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.

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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…

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

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

 

 

 

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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.

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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