How To Train Your Fiancé

NO! Not in that way and I am not Hiccup and Dom, my wife to be is not Toothless… (Not sure how this will be taken – toothless – have no bite or is as cool as Toothless the dragon…mmmmm). Love you my Silly!

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Early morning rides. The best time there is! #sunrise

Our whole relationship started with me being instructed that I will be her cycling coach for her to do the Cape Town Cycle Tour. From that moment we have not looked back, but life has sort of taken our time to cycle together away from us. Either being through work taking up valuable experiencing the universe time, or a stupid herniated disc I suffered as you all know.

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Amazing to be able to ride in our neighbourhood and have this

Our major cycling goal for 2019 is the Ride2Nowhere (you can still enter here to experience an amazing weekend in McGregor) and we seriously need to amp up, or is that commence our training. We’ve managed to go for low intensity bicycle rides of the flatter kind infrequently and from knowing the pain of riding a 3 day MTB race without proper preparation; TITS are required (Time in the saddle) to build up fitness and endurance.

 

I recently got myself motivated to start training again and over the last two weeks have been spending time on the WattBike in the gym and going for some base building road bike rides, alone. Just not the same without your partner. With work interfering and being in Kenya for more than a week, Dom was unfortunately not been able to join me. And I love doing things with my Toothless Dragon, especially going on bicycle rides as that forms so much of who we are.

 

The eternal question; how does one go about motivating your dragon, I mean fiancé? Oops I did it again.

Do you promise a bottle of quality red wine at the end of the week when the weekly goals are achieved as one of our friends, that won’t be named for his or her protection, have suggested.  Maybe not, but might have to revisit this offering once the fiancé has read this post (Am I walking on thin ice perhaps? Follow me on Instagram (@Ridder7) to see if I managed to survive this blog post.

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I love riding with this Silly one

The one thing I have learnt subtly and abruptly when training your fiancé is to not say NO when asked to please create a training plan. Even though the training plan might be floating around in your own headspace, it needs to be on paper. I should have known from my past suffering in training for the Absa Cape Epic that it is better having clear and defined goals and plans to tick off once completed. This plays a major part in your motivation for training, the success and achievement of actually having completed what you set out to do as part of the goal of the bigger picture training.

Sorry my love, you know I love doing this for you and I’m sure sticking to our plans (that will be on paper soon) we will have a great experience at the Ride2Nowhere, get fit, healthy and enjoy the time together.

Let the journey begin…

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Some motivational tips to exercise regularly https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20047624

1.       Set goals – Start with simple goals and then progress to longer range goals. Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.

2.       Make it fun

3.       Make physical activity part of your daily routine – f it’s hard to find time for exercise, don’t fall back on excuses. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity.

4.       Put it on paper (Yes, yes- I am doing it!)

5.       Join forces with friends, neighbors or others (Pick me Pick Me)

6.       Reward yourself

7.       Be flexible

A Stab in the back

Now I’ve been known to be as stubborn and hard headed as a donkey in many, many ways. Also especially when I have to do exercises to facilitate the recovery and improvement of my herniated disc (Sorry Cornell). For that I am now paying the price, and after the orthopedic surgeon consultation I literally got a stab in the back to kick my lazy donkey ass into gear. My medical aid hates me because they now have to spend the money they have taken from me over the years, my spine is unhappy with me because of a foreign object that had to be inserted into deep dark places.

Donkey

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a minimally invasive procedure that can help relieve neck, arm, back, and leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves due to spinal stenosis or disc herniation. Medicines are delivered to the epidural space, which is a fat-filled area between the bone and the protective sac of the spinal nerves. Pain relief may last for several days or even years. The goal is to reduce pain so that you may resume normal activities and a physical therapy program.

The result of the MRI indicated that I had indeed suffered a herniated disc again and all the jelly-like nucleus pushed through the disc’s outer ring and decided that I currently don’t have enough pressure in my life and tactically snuggled up against my spinal cord and nearby nerve. If that is not enough the disc releases material chemical irritants to contribute to nerve inflammation. Happiness.  “When a nerve root is irritated, there may be pain, numbness, and weakness in one or both of your legs, a condition called “sciatica.” There are!

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What is an epidural steroid injection (ESI)?

A steroid injection includes both a corticosteroid (e.g., triamcinolone, methyl-prednisolone, dexamethasone) and an anesthetic numbing agent (e.g., lidocaine or bupivacaine). The drugs are delivered into the epidural space of the spine, which is the area between the bony vertebra and the protective dura sac surrounding the spinal nerves and cord

After consulting with the doctor I made a decision after the previous conservative treatment did not yield the desired results to go for a stab in the back, also known as an epidural steroid injection (https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-esi.htm). NO, I am not in labour!

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Mmm, what’s going on here?

So hospital day booked, fiancé sent off to Zambia for some work, lifts organised (Thanks Ev and Nikki), clean and newest underwear on body, cell phone charged I walk through the doors of the hospital to check in on my own. Apparently a 30min procedure and you walk out the afternoon (not allowed to drive or operate heavy equipment (But I am a heavy equipment)) but you have to check in super early and have no food from the night before.

 

Pre-admission goes smoothly but no bed available yet so hurry up and wait in the hospital lounge area (Fortunately I had the vision to bring my fully charged powerbank with). Waiting, waiting and waiting my name finally gets called. “Do you need a porter or would you be able to find the orthopedic surgical area by yourself?” The Donkey stubbornness kicks in and off I waddle with my pins and needles leg and herniated back.

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Sing it! All by my self… The pre surgery wait

Pre-slaughter area found and bed assigned I sit and wait listening to the conversations of the other slaughtered, I mean surgically treated patients and their families present. Dude walks in puts a cup with a cover on the bed table next to me, says that is for your urine sample. Okay, I think (just gone to the loo before I explored the hospital in search of my bed). He starts to walk away and as another female nurse approaches he turns around and says for the first time: “Hallo, my name is (Insert name here), I will be handling you admission. Turns out the other nurse that walked in was there to observe him from a training point of view. I really felt welcome.

He goes nervously through all the processes of taking blood pressure, blood sugar and all the things they have to do before, gives me my incomplete dress that opens up at the back and something that is either a shower cap or something that turned out to be my fancy flimsy surgical underwear. After all this is done with the poor guys so nervous the next one arrives that is super friendly and does what she needs to including an ECG (which means a million little things get stuck to your fairly hairy chest). She is done and I inquire if these things should remain on my fragile body, she is neither here on there so I ask her to remove it. RIPPED off I am happy again. She then walks back into the room with the machine again. “Sorry, there was an error (no paper) and we lost all the data when we put paper in. We have to do it again” I have a bold spot on my chest now.

 

It is finally time to be wheeled to the slaughter house (I mean surgery). This is quite a journey with an interesting character chirpy and happy and full of jokes pushing me a mile through the hospital and construction site. He did not want to stop for me to get a hard hat for surgery from one of the construction workers. I end up outside surgery lying waiting and the anesthetist come chat with me, get wheeled in eventually next to the surgical table with pillows all over it. Now I had to get myself onto the table and position myself on these pillows with backside facing up. Needle in the arm and chatting ready for a sleep and then I wake up chatting to a nurse. 45min I know nothing of and the recovery nurse telling me I can now have that cold beer. What is she talking about? Chatting along she lets drop that I have an active imagination – I wish I knew what I said in there….

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The post procedure selfie

To shorten the story I will skip the conversation with the 80 year old fellow next to me in the hall and as soon as I was told I could go I was out of there…. Needles, I mean needless to say; that stab in my back has motivated me to get my stubborn donkey ass in gear to get do my rehab and specific exercises, lose weight and get back on the bicycle again. No more excuses. The Adventure Whale is back.

 

Let the new journey begin…

 

 

When life slaps you in the face with a frozen porcupine

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Bike in the middle of nowhere at the Ride2Nowhere in McGregor

For the love of the ride – the slogan of the Ride2Nowhere in McGregor was pretty apt for me as I returned to participation in a stage race, and my 7th R2

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Riding with my love at Wildekrans Wine Estate on her birthday celebration weekend

N, after the last few months and all the stumble blocks thrown in my way of getting any proper training done. The event is my favourite on the MTB calendar in the Western Cape and I feel that I have rediscovered my love for MTB riding.

Due to all the factors that have restricted any substantial training I decided to (in conjunction with Andrew Norman) scale down from the long to the short route event. As we drove to McGregor through the Du Toit’s Kloof Tunnel in the pouring rain and experiencing the snow covered mountains, we just knew that extreme weather would lie ahead for us when. Just how extreme we would not know until riding the next day. Welcome rain in the drought stricken Western Cape bucketed down and the mountains in the McGregor surrounds literally got covered in snow right before our eyes. It was going to be wet and cold, and it was.

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Red wine was the order of the day

Dressed up to the max for heat and staying dry we pitched at the start line on the Friday to go on an adventure of mud mountain biking. Thermal gloves and under layers got not keep out the cold. Rain and mud met us on our ride as we slid our day to the finish on day 1 in extreme conditions. Fingers were freezing on the downhills as one loses feeling and prays that you keep control of the gears and brakes, finished we did covered in mud in places that can’t be named on a PG13 website. We stayed at the McGregor Backpackers (not your normal backpackers. Amazing place to stay at) and owners Geoff and Dorothy were amazing in cleaning up our kit and we were fortunate enough to have Trystan Norman giving love and tender care to our mud covered steads.

Day 2, still freezing but no rain as we took on stage 2. It was a fun day out on the bike and the Lords Shiraz went down smoothly once we meander across the finish line. Day 3 was amazing riding in brilliant conditions after the extremities of the previous two days. No I used to be a fair weather cyclist but there was no hiding away from riding and finishing my favourite MTB event of the year. Thank you Andrew for some good times out on the bike, next year we will do the long again and Dom de Lauwere better join us and we’ll not get the vehicle stuck in the mud in order for Dianne Norman to be able to go wine tasting. Thank you to Triptych Resources for bike transfer, you guys were amazing. (Looking to transfer your bike, look no further)

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Snow and freezing weather all around

Now back to that frozen porcupine slap in the face. As most followers would know I suffered the back hernia back in October last year. Now since this happened I have not been able to train fully and has been hampered by back pain and lack of power in the right leg. Still working on recovery and unsure if it will ever recovery fully. At the end of April I suffered a bacterial infection that had me man down with fewer, shivers and sickness and just as I thought this was over after the forced antibiotics and MTB ride back, the infection came back to put me in bed again and on another antibiotic serving. Needless to say exercise was close to nothing during this period.

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It was fairly muddy out there. Mud was found everywhere, and I mean everywhere…

And then the next thing, or should I say spider in the pants bit me that would result in me going to hospital for an operation and 6 stitches later and six weeks of no training. Now I am not sure if the girlfriend planted the spider in my sleeping pants, but one can never be too sure (just kidding). Yes the bite took place in the groin area and no super powers were received, only unfitness. Having recovered after the weeks of no exercise, it was time to start training for the R2N with only a few weeks before the event only to be hampered by rainy weather (not complaining) to not be able to ride outdoors.  Time was spent on the WattBike in the gym as I probably only went on 4 outdoor rides before the R2N. Anyway, for that further slap in the face with the frozen porcupine I for good measure got retrenched at work as well.

 

It is just good to be back on the Mountain Bike and riding outdoors, even if I am fatter and in not great physical shape or condition. One can only remain positive and go to your place of sanity, which for me is out on my bike. So not being able over the last 11 months to be able to fully enjoy my riding, I am just glad that at least now with time on my hands I am able again to jump on my bike and find some sanity from the deep dark emotions lurking as a result from that frozen porcupine slap.

Learning to ride

Uhm, not sure if there are still any readers of this blog out there, but I do apologise for not contributing one bit of content towards this. All I can say is laziness of writing has crept in and/or work responsibilities. Either which one or both could be seen as close to the perceived truth to the lack of committing words to Word.

December started with HSBC Rugby Sevens at Cape Town Stadium with good mates Evert and Nikki. We will be back next year

Did someone say dress-up at the sevens

My cycling and training has gone massively backwards in the last few months. I have also recently gotten a girl friend and fellow house dweller, Dominique de Lauwere, which has changed my life for the better. (The less cycling has nothing to do with this life changing event. Just saying before I get into deep trouble. We actually rode the Ride2Nowhere 3-day stage race together, her first race, but for this awesome experience we need to write a book). Back to less cycling, which ironically leads by to my back.

Holiday sunset in Kromme (St Francis)

Landmark Lighthouse in Cape St Francis

In early October we went for a n early morning bike ride (See girlfriend = cycling partner) and on boyfriend duties (going to a Saturday market) experiences excruciating pain in my right leg in the hamstring and lower back area. So much so that I could not even drive the car.

 

 

 

Anyway, turns out I had suffered a hernia in the lower back, S1 and G1 with the hernia protruding into the

Thanks Chris for showing us the secret routes on holiday in St Francis

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To Oyster Bay and back. Only a 7km climb on the return leg…feel the curse words

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(https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/all-about-l5-s1-lumbosacral-joint)  The disc becomes herniated when the inner portion leaks out and touches the nearby nerve root, causing pain to radiate in the lower back and/or down the leg.  This, combined with work (events) resulted in me not being able to get onto the bike as I would have liked, purely because of pain and numbness and immobility in the lower back. It has been more than 3 months since this has happened and I am finally feeling more confident to do proper riding again.

Sunset fire and braai a must at Kromme

I caught a fish! (that was thrown back)

Pain is there still, power is still lacking in the right leg as well as tiredness of pain down the whole right leg. Currently close to impossible to stand on a spinning bike during the classes. Thanks to the support of Dom (short for Dominique) in encouraging me to keep riding and do my exercises (from my awesome physio Cornell Eksteen) there has been huge improvement and drive to overcome this challenge, thus I thought to start writing and rambling on the blog again.

Holiday time memories – The Walskipper restaurant in Jeffry;s bay (Believe it or not, we had Sea Food)

Georgie and our view at Paradise Found Guest House in Knyna. The 1st of the family stops

The biggest challenge was to find that motivation to get back on the bicycle and force yourself to ride again. Over the December holidays myself and Dom managed to go for a couple of short rides that was super chilled and fun, but still painful as the body (right leg) is not operating as it should with the nerve damage and resulting no power. (I can’s stand on my toes on my right leg and ankle flex is limited). Nevertheless, I am confident to build the leg and back function up again to ride with my mates (and girlfriend) in the mountains again.

The long drive from St. Francis to Brits (Only 1250km in a day)

When in Brits one must braai. No small Boerewors (sausages) here

The big thing is to remain positive and appreciate and enjoy being able to ride your bike. Dom has been tough on me and after each of the rides I complained that I am nowhere as fit as I used to be, she puts me in my place to be thankful I can ride and that I actually did the ride. To not complain of where I am at physically but celebrate the fact that I did a ride. This has been my first week back in full training and building up the peak physical fitness (for my Adventure Whale body that is).

Hopefully I can share more frequently on the progress of loosing that holiday extra body weight and learning to ride again properly (with my cycling partner and home dweller aka my biggest supporter the silly one)

Brenton-on-Sea beach walk in Knysna

No not Table Mountain cable car, but Hartebeespoort cable car. Fantastic experience

No for riding this weekend and working towards completing the Trans Breede 60km (still unsure about this so soon) and ultimately riding with Dom in her first ever Cape Town Cycle Tour.

 

 

 

 

Seeing in the new year – what lies ahead…

 

The road back to Stellenbosch (this is somewhere in the Karoo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first ride of 2018 – Let’s make this a fit and fabulous year

Cape Town Red Bus tour in celebrating The Stroebel’s birthday. Such a fun day (we took the wine tour option obviously)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My English is not that good…

Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts with Dom, Evert, Nikki, Willie and Belia – such an awesome day and the Parlotones were fantastic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed all the horse power I could get on this Wednesday’s early morning ride. My coach was in her pj’s still

Lion (she apparently has chosen Dom as her new owner) that has moved in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS; I think we own cat now

 

Love you Silly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other side

The Start of the FNB Wines2Whales at Lourensford Wine Estate (Very Early Morning)

The Start of the FNB Wines2Whales at Lourensford Wine Estate (Very Early Morning)

Now for last 5 years I have been riding the FNB Wines2Whales (Wines with a ‘S’ Ryan O’Connor 🙂 ). This year would be different as I recently left the world of the bicycle trade to step into the eventing side of it. So, what does that mean – If you work at the event, you can’t ride the event. Result – a serious case of FOMO, especially if you meet up with all the familiar faces.

Got some time out on the route to take photos and support some mates (Ashleigh Haigh-Smith and Doug Bird) Well ridden gents

Got some time out on the route to take photos and support some mates (Ashleigh Haigh-Smith and Doug Bird) Well ridden gents

 

The experience has been surreal as one gets exposed to what transpires behind the scenes of eventing and what all needs to happen to deliver the amazing experience to the FNB Wines2Whales riders. Obviously, it was my first event I worked at and there were a few curveballs thrown my / our way. Some bigger than others and one soon learns how to cope with what needs to be done to deliver the result as a team with the common goal of delivering a world class event.

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10 days became a very long time at the end but as a matter of fact time went by relatively quickly as there are always something to be done or people to interact with. Early mornings and late evenings and getting to know your colleagues better over a glass of ‘water’. I was the newbie, only with Stillwater Sports for a couple of months and still having to fit into the dynamics of it all.

 

Arriving at the event prior I knew I would be camping and not too sure what to expect I was pleasantly surprised as it looked more like glamping than camping. The tent only saw me absolutely when it had to for the few hours of sleep every night. To protect the (not so) innocent I won’t mention war stories (nothing untoward) of entertaining and socialising at events. Delivering professional work is what it is all about and the bigger picture of delivering a quality event.

Super excited when your friends come visit and some are riding only for them to be very inconsiderate by drinking beer whilst all you can enjoy is a cappuccino

Super excited when your friends come visit and some are riding only for them to be very inconsiderate by drinking beer whilst all you can enjoy is a cappuccino

 

As crew, we did have some fun to keep our sanity through the stressful days of the event, one must make it fun when spending 10 days with colleagues away from home. Hopefully the “Fashion Police” know me a little better now and have fewer questions or more, who knows. We also converted some of our colleagues to be in love with the sport of mountain biking. I hope they continue riding.

Back to the training part of my blog – there was no training at all! Over the 10 days my clothes have shrunk a little again and now it is time to get back into action and start training again otherwise I might just exceed my bike’s weight limit. Yes! The food of Food Lovers market at the event was just that good. I tried to dish up less but somehow your plate just gets so full.

We took some time out from the race to visit the Bot Rive crèches with Heidi from FNB. You can make a difference by supporting us

We took some time out from the race to visit the Bot River crèches with Heidi from FNB. You can make a difference by supporting us

It has been a great and tiring experience and I hope to see some of you next year riding the 9th edition of the FNB Wines2Whales. Maybe I will be lucky enough to someone get to ride one of the events…

Sarah and Agné about to test those Levo's (Nothing is said about any falls by anyone during these rides;) )

Sarah and Agné about to test those Levo’s (Nothing is said about any falls by anyone during these rides;) )

A new mountain biker - Dominique - the smile says it all

A new mountain biker – Dominique – the smile says it all

Spending time with Phiindi at registration whilst selling those sought after W2W bags

Spending time with Phiindi at registration whilst selling those sought after W2W bags

Saw about 10 of these early mornings in a row. Get up!

Saw about 10 of these early mornings in a row. Get up!

I have no idea where some of this artwork came from

I have no idea where some of this artwork came from

Ssshhh, don't tell the podium girl I took a photo. I might get smacked

Ssshhh, don’t tell the podium girl I took a photo. I might get smacked

Compulsory event selfie. This is my happy face :)

Compulsory event selfie. This is my happy face 🙂

We made some time to get George Marx on a bike, even if it was with pedal assist

We made some time to get George Marx on a bike, even if it was with pedal assist (Specialized Levo)

I Blame My Friends

After struggling through the tough Cape winter months, where the will to get out of bed for training was not as I wanted it to be, or as a dedicated athlete’s commitment should have been. Thus the fitness levels are not where it should be. Before you start lashing out at me for letting my pristine shape and fitness levels slide, I did not do nothing (is that a double negative?). I tried to at least ride once every weekend and do a spin class and WattBike session during the weeks (More one than both – guilty). The real reason I the shape of my body might have shifted during these dark months are my friends.

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Waterfall on the side of Table Mountain.

Why do they entertain and cook so well? Surely they should know that I am too well-mannered and love good food and cold beverages too much to decline an offer or an invitation. From Pulled Pork Burgers to Steak sandwiches, Leg of Lamb and the good traditional braai (barbeque) all served with either excellent South African Red Wine or an ice cold (Lite) ale even to odd good whiskey or brandy in celebration. Enough said! Friends should know not to exploit your weaknesses as my clothes now fit slightly tighter than in March 2016. But life is all about balance and going on this food drive surely balance the ‘’starvation” period prior the Cape Epic out. To my friends, you may continue with this as I know that I’ll have a proper meal at least whenever we have these social gatherings.

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Early morning ride out Meerendal side on the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Trails

Enough of this darkness as the Southern Hemisphere Spring is in the air and it is already evident my commitment and will to train. Only downside with having more daylight to ride after work through the Green Belt in Constantia is to now having to dodge the dog owners walking their dogs and now and again choose the safety first option as my friends of the canine nature turn to chasing mobile humans of a peddling nature. But for now I’ll have to risk injury and tetanus as the Ride2Nowhere 3 day MTB race is next week and last minute training dot com is the order of the day.

 

It has not all been that bad training wise as for my commitment over the weekends I at least have some great photos (in my opinion) to show for it (posted in this post). Even managed to hike up Lion’s Head with Willie and Belia. See diversifying my skills and training routine! So whilst I blame my friends for the unnecessary gain in body mass with the temptations they brought into my life, I can’t really blame them for my lackluster effort in full on commitment in training.

 

With Spring comes new challenges in the form of a new job, but perhaps more of this in the next edition. For now, it is time to bring on the next adventure as the winter hibernation is over!

Grand Finale! 

Super stoked and proud of my mate Thinus for finishing the 2016 Absa Cape Epic and what an unbelievable journey it has been. There are no easy days at the Cape Epic and Stage 7 proofed no different as we tackled the 80 odd kms into a strong South Easter with loads of climbing left for the final 20kms. I struggled to get going in the beginning as the legs were cold and tired and as always on a flat my partner Thinus’ roadie instincts kick in and race off with the bunch, I just don’t have that speed and with the steep climbs in the beginning as well my heavier body probably cost us a few positions – not that it matters as all that counts is that we survived 8 days of courage and strolled into the finish at Meerendal in high spirits. From the photos we obviously enjoyed the end as seen from smiles on our faces.

I am sure today will be a day of reflection of the week and the journey gone by over the last few months and the prize at the end of the day – conquering the 2016 Absa Cape Epic and all the mental demons and doubting thoughts over the last 8 days. Thanks partner for an amazing week where we overcame so many obstacles on and off the trails , it is unforgettable and as always great to be riding the bike with you.

Thanks to all the wonderful support from everyone, just too many to name but special mention to Loriaan, not only for the last 8 days but for the last few months. Besides the indescribable feeling of crossing the finish line after 8 days, spotting the amazing Phat Boy supporters, catching up with friends and so forth, one of the best moments was digging into the Malva pudding delivered for us to consume post finishing.

We were very fortunate that our KTM bicycles gave us no problems and that our Mitas tyres withstood the rugged terrain for all of the 647kms and 15,000 meters of climbing. The question now is – will there be a next one…

 Super stoked to have made the 2016 Absa Cape Epic podium  
Our Phat Boy supporters group were amazing

  Grand Finale finally came  
Thinus obviously very happy to see Loriaan after having to spend a week with me 😉

 

We had to stop for the photo opportunity at our Mitas banner

  The number one supporter Loriaan  
FGreat to see my friend Chantel Rall out in support and my friend Willie and biggest believer in me out at the Grand Finally. #LoveChanty

  Thanks for the Malva pudding Belia and Willie 

Dad happy to see son Thiaan

  

Mind Games

The Absa Cape Epic is a different animal as those that have ridden it would confess to, it is a race that tests you, not only physically but even more so mentally as Thinus can confess to today and so I am certain many others over the years. Thinus confessed that he was told the Cape Epic will be tough, but how do you define tough and in his own words – no one can prepare you for how tough it actually is. Always racing against the clock, terrain and those stuff you up insanely steep gradient hills.

I got a bit worried today as it seemed that my partner was now beyond “gatvol” (fed up) for the race and what it throws at you as he just stuck on his bike and rode on in the distance. I could claerly see there was no enjoyment and on the way up Bothma’s Kop (super steep climb) a sense of humour failure. But that is what the Cape Epic does, it throws everything at you, there are no easy stages or periods to relax as you are constantly chasing the clock over the unknown route ahead. Told by Thinus that this is a day I should be talking to him to get him through the day, I just had to respond that I would gladly want to of only he allowed me by not riding so far away from me :).

We also rode Skyfall today, 18 switchbacks going downhill that is super fast and flowing and at least that put a smile back on Thinus’ face. That’s the Epic for you. 

One more stage of 82kms to go, so another few hours for us to complete our #8daysofcourage and for tickets to tick the Absa Cape Epic off that bucket list – let’s hope all goes well and we will be able to see all our fantastic supporters at the Grand Finale at Meerendal Wine Estate!

We have been unfortunate not to have spotted any Cape Leopards on our journey through the Wilderness thus far, as the guys from Cape Leopard Trust does so much great work and is also hugely involved in mountain biking. Hopefully we can spot one tomorrow that would also help me peddle faster towards the finish line.

  TC and myself with Pavel Nosek for Mitas Tyres (As seen on our bikes)

The Queen is a B….

93kms and 2500m of climbing Stage 5 of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic, also known as the Queen stage this year, the stage seen as the toughest with a 5 cog rating for difficulty. Normally Thinus and I chat a fair bit on the bike, but not today. We were both zoned out and focused on finishing the stage not wanting to slip up now and going forward into the unknown of the Big 5 climbs that laid ahead. We made it in just over 7 hours and Thinus really rode well today pulling me along as I, as expected when it comes to climbing, were always a fair bit back. Gravity still sucks. The Queen was a real B…h!

Whatever the epic threw at us today, we just took it in our stride or peddle stroke and stuck to our motto of just moving forward. The crash tally is back to two all, I won’t count Thinus parking his bike in some Fynbos as a crash. It was quite funny though, but fortunately we are both well and ready to go with one of us having some rear end trouble, and it is not “Die Windhond”. I suspect the next couple of days could be painful as a grew out of my bib shorts in such that is has become too big for me. Nothing I can do now but be upstanding when riding my bike. Should be interesting.

2 more days and hopefully all goes according to plan. Thanks again for all the support and Chantel will be looking out for you at Meerendal finish line, I know you would have loved to be riding over it yourself.

We are now placed 131st in our category and 367th in GC (General Classification)

Until tomorrow and hopefully another completed stage and a not too tender rear end.

   

My sister in support. Go Mitas

   

Up and Down (and up)

The Absa Cape Epic normally brings a roller coaster of emotions and for those that have not ridden it, it might be difficult to phantom exactly all the emotions one goes through. Thinus seemed to have had such  a day on the bike today, starting of with my favorite bunch riding on open gravel road (not) we got of fairly quickly but soon my legs were just nowhere and from a personal point I had to hang in there to keep up with Thinus, knowing two big climbs laid ahead within the first 20kms including the infamous 28 switchback climb of Aap Duez – it was tough. 

Later on the unthinkable happened as we once again had to go up a big steep climb with me riding to the top and Thinus getting off to walk – never before in our cycling journey has that happened before. I knew then Thinus were struggling and at that dark place where your mind starts playing games with you and every little hill or incline becomes a major challenge and one has to dig deep to keep peddling and going forward. Well done to my partner for not giving up or in to his emotion as we ended strongly to tick off another stage. Nothing much to report as a still lead the fall count two one, other than the fighting son an engaged American couple on their bikes which provides some entertainment for our group of riders, guys we have become to know over the last couple of days. Tomorrow’s stage seems to be yet another tough one as we have 2500 meters of climbing over 93km to be completed in 8 and a half hours – slightly challenging and very much daunting. I am sure we will be visiting some dark places again, in our minds and on route as we have to cross 5 little mountains. Up and down and up and down and up and down – don’t let this get you down – the finish of stage 5 is in sight. 

Our riding time today was 5:31.21, 141st in our category and 399th on GC, which places us overall at 133rd in our category and 370th overall, not that it matters. Tomorrow all we want is to reach Boschendal within the 8 hours 30 allowed.