Sunday, December 28, 2014

Please can 2014 end already…

I sit here writing this blog post in a lot of pain after yet another painful fall this morning. Wow 2014 has been a year that has left its mark on my body. It started off when I fell on my knee 2 weeks before Sani2C, a smack into the tar when I clipped Greg's wheel on a training ride, of course the big one was when the taxi hit me from behind and now this morning I hit a water covered pothole on a road bike ride. Gee, I really came down hard, my shoulder and hip taking most of the impact (I can hardly walk now and think I have torn a groin or hamstring muscle) and my helmet also took a big impact and is now broken (yay at least I get to buy a new helmet). 

I was doing a road ride (something I normally don't do after the taxi accident) - a farewell ride for Jacques who is a real character of the riding fraternity in the East Rand as he is immigrating to Tanzania  to join Mike. A nice big group considering the wet weather and riding in the middle of the pack, I hit a nasty pothole that was disguised as a puddle. So here I am still hurting from my fall and hoping that 2015 will be a better year for me. 

On the brighter side the past week of December holidays riding has been awesome. Last Sunday we did a ride to Heidelberg radio mast and back. Nice big group that I arranged and led out, including my good mate Pierre all the way from Northcliff. Always nice doing this ride and the pace was pretty quick with a few stronger riders leading the way. Here are my Strava stats of the ride:
Group at the top (less a few stragglers)
Awesome to ride with my good mate Pierre
Becky and Jess provided the entertainment for the ride

Riding at Benoni Country Club - I was really fortunate to have a few rides at the BCC MTB track with my wonderful wife Linda. Really great to be out there with her - we even did a rain soaked ride on the one day. Plenty of falls for both of us, but who is counting (3-2 is the score).

My better half stopping for a mechanical...
No I wasn't waiting for her (she had a few top 10s on some of the Strava segments)
Plenty of wildlife
On Boxing Day I went out with Clint and the roadies (as there is too much mud for MTB), we had a quick 90km ride that definitely burnt off the Christmas excess. Here are my Strava stats of this ride, we were at a fast pace of 32km/h average for most of the ride.

On a closing note here is a photo that sort of rings true for my 2014 year. Wishing you all the best for 2015…..

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December time

I love this time of the year, nice relaxed riding and lots of coffee with good mates. We have had some nice early morning rides and longer weekend rides dodging the mud that is so prevalent this time of the year. We have had a few people leave our small riding group as life takes them in different directions - Adam moving to Cape Town and Mike to Tanzania etc.. Others have moved further away from our customary starting point in Benoni and are now pretty scarce (Mark and Marco). Fortunately we still have a great bunch of guys and girls and there is a wonderful spirit in this group, it makes getting up before the birds are awake much easier if there are nice people to ride with. Also we have had a few 'new' people join our group and they also bring a great new dynamic - Hansie, Anton etc…

Incredible 60km ride last Sunday with Jess (on her single speed), Greg, Wayne, Michael, Hansie and Paul (who screams like a girl when he gets a fright). Great ride around Serengeti, mainly off road and then a relaxed coffee at the Mug & Bean on Atlas road. Great to have Hansie as part of our team now - he had his GoPro on and did a fantastic job of filming and editing our ride. Please click here to check it out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Post 94.7

It has been awesome riding the last few weeks, pressure is off to train for any events, so I can just go out and have fun. We have done a few early morning rides in the forest track that is situated next to the airport. This is a great track to test your tree dodging skills, we manage to get a couple of laps in before work. Rob who rode with us the last 2 times took the picture below and ran into a cobra in a solo ride there last week. Here is a great video taken by Hansie of the ride, click here to view...
Picture courtesy of Rob the racing snake...
We had a nice group ride last Friday (aptly named Dirty Friday) and I led the group up Monument Hill. Great ride and good coffee afterwards. Here is an awesome video that Aiden took with his GoPro (please click on the link for the YouTube clip) Monument Dirty Friday ride

December is here and it is time to wind down (and ride some more). Lekker ride last Sunday, Greg, Paul, Yvonne and myself. I managed to beat Paul at the post and steal a KOM - here are my Strava stats of the ride.
Picture courtesy of Hansie

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Best 94.7 yet...

Last weekend I participated in my 6th Momentum 94,7 Cycle Challenge and as the title says above, it was my best one yet. Ok lets clarify that statement a bit - it wasn't my fastest time (click here for my stats of the ride) but the most enjoyable. This year, I decided to do it differently, firstly I rode for a cause - The Apricot Tree (a school for special needs children in Benoni) where I raised some money for this charitable cause and secondly I did the race on my mountain bike instead of my road bike.

I decided not to race the 94.7 this year but instead rode it to enjoy it. I knew I would not be able to beat my best time of last year (3:11) as I was not fit enough because of all my injuries (and the route had changed). So why not go out on my MTB which would be much harder and slower, but a lot more enjoyable. It was so great to ride the race and not race it, I managed to ride at a decent pace and left plenty in the tank for the last 20kms. The MTB is also a lot safer, I saw a lot of accidents and even had a tandem fall in front of me when we went through a paved traffic circle near the end in Steyn City, I had to brake really hard not to ride over the women that landed in front of me. I later heard that she was admitted to hospital with a broken scapula, clavicle and 3 fractured ribs.
The start of the race, Wayne already leaving me behind on the first hill
At the finish with a well deserved medal and coke...

All in all it was a really great race, I really enjoyed it. I managed to finish in a respectable time of 03:57 and was not exhausted afterwards. In fact I had plenty left at the end to fly past all the roadies on the last few hills and was the chief motivator in helping a lot of people forget about their pain whilst listening to my ridicule. It was also good to ride for a cause (the Apricot Tree) and in the true spirit of the race. I managed to raise R3500 in sponsorship funds and know that this really goes to a very worthwhile cause.

Wayne and I before the our Apricot Tree kit

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Still riding but not staying upright

So chicks dig scars - well I hope so because I have added few more to my body in the last few weeks. Yup it has been a rough few weeks, lower back is still troubling me from the taxi hitting me but I am still trying to churn up the kms as I have the 94.7 road race in a few weeks. I have had a few silly falls that have left their mark. One of those was clipping Greg's back wheel and hitting the tar pretty hard. I've been a regular at my pyshio and chiropractor the past few months.
Nice 70km outride - Paul watering the bushes in the background
Greg and I attempted the Juma last weekend and after flying over the handle bars in the Melville koppies I slashed my tyre in the 800m tunnel (in the storm water drains) which ended my race after 20km. Not lekker to not be able to finish a race, but 4 bombs and a spare tube later there was no way Greg and I could fix it. Quite a rough race, rode past lots of riders that had wiped out and were just lying there waiting for medics.  
Start of the Juma race
Juma selfie
Frustrating end with a 5cm cut in my tyre
Lots of bridges to ride over busy roads 

Awesome ride today, Greg, Wayne and I rode to Modderfontein - Central Trails mountain bike park and back. Nice long ride (almost 90km) and with a few hills to keep the legs honest. Click here for the Strava stats.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Heidelberg radio mast and back

So after a few weeks of limited activity because of my back injury, I took the bait that Greg casually threw out and organized a group ride from Benoni up to Heidelberg radio mast and back. Not sure it was the wise choice doing a 95km MTB ride with unfit legs, but hey if you can't stand the heat stay, out of the kitchen.
Awesome ride, going to Heidelberg the pace was quick and besides Dee having a puncture and Michael getting propositioned by a prostitute, it was uneventful. All I can say that it was a tough ride coming back with a strong headwind knocking the remaining strength out of my legs. 
Great company, always nice when a group fits in so nicely, everyone is involved and no one rode away or lagged behind too much. Greg, Paul, Wayne, Michael, Becky, Sean, Jess, Dee and Tony it was incredible to share another Mountain Bike adventure with you all, thank you.
Meeting outside PF Gym first flat wheel of the day
The group at the top of the radio tower hill
Jess single speed champ gave us all carrots up the hill
Wayne making the view look ugly
Dee making the view look pretty
Becky and Sean swapping their drugs
Paul keeping everything on track
Michael and Becky in the back ground
Group minus Greg
Gritting my teeth after the long hard slog from the mine dumps to the road
Welcome stop for a refreshing coke at the 85km mark

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Post TAXI blues and smiles

It has been a trying few weeks since my tangle with the taxi, in fact it is a month now and I have still not fully recovered. My lower back has been giving me lots of grief after I managed to get back on the bike a week or so after the accident. In hindsight, this was far too early and my lower back has still not recovered from the whiplash/impact with the taxi.
Out of frustration I went to the Physio this week and was informed that I was to stay off the bike for a least another week while he treated me. Now this is when I hate Strava as I can see all the people I am following riding up a storm whilst I am sitting at home just clocking up the kilos and not the kilometers. Lets hope that this treatment will sort my back out and I will once again be pain free and be able to enjoy this wonderful sport once again.
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to do a MTB race with my son Caiden. We did the 13km Auto Aplino race at Nigel. It was a cold and windy race,  but incredible to be able to do the race with him. I was so proud as he has done no cycling in the past year and managed to keep up with me the whole race. Awesome to share this experience with him.
I was freezing at the start but Caiden refused to wear a jacket, much tougher then his dad
The cold wait at the start of the race 
Team Dawkins proudly showing our medals afterwards

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thank my lucky stars!!!!

A few things were different last Saturday - firstly I normally ride on a Sunday as my boys have hockey and secondly I normally only mountain bike. No Hockey and the MTB group was leaving too early for me, so I dusted off my road bike (only the second time using it this year) and headed out to join the road biking group for a nice long Saturday morning ride. Under the astute leadership of George, we headed out towards Edenvale, Modderfontein and then towards Midrand - down Allendale road. It was really great to be on the road bike again, my few weeks of limited winter activity were well felt when climbing up a few of the drags. It was so great seeing all the riders in the group again, they really are a fantastic bunch of people.
I lost the wheel of the group when they were speeding down a long down hill (about 15 meters behind) and as I started the climb up the next rolling hill - WHAM!!! I got taken out from behind by a mini bus taxi. I can't really explain the feeling, it was surreal, it was the last thing that I expected to be suddenly hit from behind and hit the ground. Fortunately I still had some momentum from the downhill, I was doing about 30-40km/h so the impact was not as severe as it could have been. The taxi pushed my bike out from under me and my back hit the front of the taxi before I landed on the ground. Fortunately he braked and did not ride over me, as I landed rolling and screaming from the sudden agony in my lower back. I managed to crawl to the side of the road and lay withering in agony from the pain. Thinking to myself I really hope my back isn't broken. The rest of the group turned back to assist me and Johan and his son in law, who witnessed the accident from behind in his car, pulled over in front of the taxi so it couldn't drive away.
The taxi driver got out and started to say that it wasn't his fault, it was the truck that he was overtaking (using the emergency lane on a dual lane road) - go figure that one out. Anyway to cut a long story short the group was really awesome they kicked into action straight away, making sure I was comfortable, my wife was contacted (thx Mandy) and that an ambulance was called. I ended up having 8 emergency vehicles, including a fire engine. I was put on a stretcher and my bike and me were loaded into the ambulance. Fortunately the closest hospital was about 1km away so it was a short journey. The doctor assessed me and was happy that I was stable enough to be sent for x-rays.
The x-rays showed there were no breaks or fractures, just extreme muscle damage on my lower back from the whiplash etc...As I write this 4 days later, my back is still sore but a lot better after a few sessions at the Chiropractor, rest at home, lots heat/cold treatment and of course drugs. I realize now, how blessed I am to have survived such a crash, not have any other major injuries, have a group of  fantastic friends and a wonderful wife. My bike surprisingly came out unscathed just a slightly buckled rear rim and a bent rear derailer. The driver was arrested as besides breaking the rules of the road and riding in the emergency lane his taxi had no license plates on etc... 
The wheels of destruction
Thanks once again to everybody that assisted me, especially the Checkers road biking group they really are a special group of individuals.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Riding in Spain

Wow is all that I can say. Yesterday I went on a fantastic mountain bike ride in the hills in Spain as a result of incredible timing and good fortune.  A business trip to Spain and England to negotiate contracts and service levels with some satellite uplink providers became very special when we could use the sport I love to cement business relationships. We met up with Pedro, Ricardo, Alexsandra, Juan etc... in a small town called Soto del Real about 40km outside of Madrid at the base of a beautiful mountain range.
Pretty daunting seeing the mountains we would be riding up 
I wasn't too sure what we were in for and how strong our hosts would be and what 'loan' bikes we would riding. Fortunately I bought some new Sidi shoes in Madrid the day before, so I had shoes and my cycling kit. My steed for the day was a medium frame hard tail 26er - a little on the small side but hey I would ride anything just to have this experience. We left the car park where we met and then we started to climb and climb and climb. The group was fantastic, all good riders and we rode through some incredible scenery, forests and beautiful gorges. We stopped at one stage to drink fresh ice cold water running down from the mountain.
I must admit I was relieved when we reached our destination - after 1000m of climbing in the first 20km my legs were reminding me of their recent inactivity due to the South African winter. At least I knew that going back would be fast and all down hill.
Views from the summit were amazing worth the climb
We stopped at the summit/vantage point to look at the breath taking views and snack on some food our Spanish hosts brought with them. What an incredible experience, Spain is really geared up for cycling, there is a dual lane cycling track next the highway all the way from Madrid to the mountains where we were (40km away). So awesome to see hundreds of people using this track safe from any traffic. 
Click here for the Strava stats of my ride.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sani selfies

Some photos taken during the Sani2C showing that my fear for bridges on Day1, 2 and 3 has been conquered in totality.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sani2C Trail 2014 - demons conquered

Sani to Sea 'Trail' 2014 was spectacular for many reasons but the two that stick out are my knee injury and that I conquered all the demons from previous Sanis'.

Just over a week before the start of our 3rd Sani, I fell on a training ride and badly sprained my right knee. It was really a stupid fall: I was leading a group of 20 mountain bikers on an outride when I looked back to see if everybody had caught up, hit a bit of a ditch and didn't un-cleat properly resulting in a really hard fall on some small rocks. What a painful ride, I gritted my teeth for another 60km before hobbling home. After X-rays, a few days off work, physio, anti-inflammatories, trans-act patches and plenty of ice, I made a call a few days before we were meant to leave - that I would be able to ride. There were some dark moments when I thought I wouldn't make it at all and even asked Greg to find a standby replacement just in case (thanks Paul).  So this was my most nerve wracking Sani ever - I was not sure if I had made the right decision and whether my knee would hold up for a very tough 266km. What makes it even harder is that there are 2 of you in a team and I did not want to mess Greg's ride up by falling out after a day or 2.
So the journey begins - Greg picked me up at 07:00 and we headed out to Underberg me still tenderly nursing my knee on the way down. Traditional Wimpy breakfast at Mooiriver and then registration in Sani2C village in the primary school in Underberg by 13:30. Wow did we get some loverly kit this year - jackets, jerseys, t-shirts etc...  Next was the drive to our bed and breakfast The Old Hatchery and we hit some heavy traffic....
 Great accommodation at The Old Hatchery and a fantastic steak, eggs and chips for supper. I had to spoon with my bike for the night....
Day1 - 82km nervous cold start, will my knee hold up? I had a trans-act patch and a knee guard on to protect it. One fall on my right knee and my Sani was over.
So started my self conservancy journey to protect my knee from stress and any falls. After about 20km my right foot was numb so I had to loose the knee guard. We were fortunate to have a few friends doing the Sani with us this year. Rebecca, Molly, Juan, Ian, Marius and a few others.... Day1 we rode most of the way with Becky and Juan and their partners. It was great fun.  
Becky and Marlette
 I rode everything on Day1 only stopping at Water points, a little slower then I could have but I was worried about the next 2 days, never the less it was a great ride. Unfortunately I couldn't stand on down hills or technical bits as it would have put pressure on my knee. With 3 kms to go I experienced my first cramps on a bike when my right hamstring seized up and I had to get off the bike to stretch - ouch!! We managed to beat our best time by 7mins, Greg rode well and had to wait for me for quite often. Strava ride stats click here.  
Greg stashing the free drinks in his shirt :-)
Great overnight stay at Mackenzie tented village, great massage to get the blood flowing in the legs, best tent position, fantastic food, awesome neighbors....  

+700 two man tents and a massive catering tent 
Supper with another 1400 riders

Day2 - 100km this is the notoriously hard day of Sani. 30km of breathtaking riding in the beginning going down the Umkomaas Valley followed by a uphill slog of another 70km to get to Jolivet Farm. Another day where plenty of demons were conquered, I rode areas that I couldn't the year before and paced my self nicely to finish without any injuries. Greg had to wait for me once again and we could have beaten our time by a least an hour if I didn't stop to take photos and ride carefully protecting my knee. Also after leaving WP1 I realized that I only had one glove on as I'd dropped my other glove, so I had to ride 1 km back to find my glove while Greg patiently waited.

Awesome view over the Umkomaas Valley

I was pretty tired towards the end of Day2 but happy that we still beat our time by 20min. Click here for the Strava stats of my ride. Unfortunately Rebecca fell on a rock in the Valley knocking her knee and had to be flown out in the helicopter -  that was to be the end of her Sani2C for 2014. I only had one fall the whole of Sani when I ran out of talent up Push of a Climb and used a thorn tree as a pin cushion to stop my fall. The camp at Jolivet was amazing once again, the addition of the Barn where the riders could relax afterwards with plenty of free stuff was a great...

The Barn
The local Farmers cooking thick juicy steaks for 1500 people
Great supper with friends - Greg, myself, Ian, Juan, Molly and Becky
Day3 - 84km So my knee survived 2 grueling days and I could ride the last day without any worries. Day3 was a great day - Greg and I rode strong together and it really was a awesome riding.  A few more demons were overcome - I rode down a long drop-off where I crashed on both previous years and rode up steep hills where I un-cleated before. I really enjoyed this day and we managed to finish 30mins faster than the previous year. Click here for the Strava stats.
Greg and I ready for Day3
Plenty of riding through the sugar cane fields
Yes Greg also falls sometimes :-)
Greg and I at the top of Work to Be Done climb
Traditional finish on the beach and a photo with Farmer Glen
We were fortunate to stay with Greg's parents who spoiled us with their hospitality once again in Scottborough before driving back to JHB the next day (stopping for our traditional Wimpy Bacon Burger in Harrismith). Wow, this was another fantastic experience that I shared with my good (kind and very patient) friend Greg. I was so relieved that my knee held up for the 3 days and we could still finish faster than the year before. What an epic adventure!!!!!
Lastly thanks to my beautiful wife Linda for her for holding the fort at home during my long training rides on some weekends, this would not have been possible without her support and encouragement.