Sunday, March 29, 2015


It has been a great week of riding, few great early morning rides witnessing some incredible sunrises, coffee ride with my wife and a awesome ride today with Garth. 
My wife Linda on our 33km coffee ride 
Coffee and sunrise at the Mug & Bean
This week I was fortunate to have a new member (Garth) join our MTB group 'Benoni Rough Riders'. Fantastic to meet new people and especially people that are passionate about this wonderful sport of mountain biking. Due to various reasons (most of them sickness related) my fellow Rough Riders pulled out of our Sunday ride, leaving only myself and Garth. We went on a great ride out to the quarry, brick yard, part of the Nissan Irene route and then back via Serengetti. So nice to experience the ride through new eyes, Garth really enjoyed the route and it reminded my of why I love this sport so much - the wide open spaces and the physical exertion whilst enjoying the view. Garth was strong and kept me honest trying to keep up with his younger legs. Here are the Strava stats of our ride. 
Garth admiring the beautiful wide open space
Garth after he watered the Cosmos flowers 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

(Mud)blane March Hare

Sunday the 22nd of March 2015, is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. This was the day that I did my first MTB race with my loverly wife, Linda. We have been having a few social weekend rides that normally entail breakfast and coffee but never any serious cycling. We woke up early on Sunday, contemplating whether or not we should ride because of the overnight rain and the possible mud on the route. I did a 75km ride, the day before on most of the route and it was pretty dry - but the overnight showers would change things dramatically. Linda was pretty nervous doing the distance of 35km (ended up being 40km), as she had never ridden that far and was also a bit wary of riding in cleats with her new shoes. 

Well, we made up our minds and got in the car knowing that there would be a bit of mud but most of the route should be ok. It was a really nice race organised by the Rotary club in Benoni, so the proceeds go to a worthy cause. We lined up at the start, all eager for our first real experience of racing together. Linda was awesome she managed the whole route and really enjoyed herself. I am so proud of her!!! 
At WP 2 after walking in mud for a few hundred meters 
The route was not too bad until we got to water point 2, at about the 15km mark. Here we were greeted with a very muddy road next to the miellies that was unridable. In fact, just pushing the bikes was hard as the wheels clogged up totally.

Never the less we cleaned our bikes as best we could and carried on the the railway tracks to ride in some beautiful Cosmos flower tunnels.
The track did get better in places and we realised that the race would be longer then anticipated but this did not phase Linda, as she soldiered on. 
Linda at the 28km mark 
Unfortunately with a few kms to go Linda got a rear flat tyre, I stopped and bombed it a few times and we limped into Dunblane Horse Estate where the start and finish was held.  Inside the estate there was still a good km to go to the finish, so we had no option but to put in a new tube. Very disappointing as loads of stragglers at the end of the race overtook us, so we pretty much ended up last. 
Wish she was riding tubeless!!!
At the finish she did create a bit of a spectacle by not uncleating and falling right on the finish line :-)
Incredible for Linda to finish she was so brave and determined. What an incredible experience it was for me to share my passion for mountain biking with someone that I love…. I was in my element.
What a champion my beautiful love is!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Long and hard

So what was I thinking, that I could easily do an ultra marathon mountain bike race over a 110km!!!!
I somehow got coerced into entering and completing this race by my group of fellow mountain bike nut jobs - the Benoni Rough Riders. You'll be fine they said, you did 120km to Irene and back. Well things did not go so well yesterday. It was one of my hardest rides and was possibly 30km further then I should have attempted on my current fitness levels. 

Unfortunately Greg had to pull out at the last minute and we had to reshuffle our transport to the start of the race in the small town of Reitz (Orange Free State) - thanks Wayne. It was an early start with us getting up at 3:30 in order for Wayne, Paul and I to meet Sean, Rebecca and Mark by 04:30 at the Engen garage so we could ride together. 

 2.5 hours drive to the start of the race and we were greeted with cold and windy conditions - it looked like we were in for a wet ride. Short ride from the Reitz show grounds to the centre of town where the race started at 08:00.
Benoni Rough Riders before the start of the race
We sort of stuck together as a group until the first water point and then I told them not to wait for me as I was really struggling with the hills - and there were lots of them. I stuck with Rebecca and Wayne until after the second water point and then got dropped on one of the many long rolling climbs. 
The route was pretty hectic - besides the rolling hills there were stages where we had to ride through grass fields and the tufts of grass really took their toll on my already aching body. Fortunately the rain stayed away but the clouds dissipated and the sun started beating down. Phew it really got hot my Garmin was  showing 36 degrees at one stage with an average of 29 for the ride. It was a really long ride and I took just under 7 hours to complete the 113km route. That meant I was riding the whole day - energy sapping stuff in the midday sun.

One thing that was awesome, was the beautiful scenery, there were Cosmos flowers and vast open spaces where you could see for miles. Near the end we passed through a wolf sanctuary, amazing to see all different types of wolves in separate enclosures.
Great scenery
One of the many wolves in the wolf sanctuary
The last 30km were really tough for me, it seemed that all my old injuries had came back to haunt me - my knee and back were killing me with every peddle stroke. There were some dark moments counting down the last few kilometres until the end. I stopped a few times to take some photos and have a reprieve from the constant mundane struggle. The end just would not come fast enough. I managed it though, really chuffed that I stuck it out and completed my first ultra marathon distance mountain bike race. Here are my Strava stats for the ride
Photo on the finish line and I was truly finished...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Longest ride take 2

Ok so my last post was about my longest mountain bike ride - well yesterday I went one up and went on a 121km ride to Irene market and beyond. Strava activity link

Fantastic group consisting of some of our regular morning 'Rough Riders' - Greg, Wayne, Paul, Mark, Becky, Sean, Anton, Juan and a mate from my work, Graeme joining us as well (Hansie and Aiden joined us for the beginning of the ride - at least until my KOM was lost on the Jess segment - thanks Hansie....).  
Awesome route to Irene with a great stop at the Irene market where we ordered cappuccinos and demolished the best muffins in the world - well worth the slog to get there. The route back was around the Cornwall Estate, along outskirts of the Rietvlei Nature Reserve and then along the power lines until the train tracks. Then the real slog started with a 10km lung burner along the railway lines until the welcome stop at the legendary Broodblik for a refreshing coke. 
Becky, Graeme and I in front of the incredible muffin man...
Group photo at the Irene Market
Graeme, Mark and Anton in front of the Broodblik