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.....