Caged Animal – where’s the Vet?

It has now been nearly two weeks since the completion of that 8 day mentally challenging MTB race aka the 2016 Absa Cape Epic and I have done no exercise of any sort. Now before you start judging me and thinking that I have thrown in the towel of have become lazy and so forth, here are all the excuses.

My super "love the steep climbs' partner Thinus Crafford and myself on the "podium" after finishing with 2 other guys. Apparently the beat us by beat us by 415 positions on the last day

My super “love the steep climbs’ partner Thinus Crafford and myself on the “podium” after finishing with 2 other guys. Apparently the beat us by beat us by 415 positions on the last day. Manuel Fumic & Henrique Avancini of some other bike brand Factory Racing Team

Common sense dictates that one should at least take a small break after riding 647km with 15,000m of climbing over 8 days and that was the plan for the first few days. Take it easy, body not feeling too bad and able to still walk without too much pain or effort, all was looking good for a quick recovery and with Easter Friday the ideal day to get back on the back the plan for the week was set.

Then I made the fatal mistake. I met up with a friend at a well-known establishment in Cape Town where I got exposed to celery juice. To protect my friend and the establishment they will not be exposed but I have made contact with my lawyers. Now I don’t like celery, but I thought I would give the juice a try, living sort of healthy now you know and how bad could it be? It actually turned out to very tasty and I even contemplated having a second glass, but that might have been too healthy.

Miss the dirt and the grind #OfficeHater

Miss the dirt and the grind #OfficeHater

Anyway I digress, the point I’m trying to bring across in my rambling is coming back to the no exercise and that all being due to flu – herewith the Wikipedia description of the flu: “Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: a high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks”

Thursday night I still felt strong and actually consuming my first beer (lite) since finishing the Cape Epic with my good mates Willie and Belia making burgers with the legend Henties de Villiers visiting from Oudsthoorn. Moderation was the key as I had that cycle planned for Friday. Good morning Good Friday and good day man down de Ridder. Now you have read the definition of flu and saw that symptoms typically begin two days after exposure…and the conclusion – blame the celery juice as it was the only thing I did out of my normal habits. Happiness engulfed me as I spent my entire Easter Weekend feeling sorry for myself and under the duvet in front of that square box showcasing glorious sport. That was just great.

Super Supporters Willie du Plooy and Chantel Rall with us showing our support in wishing Chantel all the best #FuckCancer #LoverChanty I think I might have a shaved head shortly

Super Supporters Willie du Plooy and Chantel Rall with us showing our support in wishing Chantel all the best #FuckCancer #LoverChanty I think I might have a shaved head shortly

Always fighting the fight against that extra weight the slightest amount of food consumption adds to my big boned bodily structure, I endeavoured each night after Easter to go exercise the next day. That has not happened yet as I only feel close to 100% human again today, I did however go shower at the gym to keep up my monthly visits. The things we have to do…

Stuck in the office for the week without physical activity and the pressure applied by the boss man post Cape Epic made for a wonderful few weeks as I felt like a caged turtle -wanting to break out at speed with the mind but the body just not responding in a Tasmanian devil way.

So my Cape Epic blues has been a great experience and I would rather be riding the Cape Epic every week than be stuck in the office. I actually miss the structured training regime from coach Alasdair Garnett and it was super cool to see him and wife Gretha at the finish, if I do attempt a third one for that Amabubezi title I already know who my coach would be and thank you to KTM Bike Industries SA and Mitas Bicycle Tyres SA for making it possible for us to ride this year (we had no tyre or bike issues) as well as all our awesome supporters lead by Loriaan aka Lolla Crafford.

Super cool to see these mad people at the finish - miss it

Super cool to see these mad people at the finish – miss it

Back on the bike for me and I should also maybe run a little bit as I do have the FNB Cape Town 12 OneRun on the 15th of May but firstly I have to keep in shape for the Cell C Arabella MTB Challenge on 23 & 24 April followed by the Gravel and Grape MTB Challenge 6 – 8 May 2016.

The one thing I know is that I will stay away from the celery juice.

PS:  We still have not found that Cape Leopard on route, hopefully in one of my next MTB Challenges – come now show your support for the Cape Leopard Trust we need them to survive!

 

Cries of Anguish…

SAVANAH!! I heard this shrill scream and turned my head towards the noise, OH sh(fill in missing vowel here)t! Now at this stage I was cycling through a sandy patch, in the lower Tokai forest, where runners, dogs and horses (with riders) go for their recreational jog, walk and in this case chasing a mountain biker. Those that have followed my journey might remember the Constantia Dog incident in early 2014, when a well-nourished LSM10 dog who was

The result of being caught by a canine whilst going uphill back in 2014

The result of being caught by a canine whilst going uphill back in 2014

Always stunning riding on Table Mountain

Always stunning riding on Table Mountain (Photo: Rob Kucera)

clearly tired of consuming the prescribed veterinary food on its diet, and decided a bite from a well-defined muscled human leg would taste much better and thus my cry of anguish as Savanah the skinny runners’ dog came bearing down on me.

Knowing that trying to speed away in the sand I knew was not an option, so first instinct was to get to a stop and take my feet off the bike. Combined with the shouting of his/her (let’s call it a she dog, aka Bitch) owner and me getting of the bike Savanah slid to a standstill in a cloud of dust and sand coming to a stop a few centimeters from my previously bitten left leg. Good dog. (Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and would have 20 if I could, so for a dog to want to attack me because I am a moving object, does hurt my feelings a little bit, because I know it is just instinct. Or it could be the runner owner that does not like cyclist and secretly trains the Bitch to attack). Relieved that Savanah managed to stop before crashing into me, teeth and all, the owner apologises saying sorry. No worries I say, not an issue. Off they went and back on my KTM Scarp I get – that

Boys and their camera phone toys aka Rob Kucera

Boys and their camera phone toys aka Rob Kucera

cry again SAVANAH! Off the bike again and fortunately Savanah retreats and goes back to run with his (sorry her) owner. Waiting until they disappear into the forest I get up and tackle the sand again. Apparently some dogs see you as prey as clearly this one did, find out what to do when a dog is chasing you here or here.

When riding the Absa Cape Epic one will encounter many challenges on-route, like the sandy patch I was riding to up skill my sand riding technique as one, technical tricky terrain, thorns, heat, ridiculous climbs and even possibly a stray dog out there in the sticks. So I saw this as invaluable Cape epic training for me. Needless to say when I caught up with them on the other side of the forest again, I gladly took a small break until they disappeared into the sunrise.

 

My encounters of a canine kind did not end there. Later in that week as I was on my way home from finishing a ride on Table Mountain and cycling through a park close to Kirstenbosch / Bishopscourt area I was seen as prey again.

How fast would you peddle if Rob Vember's little pub Mackenzie

How fast would you peddle if Rob Vember’s little pub Mackenzie

Fortunately the owner was close by and the dogs were well trained and listened when called back and soon found the tennis ball being thrown for them much more interesting than some sweaty mountain bikers legs. And again I love dogs, but I am not too sure what I would do if Rob Vember unleashes his trio of dogs on me…. Especially Mackenzie – sprint record at max cadence in heaviest gear!  She is a show dog after all. But seriously, I do love dogs.

 

It has been tough this last week as the routine of training is catching up with me: “can I just sleep 5 minutes longer, it is still dark outside”. Time is running out as D-day is fast approaching and I thought it well to take my bike in for a proper service, and when I say proper, I mean proper as you will see from the images. The whole bike gets taken

Thanks to the guys from Freewheel Cycology for the proper full service on my bike. Thanks Richard Coram and Sean Wightman

Thanks to the guys from Freewheel Cycology for the proper full service on my bike. Thanks Richard Coram and Sean Wightman

apart and all the components get checked to make sure all is good to carry my petite 107kg body through the last weeks of training, but especially through the 8 days of the Absa Cape Epic. It is super important to make sure your bike is properly looked after and maintained. A simple thing on my bike was the hairline cracks that started to show on my rims. It has done a Absa Cape Epic before and many other stage races since 2014 and I wasn’t always my lean 107kg’s, so some components were bound to take a hammering as I am no slouch going down technical terrain as I hope my friends will justify this and that I am not being too arrogant for a 100kg rider. To

Stripped to the bare minimum - the masterpiece of the KTM Scarp frame

Stripped to the bare minimum – the masterpiece of the KTM Scarp frame

be honest, I have no choice but to go downhill quickly as gravity has that pull, I am just saying and in the words of my mate James Bell (oh and Nikki Ferreira), Safety First.

Most of us just get on and ride our bike but here are some tips from the internet to assist with maintenance and having a good ride or this

Hope this update was a bit more positive and thanks to Loriaan for approving myself and Thinus’s supporters T-Shirts. I think it looks great and thank you for everyone that is supporting us and following us on this journey (Too soon to reveal the T-shirt design).

Oh crack and a cry of anguish - result is new rims and another cry of anguish when the bill came

Oh crack and a cry of anguish – result is new rims and another cry of anguish when the bill came

 

PS: I have seen more squirrels on my rides than dogs and none of them has ever decided to attack me. What I am most afraid of when I do have an encounter with a squirrel is that it might be out gathering nuts for the winter…

Finally got that WattBike in the gym that can measure your performance or non performance for coach Alasdair Garnett at The Practise

Finally got that WattBike in the gym that can measure your performance or non performance for coach Alasdair Garnett at The Practice

When your bike service takes up the whole day and you mate and bike shop owner sends you this :)

When your bike service takes up the whole day and you mate and bike shop owner sends you this 🙂

Where is my mind…

In the words of the Pixies:  “Where is my mind”. After months of months of training for the 2016 Absa Cape Epic and also being back at work seems to be catching up with me as the body and mind seems a bit tired and not totally focussed.  It seems fatigue and the routine of getting up every day early is taking its toll (or the intake of minimal food to lose weight) as the routine of training and just working is testing the levels of commitment and discipline to stay the course towards the 13th of March.

 

Had a great start to the day as I send myself reminder emails at 3:30am and then trying to go to sleep again (Where is my mind?), only to be up by 5am to go to gym and the Threshold Crusher scheduled on the WattBike – the description says it all. It has been a week and a bit of things not quite going my way, but more of that later. Got to gym and raced to the WattBike section (The mass amount of 4 available of which 2 was non-functional on Tuesday and I had to ride without a monitor for power and time) only to be faced with only 3 WattBikes on the floor and to my joy all three were occupied. So, you are at gym, it is early what to do? Spin Bike is the next best (although these Spin Bikes and my Suunto Heart Rate monitor does not love each other in synching as on the monitor it spikes and falls all the time, 3rd world problem, I know) and so on ‘n hopped after adjustment my setup and sticking my Threshold Crusher notes to the screen, only useful for time in this exercise. As always there is a warm-up and 5 minutes in the dude on the 3rd WattBike is finished, not FINISHED by has done his 10/15min warm up and moved on to utilise some other gym equipment for its optimum usage.

If only I could show you what this would have looked like on the WattBike PowerApp

If only I could show you what this would have looked like on the WattBike PowerApp. Alot of hours have been spent on my KTM Scarp

Opportunity! Pause my watch and again race to the other WattBike. Setup done and still 10 minutes left for the warm up and then would you Adam and Eve it, Error whatever number: Sensor not connected – WTF (Remember – Will Train Frequently, no swearing). I do not believe this, so fiddling with the sensor cable and nothing is happening, restarting, resetting – nothing! Decision made and I stayed on the bike and will ride blindly with my trusted Suunto Ambit to guide me with time and riding on pure instincts on whatever Power Zone I think I am in.  Did the 10mins remaining of the warm-up and moved into the first part of the Threshold Crusher, and then it happened – WattBike number 2 became free. Time for another quick decision and I quickly raced to bike number two to secure it before I fetch the paper towels to dry the pool of sweat that has already gather around WattBike #3.

 

Now this is where the mind finally lost focus. In my Virgin Active Gym we only have 4 WattBikes as I mentioned and you can only connect the PowerApp to one and in my excited stage I was rejoicing in knowing that I could track my ride and report back to coach Alasdair so that he could judge me. Boy was I wrong. I started chatting to the lady next to me on WattBike #1, really nice and we chatted about the Cape Town Cycle Tour and why she and her husband is not doing it anymore, me mentally not well in riding the Cape Epic, generally a nice conversation and throughout this I am on my phone connecting the PowerApp to the WattBike. It says a session is already running on this bike, do you want to restart and of course I say yes thinking it is picking up the pedalling I am doing now when the nice lady says, something is wrong, my bike is resetting and starting over…WattBike #1 is the bike that can connect…#Idiot.  Numerous apologies later and explaining about the App I could finally try and focus on crushing my threshold.  Where is my mind?

A summary of my activities the last 30 days

A summary of my activities the last 30 days

At this stage of the lead up one starts to question if you have done enough, are you fit enough and slightly stressing about the few remaining weeks ahead. It is imperative not to slack off now after all the hours of training and fine tune that fickle mind to be strong and push through the next few weeks.

 

Back to the last week, on Saturday I experienced a pinch puncture on my rear tyre (caught between rocks) and for the first time ever had to use a plug to fix it (Thanks for Rudolf for stopping and helping me as my riding partner Rob disappeared into the distance). Thinking everything was cool we continued on our ride and caught up with Rob at the Shed to enjoy a coffee and set off to the next part of the trails. Not quite smooth from there as the puncture was very close to a knob on the tyre and a few times the plug came loose when that knob obviously got forced open on the rough terrain.  That was not all, as I firstly forgot to put on my heart rate monitor, then on the ride twice forgot to start my watch again after pausing it – where was my mind?

Being a weekend there was no way to change the tyre with bike shops closed in the afternoon, so the next day was much of the same when I rode with Willie, smooth sailing until you hit that certain area on the tyre. So after a frustrating weekend, new tyre was fitted and thanks to the patience of Rob, Rudolf, Craig and Willie on our rides. It was a good character test and preparation for the Cape Epic.

 

Now for you that don’t know what a plug is or how to do it; here we go (Plug it)

A good tool to get to plug tyres is the invention by our friend and former Team Bulls rider, Stefan Sahm – the Sahmurai Sword This came in very handy on Saturday!

Keep watching this post and we will let you know how to follow the Mitas KTM Phat Boys (Thinus Crafford and myself) at the Absa Cape Epic

FTP or WTF!

IMG_8212Now those of you that know me, and perhaps have had loads of spare time and read one or two of my posts, will know that I ride for fun and to finish and sprinting or pushing myself too hard is not often (or ever) on the riding agenda. Waking up yesterday I was wary of the new experienced that lied ahead for me, see I have decided to get on board with a coach again and signed on with Alasdair Garnett from The Practise that came highly recommended. Him being in Johannesburg necessitated a FTP test being done on me in Cape Town for him to assess where my fitness levels are at. You might not know what FTP stands for yet, but I sure you know the meaning of WTF, but we will get to all this just now. My 2016 Absa Cape Epic partner, Thinus also signed on with Alasdair and had to do the FTP test a week or so ago and phoned me post his torture, thus my reluctance to go put my mind and body through anticipated pain.

 

Back to writing something meaningful in telling you what the FTP tests involve; let’s start with what FTP is (WTF will come later). FTP is Functional Threshold Power or quite simply put, a measure of fitness, FTP is the maximum wattage an athlete can sustain for 60 minutes and according to some the single greatest determinant of cycling performance. So back to WTF, I mean the FTP test, there are a couple of ways to establish your FTP: a blood lactate test, a sustained 60 minute effort, or a 20 minute field test. No one told me about the blood lactate test! So off to the most common and easily accessible 20 minute field test, conducted by Mr. Watt Bike in SA, Steve Saunders who after the Double Century stayed on to do the test on me for Alasdair, which also meant no hiding away on the bike with the watchful eye of Adel making sure I stick to the cadence and program.TCThe Test

 

First, warm up for 20 minutes starting with easy pedalling and progressively building to more zone 2 endurance pressure on the pedals and some insane maximum cadence rotations, eish! Then the fun started as you need to go for 20 minutes at your maximum pace or power output at the whatever resistance you prefer – Eina! (For my English speaking friends, that means ouch!). That really hurt as I had to dig deep to keep on going for the full time at a pace I probably never ever rode a bike at. As you grind through the lactic pain barrier and you try and keep mind focussed on that smooth pedal stroke and even cadence to keep going on and on, with time seeming to stand still – you think WTF! Told you we would get back to that – mind out of the gutter now and think positive training thoughts, you all knew I meant: Will Train Frequently to not ever suffer like that again. Now from this 20 minute test one apparently takes 95% of the average power and uses that as your FTP. It seems mine is 231.8 for whatever that means. (Isolated time of last 8.5 minutes of the 20 where my average was output was 244). 231 watts was the average over the 20 minutes, perhaps I can bribe my coach to use this number (231 x 0.95 = 219.45). Just kidding Alasdair, I am very worried that you are coaching my riding partner to be even quicker than what he already is, and he likes chasing the clock as for me I just want to make it to the finish line in time.

movescountAnyway, now that your head hurts after trying to decipher all that here is some links to perhaps clarify all this FTP stuff and how it impacts on your fitness and training program:

·         Training Peaks

·         Watt Bikes

Check out the services offered by UCI Accredited coaching from The Practice that could assist you in your training goals. When training towards a goal in the form of a specific event or just for general fitness and health it does definitely help to have a structured plan to help you improve but also not losing the fun and enjoyment factor. (I believe a certain founder of a 8 day mountain bike race is also doing a FTP test this week, good luck KV, we can’t suffer alone)

 

One more tip to help with your core muscles and the ‘correct’ way to plank – check out this video

 

This week I am tackling the Pennypinchers Origin of Trails two day Mountain Bike event, really looking forward to it and be sure that when I start climbing the 1700m of climbing on each day, I will be saying, perhaps out loud – WTF!

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Great riding with the boys over the weekend Tygerberg trails and fortunately the photo was taken before the beers arrived. Miss my riding partner to take control of the hills as harsh words were spoken as two members of this group (one taking the photo) chased each other up a hill.

Fighting the snooze button

IMG_8148So it all came down to this, the realisation that I had to start training for 8 day Mountain Bike race in March next year and low and behold this was the week it had to happen. The first part of the training is all about base building, which meant I had to go dig out and dust off the road bike from the garage (When will we get road bikes with dual suspension please!?) . Now some of my mates say that I live the idyllic life as to where I stay in Cape Town with regards to the numerous opportunities for activities and the closeness to work. I won’t mention names but he does travel from Irene in Pretoria to Sandton everyday…  Anyway that idyllic life with regards to cycling routes has somehow change due to numerous factors and finding suitable routes to ride is not as easy as when I trained for the 2014 Absa Cape Epic.

Firstly we had the unfortunate fires in March that destroyed most of the mountain vegetation in the Southern Suburbs which resulted in the closure of Tokai forest, my mountain biking haven from my front door. It was so easy to go riding the glorious single track or climb to the Mast before or after work. Not anymore. It seems that only by the end of 2016 the forest will be open to the public again. Further that is the closure of Silvermine and Noordhoek Peaks and Ou Wapad, which hopefully will be open in December to at least give some option to force my body uphill. I also miss my rides along the coast through Kalk Bay and Simons Town as they are busy with road works and have a stop/go scenario that is not cycling friendly, which brings me to my point of idyllic lifestyle as I had to be creative in finding alternative routes inland to keep going on those long rides. I do miss the convenience of just getting on your bike and knowing which scenic route you can go on to get the distance or times done that is required.

 

Having sussed out a few routes I started on Tuesday with my first steady ride of 2 hours on the road bike, followed up by a gym session in the afternoon. Why I pushed myself so hard, I don’t know as firstly it was mayhem in the gym in the afternoon, way too busy for my liking but what can one do? Commitment is commitment and this depressed overweight body needs all the training it can get, as post my Discovery Health assessment the realisation of the weight that snuck back onto my pristine body was heart breaking. So day 2 arrives with a slightly scheduled longer ride and boy was it a struggle to get out of bed. Aching muscles from that unnecessary gym session contributing to the lacklustre roll out of bed, with strong mind control the only thing preventing my hands to swiping the snooze button. I knew it would be tough to get back into training and getting used to that early morning out on the bike. I do hope my riding partner is at least getting in some rides as this first part of base building through easy state sessions on the bike is crucial in laying the endurance foundation. Hopefully I hear from him before 13 March 2016. The result of these training sessions meant that Wednesday evening saw me passed out on the couch the time a 7 year old would be send to bed, way too early and fortunate for PVR I can go back and watch what I evidently missed.

The 1st week of 2016 Absa Cape Epic training nearly done

The 1st week of 2016 Absa Cape Epic training nearly done

Day 3 arrived and that bloody alarm went off again at the unholiest morning hours. Again that thought of suffering for 8 days in March kept my willing hands from pressing snooze and going through the motions I got back on the road bike for the longest road session of the week. Once out there one forgets about the torture of waking up and getting ready to ride. I am a bit pedantic and do ensure the night before (before I fall asleep on the couch) that everything is ready to just put your kit on and ride. Make sure tyres are inflated, lights charged and on, kit set out to just squeeze into, shoes ready, water bottles filled and Suunto Ambit fitted on the bike. It makes life so much easier if everything is organised and ready the night before and all you have to do is fight off that urge to sleep further and just get out there and experience the beautiful sunrises in Cape Town.

IMG_8156

Now the Absa Cape Epic is an expensive exercise and myself and partner Thinus Crafford might soon be standing at traffic lights begging for some cash or hopefully some of our friends, poor and wealthy will give us some cash to help us on our journey to suffering in March. Watch this space for the begging to begin shortly.

 

Thanks for everyone’s support thus far and everyone that has attempted a major sporting event knows the commitment one has to have to keep the discipline in sticking to your training regime, the strain it takes on one’s family (the snails in my garden are not too phased, not sure about my partners family as they will need some patience and understanding as he would be occupied for hours on end sitting his not currently so skinny behind on a bicycle) and friends , work and giving up on the extreme consumption of ice cold beers…

The Ride2Nowhere and new water bottles

This year has been my 4th year of riding the Ride2Nohwere and I’m afraid the secret is out as we had the largest field ever, close to capacity which I’m sure will make this an even more desirable event when the entries open soon (www.ride2nowhere.co.za).  What a gem of and event this is, fantastic riding which encompass the true soul of mountain biking fun in the mist surreal of settings of the tranquil town of McGregor.  Well done to Eulogy van Dyk and Con Viljoen for putting together this amazing three days of riding, which is actually much more than just riding as the whole community of McGregor jumps on board as the town is filled up with like-minded mountain bikers and family.

One just have to stop on the ride of Ride2Nowhere to take some photos or take in the scenery.

One just have to stop on the ride of Ride2Nowhere to take some photos or take in the scenery.

With “less” training on the bike than previously I wasn’t sure what to expect from the body for 3 days of riding after the beating it took at the previous Sunday at the Feadhelath MTB Challenge at Meerendal Wine Estate over the Tygerberg MTB Trails – Let’s just say pain and suffering on the massage table. Anyway back to day 1 of Ride2Nowhere. This was a real tough day as we rode 61km with 1700m’s of climbing over rocky and technical terrain that brought back Absa Cape Epic memories. What made it even more challenging were the wind, rain and ice cold conditions on top of the mountain, but there was no quitting as we toughed it out to the finish line.

Day 2 was slightly longer at 68km’s (and perhaps due to some awesome red wine i.e. Lords Shiraz) with the same

As always Lords Winery were at the order of the day

As always Lords Winery were at the order of the day

amount of climbing but with some beautiful riding and in the words of Event

All over the race villages were these and similar motivational/inspirational poster - and I mean everywhere

All over the race villages were these and similar motivational/inspirational poster – and I mean everywhere

Director: “It’s always very difficult to explain why McGregor or why come and do this race, but it is only once you are here and experience it that you understand why we love it here.” No truer words spoken, the changes to day 3 were phenomenal and I will be back in 2016 to experience the Ride2Nowhere and McGregor for the 5th time. Hope you will join me in what is a wonderful weekend of more than just Mountain Biking.

 

We stayed at McGregor Backpackers (www.mcgregorbackpackers.co.za)with the Norman family (Andrew, Dianne and Tristan) that arranged the accommodation and on their recommendation, it was super fantastic and owners Dorothy and Geoff were friendly and accommodating and please check out their website and if you thinking of visiting McGregor – this is the place to stay! Well done to Andrew Norman as well for finishing his 1st stage race and sorry Tristan that you unfortunately fell ill, next year a must do again (No waiting for dad 😉 ).

Well done on completing that 1st stage race Mr. Andrew Norman!

Well done on completing that 1st stage race Mr. Andrew Norman!

Although I missed my mates there from last year, it truly was another magnificent weekend that we are privileged enough with to experience through the association with mountain biking and the sport.  Thanks to Jan du Toit that helped me with my KTM activities at the event and always there to help and support us at the water points.

 

All and all once of the penned in dates on my calendar and hopefully in 2016 my other mates will be up to it and join us.

Part of the climb on day 1 ...

Part of the climb on day 1 …

On another note, I came to realise that the water bottles I am currently using on my bike (as pictured) is a bit dilapidated so I decided to ride the 2016 Absa Cape Epic for some new ones.

At this time of posting the blog, I hope my riding partner Thinus Crafford is out training….

Apparently I have the official right to use this ;)

Apparently I have the official right to use this 😉 oh and hopefully get some new water bottles

Life happens…

Dear Diary it has been 4 weeks since any physical activity in the form of exercise that includes cycling and or cardio in the gym and I can only blame life. Having packed my bag for gym the previous night I tossed and turned this morning, I’m lying, I only turned and the decision was made that I did not feel like going to gym this morning – and yes my clothes are fitting a lot tighter than before. I will have to investigate the washing powder I am using as surely it has nothing to do with living the dream from entertaining clients at the Absa Cape Epic, flying to Taiwan for the Taipei Bike Show and or being sick with flu for the last week and a bit. Nothing I tell you.  Before I continue I would like to apologise to the readers I might have on this blog, as per the exercise I have been neglecting the writing as I need to find that inspiration again for both instances.

 

Riding with the JAGFoundation and the Ride4Change campaign with Stefan Sahm and Timo Cooper

Riding with the JAGFoundation – JAGRiders programme in Bonteheuwel – and the Ride4Change campaign with Stefan Sahm and Timo Cooper

Spending the day at Absa Cape Epic registration representing Mitas. Pictured here with David & Johan Labuschagne, Janka Stevkova, Pavel Nosek (Mitas Czech Republic), Yolande de Villiers and myself. Janka and Yolande from SasolRacing went on to finish 3rd in the Absa Cape Epic

Spending the day at Absa Cape Epic registration representing Mitas. Pictured here with David & Johan Labuschagne, Janka Stevkova, Pavel Nosek (Mitas Czech Republic), Yolande de Villiers and myself. Janka and Yolande from SasolRacing went on to finish 3rd in the Absa Cape Epic

Anyway no excuse as around the corner is the 4th annual Arabella Challenge followed by the Houwhoek Tour a week later, so needless to say gravity and fitness might play a factor as to how I perform at these events. These events are a must on my calendar and I won’t miss it for the world, so join us if you can. With winter encroaching us slowly here in Cape Town riding in the early mornings are becoming more and more challenging due to the cold and especially the darkness which plays a major factor in safety on the bike obviously. So finding that inspiration and digging deep to go out there has been a real challenge, I do blame the flu I picked up coming back from Taiwan though. No I did not wear the ‘mask’ as you commonly see out there. I did try the beer and some of the local cuisine. No factor in shrinking clothes. (Now if only I didn’t donate all my ‘bigger’ clothes after the 2014 Absa Cape Epic weight loss saga. Fortunately Lycra stretches)

 

The sights and sounds of Taipei at night

The sights and sounds of Taipei at night

Spending some time at the Taipei Bike Show meeting up with KTM HQ Austria and KTM Asia

Spending some time at the Taipei Bike Show meeting up with KTM HQ Austria and KTM Asia

To some up my life the last four weeks: Last bike ride 12 March with the JAG Foundation and Ride4Change, and then the Absa Cape Epic activation and sponsor hosting of Pavel from Mitas until the 16th at the event that did involve some cold beers and eating out. Fly out to Taiwan for the Taipei Bike Show on the 17th and return on the 22nd, and of course eating out and having a cold beer or wine with the KTM guys and traveling colleague. After nearly 24hours traveling time; land on the 22nd at 16:00 and be at the Absa Cape Epic after party at 16:30 till late followed by wrap up day with Mitas and the family to ensure everyone is on their planes. Tuesday 24th break down KTM Bicyle display at The Westin Cape Town, Wednesday and Thursday catch up with some old friends, which meant Tequila was involved and still fighting off jet lag. Friday and the flu hits to have me man down the whole weekend and week to follow and withdraw from the crazy idea that was running the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon and then finally get back on the bike Easter Friday with Eulogy van Dyk from the Ride2Nowhere (Event not to miss as well), still flu-ish and then mechanical after 7km which meant organising another bike for the Saturday ride, with the 22km ride ending in the wind and rain encouraging the flu to stay longer. Easter Sunday potjiekos with mates and Monday lunch at The Toad in the Village and here we are…life just flew by in a few weeks.

 

Local cuisine at KTM dinner, can't quite remember what this was

Local cuisine at KTM dinner, can’t quite remember what this was

Also local cuisine as it was bought in Taipei. Has nothing to do with my experience currently of a heavier gravitational pull from Mother Earth

Also local cuisine as it was bought in Taipei. Has nothing to do with my experience currently of a heavier gravitational pull from Mother Earth

I think all of us have different challenges in life for different reasons and that does play a factor in ones state of mind and behaviour. The only thing we know is that life goes on and it does not wait for you and you need to go out there and make things happen to what you desire and belief that you want out of life, i.e. a washing powder that does not shrink your clothes.

Now that is enough preaching from me as I have some big decisions to make and the first being will I go to gym after work. The bag is packed so I might as well go see if I can still survive the super circuit and then go charge those cycling lights.

 

Hopefully I will be back on track and be able to give some feedback on the next challenge and life adventure and Chantel Rall I’m still not totally convinced Iron Man is for me…#Swimming

 

View from the top of the Taipei Garden hotel

View from the top of the Taipei Garden hotel

As South Africans do we found a pub, even if it was English it was the closest to home and even had Super Rugby on the TV, and of course cold beer

As South Africans do we found a pub, even if it was English it was the closest to home and even had Super Rugby on the TV, and of course cold beer

 

 

 

Taipei1

The MRT is a bit busy on a Saturday in Taipei and maybe I should have worn the mask to fight off the impeding flu

The MRT is a bit busy on a Saturday in Taipei and maybe I should have worn the mask to fight off the impeding flu

A bit more of Taipei City, also known as a enormous flea market

A bit more of Taipei City, also known as a enormous flea market

Recovering at Stage 9 of the Absa Cape Epic, the after party. Best way to combat jet lag i thought.

Recovering at Stage 9 of the Absa Cape Epic, the after party. Best way to combat jet lag i thought.

Taipei10

Unfortunately Marius Hurter was nowhere in sight when I had to break down the KTM display at The Westin Cape Town

Unfortunately Marius Hurter was nowhere in sight when I had to break down the KTM display at The Westin Cape Town

Energy Management

11053516_10152591360285951_926697713234113573_nThe theory and implementation of energy management – more about that later, let’s start off with the challenging week of devastation for so many in the Cape Peninsula region with the Cape Fire raging and destroying over 4000 hectares of vegetation and so forth. When I got up early last Sunday morning for the Cape Town Cycle Tour Mountain Bike event I saw this orange glow on the mountain and thinking to myself, shucks, fire on the mountain. Little did I know or think about was damage this little orange glow on the mountain would cause over the next few days. It is really sad to see this beautiful landscape being destroyed, and yes fires are a common occurrence and good for the vegetation etc. (Fynbos and fire) as stated by one of my friends on Facebook, it is just sad that the effect of this fire were on such a large scale and so to my friend living on the other side with a view of

Fire raging above Swaanswyk in Tokai

Fire raging above Swaanswyk in Tokai

Smoke from the fire in Tokai on Wednesday

Smoke from the fire in Tokai on Wednesday

Table Mountain, people were making a big hoo-ha about the fire as they were affected by it personally and not looking from afar. BIG KUDOS to the fireman, volunteers and all emergency services for doing their utmost to try and contain these runaway fires fuelled by the howling South Easter. You guys are all true heroes and I will ride the shortened Cape Town Cycle Tour out of respect and admiration for all you have done and solidarity shown in caring for your community and environment. (#‎Showyoucaresolidarityride)

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M3 was standing still and the whole of Tokai cover in smoke

 

Now a lot of people and animals were affected by this natural (or un-natural) disaster and your support is needed and required to help those affected. And myself getting along with most of the animal kind creatures, except snakes, spiders, crocodiles, house cats, mosquitos and some homo sapiens please pledge and support to Four Paws South Africa. Here is to the human spirit in never giving up!

 

Back to the energy management statement, so last Saturday morning I joined The Westin Cape Town, Rob Kucera and team for a breakfast ride with former Springbok rugby player and avid extreme endurance sport nutter, and a tighthead prop, Marius Hurter his endurance event participation. Now Marius does not stand back for a challenge and is once again taking on the Absa Cape Epic, this time with former Welsh number eight, Colin Charvis. During our ride some of our co-riders sprinted off and we started chatting about how some guys just go flat out and us bigger boys need to look after

Breakfast ride with Marius Hurter, Kirsten Curtis, Anthony van Schalkwyk, Caroline van Schalkwyk, Phat Boy, Rob Kucera & Grant Curtis

Breakfast ride with Marius Hurter, Kirsten Curtis, Anthony van Schalkwyk, Caroline van Schalkwyk, Phat Boy, Rob Kucera & Grant Curtis

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Turning at the top of Suikerbossie. If only we knew what would transpire we should have gone up Chappies

ourselves and reserve our energy to make sure we get to the end of an endurance event, thus the energy management application or theory to not over exhort oneself if there is no need to. Like at the Absa Cape Epic – get off you bike and push it up the steep hill, no need to try and ride it, still a long way and many days left for instance. No need to rush if you are just riding to finish, why get the heart rate up too high, just unnecessary energy wasting. Anyway, if only I listened to myself and wasn’t brave and confident at the Cape Town Cycle Tour Mountain Bike on Sunday and pedalled up those steep short hills. Bad decision making like the Lions in the final few minutes against the Stormers, the result could have been different and so the same for me – at 40km there was this sudden brick wall across the trails that I hit flat on! And that was it, trying to recover after pushing oneself to this point is futile and I struggled to get myself to the 55km finish line, but I did and probably ate a week’s food in one afternoon. Never again will I break the code and push myself beyond the energy management limits. Our big boys like suffering, but within our own a

The breakfast and talk by Marius on his preparation for the Absa Cape Epic and other endurance events as a non pro and bigger built person

The breakfast and talk by Marius on his preparation for the Absa Cape Epic and other endurance events as a non pro and bigger built person

If I'm not smiling on this photo at the finish of the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB it is because energy was depleted due to non coherence to the energy management principal

If I’m not smiling on this photo at the finish of the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB it is because energy was depleted due to non coherence to the energy management principal

cceptable levels and we need to keep our diesel engines fuelled.

Good luck to everyone riding the Cape Town Cycle Tour sprint edition this Sunday, know that there are bigger issues than riding a bike for 109km’s and appreciate the fact that we will be able to ride at all. To all those doing the 2015 Absa Cape Epic, know that I am suffering from some serious FOMO and I hope all goes well for you all.

 

No to refuel after all this typing, did someone say T-Bone steak …

It is what it is ;)

The heading is especially for my friend Nikki.

The time is now and as I am typing this blog post a I’m slightly concerned that I might not be prepared sufficiently for the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB event this Sunday and the road race on the 8th of March. That rolling over in bed option rather than getting out on the bike seems to have won more than it should have, and if you weight challenged like me you need all the quality preparation you can get when entering these events. Anyway, never having been scared of a challenge (besides going on blind dates) I should be ready to rock and roll or is that push and pedal…

 

We have a bike display at The Westin Cape Town for the period of the Cape Town Cycle Tour and Absa Cape Epic - go check it out if you can

We have a bike display at The Westin Cape Town for the period of the Cape Town Cycle Tour and Absa Cape Epic – go check it out if you can. Some great prizes to be won

I blame having send my mountain bike in for some tender loving care and being a week without it for not getting out there, not feeling the road bike vibe and bored of the gym has made me reluctant to be active. I know, lame excuse.  Eating habits have also not been great.

 

The next few weeks will be busy with all the activation around the events of the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Absa Cape Epic and hopefully the Cape Doctor would not be blowing too bad over this period.  Good luck to everyone participating in these events and I hope your preparation & training has been good.

 

Fantastic to see my tyre brand as official tyre supplier of the Absa Cape Epic. Rubena (Mitas)

Fantastic to see my tyre brand as official tyre supplier of the Absa Cape Epic. Rubena (Mitas)

So I have also been trying the running thing, outdoors that it, on an on and off basis and I’ve realised just how tough I have made it for myself by not being too active over recent years and especially running. Running always meant knee and back pain for me, and to confess, that has not changed at all is I have fought through numerous painful experiences of back and knee(s), coupled with tight calves and sore ankles in trying to get this whale body into running shape – a running event looms in the near future. Don’t want to reveal too much for fear of failure – but you know I will try and push all the way to do it. Can’t change anything up to know, the training is (was) what it is and can only go out and do it.

 

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
~ Henry Ford

Harvesting in Tokai forest has limited access to the trails

Harvesting in Tokai forest has limited access to the trails

Celebrated my birthday on my bike in the forest (before the Cape Town 10's and cold beer option were explored in the afternoon. Wasn't a good day for my diet)

Celebrated my birthday on my bike in the forest (before the Cape Town 10’s and cold beer option were explored in the afternoon. Wasn’t a good day for my diet)

Privileged

I was fortunate enough to join the exxaro mountain bike academy for a couple of days at their 2015 Absa Cape Epic training camp hosted by Day Trippers and what an amazing experience – that is besides the suffering on the bike with my non Absa Cape Epic ready body. The mission of the exxaro mountain bike academy is to introduce the mountain biking experience to historically disadvantaged communities and individuals, and ultimately assist to transform the sport in South Africa.

 

exxaro academy team at Oak Valley with the KTM boys from Pedal2Medal Bike School, Heiko Redecker & Swen Lauer

exxaro academy team at Oak Valley with the KTM boys from Pedal2Medal Bike School, Heiko Redecker & Swen Lauer

The talent among these riders are amazing and the opportunity given to them through exxaro is fantastic and I felt a little out of place with my ‘bigger’ body trying to keep up with the youngsters with some of them in a team (I won’t name names Jan and Philemon) weighing together still like 10kgs less than I do. Now try keeping up with that on a 10km climb like on Groenlandberg on Thursday. It was tough going but with the help of a head start and missing the Nuweberg climb I made it to the top and then we went further around for the next climb. And that is when I crashed. No not falling off my bike but hitting that wall everyone speaks of and I hit it really hard as I flat-lined with no energy to keep myself on my bike climbing the rough and rocky terrain. I understood then why Johan Labuschagne calls this specific climb, at the back of Groenlandberg towards Paul Cluver, ‘Bonk Alley’. BONK!

 

Made it to the top of the 10km Groenlandberg climb, if I knew what was to come I would have stayed at the top - Bonk Alley next up...

Made it to the top of the 10km Groenlandberg climb, if I knew what was to come I would have stayed at the top – Bonk Alley next up…

The exxaro riders placing their rocks at the top of Groenlandberg

The exxaro riders placing their rocks at the top of Groenlandberg

Now the important lesson here is to be prepared when you go riding. I joined the exxaro guys without doing my normal race preparation of proper nutrition beforehand, drinking my Pepto Sport in the hour leading up to the start and also not eating on the bike. I use this as an excuse for the self-inflicted suffering I experienced on the bike although it could also be because I tried to stick with the lightly weighted youngsters as we climb and climb.  Lesson – be prepared, keep on training and stop pressing that snooze button (like this morning again)

 

Heiko giving some advise to Rosie and Justice

Heiko giving some advise to Rosie and Justice

The colour orange very prominent, although disguised in green on the exxaro bikes :)

The colour orange very prominent, although disguised in green on the exxaro bikes 🙂

What was great on the day was the Pedal2Medal coach and KTM ambassador Swen Lauer as well as pro athlete and Namibian Champion, Heiko Redecker joined us on the day and spent some time with the riders for the 1st 40km’s of the ride. Thank you for your time guys and giving back to the young riders. Much appreciated.

 

So after a brief recovery day the Friday as I left the team for our year end function I joined them again for the Worcester loop on the Saturday. Much better prepared this time and perhaps the 1 or 2 beers of carbo loading (sorry Tim Noakes) helped me to a much better day on the bike as we re-conned sections of the 2015 Absa Cape Route. This time with much less time for the guys having to wait for me on the ride and although extremely hot and enjoyable day out – proper nutrition and hydrations plays a huge part in endurance riding, be prepared.

 

Time to wait and relax for the rest of the group...no I am not a group!

Time to wait and relax for the rest of the group…no I am not a group!

Yes! We were up there

Yes! We were up there

A big thank you for the guys for having me join them and I wish all of them the best and good luck for those that will make the 2015 exxaro Absa Cape Epic team and for the others to keep on trying and working hard towards your goals. exxaro is doing fantastic work for developing mountain biking in South Africa and to be involved, even in a small scale, is very rewarding and satisfying, especially if I think about my own journey although different in the sense that I had to opportunity and did it for lifestyle and personal challenges as a reason. For these guys it is an opportunity that could be life changing in more ways than one and being developed as riders and as people, exxaro must be commended for.

 

It has been a truly inspirational couple of days and now to get back more frequently on the bike and I’ll be at the 2015 Absa Cape Epic showing my support for the exxaro team.

 

Keep going guys!

Awesome day out on the bike

Awesome day out on the bike