Sunday, October 1, 2017

The wheel still goes round....

So long time no blog. Still riding though, at least 4-5 times a week. Summer is on its way and it is warmer and lighter every day. Rough Riders morning rides have changed to summer times for the mid week rides - meeting at 04:40 in the dip. I have had some great weekend rides over the past 2 months - we have had a few rides out to the Big Red Barn by Irene and back (breakfast stop at the Barn), Heidelberg, Suikerbosrand and other great rides out to Sentrarand or sticking with the roadies (Apricot Tree 94,7 group training rides).

I also managed to get my wife back on her bike (which has tubeless tyres due the expertise of Sean Brown). We did a race a few weeks ago - 10km  but it is at least a start. We also went to Wattle Spring Trails MTB track and Linda had her first experience on riding over a floating bridge (she also got 3 QOM crowns on Strava :-) followed by Big Red Barn track the next weekend.
Linda coming out the forest
New floating bridge at Wattle Spring Trails
Heidleberg ride - Telkom Tower, Wimpy and headwind home 
Best breakfast in town at Have Java after a Sentrarand ride
Apricot Tree 94,7 training ride - Wayne, me and his outlaws
Start of the 10km TVL Galvanizers race

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Just another random collection of events.....

So winter is in full swing here in South Africa and my riding companions have slunk off into the warmth of their beds (besides a few dependables'). To be fare it has been a very mild winter with the temps very seldom getting below 2 or 3 degrees. The dark is what really gets to me in winter, not so much the cold, leaving home in the dark for a mid week rides and getting home before the sun rises. We still manage to do a least 3 mid week rides - leaving home at 4:30 to meet who ever is up for the ride that day. The only common factor in these rides is the compulsory stop for coffee. 

On the weekends we normally have a long ride on Sunday, I have had some great rides the past few weekends, but these have been laced with a few technical issues that have made it interesting. We did a ride out to Big Red Barn (BRB), which was our coldest ride this year with temps reaching -4 in some parts. After a breakfast at BRB, just after we left, the bolts on my big chain ring snapped and left the chain ring spinning around the crank. We zipped tied (thx Mike) the chain ring to the crank and I had to ride/spin 50km home in my small chain ring. Fortunately the best bike mechanic in the East Rand was at home so I could drop the bike off at Sean's house and have a coffee with him an Becky until my wife could pick me up. Sean's service is really awesome anyone who does not use him in the East Rand does not know what they are missing. Brown Cabs
Frozen Silhouette before Dunblane
Darrens Garmin swing the almost -4 temp
Stopping to thaw the frozen feet and hands
The next weekend was a ride out to Sentrarand Michael had to come to my rescue again with his tools as my gear cable slipped and I had no gears. Marius and Mike had to do some make shift adjustments in order that I could peddle on in relative comfort. 
Marius and Mike carefully pulling my wire (that is gear cable)
Today was a great outing in the South of Boksburg with Greg, Claire, Catherine and Inati. It was really refreshing to do new routes, Greg was the route director and took us on some really cool routes. We even climbed up the big mine dump that I always wanted to try and ride up. This was very interesting as it took us awhile to find the way down, after a few attempts we finally found the path less traveled that took us to the bottom. 
Great shot next to the train tracks
Amazing views from the top of the mine dump
Claire scouting for a easy way down 
Greg and Claire
Yours truly in the dumps
Great views
Catherine almost on track
 Lastly on our Friday coffee ride - Darren managed to snap his frame. Fortunately it was just around the corner from Craig's shop so he could walk there and phone his wife for a lift home. Good news is that Pyga will replace the triangle at no cost to him. As a Rough Rider he should try and be more gentle with his bike :-)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trail and Trout - 3 day stage race 2017

The inaugural Trail and Trout (besides the last 40km) was the best stage mountain race I have done in my 8 odd years of riding. It was absolutely incredible, it was small and intimate but also tough at the same time. Being the first event, the organizers kept it really small so they could foresee any teething problems, restricting the field to 60 riders. This meant that you pretty much had a chance to meet and chat to most of the participants or see them along the route. There were six Benoni Rough Riders that took part in the event - Becky, Michelle, Darren, Fabio, Wayne and myself. This was awesome we had so much fun together after each stage. 
Day 1, we started in Ezimvelo Game Reserve outside Bronkhorspruit for the start of our day (240km) journey to Dullstroom, first stop near Loskop Nature Reserve 84km away. The route was mainly jeep track, district road and a spattering of single track in between. Unfortunately I had a tumble next to the river single track, it wasn't a big fall just came off at a rocky section.  Except my back wheel was in the air and I was suspended over the front handle bars that were jammed on my thigh. My left leg was still clipped in and was stuck there for a few minutes, being at a weird angle I strained my calf slightly when trying to free my foot. Everything seemed fine and a eventually caught up with Wayne, Darren and Fabs (the girls were racing snakes with podium places in sight). Granny Hill wasn't too bad I spun up there and even helped push a elderly lady with her husband. The decent down to the finish was pretty hectic (no Sani manicured single track), so bumpy that Wayne and I stopped just so we could get blood back in our hands. Great day and even better rest camp, we got big A Frame tents with a stretcher and mattress each (much better then cramped Sani2C tents). No lugging boxes and bags for miles because the race was so small. Everything was so easy, no queuing for meals, showers, toilet and beers. 
Rough Riders at the start - me, Wayne, Michelle, Becky, Fabs and Darren
Sometimes you just have to stop for a quick selfie
Views were amazing
Blood circulation stop
Darren at hand to capture Fabio's fall
Tents on Day1 
Day 2 Phew I totally underestimated Day2 - weighing over 100kgs and climbing hills for extended period is not sustainable. Of the 84km on Day 2, we climbed for 50 of them. The route was pretty bland with lots of district road that was always at an up angle. After the second water point I hit a wall and could not keep up with Darren and Fabs anymore (Wayne had vanished in the distance). My leg was starting to bug me but I pushed through and was extremely happy just to survive and get to the finish. 
Start of Day2 - that is where the love stopped :-)
Photo by Eric through the eyes of Becky and Michlle
Darren and Fabio
The girls ready for action 
Darren with enough skill up the hill to take a selfie
So I managed to act like a roadie and hang on to Eric's car for a bit 
Introducing myself to my partner at the water point
Epitomises Day2 - climbing
Photo by Eric Vermuelan me and Fabs slogging away
Chilling in the V chairs  
Day3 So day three started at 03:00 when the rooster decided that it was time for everyone to wake up. Also heard some jackals cackling in the distance. Breakfast with the Rough Riders and then to stretch the stiff calf. Unfortunately I tripped over a tent guide rope when going to lube the bikes and in the process sprained my already damaged calf muscle. I was in agony and could hardly walk. Shit can't believe my luck - that is the last three stage races that I have had bad luck (Sani - broken seat post and Berg and Bush shoe/cleat breaking). I stumble to the start line and tried to pedal it out, was in agony for every pedal stroke. Hoping that this was not really happening to me and it would get better I attempted to ride day 3. I painfully rode with the back markers with Wayne patiently by my side. I made it to the first water point at 21km and knew that there was no way I could continue. I sent Wayne on his own to finish the last 40km and managed to eventually get a lift back to the finish with the route marshals. Not the best way to finish a stage race, especially as everyone said day3 was the best day. My calf is still painful as I write this and I am using crutches today to aid my mobility but hopefully it will recover in a few days.  
Michelle, Wayne and Becky 
Rough Riders at breakfast (Becky the photographer) 
Day3 selfie to prove I actually rode
Becky and Michelle, First ladies team home and Third overall AWESOME!!!
Beer courtesy of Mr Brown to numb the pain of the physio
All I can say is that this was an incredible experience that I could share with some amazing people, it was a well organized event and I will remember it for years to come.

Route 42 2017

Another Route 42 race in Nigel (my fifth one). This 75km MTB race, never disappoints always a great route with lots of variation - mielie fields, jeep track, rocky single track, a few climbs and a small forest section. It was a pretty hard race with Wayne and I keeping the back markers company. Becky got another podium and the fatties (Sean and Michael) did really well, Sean out sprinting Alistair for the finish. Greg and Claire did well also on the tandem - don't know how they rode some of the rocky sections as I struggled.  
Rough Riders at the start Sean, Mike, Becky, me and Wayne, Clair and Greg somewhere behind (Alistair is still putting his bum cream on at the car :-)

Action photo - lots of skill to ride with one hand
Sean giving me and Wayne some support at the finish 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hills, sore back and mashed banana

April has been a good month for mountain biking (910km in total - which was about 800km more then Wayne rode) - I would have cracked 1000km if my back was not injured and there was a few days of forced rest. There have been some great rides, testing the limits and slowly getting fitter. We had a great ride out to Bedfordview with Darren, Alistair and some of his mates. Alistair found every hill and made sure we did it twice for good measure - over 1200m climbing in 80 odd km. 
Taking a breather at the top of the Linksfield switch backs
We went on a soul searching ride in the mist towards the Mushroom Farm with the 360one legends, the week before their race. Incredible feat by Rebecca and Sean finishing the 360kms in under 24 hours and being on the podium for the 3rd mixed pair home. Doing the Benoni Rough Riders really proud. Aiden was also amazing coming in 10th overall in just over 16 hours. Here is Beck's blog: and also Aiden's blog - both really interesting reads and highlights the incredible achievements involved. 
Sean, Becky, Alistair, Mark, George and Shannon (Darren is too skinny to make the photo :-)
A couple of Big Red Barn (BRB) rides happend in the last week, this entailed a ride out towards Irene (finding a few hills) and then stopping at BRB for a quick coffee or breakfast before making our way back home. Distance for these rides was 95 and 105 kms - I really enjoy this route and its nice when we mix it up a bit and piss Alistair off when you change the route home :-)   
Dangerous Darren train dodging during Mikes detour over the train tracks to BRB.
Last ride for April was a spin out to Modderfontein bike park with Paul. Also a good ride but a bit of a slog on the way home because of the hills combined with a headwind. I had a bit of a lie down when turning and not un-cleating in time. This annihilated the banana I had in my back pocket and I had to settle for mashed banana as a mid ride snack. 
Anyone for a banana split?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ezemvelo MTB race 01-04-2017

No April fool here, what a great race at the Ezemvelo Game Reserve. A nice representation from the Benoni Rough Riders with Michael, Wayne, Paul, Darren, Fabio and Dustin smashing it in the heat and dust. It was a really great race, smooth flowing tracks with a bit of loose sand on occasion. The only draw back was the bottleneck in the beginning at a river crossing. After a short queue and chance to talk a bit of crap with fellow riders the race carried on. A few more river crossings left wet shoes for the rest of the race. The scenery was spectacular being in a game reserve outside Bronkhorspruit. Not much game could be spotted besides a Kudu buck running across the track a few meters ahead of me. I handled the race ok, pacing myself for most of the time but really felt the lack of hill training and the extra few kilos that have snuck up on me, near the end.  
Fabio, Darren, me, Mike, Wayne, Dustin and Paul
Darren, Mike and Paul patently waiting a the first river crossing
The last (heart break) hill before the end
Sunrise taken in one of the early morning rides before work