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

Blown Away

Figuratively and literally blown away, what an amazing FNB Wines2Whales Adventure experience this year as the team from Stillwater Sports just keeps on improving on hosting the event and looking after the riders. Then of course the trails and changes in the route were a positive to have eliminated some of the tedious, and dare I say it, ‘horrible’ sections of the previous years. The riding was fantastic, so big up to Johan Kriegler, his team and the guys from Cape Trails. We do appreciate the hard work and effort put in that makes this another must ride event of the year. Congratulations to the W2W team and good luck with the Ride and Race. I am sure the riders will go away extremely pleased and ready to enter for 2015.

 

Looking fresh and relaxed prior the start at Lourensford Wine Estate (If only the trees knew what was about to ... hug them)

Looking fresh and relaxed prior the start at Lourensford Wine Estate (If only the trees knew what was about to … hug them) Thanks for the photo Cherie Vale

Now to the blown away part – as we checked the weather for the weekend we noticed that there would be a slight breeze blowing over the 3 days, called the Cape South Easter and as most in South Africa know, there is no such thing as a slight South Easter. The wind would be howling! Now after the 2013 mud wrestle through day 1 of Wines2Whales, the wind was just another challenge. The event could not have started better as my riding partner and I decided that our pre-race meal would be steak and red wine, as always a brilliant choice as we fluffed around with last minute logistics, packing and ensuring our KTM Scarp bikes (Beauty aka Princess and the Beast be in top shape for the event; and I am not cycling on Beauty, just saying) are prepped and Thinus making sure the misses, Loriaan and Thiaan the little one is all sorted in joining us at Arabella Hotel and Spa later on the Friday.

 

Good to catch up with coach Swen Lauer. Hope I did him proud with my 'Olympic' performance

Good to catch up with coach Swen Lauer. Hope I did him proud with my ‘Olympic’ performance

Anyway, we shoot through early morning to the start early morning and it was great to catch up with loads of familiar faces. Eventually we start and off we go on the first &^#@^&& of a climb and expecting it to be as bad as previously I was pleasantly surprised when the road was in prime condition and the climb got cut short by about 2kms – awesome. And then open space and wham! Straight into your face the slight 50km/h South Easter and the battle begins… We had a good day on the trails as the revised route was a breath of fresh air and Thinus did not fall too many times, not yet that is. Once over the historical Gantouw Pass the fun began as we hit single trail after single trail. Fantastic riding and even being blown around on the bike was not too bad as the fun element compensated for peddling harder into the wind at times. Day one done and dusted!

 

On the morning of day 2 as we left Arabella Hotel and Spa the golf flags were being bent over horizontally and we expected the slight breeze to provide a real challenge on the day. Day 2 is the fun day with 70% of the route being on single track and this is where my riding partner decided to be even more environmentally friendly as he would be known as The Tree Hugger after completion of this stage. I know one should not laugh at someone’s misfortune and it could turn out badly if one falls, but to see your cycling partner end up hanging onto a tree with the bike on top of him did have its hilarious moments…if only I rode with a video camera because there is more to come. We had another good day of fun on the bike, tree hugging aside and were looking forward to the last day. As it turned out one just accepts the wind, keep on riding; enjoy the spectacular single tracks and the tree hugging spectacle that goes with it to make it another memorable day.

Relaxing and recovering after day 1 at Arabella Hotel & Spa with some Skins recovery active socks. Thank you for those involved in organising the accommodation and Skins

Relaxing and recovering after day 1 at Arabella Hotel & Spa with some Skins recovery active socks. Thank you for those involved in organising the accommodation and Skins

 

Ready for day 2 action with single tracks galore

Ready for day 2 action with single tracks galore

Day 3 is supposed to be a fast day and after sorting out some last minute logistics again for that post-race transport we head on over Houw Hoek Pass in the slight drizzle, thinking: Oh my word, rain and wind! But fortunately the rain disappeared and we were only faced with fighting the South Easter on the bike, and of course those nasty trees that could jump at you looking for a cuddle or a hug. We raced off and after the 2nd water point Thinus got attacked by a sandy patch on the trail and the closest friend he could find was a lonely tree minding its own business just going through the photosynthesis process bru and then suddenly received a hug from a sweaty human trying not to nose dive into a sandy patch. Saved by the tree from an embarrassing dive into the sand pit, good save Thinus. Anyway I won’t go into too much detail on the route and the happenings out there, from suffering uphill (as I normally do) to racing at uncommonly high speeds through certain sections and smashing those fantastic single trails with technical brilliance, as I just wanted to say that this was an amazing event and thanks for riding with me Thinus.

 

Since my first Wines2Whales in 2011 I have shown a slight improvement in my mountain biking capabilities and form:

2011 – 25:17:48 (Yes that is 25 hours in the saddle over 3 days!)

2012 – 21:49:14 (Yes, still over 20 hours in the saddle)

2013 – 19:35.01 (Just made it under 20 hours and still weighed over 120kgs)

2014 – 15:01:35 Yeah Baby!

You all know about my journey and I am slightly lighter in weight than I used to be. It just shows that you can achieve something if you work hard towards it and align you with people that motivates and support you. So thanks to Evert Ferreira for riding with me over the first 3 Wines2Whales events and sticking with me patiently on the bike as I slugged on to the finish each day, appreciate the effort and support mate, and Wikkelspies for believing in me and encouraging me and always willing to go for a ride. Thanks to Thinus Crafford for this year pushing me (although he would deny it) to new levels of mountain bike riding throughout the year and to the Wines2Whales team for having me back each year after that first few races. To coach Swen Lauer for getting me on the right track and always helping with advise and support (Check out his training school – Pedal2Medal)

 

So the aim for next year would have to be to better the 15h mark. We finished 249th overall and 121st in our category. Super chuffed! Not that the results really matters as participating and completing it was all that it was about.

 

And not even the howling South Easter could damper and blow away the fun we had at the 2014 FNB Wines2Whales event.

Heading into Botrivier on the last day with Thinus for once not overshooting a corner #insideline

Heading into Botrivier on the last day with Thinus for once not overshooting a corner #insideline

Proud of his dads first Wines2Whales finish and probably will grow up to be a tree hugger ;)

Proud of his dads first Wines2Whales finish and probably will grow up to be a tree hugger 😉

Finished and proud of it!

Finished and proud of it!

Watt Bike?

So this morning I stroll into Virgin Active at Steenberg with the plan of spending an hour on the Watt Bike, you know because it is raining AGAIN outside. Well, first of all I don’t quite enjoy going to gym at the moment because every time I visit Virgin Active the scale tells me that I am slightly heavier than last time. I am convinced that since the Super Moon phenomena a week or so ago gravity sucks down on me even more, fact!

Well after the disappointment and resulted brought on depression I head over to the Watt Bikes, well it turned out to be Watt Bike. The other two apparently weren’t functional, anyway the bike is occupied so I settle for second best and go back to what we all used to use before the appearance of the Watt Bike – the spinning bike! Still depressed about the increased suction power of gravity I start doing my bike setup and then the friendly lady on the Watt Bike asks if I don’t want to use the bike, she is nearly finished with only 2 minutes left. In my best Vik Norval impression I say SURE. If not why not, the bike will be available.

Half a shelfie when one could actually go out and ride - look mom, no rain :)

Half a shelfie when one could actually go out and ride – look mom, no rain 🙂

So as time is running down on the two minutes and not wanting to stand around I sit on the spin bike waiting and then I see him approach. Now this guy I have seen every time I have been in the gym (which is quite often as it never stops raining) and I know he is heading for the Watt Bike – that is what he does. I have even encountered him moving from bike to bike as he could get his heart rate monitor working, with no regard to everyone around him that could have been contemplating using the bikes. Anyway, that particular day I stayed on the spin bike.

So the 2 minutes is up and the friendly lady looks over at me on the spin bike and says she is done, and then I pounce and get onto the Watt Bike for that extra effort, dry, indoor training. Unfortunately for the other guy I was first in line and I took up my right. Now this is where it gets weird as he is obviously disappointed, since there is only one Watt Bike available (And it’s mine!) and starts asking the staff to check if the other bike has been charged. No they say, it is also, not functional, like the other one. He starts going off that this is unacceptable and that how long does it take to fix and so forth. Not happy at all that someone else is actually suing the bike and not him, he says that he is training according to a program and needs the bike – really, and I am not. Anyway then he asks when the staff member when the gym is not busy and she tell him about 9-9:30 after the classes are finished and then: “Ok, I’m going home, I will be back then”.

Now I wish I could have been in the gym at 9-9:30 to actually see if the Watt Bike was available, because uhm – there is no guarantee it will be free and if you could train whenever you can , why be there at 5:30 like us normal working people. Good for him that he aims to stick to his training program but there was perfectly useable spinning bikes right there. So I am sorry that as a paying gym member I was first in line to enjoy the pain in my legs on the Watt Bike.

The whole incident caused a hoo-ha as the staff and fellow gym members couldn’t quite believe the guys reaction and behaviour as if it was his right to have a bike available to him in the gym. Well at least I did my hour on the bike and got my exercise in for the day, that is before Poker evening tonight which could result in the Watt Bike being available at 05:30 tomorrow morning (Although I suspect he will be there at 5am).

Now to stay clear of those carbs that crawled back into my life, no more rusks, biscuits or sandwiches – I will be lying if I say no more beer because that is just silly. Till next time and I am aiming to be back on the Watt Bike on Thursday – so beware!

Besides the weight gain depression my team also got smashed over the weekend in the ABSA Currie Cup

Besides the weight gain depression my team also got smashed over the weekend in the ABSA Currie Cup