Down and Dirty

Had a very cool ride on Sunday. Greg and me went to Barn Stormers model aircraft flying club (bikes on the car) and tried to do some of the Nissan Down and Dirty race that we had entered the next Saturday. We parked and added extra clothes as the weather had turned a little chilly and then headed out on our adventure.
This was really exciting as we were exploring new areas we had not ridden before. After a few obstacles (fence hoping etc) we headed towards Irene on what we thought would be the tail end of the 70km route we would be doing. Lovely jeep track over a koppie along power lines, miellie fields and then past a well used brick works. After stopping two MTBs that were riding from Irene, we got directions and continued on our journey.

#EPICFAIL - we ended up going in a full circle back to where we started, our sense of direction totally whacked - 20km done. Ok different route this time - new dirt roads and jeep track led us to the R21 highway near Irene, which we followed for a while before heading back to the flying club - 30km loop this time. Great ride besides not knowing where we were, but that made it more exciting. Hopefully we covered a small part of the route of the race - should be awesome.
Sunrise on my morning ride 30-08-2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kargo Magalies Adventure 2011

I don't think I could have chosen a harder yet enjoyable induction into mountain biking multiple stage racing. The Kargo Magalies Adventure 2011 was an incredible experience, it was extremely well organised and a professionally orchestrated event (even the cold showers did not dampen the experience - no pun intended).

Greg and me arrived there on the Friday afternoon, registered, picked up an incredible 'goody' bag (loads of clothes, accessories, even a blanket etc etc...) and then found our tent - yes it was the green one below...

Stage 1: The first stage was at night and I retrieved my glasses from the organises - after dropping them whilst unloading the car (cost me a tequila that evening), we got our bikes ready. As the sun was setting, we set off for a 25 km ride, within the first 2 kms we encountered some thick river sand, which attacked my front wheel and resulted in my first fall of the weekend - no, not a soft landing I fell onto Greg's front wheel - buckling it in the process. His wheel was really wonky and we tried to fix it for a few minutes, but with no success - turn back or carry on, the latter was the only option for the Benoni Bombers. We were stone last now and spent the next hour and a half passing the other riders, one by one. Soon we had to turn on our bike headlamps to light up the single track, as we climbed up the mountain to the Greek Church to the water point. The rest of the stage was incredible, it was difficult riding as you could only see as far as your light could shine down the single track, so you had no way of knowing what lay ahead. This was my first night ride and it was awesome, we finished in 1 hour 50 minutes with quite a few people coming in after us (some took another 40 minutes). We managed to borrow a spare wheel from the technical support, that Greg could use for the rest of the race, as it seemed his dented wheel was unfixable. Cold shower, warm supper and off to wrestle with the sleeping bag for the next few hours in the tent.

Stage 2: Cold start to the day -2 degrees C, I did not get too much sleep with all the noise that is generated by the buzz/excitement of a stage race camp. Quick breakfast, cappuccino and off to defrost my bike...
Stage 2 was the hardest riding I have ever done in my life. The first 11km were uneventful and then came the first big climb up a mountain, most of it I rode except some parts where the ground was too rocky. At the top, before the descent, I clipped a rock on the path and had another fall. This fall was bad, because I somehow managed to break my saddle - I was trying to put it back on with cable-ties, when one of the friends that we made on the race, Louis, came to my assistance with some duct tape. This was at least a temporary fix for the next 20 odd kms.
Greg was as strong as anything (I still need to check his B sample before I can make any accusations about what substance he was abusing). He rode up and through anything that was put in front of him and spent most of the ride waiting for me to catch up. The terrain that they took us through, was extreeeeeemly difficult, loads and loads of rocks and hills. I fell so many times that when anything remotely technical came along, I got off my bike and pushed (broken saddle was also playing up now). At the 35km water point we decided to call it a day as we had been slogging it out for the past 4 hours (yes, average of 8 km/hour - ouch). My bike and body were now officially broken... Out of all the people that started Day 2, I reckon only 50% managed to complete the full 75km. Our friend, Louis, was the last man home in just over 8 hours (his partner Andrew, managed only 65km).

Back to base camp to try and recover and fix the bike for tomorrow - fortunately Greg had a spare saddle so my bike was good to go in no time. At least the bike wash was worth coming home for....
Cold shower, watch the Boks loose again, supper and then an early night. Slept better this time except for someone vomiting their lungs out, Greg's snoring (and some lions roaring in the distance).

Stage 3 - This was only 45 km, but after stage 2, this could mean the equivalent of 150 km riding, compared to what we are used to. My body was scratched, bruised and battered and after much deliberation, I decided not to give up and to give it a go, even if it took me 5 hours. I told Greg that he must ride ahead and not wait for me so he could at least enjoy his ride. Below, are the 2 of us ready to start the next stage of the gargantuan journey...
Wow, what an awesome stage not half as difficult as the day before, I kept riding, waiting for the tough unrideable stuff, but it never materialised. I was so glad that I did it and managed to finish in 2hours 50 minutes. Still had a few falls, one of them captured on my head cam as Greg rode past  me and I lost concentration, ending up with me flying over the handle bars.
To end off this long Blog post, I must commend the organisers and sponsors for a fantastic event, it was really tough, "but we didn't come here for a hair cut..." and worth every cent. They really managed to give us the overall package and made it fun, adventurous, memorable and more... Lastly, to my awesome riding partner Greg, who has such patience, technical skills and knowledge, it was an absolute pleasure riding with you, even if your bike came off second best..

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ready or not here we come

Supper excited today is my first mountain bike stage race - the Magalies Adventure. It is held over 3 days, the Day 1 being a night stage which should test my technical skills (as if I don't have trouble enough in the day). Day 2 is the whopper 75km with loads of climbing and technical bits and Day 3 is a shorter stage of 45km to finish the legs off. What is different from other races, is that Greg and me are riding as a two man team and we must always ride together - this should be intereasting but I know I couldn't have picked a better partner.  

So am I ready - that is question will be answered only on Sunday. Last week we gave it horns - doing 3x30km rides in the mornings and a huge 70km ride in the flatlands of Benoni on Sunday. Winter's cold weather has left us short of where we should be before a stage race, but hopefully the other entrants were also affected, so that last spot prize won't be ours.

My next blog post will be about the awesomeness of the next 3 days and the thrills of riding in the great outdoors.....

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve ride 31st July

After a few weeks messing around in the flat wasteland of the Benoni outback it was time again to venture to the hills at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. It was a chilly start -2 when we got there at 7 but as soon as the sun rose, it warmed up nicely.

Clint could not join us today to be our tour guide, as he was bailing his Garden Executive out of jail. Greg and me were fortunate to be joined by my work colleague Malcolm - real tough guy after doing the Iron Man and Comrades last year. 

It was a fantastic ride, we were the first riders to hit the road and it worked in our favour as we saw tons of game - herds of zebra, eland, wilderbeest, impala, baboons and a colony of meerkats. At one stage whilst I was in front going down a hill at 60km/h an eland gazelle ran across the road and I had too hit the brakes or else I would have come off second best.

Below are a few snippets off my headcam of the ride - the first part is when I was speeding down a hill at 72km/h (my best time on a mountain bike) when Malcolm shot past and the unclipped his feet and was vertical for the best arodynamic positon - all I can say that he is one crazy bugger...

1200 metres of climbing in just over 57km, really good tester for the legs. We managed to do it 5 minutes quicker than last time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve ride 3rd July

Wow, we arrived in Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve just before 7 on a chilly morning with the temperature outside the car at -5 degrees. Not knowing what to expect Greg and me eagerly followed Clint on our first ride around the reserve. Clint said it would be tough and it sure was - 1200m of climbing in 57km. There were no flats like we are used to riding in the outskirts of  Benoni, it was either up or down. It was a fantastic yet painful experience, the reserve was lovely we saw lots of game and there road was pretty much only used by cyclists. Our legs took a hamering and I used all 30 of my gears. Great to have Clint as our guide - he let us know in advance what to expect and was supportive all the way.
After a cappuccino to warm us up, the boys are ready to go.

Yup one of the 'small hills' we were down there at one stage..(you can see Clint isn't sweating yet)

At least the views were good near the top of the climb
Greg didn't care about the view here.

Edited a few minutes of the ride on the headcam below..

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nissan Hazeldean MTB Series race 25th June 2011

Only crazy dedicated mountain bikers would get ready for a race when it is minus one outside...brrrr. Up early to be collected by Greg by 05:45, wearing a few more layers of clothes then normal. Greg arrived looking a nice green colour, as he had already vomited up the previous nights dinner. Fortunately Pretoria was one or two degrees warmer than Benoni, but it was still freezing whilst we set up our bikes and headed out to the start of the race.
Before heading to the start at 1 degree celsius
Greg was in group E (after giving up his A status in the 40km race) and Clint and myself were in group G - which started at 08:00. And off we went - I managed to keep up with Clint for the first 5km on his 'training ride' and then my heart rate monitor was beeping like crazy, so I slowed it down. At 10km there was Greg on the side of the road, now a darker shade of green as he had just done another huge projectile deposit next to the single track. We had a quick chat and he told me he was heading back as he couldn't keep anything down - eish how unlucky.

A few km's later came my nemesis the dreaded bridge that I had been dreaming about. The 9m wooden bridge was crossing a river and there was a drop off and climb on the other side - I hesitated whilst going down and braked which sent me over the handle bars and landing square on the bridge (ok I am getting better as I fell into to the water off 2 bridges last year :-). My tool canister plopped in the water and bobbed down the river, I waved goodbye to my tubeless repair kit, bombs and multitool etc as there was no way I was going into the freezing water.

The rest of the race was hard - the cold wind was terrible and with the fall my confidence had taken a major knock, so I walked a lot of the technical stuff. I was also more carefull than normal as I did not want any punctures with my repair kit on its way to the sea. I switched on my headcam after 56km and got about half an hour of footage - below is a few minutes of what was recorded. There was some fantastic single track on the race that left me in awe well into the night.

This race wasn't my race, I was cold and my energy levels were just not there - so many people went past me like I was standing still. Eventually after 4 and 1/2 hours I trundled over the finish line - poor Greg was there to greet me after waiting for the past 3 odd hours, not feeling good at all (thanks you are a good mate). At least I managed to get some bling to take home, so I can remember this race and the challenge it threw my way. Well on the positive at least I got my value for money and was on the route longer than others.  
After a 70km slog I deserve a medal....
P.S. I think I owe Jacques a bike wash

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 19th June

What better way then to spend father's day riding than on my mountain bike. I was woken up at 05:00 with the dog chunking next my bed just to remind me that being a father does not stop with my 4 kids. Got up and made a fire to take off the chill while I waited until it was time to hit the road.
Needed to take this with me on the bike this morning.
After receiving a message from Clint that the flu had chained him to his bed, I met Greg at the gym and then Jaques, Hennie and Karen at the BP. The weather was slightly nippy but warmed up as we rode, we did a pleasant ride, a little slower and shorter than expected but it was awesome to be out in the great outdoors. We split up from Jaques and Karen at one stage, but got called back as Karen had a flat and did not have a spare tube. Below are the knights in shining armour quickly putting the new tube in her wheel.
Nice ride and back home in time for a breakfast with the kids and braai for lunch. Did 50km exactly at just under 20km/h, ave heart rate a low 130. Think I am ready for the Nissan Hazeldean race next weekend - can't wait.
Guess I will have to ride a bit harder to work off some of these father day presents....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

MTB Skills Clinic with Dylan Victor

Friday the 17th of June was a good day to be off work and riding my bike in one of the best bike parks in South Africa - Groenkloof/Fountains. I was fortunate enough to have been bought a couple of lessons with Dylan Victor by my 2 friends Melt and Pierre (guess they were worried about me after 3 trips to the emergency rooms in the last year).

Melt was Dylan's partner for 2 ABSA Cape Epics and knew how knowledgeable he was with mountain bike skills (he trains a lot of the professional riders). This was my second lesson and it was incredible how much I learnt, you realise that it is all about positioning, momentum and weight distribution on the bike. Dylan is a brilliant teacher and really installs confidence in you and knows exactly how to improve your riding skills. Greg came with me and also partook in parts of the lesson, so I am sure he will be reminding me of what I learnt over the next few weeks/months/years of riding.

Below are a few photos taken by Dylan during the lesson, as you can see I have learnt to lean into corners, straightening and putting pressure on the outside leg and also crouching forward allowing flexibility with the arms etc.  


Dylan after the lesson
This was an incredible experience and I would recommend to every mountian biker to go on a skills course to get the fundamentals of riding. No, this will not stop you from falling (I had at least 4 big falls during the lesson) but it will limit the number and the type of falls you have. A big thank you to my friends Melt and Pierre who made this possible for me.