My adventure trails let me to take part in the 2nd Arabella Challenge this weekend, and did we now have proper mountain biking fun. Spending the weekend as a guest of Andrew and Angela from the Hospitality Property Fund, in short, a guest of Arabella Hotel and Spa, it turned out as expected when at Arabella, a fantastic five star weekend – but that’s not all my mate Thinus was there to experience his 2nd stage race, trying not to fall as in McGregor, but alas that was not to be, more about that later.
Friday saw the Cape being hit by a freakish storm again as rain plummeted down driven by slightly gale force winds. In this I had to put up our KTM branding, needless to say I might have gotten wet in the process and that was just the start. It seems that it is tradition now to have a glass or bottle of red win now before an event as we settled ourselves in the Arabella Bar area. It was great evening as we caught up with Michael Meyer and Dulcie, Rudolf and Jana with Willie du Plooy gunning for all to have pizza at Gringo’s in Kleinmond, an infamous establishment we always visit when in that area of the country, that did not happen – that night. After Andrew and Angela made the wise choice of eating at the hotel restaurant we all eventually ate at the bar (not driving to Kleinmond). As the night peter out everyone left and Willie and myself was left to support the bar we so hugely supported with the Richard Branson ride in March as well and entered Mike Finch of Bicycling and Runner’s World with girlfriend Kate, which meant we had to drink a bite more red wine.
Anyway back to the interesting stuff. So waking up Saturday morning to a stunning view outside my room window all things pointed to a glorious day. Meeting the team for breakfast, all dresses up in our Hospitality Property Fund Kit you could feel the excitement, and extreme chill, in the air. At 7:30 it looked like a gathering of cyclist ready to start in the starting chute in the foyer of the hotel as we all waited for the rain to hopefully disappear before the start at 8am, and we still had to cycle to the start. Running back to the room to put on my second skins to brace the cold the contemplation was there to crawl back under the duvet, but nope there was riding to be done. Off we went to the start and ready kick my KTM Phinx into 4×4-drive for the mud that lies ahead, fortunately my Rubena Scylla and Kratos tyres with mud shedding technology made riding through the mud a little bit easier.
Now what a fantastic day this was, tough but awesome. Yes the climbing in the beginning was very tough, but the beautiful surroundings made up for any little suffering I experienced, actually feeling much stronger that at the Ride2Nowhere we conquered the first 18km climbing a S@#$load. But fun we had as Thinus and myself waited a bit for Andrew as he helped someone down the climb with his derailleur, we opened a photo booth offering to take photos of other riders as they crawled up the hill looking out over the stunning valley. The only thing I did not take with on stage 1 of the Arabella Challenge was my lifejacket, we went through so many pools of water I felt I might drown if I got stuck all fall over, might even get lost, in some of those puddles or was that pools. Wet Wet Wet it was. Covered in mud and toes freezing we finished in style and enjoyed a cold beverage and boerewors roll before heading back to the hotel for a hot shower and finally pizza at Gringo’s with Willie and Arno Neethling. Michael, Dulcie & Thinus you don’t know what you missed out on!
To top the pizza we met Andrew and Angela for dinner at the hotel restaurant, with more red wine and a fantastic buffet. Yes, fantastic buffet, there was so much food to choose from I did not know what to eat and what to leave. Definitely worth trying when you at Arabella – I ate too much! Thanks Andrew and Angela for a fantastice weekend.
Start of day 2, and a beautiful day it was. Well, we started with a 8km climb up the Highlands road, that was less beautiful but I grinded my way to the top without stopping. It was worth it as we arrived at water point 1 looking over the valley towards Grabouw with the mountains covered in snow, an awesome view. I must confess, this was properly one on my nicest days on a mountain bike, I really, really enjoyed it, stunning scenery and riding with great people. It was also a day that brought me back to earth, literally. Sometimes you just have to be reminded to be grounded. As we descended down the valley, before we had to climb, AGAIN! up to water point 2, riding in streams of water I miss judged my line and slip, crash boom bang landed on my side in the water. Unfortunately Andrew did have his Go Pro with him… I’ll leave it there. That was fall number one. After eventually reaching the endless climb to water point two we finally went downhill for a bit. The only thing, there was a little bit of sand, so making a rookie mistake by not having my wait back and turning my front wheel I decided to buy some property on top of the mountain crashing down in spectacular fashion. Fortunately no Go Pro behind me, only Herman Mostert to witness this fall from grace. Maybe I was still staring out over to bay and not concentrating.
Now back to Thinus, famous for falling, we descended down a ravine filled with water and Thinus was leading the way. Unfortunately I did not witness the fall but I am waiting for the Go Pro footage from Andrew. Apparently his whole front wheel got stuck in a whole covered with water and as a result he splashed himself over his bike. We walked the rest of the ravine from there on. Just glad you did not get hurt mate, could have been much worse.
What a fantastic weekend, I can’t wait for the next one. Fantastic riding whilst staying in a beautiful hotel and spa, and there was even trail running on the Sunday, what more could an adventure whale like me and everyone that enjoys mountain biking fun ask for. Great to have seen Mike Finch, Micheal Meyer and Willie du Plooy on the trails and ofcourse my riding buddies, Thinus and Andrew.
Well done Angela, Leon, Helga, Günter, Jaco, Kirsti, Johannes and the whole Arabella team on a spectacular event. I will be back and will bring more friends.
I was truly Having Proper Fun!
Having survived Arabella Challenge and Braai Day the next adventure will take me out of my comfort zone as I attempt the 10km Gun Run. Hold thumbs and Nicole book my massage in advance…