Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last ride of 2012

Yes we went out with a bang, with a tough last ride for 2012. This consisted of a +90km ride from Benoni to the TV mast at Heidelberg and back. We started off at a staggering pace averaging around 26km/h for the first 40km (yes it was pretty flat). Then we hit the hills at Heidelberg and had a slow spin up the hill to the TV mast. Coming back to Benoni was a different story as there was a strong headwind, severe heat (high of 35 degrees) and of course tired legs. We stumbled home with an average speed of  22km/h for the total ride. Garmin stats can be found by clicking on this link.
Awesome to be at the top - the view is amazing
Riding through the mine dumps in the heat...

Greg trying his best to sort out the creak in his seat post

South Africa is a beautiful country
So that is it for 2012 it has been a fantastic year, I have met so many new people, completed my first stage race (Sani2C) and have had some incredible experiences that will be cherished forever.

Here are my stats for 2012:
Distance: 7,578.48 km
Time: 361:17:05 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 60,089 m
Avg Speed: 21.0 km/h
Avg HR: 141 bpm
Calories: 249,230 C

Bring on 2013 and many more happy kms in the saddle....

Monday, December 24, 2012

Muddy Modders

Great ride yesterday at Moderfontein Trails Mountain Bike Park with Greg and Adam - except for one section that was very muddy. Riding through thick black mud really perturbed me, as this was my first ride with new components on my bike. I just spent a small fortune on replacing my cassette and chain (wear and tear) and my big chain ring (one of the teeth was bent after hitting a rock on a ride last week). 'Modders' is always good to ride at, it is my favourite bike park, there were lots of new sections that I have not ridden before and it is a good work out. Adam was strong as ever and Greg is flying on his new bike. I bought a piece of land when going down one of the drop offs and I panicked and hit the brakes, this resulted in me going over the handle bars, landing really hard and winding myself proper.  

Greg dunking his bike to remove the mud

Adam with a cleaner bike after a quick rinse in the river

Today Greg and me went for a quick ride past the Sandpan, Dunblane and Serengeti Golf Estate. Great to be outdoors on this wonderful day. We saw lots on animals on this ride, a couple of spring rabbits, Guinea fowl and this lovely bullfrog pictured below. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Staycation 2012

Firstly I would like to wish everyone reading this blog a fantastic Christmas and prosperous New Year!!

Well its that time of the year when I can take some time off work and spend some time with the family (yes my bikes are included in the collective of family). This year we are not going away on holiday but instead we are staying at home for a few weeks. It has been a great few days already and I have managed to go for a few rides on my staycation - 300km this week so far. 

My first few rides were on my road bike as we have been having so much rain and I really wanted to avoid the mud. I was fortunate enough to join Clint and the CycleLink group of road bikers for 2 awesome days riding. The first one was from Benoni to Heidelberg and back, this was a brisk 95km route that was really enjoyable. The second road ride was a different story, the plan was to ride from Benoni to Cresta but after blowing up on the first big hills I told Clint that I could make it to Cresta but was not sure I would make it back home. Clint being the awesome bloke he is, said we would turn around at ZooLake and he would ride back with me whilst the other 10 odd riders would carry on to Cresta. This was a hard ride, the hills really sapped what little energy I had and I finished the 83km with (851m ascent) at quite a slow average speed.

Today Marco and me went for a incredible mountain bike ride out in the farm lands. We avoided most of the mud and completed a nice 75km outride . The views were magnificent and the terrain was not too hard on us, so the pace was pretty good. Here's hoping for a few more rides like this one during the next 2 weeks.


Yours truly

Nothing better then a pit stop for an ice cold Coke

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I can see clearly now....

There is another transition (pun intended) in  my cycling life with the purchase of my new awesome Rudy Project dark glasses. Yes I know they don't look very dark but they have prescription transition lenses that go darker in direct sunlight.
So today was my first ride with my new glasses and it was incredible, everything looked so crystal clear and the glasses do not mist up at all when you stop. Greg, Justin and me went for a ride out in the plots of Benoni - Sandpan, Railway track and then back via the side of Serengeti - here are the Garmin stats for the ride.  We did 70km, a little longer than what Justin wanted but he is strong and easily kept up with the 29ers. So that is almost 7000km riding for the year so far, I will be on leave soon so hopefully I will be able to sneak in a few more longer rides before the new year. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Greg's new ride

So Greg has finally succumbed and joined the 29er club. Today was his first ride on his Scott Spark 910 that he had the pleasure of getting last week. This is a absolutely fantastic bike with full XT, Carbon Frame (ally rear triangle), fox fork, clutch on rear derailleur and dual shock lock out etc...
It took some convincing to get Greg to come out with his new bike after all the rain we have been having the past few days. He agreed eventually after sending me this message "..we must avoid mud at all cost!! If there is mud, you carry my bike and I ride yours...and make sure your gloves are clean."  We met at the Wimpy at 05:45 and then headed out, planning to stick to the roads and avoid the mud.....but then we accidentally met up with Adam and Marco (our other riding mates) who were also going for a ride. Plans were changed and we all went on a very lekker 55km ride out past Serengeti Golf Estate and Dunblane Equestrian Estate. Wow did we encounter loads of mud, I could feel Greg grimace every time we came close to water and anything resembling mud (Greg can be a bit pedantic about his bikes sometimes). After a few days of excess eating and drinking at my companies "team building" I was totally flat today and struggled to keep up with the boys at times. Greg has found some new legs with his new bike and it really looks incredible - wishing you many happy miles buddy.   

Greg and his new Scott Spark 910
Yeah 3 in front and 1 lazy bastard trailing behind...


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

1st Goal Achieved

So my goal was achieved last Sunday for the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge with completing the race in under 03:30. I did a comfortable time of 03:25 and really enjoyed my ride (even though the wind was hectic in some parts of the route). I pushed it the whole race and my average heart rate was an alarming 170 bpm. It was great to catch up with good mates Craig and Mieke in the beer tent afterwards and reflect on the race.
This is one step closer to completing this race in under 3 hours, my plan is to do qualifying races in 2013, to get a better seeding so I can start earlier and also benefit from drafting in groups. I am planning to do 03:10 next year and then under 03:00 in 2014. It is great to see how I have improved over the years as this year was 2 hours faster then my first race 4 years ago.
Before the start of the 2012 Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge
Work colleague Martin who also completed his 4th race this year

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ready or not here I come...

Tomorrow is my 4th Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge and I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully my body will push itself to new limits and I will achieve my personal goal of riding under 03:30. The 94.7 is a great yard stick for me as I can see my improvement on the bike every year - if you troll back through this blog you will see how nicely I have progressed through the years. My first 94.7 was in a time of 05:30, second one 4:50 and last year 03:50. I am hoping that I have done enough training to really go an smash last years time. The weather looks like it is going to be very hot - over 30 degrees Celsius so I have been hydrating quite a bit today. Anyway wish me luck and hopefully my next blog post will have some bragging in it..

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Up in smoke

Great road bike ride today with Jason, Rick, Gina and Trevor. We did 102km with 900m ascent, a productive training ride for the Momemtum 94.7 cycle challenge on the 18th of November. We did a great route and I felt much better then last Sunday. What did amaze me is one of the guys rding (Trevor) would stop and light up a cigarette every 25km or so and smoke it whilst riding. Below is a photo of Trevor lighting one up....
Trevor and Jason

Yesterday was another watershed day in my riding career. I spent the morning at Modderfontein - Central Park Trials Mountain Bike park with my lovely wife as we christened her new bike on the single track. It was awesome riding with her as it was her first time to ride single track, bridges, through streams etc... 'Modders' is incredible, it is a unspoilt jewel nestled inside Johannesburg. It has fantastic scenery and awesome riding, it was fantastic to ride there and share my passion with my true love.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Training for Momentum 94.7

It has been an eventful few weeks since my last blog post. The weather has been a bit mucky and there has been loads of rain. I have managed to keep riding and did a 78km road bike ride with Clint and gang and then a lekker 68km ride with Adam on the MTB the following weekend. Adam and Marco are doing the Berg to Bush MTB stage race this weekend, it really sounds like fun and one to put on the race calendar one day. I had a special day last Sunday when I rode with my 11 year old son for the first time at Modderfontein Trails bike park. He managed 15km and really enjoyed himself on the pristine tracks at 'Modders'.
Yesterday I did a Saturday afternoon (55km) MTB ride with Greg and Justin, when we were about 20km from home the heavens opened and it rained really hard. I was drenched to the bone but it was actually quite refreshing riding in the rain and also the mud was washed off my bike making it one less chore to do when I got home.
My next race is the Momentum 94.7 road race on the 18th of November so this is the time of the year, when I spend some time on the tar instead of ripping up the dirt.  I did a magic road ride today, it started off as a short spin up Atlas road to loosen the legs from the previous days ride but when I hit Atlas road I caught up with a small bunch of riders and my ride dramatically changed. Being the riding slut I am, I asked where they going and if I could join them. Great bunch of people and we went for a long ride - I finished on 96km with over 800m of ascent - yes we went searching for hills towards Midrand and then Modderfontein.  Here are my Garmin readings showing my ride stats and the route that we did - Sunday 28-10-12 road ride.
Yours truly slogging away on the road bike...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

'Modders' 07-10-12

Today summer is definitely back with a bang, my Garmin recorded temperatures of over 36 degrees Celsius - arm and leg warmers RIP (until I need you gain next year). I had a hard but fantastic ride at Modderfontein Trails bike park. I was fortunate enough to ride with Marco's brother Ricardo, I met him at his house just before six and we then rode to the bike park.  Ric is a strong rider and I spent most of the day just trying to keep up with him. We rode the red route at Modders and I was pleasantly surprised with all the new tracks they have made - this place just gets better and better.
Ric and the beautiful 'Modders' in the background
After a full lap we went back to the start / finish and were joined for a second lap by Ric's wife Lauren. I must admit I was pretty poked by now, so the slightly slower pace on the second (shorter) lap was most welcome. Lauren had a fall and I took it about myself to outdo her a few minutes later. Coming down a drop off my tyre washed away in the sand and I gave the earth a big klap (damage - one really bruised thigh, cuts on the arm and pride hurt slightly).

Don't know what they were doing in there but I had to wait for ages :)
Lauren smiling after her inadvertent 'lie-down' coming round the corner
Yours truly - battered and bruised but happy to finish
'Modder Garmin stats 07-10-12' it ended up being a great (yet painful ride). Ric and his wife are fantastic, it was great to ride with new people and I experienced new adventures. Fortunately I was 'forced' to get a lift back to Ric house but Ric showing true grit rode home, finishing up on 83km and I am sure over 1000m ascent. Adam and Marco watch out he has got your number...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Good week of riding

So it has been a really good week of riding with over 280km in the saddle. On Monday the 24th of September, I did my second road race of the year, the Fountains Cycle 105km race - and yes, I only got on my road bike for the first time the morning of the race. This race was close to home so I decided to ride the 9km to the start, Greg(1) fortunately rode with me to the start and kept me company until we were sent off. Phew it really was a gross morning - cold and windy.  
Lining up at the start....trying to stay warm
The start of the race was awesome - I couldn't believe how fast I was going. My road bike is just so much faster than a mountain bike. For the first 40kms I was averaging 40km/h....and then we turned and I realised why I was going so fast (besides the drafting) there was a massive tail wind. We then got hit by a massive side wind and then a hectic head wind on the way home. My average speed plummeted and I struggled in the wind the 60 odd kms back to the finish. All in all I was pretty happy with my race, besides the wind messing me around and also that my butt, really hurt, you feel every bump in the road on a road bike. Here are my stats Fountains Cycle Race 24-09-12 .

So I must mention that this was my longest ride ever, 9km to the start and then 105km race (ugh I was glad my wife was at the finish to pick me up though as I was pretty wind whackered).  

The rest of the week involved 2 early morning rides, 45km in the plots with Marco and Jana and then another 45km with Greg(2) to Bedfordview (incl Fischers Hill). Today I was left without a ride - Greg(1) was sick and other mates were riding away from home or had Rugby hangovers. I decided to go on a short solo ride, starting after 7:00 and hoping to do about 30-40kms. Along the way I was fortunate to meet with another solo rider, Chris. He also did Sani2C this year and is quite a strong rider. We had an awesome ride and there were parts that I had never left a tyre print on before. We ended up doing over 73km at a healthy 23.5km/h average. It was great to ride with a new person and find new routes etc...I really enjoyed the ride and hopefully I can join his group when I am left without a ride again.
We stopped at a shop and Chris bought me a welcome coke

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morning rides

It has been a great few weeks, summer is on its way and our early morning rides on the mountain bike before work, are getting interesting. Normally on a Tuesday and Thursday morning I leave home at 04:30 and join Greg, Mac, Denzel and Brad for a fast ride to Bedfordview and back (all of us on mountain bikes). We normally do about 45kms and our average speed seems to increase every time we ride (last Tuesday we did 47km at an average speed of 25km/h). What is nice about these rides is that the terrain varies and there are a few long hills that we tend to race up. What is not nice, is that there is some traffic on the way home that we have to dodge.
Wednesdays and now Fridays I tend to go explore in the quieter plots, accompanied by Marco and this morning we were also joined by Jana, both of whom are training for the 105km Cratercruise MTB race next month. These are great rides as we mix it up, with a bit of tar and dirt road together with a splattering of single track.  All I can say that it is good to be out there riding and viewing the magnificent sunrises while most people are still sleeping.
This mornings' sunrise, taken when going past Korsman Pan, a block away from my house

Sunday, September 16, 2012

1st summer muddy ride 16-09-12

Oh what joy the advent of summer brings: the weather is getting warmer and it starts getting lighter each an every day. Summer also brings lots of rain and plenty of mud. Today Greg, Marco, Adam and me went for a great ride into the outskirts of Benoni and Kempton Park. There was a minny monsoon the night before and our route was extremely muddy in parts. On the other side of Serengeti Golf Estate the river had burst its banks and we had to ride through flooded roads wetting our bikes and feet good and proper.
Adam and his seat I don't say anything about this one...

I had another over the handle bars fling, when going through a puddle at the Sandpan on the way home: my front wheel sank right into the soft sandy mud, catapulting me right over the bars and landing unceremoniously in a muddy puddle (much to the delight of Adam and Marco behind me). 
We ended up doing just over 60km and our creaking bikes needed a thorough wash after the ride as mud does not do the bike's components much good. Good ride with great company.

P.S. This ride will go down in the history books where Marco broke Adam. At the end of the ride Marco was setting the pace up front and Adam ended up cramping and limped home with his tail between his legs (which does not happen too often).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nissan Down & Dirty 2012

What a great way to spend the first day of spring. The Nissan Down & Dirty mountain 70km race was held at Cornwall College at Irene just outside Pretoria.  The weather was great, RIP to the leg and arm warmers and welcome back to the sun screen. This is a very popular event, with over 2500 mountain bikers hitting the tracks and making loads of dust.I really enjoy this race, as we do a lot of the route, that we do on our longer rides when training for Sani2C i.e. Benoni to Irene and back. We had to have a batch start, given the number of people, Greg and I started in batch D with Adam and Marco in batch C. It  was good to see our Olympians, Burry Stander and Philip Buys starting this race also (in batch A of course).
The race started pretty fast as we rode on the outskirts of Cornwall Housing Estate, we paused for a bit of congestion when getting onto the single track along side the highway, but nothing too serious except a welcome relief to catch our breath. I rode with Greg for the first 20 odd kms but then I latched onto some guy's wheel on the long dirt roads through the windy farm fields in a bid to up my average speed. It was great to meet new people on the ride - I rode with Paul from Kempton for awhile and I finally met a friend from twitter @DaleClark643 on the route. Just before the second water point I passed Adam, he was having problems with his seat post as his clamp broke just before the race - the duct tape was not providing the permanent fix he was looking for. At the 50km mark we were joined by the 40km race riders, which although caused a bit of conjestion, it was good to ride past them knowing that a few months/years ago I was the one being passed by the 'marathon riders'.
At 60km I had managed to up my average speed to 21km/h by pushing it on the long jeep and dirt tracks. But then my race pretty much came to an end, when going down a pretty hazardous steep downhill (with loads of rocks and loose rocks sand) I went over the handle bars when trying to avoid the girl that was braking in front of me. Wow, what a tumble, beside being winded, I had hurt my right hand quite badly.  The rest of the race was a pure nightmare. My hand was hurting like hell and I struggled to hold the handle bars, never mind changing gears, this resulted in me having another great tumble, hitting the ground so hard that I am sure it should have registered on the Richter Scale.
This picture I found on the Internet is pretty apt for how I feel...
My average speed plummeted as I struggled to stay on the bike for the last 10km of the race. Almost there, with only 4km to go, but then there was this massive queue of riders. Very disapointing indeed, as this happened last year, I was hoping the new route would resolve the tail backs. The organisers should have anticpated that sqeezing a couple of thousand riders through single track with technical obstacles near the end of a race would end up only in delays and frustration. I realise that one of the reasons for the hold up was that the bridge that was made for the race was broken and you had to dismount and walk through the river. But even if it was fixed, the bank on the other side was so steep that most riders would not have been able to ride it. Bad planning @MTBseries.   
The long queue waiting to go into the forest
I saw Greg a few places behind me in the queue and waited for him for a chat

Waiting patiently inside the forest, the smile is there to mask the pain of my swollen hand
All in all it was a great race besides the last bit, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, great to catch up with so many friends. My mates Craig and Mieke were cooking the boerie rolls and hamburgers at the finish which went down very well. My riding stats took a plummet after my fall and the 30 minute wait at the end, but here they are anyway Richard Garmin stats 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thanks for visiting Winter but Summer is here

Finally those months of riding like deformed Eskimos have come to an end. Time to shed those bulky winter clothes and enjoy the warmth of our South African summer. 

2 weeks after riding in sub-zero temperatures, the temps have shot up to over 20 degrees Celsius in the day. Greg (2), Mac, Brad and me had  a very nice ride this week to Befordview in the morning before work. The average temperature was almost 16 degrees for our 2 hour MTB ride - leaving at 04:30 in the morning. Nice fast ride, averaging 24km/h for the 47km (Garmin details here). Great to be out in the morning with like-minded souls and push the boundaries of your bodies' endurance.

Today Greg (1) and me went for a fantastic ride past Serengeti Golf Estate and we did parts of the Nissan Down and Dirty MTB race, that we will be doing next weekend. So nice to do some new routes and the spirit of adventure and exploring numbs the bodies' plea to slow down. One part of our new route was a bit nerve racking as we had to ride with barbed wire on the one side and a 2 meter drop on the other side. Nevertheless we both rode over with no problems.

One part of this route was a bit dodgy, as we went right up to the outskirts of Tembisa (a local township) with the highway just between us. We know for a fact, that some mountain bikers had been attacked here before. My heart was in my throat when we saw two guys armed with big pangas wading through the long grass with a bunch of dogs. Fortunately these guys were only hunting for small game and rabbits and were not bothered by us. Further on we went through a forest with a small rock garden on the route. After riding through, I looked back and could not see Greg - my first thought was that he had been bike-jacked. What to do, oh what to do? Go back and help him or ride on and phone for help? Phew!! a few minutes later I could finally see him, he had stopped to pick up the bits that had fallen out my saddle bag, as I had not closed it properly when I used my Multi-tool to tighten the bolt on my rear shock. Well I am thankful that I got my stuff back and I am not too sure I will be riding in this area once again, it is just not worth it.

Greg catching up after picking up the contents of my saddle bag...
Was really a great ride, we are so blessed here in South Africa to have wide open spaces that we can ride from home to. We did just over 67km, here are my Garmin stats of the ride.
Railway track meander...
Greg 'powering' up the small drag...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Modderfontein Trails 11-08-2012

Great ride this morning with (old) Greg and Justin. We hit the Modderfontein MTB Trails and had an awesome ride. It is really good to be out in the open and ride through varying terrain. We did the Red Route which was really nice as they have added a few more sections since the last time I rode here, a few weeks ago.

Great scenery, hard to believe you are in the middle of a city..

Greg and Justin

Feels like the bush until you see Sandton in the background....

Justin pushing up the slight drags

Greg heading for the forest

Yes keep your finger on the hole until I can plug it....

Polar bear ride 07-08-2012

It's not often that we have snow in South Africa, in fact I have only seen it 3 times in my life. Little did I know that later this day we would have a fair share of it. With plummeting temperatures forecast we decided to hit the roads for our normal early morning cycle. I left home at 04:30 AM and met up with (young) Greg and Denzel for a ride to Bedfordview and back. It was pretty damn cold my Garmin showed that the temp was never over 1 degree Celsius the whole ride. I am sure my runny nose turned to stalactites by the end of the ride. Wow it was a freezing but rewarding experience.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh for Flu sakes

The last two weeks have been horrific! The flu season is prevalent in (not so sunny) South Africa and this year, I have not been spared. The dreaded flu has managed to sneak into my house and make itself a most unwelcome guest. It has been a rough 2 weeks of fighting that dreaded invader, armed only with every natural remedy that exists (no we don't do antibiotics). I think anymore cups of honey lemon tea and I will be forced to go visit the doc for the big artillery to assist in my fight. The picture below captures the essence of my struggle....
Well I am almost back, it has been frustrating sitting on the sidelines and not being able to ride. I had to forgo my entry in the Nissan Diamond Rush mountain bike race (that I was really looking forward too) as I was not too keen to leave parts of my lungs on the side of the track.
Yesterday was my first ride, Greg (yeah he is back on the bike) and Adam joined me. We did a new loop around Serengeti Golf Estate (my Garmin link here) and rode some new parts that we had not ventured on before. We did 60km in total and it felt really good to be out there even though it will take some time to get back to the level I was at a few weeks ago. Below is the Google map of the route from my home and back... 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The big set up

After a few weeks of sore muscles and Greg's ITB injury scaring the S%$* out of me, I decided to have a proper bike fitting done. This is when your bike is set up according to your body measurements and movements (BG Fit), so that you can optimize power output and avoid unnecessary injuries. I was fortunate to see an advert on The Hub for David from XCOSA that offered professional qualified Body Geometry assessment and body-bike set-up. Greg was also keen because he is willing to try anything to get back on the bike again. So after a few emails David agreed to come to us and do a thorough assessment and set up.  

Wow, this was actually a lot more intense than I expected and the first few hours were an assessment of our bodies as Body-bike integration requires a thorough understanding of Anticipatory Response Regulation by the brain.  Then the tests and measurements were then used to calculate the optimal set-up of our bikes. First, the cleats on the shoes - mine were to high (I was pedaling with my toes) and they needed to move more inwards so my feet could be parallel to my hips and shoulders. Very important the foot has a natural angulation for walking and running and therefore during riding the arch needs support. This can be solved with inserts that give your foot the proper support. Next the seat was adjusted after measurements were done once again. Lastly the cockpit, I was too low on the bike and my handlebars needed to be raised. The short term fixes have been applied and it felt a whole lot better on my 60km ride this morning. But I need to spend some money on a new wider saddle (my bum bones are right on the edge of my Fizzik Gobi saddle) and I also need a new stem (17degrees by 90mm) to give my handle bars a better, higher angle. I can't wait to get these and then David will come back for the final set up. It was a great experience, David was awesome and very knowledgeable (he spent over 5 hours here) - well worth the money it cost. 

David making sure my seat is positioned right...
We had to do some riding to do the proper set up.

Greg with his injured knee

The new Specialized Phenom saddles that Greg bought for us today