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

A Rap Over The Knuckles

Yes I am guilty, guilty of many various things, one being not regularly updated this blog and the other not training as disciplined as I should be. (If you were a cannibal and on the Banting diet (Low Carbs, High Fat) my body currently have the fat required for fitting into the dietary requirements). When in primary school (in the previous millennium) we had a maths teacher and as they tended to do is try and teach their pupils the multiply tables. We got tested weekly and for every mistake you got rapped over the knuckles (now fortunately I was great at maths and rarely had to feel this pain – yes I am boasting – but it was some way of motivating us pupils to study and learn what was required, but enough said of that method of teaching where mistakes was punished with pain.

I went out riding this last Saturday and my research has confirmed that the current Table Mountain habitual conditions were conducive to the successful relocation of Polar Ice Bears

I went out riding this last Saturday and my research has confirmed that the current Table Mountain habitual conditions were conducive to the successful relocation of Polar Ice Bears #BlockHouse

Anyway I had a real deep look at myself as the pants slowly started to fit a bit tighter and after reasoning with myself concluded that it was improbable that they (the pants) would be shrinking and thus only reason was that my body mass must be increasing. Queue the guilt and commitment to settle in to force oneself to face the brutal cold and darkness of Cape Town’s winter to get up early and start training. Okay I’ll confess, on 2 week days I’m still heading indoors to Virgin Active to punish myself on the WattBike. It seems I did not have enough of that torture in the build up to the Absa Cape Epic. (They are forcing me to do 2 sessions on the WattBike after for some unknown reason they cancelled our 6am Spinning Class – yes I am moaning)

 

I am riding the Ride2Nowhere (Presented by WeChat) in McGregor in September and the aim during this current dark and cold period is to maintain the fitness levels post the awesome summer riding days to be in shape for this amazing event. Fortunately Coach Alasdair Garnett is always helpful with advice and thus the two high intensity sessions (that’s why I miss the Spin Class) in the week, finished off with riding over the weekend and the fitness levels should be able to be maintained. Well I hope so! Anyway watching the diet when it is cold and dark also presents a challenge and let’s not talk about comfort food and the mental challenges to try and not do that impulse purchase. Be strong (Not very successful at being strong as it is impossible to walk past Biltong and not buy some, it is just too tempting).

 

It is the 5th year of the Ride2Nowhere and it will be the 5th year I will be riding it and still remains one of my

Sunday was road bike day and to be all by myself on top of Chapman's Peak was surreal. (Polar Bears could relocate there as well)

Sunday was road bike day and to be all by myself on top of Chapman’s Peak was surreal. (Polar Bears could relocate there as well)

favourite events of the year and I don’t want to be stone dead last like in year 1, thus the training. What Eulogy van Dyk and Con Viljoen has achieved with the event is fantastic. To have seen it grow so much, whilst still keeping that friendly, relaxed  and community feel is just great. Everyone I know always enjoys this ride and the whole event and the warm, friendly and festive atmosphere of McGregor. If you are looking for an event to do in September, to shake off that winter legs, enter now rap yourselves over the knuckles to get out there and training to be ready to enjoy the tranquillity of McGregor and the beautiful scenery in the flowering season of the Karoo. And what is extra super cool is that you get a R1000 back in your Wallet if you enter through WeChat!

 

Here’s to taking my body features of the Banting Dietary list with loads of training. #NoMoreFat

PS: There are super awesome wines in the McGregor area. #JustSaying Bring all your friends!

Some views one gets whilst facing the cold but actually still riding your bike. Check out the awesome Mitas Tyres

Some views one gets whilst facing the cold but actually still riding your bike. Check out the awesome Mitas Tyres

Gravel and (Fermented) Grape(s)

This last weekend it was back to stage racing and back on the bike was my mate Evert Ferreira with whom I started my cycling journey with back in

The stunning view from our Slanghoek Villa at Goudini Spa

The stunning view from our Slanghoek Villa at Goudini Spa

2011. How things have changed as back then it was me who started cycling and now Evert is one trying to get back into mountain biking after not doing that for more than 3 years. He felt the pain and climbing stairs this week will still be painful. What made up for the grovel on the gravel was the fermented grape- aka wine tastings we worked into our trip.

 

The Gravel and Grape race is hosted by The Breedekloof Wine Valley with Iqela Events and this valley is a gem when it comes to, not only great wines but also awesome mountain biking. The routes are a combination of some gravel roads, farm roads through the vineyards, jeep tracks and some fantastic technical single track. This was a true test of proper mountain biking, which although some sections might have been tough for beginner riders the overall routes everyday made for great views and great riding.

 

Like way back with my 1st Wines2Whales we again came to know the Sweepers (Alex and Riaan this time) really well as we struggled on Day 1 up to the 50km mark, before Evert decided that sense would prevail and there was no need to punish his body any further and called it the day. Off I went pushing hard the last 23km’s to make sure I would make the 6 hour cut off. Grinding it out and pushing harder than at the Absa Cape Epic I actually managed to come in with half an hour to spare. The route was amazing and the combination as in the name of gravel roads, vineyards and testing single track makes this a must return to event.

 

After the punishment on the bike we decided to explore some wineries in the area and as per our Google search the previous night, off we went to Jason’s Hill Private Cellar. We were fortunate enough to meet the winemaker Ivy and just had to taste all the cultivars on offer. (Marius Hurter we can definitely go there for the Sauvignon Blanc, well for all the wine as Evert and I walked away purchasing stock for consumption when back in Cape Town).

Evert sampling some of the finest at Jason's Hill. Think this was the Cab - to go well with cigars #JustSaying

Evert sampling some of the finest at Jason’s Hill. Think this was the Cab – to go well with cigars #JustSaying. Heat stroke might be an explanation for the England jersey or perhaps because he is Mr. CCC

From there we went on to Slanghoek Cellars and again just had to sample most of what they had on offer and again we walked away with stock for later consumption.  What more does one want for a Saturday, great mountain biking in the morning, wine tasting in the afternoon and a braai (barbeque for my non South African friends) (2nd one) in the evening – the Perfect day….

So many good wines, so little time to taste them all

So many good wines, so little time to taste them all

With Ev’s body aching a bit after being back on the bike and he claiming his new MTB shoes are great for walking we endeavoured to take on stage 2 – 68km with 1100m of climbing. We started off through the vineyards and quickly onto a short technical single track and through the vineyards again past Du Toits Kloof Cellars onto some amazing trails that looped into the mountains and also where the Gravel and Grape Riders caught up with us: “pass, pass, pass…and so we let them pass”. With the undulating single track taking its toll on my partner, but him hanging in there enjoying every moment of being out on the bike, suffering and all, we reached the 2nd water point and regrouped with refuelling the bodies (the water points were amazing). From here we starting climbing onto a very technical switchback climb into the mountain and the strains of mountain biking started to take its toll again as the hard work and technicality proofed a challenge to my mate. We reached the split on the route where the long and Lite went its different ways and as Ev remarked” Castle Lite for me” and our ways parted and sense prevailed again and good choice by my mate because what followed was a proper technical climb and descent, followed by another climb onto a ridge and technically down a

Riding besides the scorched earth Evert roaming across the single trail towards the on route photographer, aka me

Riding besides the scorched earth Evert roaming across the single trail towards the on route photographer, aka me

valley – routes that were made for mountain biking and I loved it. It helps being fit and in shape as one can enjoy it so much more. I really loved day 2 of Gravel and Grape as we got properly tested again on our mountain biking skills, I did fail once however as I decided to take a dive off my bike and broke the fall with my quads on a rock. Not the best place to land as the dark blue / yellow mark on my leg would confess to. Still it was a great day out.

 

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Riding through Slanghoek Cellars, my partner still in sight. So much wine…. The guys from Slanghoek and Breedekloof really did a great job in putting the route together and hosting a great event with Iqela Events

Another braai in the evening with watching some sport on TV whilst enjoying the local fermented grapes and another super day in Africa IMG_8944done. One should really look at doing this event next year; it really has a lot to offer on and off the bike. Day 3 was shorter with more single track on offer and the local Breedekloof Winery guys have really outdone themselves with some amazing trails that were built. Again one had to work your way upwards to enjoy it and in-between they took us onto the local Cross Country track that was built (on which our KTM sponsored rider, Johann Trotzky, trains a lot as it is in his backyard. Al the best to him and good luck to dad Hennus and the committee in getting a race hosted there shortly). I’m glad I am doing marathon riding as going up that XC track was super tough. From there we went up the mountain on single track again and Ev had to work hard again, but in good spirits and pushing forward, we arrived at the Lite and Long split. “See you at the finish Ev and make sure there is a cold beer” and we

Our lead out vehicle - we thank you for making sure we have wine

Our lead out vehicle – we thank you for making sure we have wine

parted ways and off I sped again to catch up with the guys in front.  Again, super trails and great single track for our pure mountain bike enthusiasts, you have to get yourself out there and ride these trails. Big kudos for Evert that was willing to ride with me and reunite the original Phat Boy combination for this race. Huge respect for attempting it just as you entered the Vets category of cycling. It was great to be out on the trails with him again, always fun and we always keep on going.

 

Besides the coldish weather and cold water river crossing this was really a great weekend away for a boy’s breakaway or taking the whole family with to enjoy the facilities at Goudini Spa. Make sure you put this race on your calendar for 2017.

 

After the Cape Epic is has been really tough to keep self-discipline and stick to the healthy and right eating regime. I managed to get some training and events done, but how does one keep everything on the straight and narrow with temptations that were out on one’s path that started on the 2nd of April with a bachelors. No need to elaborate. This was followed by the wedding on the 9th that was followed by a 40th on the 16th. See where all this is heading as it did not stop there as the following weekend was the Cell C Arabella Challenge where good friends met and Wildekrans wine was on offer, there was some mountain biking as well and then after that on the 30th another epic 40th birthday party of abovementioned friend Evert and then of course this past weekend Gravel and Grape in the wine country with some 3 days of braaiing and so forth.

 

Needless to say that at this stage I am as reluctant as the other gender of the Homo sapiens specie after they have just turned 30 to climb onto a scale after showcasing your body weight…

 

Until the next adventure and be su

It really was beautiful out in the mountains. Much better than being stuck in an office

It really was beautiful out in the mountains. Much better than being stuck in an office

re to be on the lookout for the Cederberg 100miler in September, entries are open.

Some hills were just too much and a welcome breather to quickly recover before it is back on the bike and forward again

Some hills were just too much and a welcome breather to quickly recover before it is back on the bike and forward again

Some great images from Chris Hitchcock at the event galleries can be seen here

Again my Mitas Tyres were superb and I had no hassles and handled the technical route with ease

Some of the gravel from Gravel and Grape #FastMoving

Some of the gravel from Gravel and Grape #FastMoving. See you all at Cederberg 100miler Evert Ferreira, Willie du Plooy, Rob Kucera, Richard Coram (Thinus Crafford & Andrew Rogers?)

The image says it all. Thanks Chris Hitchcock

Some great images from Chris Hitchcock at the event galleries can be seen on PhotoSport’s website

Always in good spirit no matter what the trails dished up

Always in good spirit no matter what the trails dished up

Power Zones and Comfort Zones

Eish! Haibo! Bliksem!

If I could use proudly and traditionally South African words to express where I am at now with regards to my 2016 Absa Cape Epic training (Follow the links on the words of you are not a South African to find out what it means). I knew when my rubber arm(s) were bent and I buckled under peer pressure to ride the Cape Epic again that it would take a lot of hard work, dedication and training.

The training in the off season on Castle Lite with my mate Ev did not put me in the light weight category of cycling and in the greatest of shape once this monstrous decision was made (We had to finish the free cases of beer). But hey, I’ve done it before so I can do it again and this time from a stronger base and less weight to lose (until I got on the scale and it told me a different Fairy Tale – “Mr Adventure Whale, you have reached baby whale status again and I weighed in at 118kg in October, as per my previous post – WTF!)

The benefits of being out early mornings in Beautiful Cape Town #Sunrise

The benefits of being out early mornings in Beautiful Cape Town #Sunrise

The good news is that yesterday when getting my doctor to verify that I am medically fit (note: not mentally fit) to ride the event, I weighed in at 112kg. Progress made or does the Virgin Active scale add those extra kg’s to make us train harder, who knows but I feel progress are being made. Talking of ‘made’, going for that much needed sports massage made my, and all my aching muscles’ day. One must not under estimate the value of a good quality sports massage on a regular basis. Thanks Nicole (Advanced Massage Therapy) for sorting out all my niggles and also sorting out those stubborn muscles in need of stretching. My calves thank you, so does my hamstrings and my quads and my back and my shoulders and my…every aching muscle in my body.

 

Enough of being zoned out on the torture chamber and back to the other zones. Normally I get on my bike and ride and that was my training, but with what coach Alasdair Garnett (from The Practice) has thrown in, it has been very focussed. We are in the base building phase and phase one included endurance and speed skill, and base building phase 2 started this week that includes Endurance, Force, Speed skill and Muscular Endurance.

I was really starving on this ride and for some reason no one wanted to feed me

I was really starving on this ride and for some reason no one wanted to feed me

Well let me go back a week when I had looked at the 30min gym training scheduled for me post doing the Pennypinchers Origin of Trails (Which was tough but awesome by the way):  10 Burpees, 25 Vertical Jumps, 10 Push-ups, 25 Squats, 20 Mountain Climbers (WTH is this any way I thought!?), 10 Alternating lunges, 100 Jump Ropes, Rest for 1 min AND REPEAT! Haibo! Eish! How will this body ever be able to do that went through my head? Of the exercises that I have done before, those were probably done in the previous millennium and the ones I didn’t know how to do was just too daunting – Bliksem!

At first I was looking at the option to do this at home but then realised it won’t work, my duplex ceiling is just too low and there will be

Good to have had Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events and KTM Ambassador out riding Origin of Trails

Good to have had Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events and KTM Ambassador out riding Origin of Trails

jumping involved (not that I jump very high). So after some correspondence with the coach and some encouraging words that it will only be daunting the first time round, I did some research and saw that the studio 1 at my gym is not in use early mornings. The perfect place to hide away from providing the general gym members with some comic relief in my attempts at doing this routine, and it has all the equipment one needs – an exercise mat and a high enough ceiling. Fortunately no one was around to video tape my first attempts at these exercises. When last did you do Burpees or do mountain climbers and jump in the air 25 consecutive times – eish! The gym has no skip rope so fortunately I did 100 jump ropes with an imaginary rope and not once did the rope get caught in my feet, my perfect exercise from the list above.

Surfs up! The one thing I haven't attempted yet is surfing. Maybe my mates Ev, Matt and Toby could take me sometime (Would I fit in a wet suit?)

Surfs up! The one thing I haven’t attempted yet is surfing. Maybe my mates Ev, Matt and Toby could take me sometime (Would I fit in a wet suit?)

For the next couple of days, my muscles not pampered, stiffened up and my quads felt like after stage 1 of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic – don’t touch me or make any attempt to move at all – stiffness galore. But did I listen – No! The training goes on and onto the bike we went again, knowing that a second session of these functional exercises was around the corner. Doing this exercises that I felt daunting at first makes one belief you can actually do it if you apply your mind,  it does  totally push you out of your comfort zone but by just doing it, it does become easier and one realised when things look daunting just go out and do it, it might not be as bad as you think. Having broken through this comfort zone I do realise the benefits of these exercise in explosive power and total functionality and the benefits for me, so I’ll keep on doing it when required, but always in studio 1 away from the public. (The tremors experienced in the Westlake area recently is due to a jumping whale)

 

Last week I had to do 1 hour spin ups on the Watt Bike (just after the burpee episode) which really tested character to push on and keep going at the relevant cadence and heart rate. Up next on the Watt bike was Zone 2 to 4 with Single Leg drills, with the exercise broken down into the relevant Power Zones and not Heart Rate Zone. This was a first for me, I just always got on the Watt Bike and pedalled at whatever I felt comfortable at and at the required heart rate, no focus on power whatsoever.  Apparently the biggest advantage of training with power is that it is like lifting weights, it gives you a distinct workload or total amount of work done. So yesterday’s power zone exercise I think was to assist in getting that peddling stroke symmetric, thus the single leg drills as well as having to focus on staying within a certain power zone whilst at a certain cadence. Not as easy as it sounds and eish, it takes focus and endurance to stick within those parameters.

I like to be outside on the bike but the Watt Bike has it benefits and that is that it can help you get the specific training you need done in a relatively short amount of time each week, certainly less than riding on the road and more focussed. But Haibo! I have had to dig deep at times to keep up to the required cadence and Power Zones. Still though, hard as it has been with getting up early mornings, trying to eat less and right, going out and doing the daily exercise and also put aside some time for work, the journey thus far has been fun and knowing my riding partner is going through the same as what I am, helps a little bit in keeping that discipline and determination of not taking the easy road.

 

All I can say is that when you commit to training for a specific endurance event, know these words, Eish, Haibo and Bliksem – you might be uttering them at numerous time as you push yourself towards your goal!

Now that functional 30 minute training routine is waiting for me again this Friday – Bliksem!

Messing around on Table Mountain with the Flying Pharaoh (Eben Nel) before he leaves for Egypt and Willie du Plooy our pro athlete to keep us in check

Messing around on Table Mountain with the Flying Pharaoh (Eben Nel) before he leaves for Egypt and Willie du Plooy our pro athlete to keep us in check

Playing photographer to give Eben some memories before he departs SA

Playing photographer to give Eben some memories before he departs SA

Glad I am still able to lift my bike above my head. Love my KTM Scarp Prestige

Glad I am still able to lift my bike above my head. Love my KTM Scarp Prestige

The Orange brand dominating Table Mountain at the Blockhouse

The Orange brand dominating Table Mountain at the Blockhouse

Willie just showing off

Willie just showing off

Fighting the snooze button

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

IMG_8156

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

 

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

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

W2W – Going for number 5

It seems like a lifetime ago when I first was crazy enough to attempt riding Wines2Whales on my 26” KTM Score Prestige with in retrospect having had no idea what laid ahead and what I was doing.  What was the longest day (s) of my life on a bicycle just inspired me to become better, healthier and fitter to not have to go through that again. I am still grateful for my mate Evert Ferreira who started on this journey with me and stuck it out as I walked down single track that today I could ride without even flinching. From those early days I am about 30kg lighter a living a healthy balanced life with exercise (well mountain biking mostly) playing a big part in my weekly routine.

Pictured on the left is myself and Evert finishing Wines2Whales with the Sweeps Errol and Matt - Great bunch of guys and I'll always be thankful for their patience and help. Pictured right is myself and Thinus Crafford finishing in 2014

Pictured on the left is myself and Evert finishing Wines2Whales way back in the day (just before sunset) with the Sweeps Errol and Matt – Great bunch of guys and I’ll always be thankful for their patience and help. Pictured right is Thinus Crafford and myself finishing in 2014 with smiles.

 

I must thank Michael Meyer and his Stillwater Sports team who has been encouraging and supportive since I ensured their days of the 2011 Wines2Whales were much longer than they anticipated, the patience they had and the support to have me back the next year to race it again and through their initiative helping me with training and guiding me on the path to cycling and discovering the enjoyment of mountain biking. (Also the following year the event introduced cut-off times, I’m sure that had nothing to do with me and my endurance ride of chasing the sunset on the bike each day)

FNB Wines2Wales is a signature event for me and hopefully it can remain on my riding calendar for many years to come as I am super chuffed to be able to attempt to finish the event with for the 5th time. I am really looking forward to the event as the Stillwater team always puts together a well organised and enjoyable event and every year there are more and improvements. Please don’t tell them my training is not where it should be.

I just had to share this pic from my early toxic fluid cleansing ride outside Robertson this weeken

I just had to share this pic from my early toxic fluid cleansing ride outside Robertson this weekend

This weekend saw me out camping, something I haven’t done in ages and what a great experience it was. Forget about sleeping in a tent and all the other non-apparent glamorous stuff as just being out with great people with loads of fun made for a fantastic weekend. Well done Nikki on surviving your first “glamping” (Glamorous Camping) experience. Rich and Diana thanks for the organising of everything and all the arrangements, I’m sure Toby, Anna, Matt and Liesl will support me in saying that it was great and we need the abovementioned four to ensure we visit the best farms for great wine tasting. Speaking of which, this fits in perfectly with the upcoming Wines2Whales adventure as instead of riding my bike and training, I tasted wine instead and the good food enjoyed (even my potjie as edible) worked towards adding to my whale weight. It was a great weekend and we had so much fun and laughs that the one bike ride on Saturday morning might as well been seen as just body cleansing of toxic fluids. Let’s go camping!

 

I can’t wait for the weekend to catch up with all my mates and people one has befriended at W2W over the years. Thinus travel safe and let’s make this one and event to remember and make sure Rob and Marius does not get to taste that tub of ice cream of success!

As at most camping trips cold liquid was enjoyed

As at most camping trips cold liquid was enjoyed

Fire and a potjie as we waited for the wind...

Fire and a potjie as we waited for the wind…

The yummy contents of the potjie (No it was not banting friendly)

The yummy contents of the potjie (No it was not banting friendly)

A Zebra was spotted in the campsite #NoComment

A Zebra was spotted in the campsite #NoComment

A plan was made to watch the rugby (and then we lost)

A plan was made to watch the rugby (and then we lost)

Don't worry Evert, only the adults went wine tasting

Don’t worry Evert, only the adults went wine tasting

It finally happened

Now I’ve been meaning to get on my bike for ages. Sounds familiar? I’m sure it does and as for me I have been meaning to start riding in the week before work for ages, months at least. But somehow could never get myself to go out in the cold and dark and either ended up in gym or on the couch in front of the TV. Having recently completed the Ride2Nowhere stage race I thought that would jump start myself to commit to that tenuous early morning training routine. Didn’t happen! So a bout of flu and a Braai (Heritage) day recovery done, I finally got myself to dress up (warmly) and hit the tar road pedalling and that ONE DAY too late to see the Blood Moon in full showing, dammit! Next weekend is Berg and Bush and two weeks later Wines2Whales so I might need to keep on going – to keep on going and going and going … (Only wish summer would arrive in Cape Town soon)

 

I recently had to see two mates leave Cape Town, one that is moving to the Land of the Long White Cloud and the other one to the City of Gold  (Well somewhere between the City of Gold and the Jacaranda City). Victor, to you, Tammy and Blake – Kia Ora and all the best in the new chapter of your life. To Thinus, Lolla and Thiaan (Yes the cats too) will miss my weekend short visits after our mountain biking excursions. Make the most of life in Gauteng and see you soon and we have a few days in March to spend together on the bike.

 

In short, I need to get my, you know what, into gear to get into the prime shape my pristine athletes body was in way back in early 2014. So focus, start eating right, try to not drink beer (Evert, I said try, not succeed) and get back into that habit of training and having fun on the bike, and apparently if I stick to the previous training programme, some swimming updates aka perfecting the doggy paddle.

 

See soon and keep Balance in the Force. (I probably need to blog more often)

Time to start pushing myself to get back into that training habit and disciplines

Time to start pushing myself to get back into that training habit and disciplines

 

PS: I have a colleague that at the age of 28 weighs 154kg’s (yes he is close to 2m’s tall) – how do we get him active, healthy and to quit smoking….#AdventureWhaleChallenge

The Ride2Nowhere and new water bottles

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

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

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

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

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

As always Lords Winery were at the order of the day

As always Lords Winery were at the order of the day

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Part of the climb on day 1 ...

Part of the climb on day 1 …

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

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

Apparently I have the official right to use this ;)

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

Falls and Friends

Now falling off your bike is never a good thing, but there is some stupid saying in the mountain biking community; that on your next ride you are only one ride away from your next fall. This proved to be true as my next ride was this last Saturday as I reunited myself with Mother Earth.

So you go riding with your friends, as most of us do from time to time, with introducing a new friend, Eben Nel, to our riding clan. Although Eben weighs probably the same as my left leg, he is still fairly new in the sport so we took it relatively easy although pushing the distance barrier of his prior individual rides.  Welcome Eben and hopefully we will see you on more rides in the future, it was great fun. Now back to that other thing of falling off your bike.

 

KTM Bicyles on display. Great to have ride with us Eben Nel. We will see you at the next Ride

KTM Bicyles on display. Great to have ride with us Eben Nel. We will see you at the next Ride

After dredging my light body on my KTM Scarp up Dorstberg at Meerendal we catch a breather as we wait to reunite the group as Eben makes it up to the top. The compulsory photo taken and being deemed as the faster ‘downhiller’ in our group I got tasked to go down first in the single track. (Normally I’m happy with obscurity and getting stuff done and in mountain biking getting to the finish line). Anyway so off I go concentrating as hard as I can without thinking of the Bulls’ poor SupeRugby performance of 2015 and knowing that Rob Kucera is behind me, chasing and trying to catch me. Flying down and having fun on a perfect Cape Town day, so the what I unconsciously decided to do is get my front wheel stuck in a rut and dive off the bike just before the track ends in a steep corner turning left, with spectators (without  flashing cameras fortunately) observing my graceful tuck-and-roll over the handle bars.

 

Now to describe what was going through my head is easy as everything seemed to happen in slow motion like the irritating slow motion of the balls heading to the posts or teams running out the tunnel in SupeRugby by Supersport’s production crew. As I found myself going off line and into the rut I realised “Hier kom k@k” (I am in sh!t or parental guidance way, I am in serious trouble) as I knew I was heading over the edge and started to brake. Needless to say braking and turning in the rut did not quite work out as momentum took my slight body over the handle bars as the bike suddenly came to an abrupt stop – tuck and roll was all I thought.

Really enjoyable trails at Meerendal Wine Estate. Just watch out for Matthew in his Landrover ;)

Really enjoyable trails at Meerendal Wine Estate. Just watch out for Matthew in his Landrover 😉

 

The dust settled, I removed my hand and glove stuck from the handle bar and stood up from the crater at Meerendal, created by my body thumping into the ground. This was all still happening in irritating Supersport slow motion and as the broadcast caught up with the live feed I realised that Rob is behind me and I should probably get myself out of this high risk corner for my friends to at least enjoy the last bit of the single track and also not crash into me. So Rob arrives: “Did you crash? I few words are exchanged in banter and all are good again.  What made me feel slightly better, hope it is not too sadistic, is that another rider fell at the same spot as I did. He is okay though and this time the spectators of my fall caught it on their GoPro. No, I unfortunately don’t have the footage.

 

In the aftermath of the 7.9 magnitude crash my handle bar was parallel with the frame post the incident. The front tyre slipped off the rim and small rocks got stuck between the tyre and the rim, which tested our tyre re-inflation skills but my Mitas tyres were all good again and with the minor adjustments to the abovementioned realigned handlebar and remote lock-out off we went again to the jump track. No holding back when pride is at stake between friends. One bent derailleur hanger later and we are looking forward to another great ride this weekend with friends, one ride closer to the next fall…

 

I all seriousness a fall can happen quickly and while I can joke about it as myself and the other rider came off not hurt there is guys out there that have fallen badly. I don’t know Jaco Veldsman who has fallen really badly recently and the mountain biking community of Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club came together in raising funds to help him with his hospital bills. Please contact them directly or Shaun Peters if you want to help further.

 

So be careful on the trails and be considered to others and if you don’t have the skills don’t try and be a hero. If you can’t ride a horse, don’t be a cowboy!

 

On a personal note to one of my friends that have been going through a tough time these last couple of months. My thoughts are with you and your family and know that you have my full support and I believe that things will work out and going forward will only be better to what the past was. New opportunities will arise. Once you have fallen the next step is to get up and get going again!

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Just a cool pic that would hopefully convince Willie du Plooy, Evert Ferreira & James Medcalf to join us. Plus all my other mates that we have endeavoured to go on a ride with us

Just a cool pic that would hopefully convince Willie du Plooy, Evert Ferreira & James Medcalf to join us. Plus all my other mates that we have endeavoured to go on a ride with us. Chantel Rall you better know what you are in for training for that event in March 2016