Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of both worlds....

Yes I have had the very best of both worlds this week - a couple of great road bike rides and a fantastic mountain bike ride today. OK I have been on the road bike a touch more then on the MTB and there are malicious unfounded rumours (started by Jess and backed up by George) that I am a roadie convert. Naah I reckon there is a place for both of them, the road group are a great bunch of people and it is always good fun riding with them. We did a 90km ride the day before Christmas and then a 70km ride on Boxing Day. These rides were fast and really awesome, I never knew I good enjoy road biking so much. On both occasions the group was larger  than 20 people and we did some great routes (led by George) with the occasional sprint for the top of a hill or coffee stop. Always competitive and always a good laugh afterwards. It must be noted that Milton rode a 40 year old track bike with no gears and brakes on Boxing Day and still kicked our butts. 

Day before Christmas ride - some of the group
Day after Christmas customary coffee stop
December 28th and it was time to venture back on the dirt. There were about 16 of us, that met at the BP garage at 05:45. Good bunch of people with the same goal in mind to ride, get fit and have fun. I led the group out past the quarry, brick works, sewage pipe and back via the roller coaster road. Here are the Strava stats for my 78km ride. Being out in the open spaces made me realise why I love mountain biking so much, the ride was fantastic, it was at a honest pace, with the occasional stop to help one of the girls out with a puncture. The vibe in the ride was always good even though a few people were suffering near the end.
Good week of riding so far - 3 rides and 240km in the bank and over 7500km for the year so far. Bring on 2014. 
Yup 4 of us to change a ladies tyre
Nadine, Gary, Renier and Jess

The gang at another tyre repair (rest stop)
Renier looking back after he took my KOM for the quarry segment
Yes another ladies tyre repair stop..
I took the group of some pretty overgrown tracks, was fun though...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Checkers Checkers ride up your street...

After a rather muddy ride on Sunday I opted to join the 'Checkers Group' for a relaxed road ride on the Monday. Due to a number of reasons I normally prefer to mountain bike but joining this group for a ride now and again is really awesome. The group was started by George and Clint some time back and leaves from the Checkers at Elizabeth road in Boksburg most weekends. Great bunch of people (16 of us on this ride) all with the same goal in mind to keep fit and have fun. George does a great job of leading the group and Clint helps the stragglers at the back.  The pace is normally pretty honest and there are a few competitive sprints for segments now and again. Really enjoyed this ride and will definitely be doing more of them (real bonus is that I don't have to clean my bike once I got home). Here are my Strava stats for the ride.  
Some of the Checkers group at the customary coffee stop at the end of the ride...

Early morning sunrises before work are breathtaking (with Greg and Chris spoiling the view)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mud and good laughs

After plenty of rain the last few weeks here in Benoni the tracks are pretty saturated. Today I reluctantly decided to join Roy, Mandy, Pieter and Milton for a ride out into the muddy blue yonder. Pieter showed us some new routes in the first part of the ride which was really great as I thought I there was little left in the Benoni outback where I had not laid my tread. We all had a few slippery encounters with some really muddy patches. There was one spectacular feat, when Roy saved himself from falling and inadvertently did a side swipe rooster (when you splash the person riding next to you) sending a shower of muddy water all over Pieter. But nothing beats Mandy's classic fall - avoiding a big puddle she went through the water logged grass and had a very wet and muddy lie down. Good laughs, great company and awesome coffee at the BP afterwards. 70km ride in total, here are my stats on Strava.

Hubby Roy showing Mandy how to ride the puddles
Pieter, me and Mandy at a quick refueling break
Early morning weekday rides have been really fun, great bunch of guys and yes we seem to be stopping for coffee more then we should, but what the hell it can't all be sweat and tears!!! 
Grant, Vossie, Mark, Marco, Paul and Ian (Greg and others MIA)


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hard Out Easy Back

Alarm goes off at 4:40AM - I peel those eyelids open slowly, wind is howling outside, my better half murmurs "you not really going to ride in this weather are you?". Yes I would love to go back to sleep, soooo tired - but then the thought of Mark waiting out there by himself kicks ride mode into action. 15 minutes later I am cycling against a howling cold wind towards our preordained rendezvous. After picking up Mark we go past the BP to see if there are any stragglers that did not join the other ride with Jess into the mine dumps (yes we dodged this one after all the rain we have been having). Dee is waiting there patiently and the three of us head off towards Bapsfontein road.
The wind going down the aptly named roller coaster road is really fierce and in our face. We take turns in the front, shielding the other two, thinking wow a short coffee ride is far more appealing.  Slow ride up to the radio tower mast, quick breather and photo and then back home with the wind behind us. A quick adrenalin rush when we get chased by 3 dogs, Dee got the brunt of the barking, snapping abuse, as the boys were better least it wasn't me this time :-)
The ride back was so easy compared to the ride out, the tail wind made such a difference. Great ride and good to be out there, as you feel as if you have accomlished something in life when returning from a hard MTB ride.  Total of 65km round trip, click here for the stats of the ride 
Dee and Mark at the top of the hill

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Momentum 94.7 2013 - one step closer

OK so Sunday I competed in my 5th Momentum 94.7 cycle road race (94km). This year I was way under prepared as I only did 3 road bike rides before the event. OK I didn't sit on my butt the weeks before but played around on my trusty mountain bike. I realised on the day that this was not enough as the intensity on the road bike is a lot different to that on a mountain bike. The race itself was pretty good, weather was fantastic, turning into a very hot day.
I managed to push to the front of my group to join Clint and Lappies
I started in Group K which was must better then last year but not where I want to be (finished 128 out 536 in the group). Ideally I would like to  be in a few groups higher as there is very little 'bunch' riding in the later groups and there are many riders in the road in front of you. There were quite a few times that I was boxed in and couldn't ride freely. My aim for this race was to complete it in around 3:10 and this was accomplished. Next year hopefully with a few seeding races under my belt I should be able to up my game a little more, to shave off the 10 odd minutes that I need to break the magical sub 3 hour mark.  But as you can see from the results below there have been some good improvements over the years.... 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dirt for Tar

Yup it is that time of the year where I trade dirt in for tar and do the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge road race. This year it has been harder then normal to do the change and I have only managed 3 road bike rides before the race next Sunday. 2 weeks ago I had a fantastic 101km ride with George, Nadine, Gary and others. This ride I got dished a plate of pain by George and co and it made me realise the difference between road biking and mountain biking. Road biking is a lot more intense, it is a lot quicker, but there is no respite and you keep peddling or else you are dropped from the group. 

Last Saturday I once again did the Nissan Down and Dirty 70km mountain bike race from Irene. I love this race as it traverses the routes that we ride on our longer training rides. Unfortunately at the start of the race when I switched my Garmin on, there was no battery and it switched right off again. This meant that I had to ride the race 'blind' with no idea of how far or fast I was going. It is amazing how  much you rely on your Garmin and it was difficult to gauge your pace and plans to beat previous times.
Well, I did do better then previous times (3:30) even though they changed the route the last few kms via a rocky hill and I got 2 punctures. Great race, well organised and marshalled even with 3000 odd riders. The best part was having a few beers with Mark, Adam and Mike at the end of the race. 
Grumpy when realising that my Garmin was dead...
Today was an awesome group road bike ride loaded with personal records (click here). We went to Bedfordview and up Kloof road and Fishers hill to try get the legs hill ready for next weekend. It was fantastic riding in a 20+ group of riders, except the cars/traffic was not that great and made me more of  a mountain bike lover then ever. Hopefully I have done enough for next Sunday, I haven't done long road rides with hills like last year but have been kept busy on the mountain bike so we will see if I can improve on last year's time of 3:25......

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Where the $%#* are we?

Early ride last Sunday with Rebbecca, Juan, Nadine and Gary, we met at the BP at 5:30 and headed out towards the mielie fields. Weather was great besides a bit of a headwind. I decided to detour from going down next to the train tracks like last week and instead went venturing over Bapsfontein road and past the Polo Fields. This where I came a bit stuck as we did not cut across a farm on the route Greg and I did before (the farmer had a few stern words with us), instead we headed straight and ended up getting slightly lost, after jumping a few fences we managed to eventually find our way back in the general direction of the brick yard. Fortunately the group did not hassle me with my bumbling tour director duties and welcomed the extra kilometers that we did :-).

3 other highlights of the ride were:
  1. Accelerating past some (unfriendly) road bikers and leaving them in our dust when coming back on the 'Roller Coaster' road towards Dunblane.
  2. Gary buying a farm when going through a ditch (ok I stopped and this put him off)
  3. Platkop Mucha coffee at the Hava Java cafe at the Brentwood Pick & Pay center afterwards.
Gary, Nadine, Becky and Juan taking a breather and refueling
Gary after he bought a bit of a farm (Nadine had a good chuckle)
Well deserved coffee afterwards...

Awesome to be out riding with great company, I finished on 80km, click here are the stats of my ride.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back in the mielies

So after a fantastic holiday it is back to the Benoni flatland's, chasing dust in the mielie fields. I have had some great rides last Saturday (77km) and again today (75km). Weather has turned and at last there are clear skies and great summer days. Today I had the privilege of leading a group of 10 riders out for a mielie field, train track dash. The group split at 40km after Dee had a tumble, hitting the ground really hard and she and her hubby, Adriaan decided to head home (and 3 others joined them). This left Roy, Mandy, Nadine and Gary and myself to go hill hunting. The rest of the ride was awesome, fantastic ride with good company. Everyone had a good laugh when I was crossing a dry stream bed and my front wheel hit the rise on the other side with comical effect. My bike stopped dead and the back wheel rose up at 90 degrees and I stayed there for a while before crashing to the ground.
Vlakfontein single track...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Summer holiday

I was fortunate enough to spend 9 glorious days on the Northern Coast of KwaZulu Natal with my family. This holiday was a long time coming and it was really awesome to share this experience with my wonderful wife and kids. As per usual my trusty mountain bike was the first thing to be packed and I managed to go on a few incredible rides. It is really thrilling to go and explore new areas and find the best routes or places to ride. We stayed in a small resort/town called Tinley Manor and this secluded little village had loads of open sugarcane fields to explore when I got the opportunity to head out. I really enjoy exploring and venturing out into the great unknown, the terrain is very different from where I stay and there are loads of hills. The riding was really fantastic, below are some of the pictures of my adventures.
Early morning sunrises were fantastic
Riding back to Tinley Manor (in the background) this lagoon stopped my route

Sugarcane fields
I came round a corner and wiped out in the soft sand
Holla Trails - just north of Ballito there is some of the best riding one could experience. I was blown away by my first experience at Holla Trails, I was a bit nervous about going there by myself as I had now idea of what route to ride etc... Fortunately the guys I parked next to took me in an insisted that I ride with them. These guys (Allan, Pete and Ken) were amazing, veterans of Holla Trails and they showed me all the best bits. 
Besides sugarcane, there is plenty of single track, forests etc

Yours truly

Well deserved coffee afterwards
was great having Pete behind me warning me of all the sharp climbs
 More exploring the sugarcane fields near Tinley Manor....

My best photo, great riding and great views

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First summer ride

First ride in the last few months that the second layer of clothing is not required to keep frost bite off the exposed limbs. Lovely sunny weather, I am so chuffed summer is finally here. Today I had a great chilled ride out into the farmlands. I started off on my own and then met 2 guys (Ian and Warren) on route and asked to join them (safety in numbers etc...). I sort of took over their ride and achieved my goal of doing over 70km (I think they were not planning to go as far as they did but were chuffed with the routes I showed them). The pace was moderate as I was riding at their pace and it was good not gunning it all the time. 

What we saw on this ride: 
We saw a black backed jackal racing ahead of us when going down the service road next to the railway line and a mongoose chilling in the sun a few kms later. Plenty birds, horses, cows, sheep and yes a few other bikers. 

After splitting from Ian and Warren at Dunblane horse estate, I opened up for the chase home and managed to take a King of the Mountain (KOM) crown on one of the Strava segments - Pre Balls to the Wall.  Here are the details of my ride on Strava. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Enough now - get out of here winter

So just when I thought summer was on its way we have had some really crappy weather the past 2 weekends. Last Saturday I took part in the 66km Auto Alpina Springs Mountain Bike Challenge. The race took place just outside Springs and Nigel and we started in freezing and windy conditions. Besides the weather this was a great race, the route was fairly flat with a few hills that surprised me. 20 odd kms into the race, with the wind being really hectic, I made friends with 2 guys - Greg and Kev and we took turns riding in front shielding the other 2 from the wind (well some of the time). We passed Renier a couple of times as he had a few punctures but he quickly caught up and passed us again. The three of us stuck together for the rest of the race and the chirping/banter made the unpleasant conditions bearable.
Renier being 'safe' while riding
The only issue that I had with this race is that we had to use our 'road bike' timing chip (Champion Chip) and I saw some people did not ride with one (even though they told you at registration). This is unheard of in MTB races and normally you have number boards that either have chips in them or they scan them when you go over the finish line. Fortunately I brought mine with (after being alerted via Jacques on our MTB group) and ended up finishing in a time of 3:15. What shocked me was the results afterwards, I was recorded as finishing in 16th place overall and 3rd in my category. Not sure what to think, it is an awesome result (my best ever) but I keep wondering if there were any people ahead of me without Champion Chips.
Roy with Jacques eating his dust behind him :)
Yours truly gun-ing against the wind
Today the weather was even worse, with temperatures plummeting to lows of around 0 degrees. I went on a nice solo ride out into the farmlands. Sometimes it is nice to ride by yourself as you can explore and play around a bit. I managed to find a few new tracks that I had not ridden before and also when exploring into a farmers field I got chased by 2 very irritated dogs. I managed to do 60km in slightly cold and windy weather - well what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Come on summer I miss you so bad. Below is a lovely sunrise I took on one of my morning rides - nothing better then watching a great sunrise when others are sleeping boy I love cycling.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rule #9

If you have ever read Velominati - The Rules of Cycling you will understand the what I am on about. We had long since passed Rule #5 by going out on a public holiday when the weather was really looking shocking. Little did we know that the weather would really turn on us and make this ride one of the most memorable rides ever (for all the wrong reasons). I joined Roy, Mandy, Werner, Natasha, Mark, Jess, Becky, Jay and Bevan for a group ride. Roy took us on some new routes that I had not ridden before - we went out to Sentrarand and then back via the train tracks. Half way though the ride the wind really started blowing and then the rain came. This I can honestly say, was one of the hardest rides I have ever done, by the time I got home (after riding 70km) I was completely wet to the bone and frozen solid. Here are my Strava stats for the ride - whoohoo I got one KOM.

Here are a few photos of the group when we stopped for a puncture (before the rain and wind set in)...
Jess and Becky

Roy tackling his tube

Monday, August 5, 2013

Safety in numbers...

Great ride last Sunday organized by George, there were 11 other passionate mountain bike riders and I had the esteemed opportunity to lead them on some of the routes that Greg, Mark, Adam and I had pioneered before. It was great to be riding in such a big group for the first time, especially after hearing about another bike jacking near the R21 highway on the previous day (close to where we rode).
We met at the BP garage and then headed out past Dunblane, past the quarry, brick works and back via Serengeti. My Strava stats for the ride are on this link. Another highlight was the brief coffee stop at the end of the ride, great to spend time with like minded souls intertwined with the fantastic sport of cycling.  The group was a great fit as all of the riders were at the same level and we never really had to wait for people to catch up. What a fantastic experience to meet new people and to also be given that mantle of route director - thanks George for you efforts in organizing these group rides - they are a lot safer and social.
The group dazzled by the early morning sun..

Christi wondering why the pace is so slow...
Beautiful parts of the East Rand where a house can not be seen anywhere
Time for a quick stop to fuel up.
Coffee stop pic 1 - spot Gary's racing strips on his forehead

Coffee stop pic2

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to basics

So after a few weeks of eating and drinking toooo much I decided to get back into riding again. The cold weather has definitely been a joy kill. I had a great business trip overseas to England and France and the weather was amazing, hot days and sun only setting at 10 at night. Coming back home, it is difficult to face the cold morning air, for early morning rides before work. Nevertheless I have committed to do at least 3 rides per week. Today Adam and I went out for a great ride out into the Benoni outback, phew my legs were tired, cant believe how quickly I have lost the little fitness that I had. Here are the stats for my ride.

Oh!! the past few weeks have been enthralling, 3 weeks of closely watching the Tour De France 2013. It has been amazing, those guys are just incredible athletes. I have been cheering for Chris Froome (as he is an African and was educated here in Johannesburg). He will win the 100th Tour De France today and I can't wait as I have been wearing my Sky shirt that I got in London for the past few days and it is beginning to ripen...

On a more serious note, I heard when I got back from my ride today that a mountain biker was knocked over and killed close to where we rode. Really sad news and my thoughts are with his family. RIP.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Impey you biscuit

Wow how awesome it is to have the first South African Daryl Impey to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour De France. As South Africans we are so very proud of this moment and what makes it even better is that Daryl went to the same school as me, Jeppe High School for Boys. Lets hope he can keep the yellow for a few days.