No Speedy Beans Here – Ride2Nowhere here we come!

Two more days and back on the starting line for my favourite 3-day mountain biking event (Ride2Nowhere) and this year the team is complete with my fiancé, Dom able to ride and joining Andrew Norman and myself as we endeavour on a weekend of mountain biking fun, loads of wine, friends and great food. Not necessarily in that order.

Crossing the finish line for the 1st time at the inaugural Ride2Nowhere in 2012

I love this event and it will be my 8th year of participating (in its 8th year of existence) and what makes this even more special for me, besides the amazing trails, fantastic race village vibe, like- minded participants (racing not a priority) and awesome event organisers (Eulogy van Dyk and Con Viljoen) is perhaps the fact that I in some sort of manner have been involved since the inception of this bucket list event. Just love the whole concept and have come to know most of the community involved in making McGregor a destination every year in September.

 

My biggest fear this year is that I do not, for some unknown reason, cycle in hiking boots. Surely common sense should have prevailed by now. I am probably in my worst MTB fitness shape to take up the challenge since that inaugural experience in 2012 (And having to fight off a bout of flu last week did not help the last minute dot com training). But, hey we will be out in the middle of nowhere to have fun, enjoy the beautiful Karoo spring flowers (after all the rain) and make Paul Valstar wait for us at the finish line. Keeping him away from red wine as long as possible, if possible at all. Paul here’s to catching up with a few bottles of the red fermented grapes in the mix as per R2N tradition. (Does anyone know how to add cleats to hiking boots, would Duct tape hold it in place?) Did someone say muscle memory?

 

But seriously, so looking forward to this weekend, guiding and riding with Dom on the trails doing something we love together, suffering and up hills included on our mountain biking journey. (Patience Andrew, we will reward with cold beers). Staying at McGregor Backpackers again and our hosts Geoff and Dorothy are the best (even though they sprayed us off with ice cold water last year after the mud slide on the bike)

 

We doing it for the love of the ride! Andrew and Dom, are you excited yet!? I can’t wait.

See everyone in McGregor!

Below a few selective photos from my Ride2Nowhere journey since 2012

Help me support the McGregor Young Warriors. Raise fund on my GivenGain platform

Tsunami in the Klein Karoo

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Tsunami in the Klein Karoo

I’m not sure if I lost a friend or not. Imagine you are away for the weekend with all your mates chilling next to the pool and catching some rays in peace and quiet. Then suddenly out of nowhere in the middle of the Klein Karoo and enormous wave of water splashes unexpectedly over you. Drenched in the remnants of the tsunami you see the Adventure Whale bobble out of the water, what would you do? Yes, the cause of the tsunami was me as my current big massed body displaced the water from the pool onto my friends. No choice words were verbally heard, but I do have a suspicion that some may be utter inside their minds. Sorry my friends (especially Nikki), but I could not resist…SPLASH!

We visited the guest farm, 360on62 as a group of friends supporting our friend, Nikki Ferreira’s friends, Brendan Connellan and Dale Fraser which subsequently now also became our friends. The set up on the farm is amazing, the hosts went out of their way to make us all feel welcome as we utilised the swimming pool and Lapa to the max.  Besides the pool, Lapa and more than enough braai wood (which is the measuring tool myself and Evert Ferreira rate places at) the outside shower and the beautiful scenery, the whole farm getaway is fantastic. Simple and clean accommodation, the quietness of nature with a million stars overhead at night makes your stay pleasurable.

Going away does not mean one does not have to train and the host were more than accommodating in taking us on a MTB ride in the surrounding area. Have to keep working on that fitness and to work off the beverages consumed the night before. Some of us rode both days as others deemed rest in bed the better form of recovery from the night before…enough said. Some others had the intention of running, but only it stayed just intentions as the one and only Toby Murphy took to the trails without the likes of athletes in training Matt Bush and Evert Ferreira.

I also were fortunate enough to be at the Knysna Bull this past weekend and discover a gem of an event, unfortunately I was not riding but supporting the sponsors invited guests with bicycle and people transfers. Next year we will be riding it Mr. Andrew Norman…finding that workers we need. Here we also managed to fit in two rides, one up the Phantom Pass and the other through the local schools’ purposely built single track. Again amazing to stay at Paradise Found Guest House and the hosts, Johan and Dirkie, were amazing in going riding with us as well.

Back home and another tsunami hits – hello back and pinched nerve. At least I hope it is all it is as at this stage it looks like no Cape Town Cycle Tour for me. Numbness, pain and immobility in the back and leg makes one appreciate the times you had where you could go out and ride, i.e. at 360on62 and at Paradise Found with my family and friends.

 

I might have to fall back on the words of 5 time Cape Epic winner, Karl Platt; Eat less, train more – if only I can get this broken body training…and perhaps stretch and strengthen the core…sound so easy.

 

See you all soon on the bike again!

Phat Boys – Nowhere to hide

Thank G… arnett that I don’t have to be on my bike today J

Will i be able to survive 8 days of courage with this bloke on my left...looking forward to a tough and great week Thinus

Will i be able to survive 8 days of courage with this bloke on my left…looking forward to a tough and great week Thinus

A few days left before the start of an unforgettable adventure and I know my riding partner Thinus is super excited and also nervous, and so am I as well. To finally get to the starting point of 6 months of disciplined training and sacrifices to friends and family is daunting and that drive to finish all 8 days exhilarating. I think the biggest challenge on Sunday would be to hold back Thinus from not shooting out of the starting blocks like the Greyhound (“Die Windhond”) we know that he is from the excitement of being on live TV for the first time (Supersport 6 from 09:30 – 14:00) oh! and of course to have gotten to the start of a life dream and bucket list event could also play a part. For those that want to follow our adventure, our prologue start time is 08:11 on Sunday 13 March, our race number is 321 and you can follow the race live through Tracker.

 

From a form point of view I should be feeling confident as I completed the Cape Town Cycle Tour of 109km’s in a personal best time of 3:30 in my 5th attempt at this race. Taking 23 minutes of my previous best time in 2014, I am also confident that Thinus is in top shape, which could spell tough times for me trying to keep up with the speedster. Here is where we have to say thank you to coach Alasdair Garnett from The Practise, keeping us focussed and well trained, we appreciate your input and effort and we both wish that you and Gretha could have been in the race with us. That would have been fantastic; we wish you well and know we will be thinking of you, all the best for your personal challenges ahead, we sure all will go well.

Not too a bad time for a Phat Boy at the Cape Town Cycle Tour... now I can retire from this event

Not too a bad time for a Phat Boy at the Cape Town Cycle Tour… now I can retire from this event

Live well, eat well and play hard, so after the race on Sunday some great company at the Westin Cape Town as we consumed some Burgers and Beer for recovery

Live well, eat well and play hard, so after the race on Sunday some great company at the Westin Cape Town as we consumed some Burgers and Beer for recovery

 

To KTM Bike Industries and Mitas Tyres for giving us the opportunity to ride the event and for all the support through all the relevant persons involved here, Johan, Greg, Willie, Pavel and Morné from The Bicycle Company sorting out and handling our numerous outrages requests. Thanks Morné and team, your support has been fantastic. To all my family as well from backing me and following my journey and putting up with me (all my sisters will know). To my mate Rich from Freewheel Cycology and crew for sorting my bike out with a proper pre-epic service and making sure I’m all ready and set up to go.

So my partner had this brain wave to thank our supporters through doing some special for them - great T-shirt TC

So my partner had this brain wave to thank our supporters through doing some special for them – great T-shirt TC. Thanks for the awesome shirts Canterbury (CCC)

To our mates in our cycling group thanks for all the support so far and backing us even though some of you support the wrong rugby teams. Kuc thanks for all those weekend rides, always a pleasure and great fun and next year is your turn. Wikkelspies for always having my back and eager to join in the riding over the weekends and getting me on a bike in the first place. Andrew we’ve missed the riding all the events we did in the past thank for the support and always encouraging words to keep us going. Eben I know would have loved to still be riding with us over the weekends and riding Camels in Egypt is just not the same as mountain biking, we know you miss it, hang in there and thanks for the support. Ev, my partner in crime and for months supplier of free beer at the braai, you have done so much for us with regards to apparel and always eager to help and sort things out, we need to get you back on the bike, sure Nikki can handle the tribe over weekends 🙂 Thanks for all your support Nix. Marilize we haven’t forgotten you, we know you always there to make things happen. Vik, Richard and Rodney from Creative Workshop – just saying lunch is on me after the epic and there will be Tequila, you guys are legendary.

 

Thinus also have so many people that are supporting him (us), I might not know all so if I miss someone I do apologise as all of you have supported Thinus and the Phat Boys in so many ways. First of all Lolla who had to be a Cape Epic widow for close to 6 months, your support has been amazing and we could not have done it without your support and involvement and encouragement . It must have been tough at times and the sacrifice made is appreciated. I’m sure Thiaan more than did his part in Thinus’ journey to the start on Sunday. Thanks to Loriaan’s family and the Lutzville Hotel for their support, Nolan and family from the Tyger Valley Cadence Cycling Performance Centre, André and the guys from Thinus’ work, Intaprop, thanks gents, much appreciated. Morajane du Plessis attorneys and Gerra with the support from Jo-Rie, Hannes and Paula and Pieter and Liesel, Riaan Gouws and everyone that Lolla has added onto the WhatsApp group that I might have missed.

 

I’m now tired of typing and saying thank you, if I missed anyone it was not on purpose and I apologise as I am still sulking after the T20 lost to Australia last night and might not be totally refocused on the cycling side of things.

My friend Chantel Rall were also supposed to be on the start line with us, but unfortunately her cancer returned and all my thoughts and wishes are with her. Hang in their Chantz and loads of love, we will miss you in the start chute but will hopefully see you at the finish line again. #LoveChanty

 

Let the adventure begin.

 

PS: Belia, if we (when) we make it to the finish line on the 3rd, please make sure it us Ultra Mel custard that is on that Malva Pudding…

Start of the 55km to be completed in 3:48 with a tumble or two

Start of the 55km to be completed in 3:48 with a tumble or two

Breakfast at The Westin Cape Town for the media launch of Columbia as partner of the Absa Cape Epic Pictured are Jeremy Harris of KFM, Rob Kucera General Manager and cycling training buddy and a Phat Boy)

Breakfast at The Westin Cape Town for the media launch of Columbia as partner of the Absa Cape Epic Pictured are Jeremy Harris of KFM, Rob Kucera General Manager and cycling training buddy and a Phat Boy)

Early morning selfie

Early morning selfie

Minglong with the who's who at the Columbia breakfast. Amazing journey by Fat Kid on a Bike aka Ron Rutland

Minglong with the who’s who at the Columbia breakfast. Amazing journey by Fat Kid on a Bike aka Ron Rutland

A great night at the cricket with some mates, pity we lost against the Aussies

A great night at the cricket with some mates, pity we lost against the Aussies

Riding through the burnt landscape of Simonsberg at the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge.

Riding through the burnt landscape of Simonsberg at the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge.

Ice Cream, Gum Guards and Mud Slides

The KTM Boys and Peter ;) From left to right: Myself, Rob Kucera, Thinus Crafford, Peter Varrie (Recover soon Peter - he had a bad fall), Andrew Rogers and Marius Hurter

The KTM Boys and Peter 😉 From left to right: Myself, Rob Kucera, Thinus Crafford, Peter Varrie (Recover soon Peter – he had a bad fall), Andrew Rogers and Marius Hurter

As most know I attempted my 5th Wines2Whales Adventure this weekend and to ensure it was a real challenge numerous obstacles were thrown my way, some self-inflicted and others from the Loving Mother Nature.  Now for protection from my numerous fans rooting for my athletic success I won’t mention the names of my friends that forced alcohol down my throat in the lead up week to the event. Yes, there was Tequila involved when I found myself out on a great evening Tuesday night and then the next day there was some more of the beautiful gold coloured liquid from Mexico, which brings us to Thursday and race registration and one cannot be unsociable and must enjoy a few beers with your mates and friends you haven’t seen in ages.

Big to smaller in the Ice Cream challenge; Marius, Rob, myself and Thinus in the start chute before we are about to ackle the race defining hill) Photo Credit: Alexa CunningHAM!)

Big to smaller in the Ice Cream challenge; Marius, Rob, myself and Thinus in the start chute before we are about to ackle the race defining hill) Photo Credit: Alexa CunningHAM!)

 

So Friday arrived and up the mountain we went (400m climbing in the 1st 5km, which is “moerse baie”!) on what would turn out to be a memorable adventure. Myself and riding partner Thinus Crafford had a social bet in racing against Rob Kucera and Marius Hurter (Rocking the orange of KTM Bicycles), the prize a 2l tub of ice cream to each member of the winning team. Now with both of them 100kg or slightly above we thought we were really in with a shot of tasting that sweet ice cream of success. But that was not to be. Rob and Marius rode a tactical superb race as they gunned it from the start, exploiting my climbing weakness and conquering the hill and leaving us behind eating dust, literally and figuratively. Now not making excuses at all but around 40km into the race I hit a solid brick wall so to speak, no energy and nowhere to plug in to recharge, coupled with that a stomach that wasn’t appreciative of my lifestyle choices earlier in the weak, my fastest gear on the day was granny gear and that was just to keep forward motion in trying to reach the finish line on day 1.  So day 1 was not pretty as I had to tough it out through keeping a stomach in check and to make it even more challenging a back that decided pain in the lower back at every little incline is what you will experience. Any hopes of catching the ice cream leaders were ripped from my mind as I struggled up the Gantouw pass step by step with no energy and having to rest to stretch an aching back every few steps. A BIG thank you to Thinus who came down to fetch my bike and pushed both bikes up the pass resulting in hamstring cramps for him a bit later as we started on the single track stretch. I say thank you, but I missed my bike to lean on whenever the pain got too much. Thanks TC, we might still have been on the mountain if you did not come down to help. We limbered to the finish at granny pace, knowing that the next day could only be better. But enough about me on day 1, Thinus decided to fall like three times, mostly in sandy patches and for no reason at all. It did pay off at the end as the photo we posted of him in his natural state resulting in him winning a new Suunto Traverse watch and head lights. Worth the pain I would say.

What one looks like when you look for all the dusty sandy places to fall.

What one looks like when you look for all the dusty sandy places to fall.

Thinus made it on stage to mince a few words with Max Cluer on why he is such a filthy person

Thinus made it on stage to mince a few words with Max Cluer on why he is such a filthy person

Great prize to win. Thanks Suunto for his new Traverse watch

Great prize to win. Thanks Suunto for his new Traverse watch

Having had a proper meal and big meal on Friday night in the Food Lovers riders tent and cleansed the body of all the poison’s elements in the system, I was ready for day 2 which was evident on the climb out of the race village as my partner thought he was still going to wait for me as I sped past him to continue the drive to make up time in the ice cream challenge. Now Marius prior to the race told us to make sure we have our gum guards for the ice cream challenge as it will be tough out there and we should be ready. We pushed ourselves in trying to make up time as we both are pretty good technical riders and today was a single track play day. The previous evening rain fell and at some stage I found myself sliding sideways though mud on approach to a single track entrance, I knew this was going to be a fun day. Having gotten control back of the bike I dually got off and walk the remainder until we could ride again. We did really well and after the 3 falls on day one, Thinus managed to fall only once today and that in a switchback with a spectator crowd from opposite the gorge letting him know that they saw him fall. In fairness, it wasn’t quite his fault as the rider in front of him stopped in the middle of the switchback. Hampering our progress that dreaded lower back pain attacked again which made climbing tedious and painful with me having to get off the bike at times to stretch out my back in the hope it will become better. It did not, but on we went and we would have made my brother-in-law Johan Labuschagne proud as we even skipped two water points in our quest to taste that ice cream. It did not quite work as we were 3 minutes slower than the pair from Team Westin, Rob and Marius but it was a much closer day after the 30min we lost on day 1.

Felt much better day 2 after proper nourishment in recharging my small body. Great food from Food Lovers

Felt much better day 2 after proper nourishment in recharging my small body. Great food from Food Lovers

We all stayed at the lover Arabella Hotel and Spa during the event which resulted in some quality time spent with great people at an awesome venue. Thanks to Wayne and his staff for looking after us and to the support team of Marilize, Hannetjie and the Hurter kids. Over the weekend we have been watching the weather closely, even closer than most farmers would do, and heavy rain was predicted. To our surprise on Sunday the weather seemed cleared and we were distrustful of the weather man and his predictions. How wrong were we, with word of approaching rain we stood in the start chute (with just a cycling jersey on me) hoping it would stay away. Then after racing to position ourselves over the first kilometre the rain started to come down and wind picked up. Did someone say summer (Southern Hemisphere) and it is 1 November! Where the freaking heck did that storm come from, gale force winds with rain pelting into the exposed parts of your body (which in Lycra is a lot) with slippery mud forming with every drop of rain. Now Mr. Ride-and-Fall apparently had a fall at the Houw Hoek switchbacks which I did not see, but the next fall was the worst of all. Importantly he did not wear his mouth guard for the challenge and as I came up the trail being naturally slower I saw his bike in the bushes and no rider and then him lying on the ground, knocked out cold. Yes it is serious as it could have been worse, fortunately Thinus was okay and we moved him out of the way to the side of the trail to find himself after he has been very groggy.  After a couple of

Fantastic to be able to stay at Arabella Hotel and Spa. Thanks Wayne to you and your team for always great service

Fantastic to be able to stay at Arabella Hotel and Spa. Thanks Wayne to you and your team for always great service

minutes we decided to move on the next water point as it did not make sense to sit around in the pouring freezing rain. We moved on at my pace, which is very slow for him and once we fought off the elements we approached the doctor at the next water point with Thinus disappearing into the ambulance for a private interview from the doc to make sure he weren’t concussed. Fortunately all was good and he could actually remember his partners’ name. Thanks for the help Alexa Cunningham to get the doc to look at Thinus. Off we went from there to slip slide our way through numerous muddy trails with me tucking and rolling to avoid a tree stump a slid onwards toward the finish line. For good measure Thinus took his 3rd tumble on the day as we rode over the waterfall section, fortunately that was that for the day as we made it to the finish matching the time of Team Westin on the day but still having the day 1 gap separating us as we ended and adventure full of character testing challenges and fighting the extremes of the weather in the Cape.

 

From big to smaller again as we "represented' our tyre sponsor in Mitas Tyres

From big to smaller again as we “represented’ our tyre sponsor in Mitas Tyres

Lessons learned from this experience is that when you are an athlete in training, try and avoid Tequila in the lead up to your event as it comes back to haunt you, make sure you wear a gum guard if you are a serial faller off your mountain bike and mud sliding can be fun but also dangerous and make sure I have a gas mask ready for sharing a room with my riding partner at the 2016 Absa Cape Epic (You all know who I am talking about)

The FNB Wines2Whales is an awesome 3 day stage race and I have been privileged enough to know have completed five of these. Thank Michael Meyer and the Stillwater team for your support and putting together such a world class event.

 

PS: Don’t tell my pharmacist sister I rode the last day on pain pills to get to the end also bad luck to Andrew Norman who had to pull out on day 2. I know you were really looking forward to doing the event. Next time. To Ashleigh Haigh-Smith good luck in doing all 3 events, you will be super fit come this Sunday and lastly, do you think Marius and Rob would mind if I courier the ice cream to them…

After conquering the extreme weather conditions, nothing beats a hot shower - dirty apparel included

After conquering the extreme weather conditions, nothing beats a hot shower – dirty apparel included

Chasing “Die Windhond”

Now “Die Windhond” or translated to Queens English, The Greyhound, is a nickname we in our cycling friends group have given my riding partner Thinus Crafford. Why you would ask, well it is quite apparent, once he is released he disappears off into the distance like a Greyhound chasing a fake tasteless rabbit on a race track and there is no stopping him. Don’t get me wrong I am not dissing my friend, he is a great riding partner and has loads of patience to hold back and wait for the whale who is currently in a rebuilding phase, well okay on a weight loosing and fitness regaining phase and it is always great to ride with TC (and for that matter all my other mates). It must be tough on “Die Windhond” to be caged and held back when all you want to do is speed of at full tilt once the starting gates have opened. So respect to my mate.

Chasing "Die Windhond" and catching him - inconceivable

Chasing “Die Windhond” and catching him – inconceivable

So why I am bringing this matter up and posting it to go viral, it is my commitment to try and catch up with him. To go back to all the things I posted and preached here on training discipline, commitment and eating right, but all in balance with not taking out the enjoyment factor of training, being fit and mountain biking with friends. After trying to keep up these last two weekends at the Arabella Challenge and Houw Hoek Tour, I realised I better get my act together again. Will I ever catch up with “Die Windhond”, I don’t know but I am sure as hell going to try. Apparently, according to cycling fundi Shaun Roos I don’t push myself to the extremes that I can, Have Shaun not heard of the energy management philosophy I cycling by… (Always have some in reserve you never know when you might need it, no need to cycle up a 20degree climb at 100% max heart rate, but I do get his point which I just choose to ignore)

Always there when riding

Always there when riding

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These two are nuts

Back to me trying to catch up with The Greyhound, I present Newton’s Second Law: Newton’s second law of motion pertains to the behaviour of objects for which all existing forces are not balanced. The second law states that the acceleration of an object is dependent upon two variables – the net force acting upon the object and the mass of the object. The acceleration of an object depends directly upon the net force acting upon the object, and inversely upon the mass of the object. As the force acting upon an object is increased, the acceleration of the object is increased. As the mass of an object is increased, the acceleration of the object is decreased.
Simply put, if Thinus and I am cycling, pedalling with the same force, the 30kg that I am heavier than him will affect the acceleration or speed I will be moving at than he, as a light weight will be accelerating or moving at. So for me to keep up with his speed I would need to use more force, which would take more energy (we are moving into E=MC² territory here) and with energy depletion I would have to be super, super fit to maintain that over the normal mountain biking distances ridden and thus back to my energy management philosophy. Either I get quickly halfway or I go at a sustainable pace to the end and enjoy the ride…

Where the legend of "Die Windhond" all began

Where the legend of “Die Windhond” all began

Anyway I am working hard to bring down the mass equilibrium whilst increasing the force to be able to catch that fake rabbit on the dog track trails and then “Die Windhond” so we could kick some butt again come the Ride2Nowhere and Berg & Bush mountain bike rides later in the year. Will I ever catch “Die Windhond”? Unless he suddenly puts on 30kg and/or drink a barrel of wine before a race, I don’t think so. What I do know,  is that I will be on the trails and I know he will be there as well as we go on our 2015 mountain biking adventures. Perhaps not always in the same time zone, but on the same trails, enjoying that we are able to explore and experience chasing anything but fake rabbits in the great outdoors.

What cycling friends do in the bush, even "Die Windhond" made it onto this phot

What cycling friends do in the bush, even “Die Windhond” made it onto this photo