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

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

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!

Polar Bears Can Be Beaten…

No! It has nothing to do with seal clubbing or similar non approved activities.

Legend has it that in a one on one confrontation with a Polar Bear, Homo sapiens are most likely to lose, for obvious reasons that is – not in this case. As I rolled out of my warm and snug bed this morning after being awake for far too long before the insanely set alarm for 5am was supposed to go off, I just moaned and felt sorry for myself. You know, that question we all ask ourselves, why me?
Why do I have to be cursed to gain fat by just looking at other people eating something fatty, why me. But in the words of Bakkies Botha; “toughen up”, and that is what I did.

So using the warm water to wet my heart rate monitor nodes, yes hot water – such a beautiful thing, I continue to dress myself like I’m about to embark on an expedition to the North – or South Pole and in all the brightest neon colours (pity I didn’t take a photo, but imagine this, neon red compression socks to cover most of the exposed parts of the leg, white, blue and red iPlay fair bib shorts, neon green/yellow jacket to cover up the layers of base layer, arm warmers and cycling top) and the most important Polar bear repellent – my GribGrab Microfleece Cap. THE BEST! Warm ears – Fantasties! (That is Afrikaans for fantastic as Vik Norval would say).

Keep the cold off your precious skull and ears with a Microfleece cap like this.

Keep the cold off your precious skull and ears with a Microfleece cap like this.

Polar bear defeated as I got myself to go and ride in the cold and dark. After the weekends riding and experiencing that burning sensation in the lungs that I haven’t felt in ages I just decided that I had to get on the bike and out of the glass cage they call a gym. I need to up my game to keep up with my riding partner Thinus Crafford as a lot is at stake with the challenge we have thrown out to Rob Kucera and Andrew Rogers. And perhaps the fact that I have gained 3kg after the Absa Cape Epic could also have played a small role. Now to keep it up and watch each day become brighter earlier after the Winter Solstice that just passed. I still haven’t seen any Sloths out on the road, ordinary or sedentary…

It might not be the safest riding alone in the dark but who would mess with a neon coloured whale on a 29er KTM Mountain Bike.

PS: It seems it is coldest in the area where the rich people live; you know the area where the dog bit me, Consta….. oh, and if your mind set is right you can keep your training going through adverse conditions.

I started my comeback with a 35km ride this morning!

For the Cape Tonians, this can be bought at Cycle Lab Tyger Manor in Durbanville

For the Cape Tonians, this can be bought at Cycle Lab Tyger Manor in Durbanville

Finding that inspiration again…

Now a month on after completion of the Absa Cape Epic I finally feel like I have found the motivation again to keep on training and riding my KTM Mountain Bike. Finding the right balance to live by post the big event has been challenging as it was so much easier to drink a few cold (lite) beers with friends and throw in a welcome back Tequila party and you know that one has consumed more litres of alcohol (in an adult responsible way) in 4 weeks than in 6 months leading up to the Absa Cape Epic – yes I have picked up a kilo or two and yes I am disappointed in that happening.
The previous two weekends saw me participate in the Arabella Challenge and Houw Hoek MTB Tour, two fantastic events with some amazing riding and climbing and post this I feel good and positive again about keeping the exercise routine going (Light like my beer). So let us start with the Arabella Challenge where climbing is the order of the day, but all in short and manageable bursts so everything is rideable, and it is here I realised that I could start pushing myself as I chased my light mate Thinus Crafford and former Springbok tight head prop Marius Hurter (not so light) up the hills. I got to get quicker… which means to get lighter.

The front row and Thinus at Arabella Challenge. Thanks for some great times on the ride Marius and Thinus

The front row and Thinus at Arabella Challenge. Thanks for some great times on the ride Marius and Thinus

Well that didn’t happen in a week as the Houw Hoek MTB Tour started last weekend so I had to be prepared to chase Thinus again up those hills (with no Marius this week as a buffer) and fortunately the climbing was less and had more technical stuff which were awesome to ride. Chuffed with myself after day one of riding every hill, riding pofadder bridge and FINALLY mastering all the switchbacks going down to Houw Hoek Inn – it was an amazing day on and off the bike. Well the whole weekend was great as spending time with great friends is always good even tough Michael and Dulcie are still waiting for their lemon meringue. I digress, so chuffed with day 1 of Houw Hoek and with the anomaly of actually having a race start without a major climb to kill my legs and back in the first few kilometres, off we sped and raced (yes I raced) towards Hermanus. This was the first time ever I completed a mountain bike stage with an average speed of over 16km/h – too fast too furious but great fun and I will be back at Houw Hoek next year.
But back to the serious stuff; remember to order lemon meringue at least 30 minutes before you order your coffee, always be on the lookout for cut off tree trunks on a single track (Thinus), make sure you split the bill and remember to drink the wine on top off the Hemel and Aarde climb. Digressing again, heading into winter and no daylight to speak of in Cape Town, cycling outdoors will be harder to do, so I am now back in the gym working on the desired 36 visits per year for my medical aid, I even started running on the treadmill and can manage a snails’ pace of jogging for 20 minutes (I need to do this to keep up with my friend Nikki who recently at the age of, oh shoot I can reveal her age, got introduced to exercise. New words in her vocabulary includes: gym, walking, treadmill, towel, water bottle, tights (Skins I presume), tekkies (Mizuno of course), heart rate, circuit training, fitness assessment, recovery, lactic acid, muscles and a few more words, unfortunately I heading towards the end of the blog and has to stop now. Go Nix! The discipline of eating right and exercise will pay off and now that I have found my way back there – to have a balance between eating right, exercise and (lite) beer in moderation and riding my mountain bike for fun.

Look! You can see the mountain, oh and I'm actually smiling in a photo (collectable)

Look! You can see the mountain, oh and I’m actually smiling in a photo (collectable)

I still haven’t decided on the next challenge will be as I just can’t get my head around having to swim. My swimming issues are well documented so we won’t go into that perhaps I should also see head doctor Henning Gericke as it seems somehow he got the Stormers to win a game again (not that I really care, my blood is light (like my beer) blue.
So, no excuses everyone. Although we are heading into winter here we can still find ways to keep fit with a bit of commitment and to keep down those nasty sneaky fat cells that wants to expand if you look at food. Enjoy your training and have fun in what you do!
PS:
Oh and yes, I have suffered from writers’ block if you wondering why I haven’t updated the blog – ok I’m lying I was just lazy.

Always an amazing experience to stay at Arabella Hotel and Spa and even better if you can do that for two weekends in a row

Always an amazing experience to stay at Arabella Hotel and Spa and even better if you can do that for two weekends in a row

That moment...when we didn't fall like at the 2013 Ride2Nowhere in McGregor. We are going back there in September to have a similar photo taken without the crash landing.

That moment…when we didn’t fall like at the 2013 Ride2Nowhere in McGregor. We are going back there in September to have a similar photo taken without the crash landing.

Crawling out of the shadows

So with the 2014 Absa Cape Epic successfully completed I now suddenly find myself lost at sea looking for motivation to keep on going. I have managed to get back on the bike again this week but with winter approaching and lack of light in the mornings I had to do short and quick rides after work. Not ideal to dodge peak hour traffic on tar when you want to get to the mountains. Anyway, I think I’m still recovering as most of the body and mind feel rested although the legs still feel a bit tame. The biggest challenge has been to adapt to be riding without a plan, no set activities and goals for each day, so that next major challenge is still out there looming.

What mud and what granny gear - One there was and one not

What mud and what granny gear – One there was and one not

Another thing I have to get used to again, is getting back a social life as I don’t need to be up at – like freaking early – to go ride and be late for work, so I don’t fall asleep before 9pm anymore. I can now at least keep my eyes open a little bit longer and can go out and have a light beer if I feel like it. It’s a whole new mind set after months and months of dedicated training. Don’t get me wrong, the whole Absa Cape Epic experience was amazing and the buzz of the event made it go by way too fast.

Training for the whole event was a life changing phase for me as I lost, the now infamous 30 odd kilograms, in preparation (Thanks Dan Nicholl for telling the whole world I was fat!) and is now faced with another life changing challenge – what next?

On stage interview with Dan Nicholl on JAG Foundation

On stage interview with Dan Nicholl on JAG Foundation

Find the helmet

Find the helmet

Ironman SA or 70.3 like my friend Chantel Rall (Well done on an awesome achievement Chantel! #Inspirational!), uhm can I swim with floating arm bands and can someone teach me how to run again (I think I did that last in the previous millennium). So maybe a no, or maybe Enduroman which is off road triathlon, but I still would have to learn to swim and run. Maybe I should give Xterra Grabouw a try as individual participant – dammit -which means I still have to learn to swim and run…

Back to crawling out of the shadows and into a social life again, it’s tough if you have been out of circulation to get back into the mix of attending events and socialising, but I am positive this is a barrier I will easily overcome – Life changing again.

It has been a great journey this far for me and to have been able to ride for the JAG Foundation at the Absa Cape Epic was a great privilege as they through Values, Goals and Dreams, offer Children in disadvantaged communities an alternative life path, imparted through the catalyst of Sport & Play – a powerful life changing combination.

Again thanks to Michael Meyer and his team from Stillwater Sports and Entertainment that nudged me onto this journey and the support they have given me since then. To the whole team a big thank you and see you at the next event. It has been a privilege to be involved with your organisation as I made a lot of great friends through this.

To Kevin Vermaak and his team (who incidentally was the only spectators with the Stillwater crew waiting for me to finish the infamous 2011 Wines2Whales in a record long time) for putting together an amazing world class event in the Absa Cape Epic (I bet Kevin never thought he would see me ride the Absa Cape Epic then)

To Greg James for agreeing to ride the Absa Cape Epic with me and to Greg and the JAG Foundation for giving me to opportunity to ride for JAG, it has been an amazing journey and keep up the good work in the communities. And obviously to KTM Bike Industries for my amazing bike that gave me no issues during the event and to Rubena tyres that kept its grip during all conditions and me not having one puncture.

2014 Absa Cape Epic finish at Lourensford Wine Estate with riding partner Greg James. Thanks for the guidance through the race Greg

2014 Absa Cape Epic finish at Lourensford Wine Estate with riding partner Greg James. Thanks for the guidance through the race Greg

To all my friends for the support and understanding, I missed you, or is that the ribs and beer at The Toad  I’m not going to name everyone now – you know who you are.

To coach Swen Lauer, thanks for getting me into shape to finish the Absa Cape Epic. You are a legend and it has been epic. Now to keep going…
26-27 April – Arabella Challenge
3-4 May – Houw Hoek Tour
12-14 September – Ride2Nowhere (Woohoo!)
27 -28 September – Grace2Grace
14-16 October – Berg & Bush Great Trek
7 – 9 November – FNB Wines2Whales (HOPEFULLY – hint – hint – wink)

Till I found what I’m looking for – Not So Phat Boy out and onto the social scene!

PS: Mike Finch – what’s the bidding at now for my glasses?

Transformation from barely cycling at all, to deciding to ride the Absa Cape Epic end of 2012 after conquering the FNB Wines2Whales Adventure

Transformation from barely cycling at all, to deciding to ride the Absa Cape Epic end of 2012 after conquering the FNB Wines2Whales Adventure

Challenges Galore

Since my swimming escapades last week a few more challenges were thrown my way, none so than having to go ride to the Tokai Mast this morning having to start off in pitch black darkness with only my Magic Shine light showing the route and of course the howling South Easter, but more about that later.

Having mostly, well almost always, training on my own it was great fun this weekend to participate in a team at Xterra SA’s in Grabouw. It is such a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not to be out on the bike by yourself for a change, and having some good friends in Victor Gardiner (our speedster of a trail runner) and Tammy, with new friend Claudia Wesemann (our swimmer, who was very disappointed about a no wetsuit swim) out there made the day so much more enjoyable, and of course on bumps into all the regulars at these events. A big thank you to Stillwater Sports and Entertainment for having my team (Adventure Whale and Friends) participate and congratulations on hosting a successful Xterra weekend.

Myself, Victor (Speedy Trail Runner Gonzales)  & Claudia (who did not swim like a whale :) )

Myself, Victor (Speedy Trail Runner Gonzales) & Claudia (who did not swim like a whale 🙂 )

Now back to the challenges, first of all I met our team swimmer, Claudia, that morning, so first challenge was to recognise her coming out of the water. “Remember I’m the guy with the KTM logo on my chest”. All went well as Claudia had a great swim and though the chaos we managed to find each other and off I went. Next challenge – fighting off triathletes on mountain bikes as I went out with a flurry of athletes, all weighing far less than my 108kg’s. The first part of the race is up, up and up so I was passed by plenty lightweights, not deterred I focused on the long term and my riding in preparation for the Absa Cape Epic. Next challenge – now thanks to coach Swen Lauer my technical skills have improved immensely and I can now actually ride over a rock, blessed with these skills the single tracks were fantastic as I caught up with the other riders , biggest challenge to pass them on the single track without crashing or riding over them. But mountain biking is a friendly and courteous sport so no of the above-mention happened and no athletes were harmed during my mountain biking leg, on purpose that is. (Did witness a few crashes of riders in front of me going down the rock garden.

Finally the 27km (actually 27.8km) was done and chip handed over the Kidney Stones Gardiner, who finished really fast and style, smashing the route and bringing Team Adventure Whale into 16th place in the team category (If only I pushed myself more on the bike we would have done a Top 10). Thanks for a great day out Victor, Claudia, Tammy & Willie (Rumour has it that he is soon to be a mountain biker again) and well done to all that participated.

Look at that dismount skills -  was happy to be back at transition. Lost at least 15min in the last 1km single track behind the one la.. rider

Look at that dismount skills – was happy to be back at transition. Lost at least 15min in the last 1km single track behind the one la.. rider

Next challenge a braai at friends in Grabouw with a hidden agenda (nothing to be disclosed here) and the challenge to not drink too many beers, eat too many succulent filet and stay away from the sweet deserts. I succeeded in only one of the abovementioned challenges.

Now back to today’s challenge, I have never liked riding to the Mast – ever – so when I had to do it today I was not a happy person (a little more than usual). I had to go out early to be back at the office for a 8:30 conference call, which means I would be riding in the dark (yes, with a light) in Tokai forest, I had to push myself (I can only do one pace up to the Mast, sorry coach) and the South Easter were blowing. Not my idea of fun. But I did it and now for tomorrow up and down 3 times (Hope Craig Kolesky is still joining me)

The last week or so I have been really struggling to keep myself motivated as the Absa Cape Epic approaches and the butterflies are flying around in my stomach like the High Protein Future Life in my blender whilst preparing a recovery smoothie. I’m really nervous, nothing must go wrong now, can’t get sick, stick to the training programme and mentally to keep the end goal in mind. It has been an incredible journey so far and I don’t want to mess it up so close to the goal. It has been challenging as I would like to just go out and ride my bike without the ‘have to train’ part attached to it.

Let’s do this, focus and enjoy

View from the Tokai Mast this am

View from the Tokai Mast this am

You've looked left, now look right from the Tokai Mast

You’ve looked left, now look right from the Tokai Mast

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Having always been slightly bigger build than the average human being I used to find myself playing in the middle of the front row of rugby teams since high school days and way too long during varsity (for the current Varsity Cup Champions, just saying) with the odd occasion, well more than I would have liked to, also to the left of the guy in the middle of the scrum. Anyway so like most of us getting older that participated in this physical sport, it catches up to you. And then for some unbeknown reason you decide to take on one of the toughest mountain bike races which requires a sh!tload of riding. Needless to say your back is quite involved in this training and former sport participation, so the odd lower back pain will set in.

Now in beginning December I was getting a much needed massage (as our athletes in training do) when Nicole Walder mentioned that my spine is a bit out of line towards the left. My answer: “It should be, from lying on the couch during winter hibernation, for years some might say.” But after indulging the painful merciful muscle release torture she mentioned I should perhaps go to a chiropractor to sort me out, get me straight one would say. Now that has been playing on my mind since the beginning of December. I have never been to a chiropractor, does it actually work and being a bit stingy, what would it cost. So I just delayed and delayed and being from the tough parts of the North West province, toughed it out – until now.

The needles are quite an experience, especially if you see what it looks like afterwards

The needles are quite an experience, especially if you see what it looks like afterwards

So I finally got the courage together to book a chiropractor visit for yesterday. Having the image of Alan Harper from 3 & ½ men as chiropractor in my head, I was not convinced that it would work. But training for the Absa Cape Epic one will try anything. So onto the table I went.  Going through my history with chiro Carl de Coning he made me feel at ease (even if he is a Sharks supporter) and explained exactly what he was going to do, first the needles – and OMG, do you know how deep those things penetrate and bend (should have taken a photo). The needless was not as bad as I expected and then the manipulation started. Snap, Crackle, Pop.!

“You and I am going to scrum now, and I will help you to get in all the position you need to be in” Eish, I thought. What am I doing to myself, Snap Crackle, Pop. I did not know there are so many things that needed to be popped back in line. Carl was great and personally it was quite a weird experience to feel all these thin (lol) skeleton bones be manipulated back in place. The popping creaking in the neck was the worst…

Talking about popping creaking sounds, another snap, pop, crackle sound I experienced during the week was me destroying a Fynbos plant on my technical skills ride on single track through Tokai. Shhhh, don’t tell Sanparks, Fynbos are protected; I’ll be in trouble for destroying it. In my defence, the Fynbos should never have grabbed me by my handle bars as I rode past it, what did it think…I wouldn’t defend myself? Of course I would as a gently flopped my body onto the plant, snap, crackle, pop – and there you have it a wider single track going up Tokai. Mountain bikers can thank me later (I really should apologise to the Fynbos, I think – I am slightly bigger than it).

 

Had a great ride last Sunday up Red Hill. Stunning view over Simon's Town

Had a great ride last Sunday up Red Hill. Stunning view over Simon’s Town

Well this week riding has been interesting as coach Swen Lauer gave me some specific training rides to work on my cardio recovery including a pyramid ride. I won’t swear about this one, plus some hill repeats, lovely. But overall it was a good week as during my technical skills rode I conquered and rode all obstacles but one that I have been able to clear in the past. And yes Thinus, I managed that top single track rooted corner down (not up yet) without getting off or falling.

With 50 days left the nerves are slowly setting in as the prologue is getting closer every day. Next week I will be off to Isuzu Ride The Rock in the Cederberg (www.cederbergevents.co.za) for a 3 day stay race. This is truly a great event, so relaxing and in a surreal setting with no cell phone reception and fantastic red wine.

 

Back to the chiro, I feel fantastic today and can actually look far left and far right again as I can freely rotate my neck. Back feels great and on my ride in Stellenbosch tomorrow we will see how it holds up.

 

One last thing, congratulations to everyone that completed the Ironman 70.3 in East London last week, it’s a great achievement and special mention to my friend Chantel Rall who overcame cancer and was determined to walk the red carpet at the event – inspirational. You make me believe that this Absa Cape Epic 800km 15,000m of climbing 8 day mountain bike stage race can be conquered, creaking back and all.

Read her race report and journey here: http://www.theworldaccordingtoaprincess.co.za/2014/01/my-ironman-703-journey-after-it-all.html

 

Next week will be feedback on why I shave my legs, and/or should I wax….eish

My healthy lunch caused quite a stir on Facebook. Maybe I should weigh myself again and give an update

My healthy lunch caused quite a stir on Facebook. Maybe I should weigh myself again and give an update

Had some time to watch the cricket at Newlands last week - a welcome break from cycling

Had some time to watch the cricket at Newlands last week – a welcome break from cycling