Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 14 of 16

This was the last Hard week before we "taper". When we taper we down the duration a bit and keep the intensity up... Or that is the plan

Monday Day 11 After a warm up we did 6 x (3+2min) 85% / 50%.
Tuesday Day 12  We also concentrated on longer intervals (3 minutes zone 3 and 4)
Wednesday Day 13 Was like a recovery day with just 1 short interval at 85% of VO2max
Thursday Day 14 The last day and it consisted basically of as many 30secx30sec 100%/50% intervals as you can manage. 
Friday we rested and Saturday we did a LSD of 90km in 5 hrs.
Sunday me and The Pretty One took the tandem for a spin in the dirt and had a lovely 40km of togetherness

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 13 of 16

14 day booster programme

Monday 22 Nov - Day 4
20min incremental warm up
6 x (40+20sec) 95% / 50% of your VO2 Max test result
 4min easy rolling
6 x (40+20sec) 95% / 50% of your VO2 Max test result
6 x (40+20sec) 95% / 50% of your VO2 Max test result
Cool down
Interval training along the railway line service road
Tuesday was day 5 and a "recovery" day. I did this routine on my spinning bike. So after a warm up  I did 20 intervals of 15 sec flat out and 15 sec rest. After a warm down it was time to shower and do some work. In the afternoon I took an easy ride with The Pretty One around Buffelsdrift. Strictly zone 1 riding.
Wednesday - Day 6 of the programme. We did 4 sets of 5x (30sec 100% and 30sec rest)
It rained so we did these intervals in Rynoue on their sealed road - less mud
Thursday we did the same intervals, but as many in row as you can do less 1. The Idea is to push yourself to a point where you feel you can do only one more and then stop before doing the last one.
Friday was day 8 of the 14 day programme. We did 3 intervals of 5 mins each in zone 3.
Saturday is time to do a race. Plenty of Zone 3 and 4 intervals in race conditions. We opted for the Rust de Winter MTB race. It was very clear that Kobie is still a lot fitter than me. 
23     03:15:10     Hill Kobie
35     03:36:38     Strydom Jaco
I spent 55 min in zone 4 and 1h34m in zone 3. The rest was Zone 2. But I felt good after the race and still had plenty fuel in the tank. I do not think I could ride much faster (Although I did help 2 guys fix their punctures) but I could ride for much longer.
Sunday is recovery day (Day 10) so the spinning bike comes into play with 5 intervals of 30sec 100% 30sec rest

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 12 of 16

Monday 15 November 2010 - This was a rest day and enjoyed properly
Tuesday - We did a 5 minute all out test up Okkies track and put a peg in the ground. We will start a 14 day MAX VO2 Booster Programme on Saturday and then just before Sabie (21 days later) we will see if this booster programme did something for our top end. We followed this 5 minute session up with some more zone 4 intervals up Okkie.
Wednesday - We did about 40 minutes of Zone 3 training along the railway line service road.
Thursday - Did an enjoyable zone 2 ride around klipkoppie and played around a bit in the area behind Baviaanskloof Prison.
Friday - Week 12 means time trial time again.

30-Aug-10  01:17:18
03-Sep-10  01:15:51
17-Sep-10  01:09:47
07-Oct-10  01:05:58
30-Oct-10  01:02:08
19-Nov-10  00:59:47

Training does pay. The idea is to keep the heart rate constant and ride the route faster as you become fitter.

Saturday was day 2 (Day 1 was the 5 minute test) of our 14 day booster programme. Not my idea, something I came across on the internet long (2 years) ago and saved, and rediscovered recently.

  • 20min incremental warm up
  • 10 x (30+30sec) 100 / 50% VO2 Max
  • 30min Easy/medium rolling

Sunday we did day 3 of the Booster Programme

  • 10min incremental warm up
  • 3 x (5+10min) 90% / 50% of your VO2 Max test result 
  • 5min Easy rolling.

Afterwards I rolled along with The Pretty One and had breakfast with her at Ludwig's Roses

Included into the weekend's mix was a lekker kuier by my brother Rudolf and we went playing with the mountain bike and the Prado in an old quarry. Me on the bike and he in the Prado.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 11 of 16

Monday - I had brave plans to ride early, but on Friday while I was riding Cousin2Cousin, the book binding machine decided to become fickle and it needed my urgent attention on Monday morning. Then it was work, work, work.
Tuesday - We did go out for an early ride (05h00) and did a nice zone 2 ride (41km) with a bit of zone 3 mixed into the pot. The legs were still a bit heavy from the long ride over the weekend.
Wednesday - Wanted to go out early, But received a SMS from Kobie telling me he feels bad. We postponed to the afternoon. So in the afternoon we rode fairly hard and did about 20 mins of zone 3 riding
Thursday we rode a mix of zone 3 and zone 4 and Friday we took it fairly easy, as not one of us felt 100%
Saturday we set of to Suikerbosrant near Heidelberg and did a good solid session (1400m total ascent) of just over 4 hours. We rode the climbs hard and managed an hour and 20 mins in Zone 3.
Sunday I went with The Pretty One to TEAK Place and played on their lovely tracks.

All in all not as hard a week as it should have been, but quite an enjoyable week of training.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cousin2Cousin - The ride

What can you say about a 261km, 19h57min 3566m ascent ride through surprisingly remote but very beautiful countryside? Maybe join me next time and experience the real reason why we ride our bikes! Not to race, but to experience. It was tough, I was dead tired in the end, my wheels came off with about 10km to go, but I hung in there and completed it. Maybe it was not the best thing to do while busy with a training programme for the Sabie Experience, but would I do it again? Tomorrow!

We were lucky. We had lots of cloud cover to keep us cool, and dodged most of the thunderstorms. As we crested Normandien Pass it was actually cold. Talking off a serious start to a LONG ride, 800meters of climbing in 15 km!

Our support crew (my two daughters, Liezl and Andrea) were spectacular and kept us hydrated and fed (actually I over did it with a huge hamburger that did not digest well and messed with my hydration plan). They stuck with us and waited at all the way points without getting lost. The stayed awake and escorted us on the one stretch of unavoidable tar at 01h00 in the morning without complaint. THANKS!

Carboloading the night before
Marike - Cousin from where we started
And away they go!
Taking a breather on top of Normandien Pass
Free-State - Actually anything but flat.
We were VERY lucky and missed a lot of thunderstorms that were passing us.
Dam Pretty
Dam Tired. Another 7hrs to go!
Cousin Helena. Our destination - finally!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 10 of 16

Week 10 sees us into November. The Sabie Experience is approaching very fast now.

Monday 1 Nov 2010 - Interval training should be the name of the game during the next 3 weeks, but it will turn out differently I think. I have to many other things planned, but I will have to see. I did manage 12 x 3 min zone 4 intervals and felt pretty strong.
Tuesday - 2 solid zone 3 intervals of 30 minutes each.
Wednesday should have been zone 4 again, but work interfered and no riding was done.
Thursday I packed for Cousin2Cousin and at 15h00 Kobie picked me up and we left for Newcastle
Friday Morning 06h00 we left Newcastle heading for Fouriesburg and 261km and 20 hours later at 02h00 we arrived at Helena's place. Tired, but happy.
Saturday I rested seriously, and Sunday I took a nice 25km recovery ride with The Pretty One.

Sabie Exp Training week 9 of 16

Monday 25 Oct - Very flat and easy zone 1 ride of 33km
Tuesday - Tried to do intervals, but did not feel to good. I managed 6 zone 4 intervals of about 3 minutes each. Me thinks it is still the effect of the lung bug that I was shaking off.
Wednesday - Managed about 50 minutes of zone 3 training
Thursday was a planned rest day
Friday the idea was to ride another time trial, but my bike broke and I had to phone home. So it was a rather short zone 1 ride only.
Saturday I managed to ride the time trial and managed a time of 1h02m. Previous time trial My Sister came to visit and I rode with them (Elbie, Wouter and The Pretty One) for the rest of the morning
Sunday - Due to the visit and the over indulgence that went with the visit, Sunday was promptly declared another rest day. I hope week 10 will have more substance.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 8 of 16

19-24 October

A week of BUGS

Monday we Started off doing level 4 intervals. By the second interval it was clear that Kobie was not very well, as I out sprinted him. He managed about 4 intervals of 3 minutes before his wheels came of. I did a few more and then escorted him home. Seem like a tummy bug got hold of him.

Tuesday He felt a bit better but we did an easy ride of about 3 hours - Zone 1 and 2

Wednesday I did 2 Zone 3 intervals. Kobie did not sprint of and disappeared over the horizon as usual, but rode at my pace and managed to keep up. We declared Thursday a rest day.

Waking up on Thursday morning it was just as well that I decided to REST because I had a horrible lung  BUG. My lungs were sore and I could hardly breathe. I had a fever and Thursday night The Pretty One slept in the "other room", because I coughed and was very restless.

Friday I was still feeling very under the weather but by Friday eve I started to feel a lot better.

On Saturday morning I felt good so we went for a LSD and managed 100km in 6 hours. Strictly zone 1, but I felt strong right up to the end of the ride.

Sunday we went to Breed's Nek. 60km with a 1000m assent. Was a tough ride when I rode it before the 2008 Cape Epic, and it still is a tough ride. But we managed a respectable 15km/h and rode 4 hours including the coke and bar one stop at the halfway mark.

We are now half way with our 16 week program, and the really hard part is about to hit us. I think I will still be a bit weak for high intensity training, but will see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 7 of 16

It was a busy weekend with the Crater Cruise 104km on Saturday and the 56 km on Sunday. Monday was promptly declared a REST day.

Tuesday we worked 11 by 3 min zone 4 intervals into the ride
Wednesday we managed 2 x 26min of zone 3 intervals
Thursday we rode an easy zone 1&2 ride of about 3hours
Friday was just work, work, work so no riding
Saturday I rode the Bekker Bundu Bash. I remembered it to be a big event, but the numbers were low and the organisation was also way below par.What was advertised as a 65km race turned out to be 40km in the end. But it was "race conditions" so I pushed all the zones and enjoyed the ride.

Sunday I planned to do a 5-6 hour LSD but broke a chain after 4 hours and did not have a quick link. Gave mine away the day before at Bekkers. So I phoned home and spent the rest of Sunday with Ilette at her brother's place having to much food, wine and beer.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The planned route
I have many cousins, but 2 of them are significant as far as this blog posting is concerned. Marike and Helena. They are both farming with their husbands in beautiful areas of South Africa. Marike farms South of Newcastle and Helena farms North of Fousriesburg.

During November we will be having a kuier on Helena's farm and I thought it a good idea to ride my Mountain bike from Marike's farm. A distance of 260km. Non stop. Basically unsupported (I will be able to call for help an I will be tracked). Harrismith is in between, but I would want to miss that - north or south - hence the red circular route. I think for now I am leaning towards the northern route since south will involve a stretch of tar I am not to keen for.

So who is keen to join me?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 6 of 16

Let us see how week 6 turned out. This week sees the start of REAL intervals, although it is just a start...

  • Monday 4 Oct - 8x level 4 intervals of 3 mins each. Rest about 2-3 mins in between
  • Tuesday - Things got out of hand with stuff and did not ride.
  • Wednesday - Rode in the morning with the "Bosbokkies" and did a few sprints and intervals, about 10 minutes worth
  • Thursday - Rode the 3-weekly time trial. Managed to ride it in 1h5min Previous timetrial
  • Friday - No riding. Went to Parys for the Crater Cruise
  • Saturday - Rode the 104km route with Kobie and rode only zone 2 & 3 and really enjoyed it. Finished in a respectable 5h30min.
  • Sunday - Rode the 58km route with Kobie on the Tandem. We really had a ball and managd to ride 2h30min. Also just Zone 2&3. Legs lasted all the way in spite of severe heat on Saturday and lots of wind on Sunday
All in all a good training week and visible or measurable progress is being made.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is a HuBI

A HuBI is a Human Bike Interface, just about the most important part of the complete package. (Human, Bike, Backpack, etc.

When your HuBI has a slight problem in the sensitivity arena, you can live with it, but sometimes the small problem wants to break free and can cause a lot of discomfort.

I do not normally suffer from discomfort in the HuBI area, but I did have a saddle sore shortly before I started the first attempt at Beit Bridge to Cape Town, and it was not pleasant. So today I am just giving the HuBI a chance to heal so that I am in no discomfort during the Crater Cruise this coming weekend.

Will train again tomorrow morning with the House Wife Group. By now I should be able to keep up with them...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 5 of 16

Normality, if normal can be normal, is back and with it the training programme. Normal is mad enough. After the tour of week 4, Saturday was spent driving back and Sunday was a serious recovery day. So the training started slowly.

  • Monday 27 Sep - 1h30min easy riding with The Pretty One
  • Tuesday 28 Sep - reminded the body and heart what hard work is all about with 2 sets of (10x20sec Sprint 40sec Rest) 5 minutes easy riding in between the 2 sets.
  • Wednesday 29 Sep - 2 x 22min intervals in zone 3 along the railway line.
  • Thursday 30 Sep - 10 x 2 min intervals in zone 4 up Oom Ockie's jeep track.
  • Friday 1 Oct - REST
  • Saturday 2 Oct - 88km 4h42min LSD that I finished off with a 8min and a 23 min interval in zone 3
  • Sunday 3 Oct - Me and The Pretty One took the tandem for a 50km easy ride. Stopped at Ludwigs Roses at about 40km and had coke and quiche. What a great way to spend a Sunday morning!
Week 6 will see me working hard on the intervals and doing the 100km Crater Cruise "race" as a LSD ride on Saturday and riding the 50km "race" on Sunday with Kobie on the Tandem... mmm...

Sabie Exp Training week 4 of 16 - Part 2

Due to the tour I was riding the training plan and all the zones flew out of the window and many hours just riding can be seen as good base. Most of the tour was spent in zone 1 with bits in zone 2 and a lot of rest. I would like to do a complete writeup of the tour, but Michelle did a splendid job and this is her story:

I have a love-hate relationship with mountain bike racing.  When I first got onto a bike a couple of years ago I was at the back of the race field where I could soldier along on my own or chat to the backmarkers who had endless patience and the funniest chirps. I loved it. 
Now that I’ve reached the middle of the race field, there is not much banter amongst the cyclists.  Riders  jostle one another in technical sections, and get a little grumpy when a rider ahead on a rocky climb teeters on the edge of a dishonourable dismount...racing sometimes makes me forget why I love to ride my bike. 
So when Fiona Coward, the organiser of Sabie Experience and Panorama Tour, suggested being part of her reconnaissance trip to map out a new multi-day touring event it sounded like heaven.
Of course she hadn’t mentioned that, like her, the other tour riders were hardened Freedom Trail cyclists. The harsh, unsupported 2350km Race Across South Africa in winter each year is in a league on its own, and I worried about keeping up with them. I knew, though, that I was in safe hands when we had a meet-and-greet ride on the Saturday before the ride and I saw that none of the guys shave their legs.  In fact, one of them is growing his grey beard for Sabie Experience so that he can live up to his team name: “The Old and the Pitiful!”  With credentials that include the Freedom Challenge there are no racing snake egos in this bunch thank you very much.
Originally christened NED (North East Divide), the tour would start on a Sunday in Haenertsburg, close to Tzaneen, and would end in Bulembu, Swaziland the following Friday.
We travelled together from Pretoria to Haenertsburg and, while poring over topographical maps and comparing GPS waypoints, we were treated to fabulous food and a great view at Lamei Lodge.  On day one of the tour we ate an undeserved breakfast at the lodge, including hot chocolate muffins straight out of the oven. No sweltering little tents and green eggs for us – this tour included spacious rooms, hot baths and outstanding food!
Joined by a local rider, Dylan, we left the picturesque Haenertsberg Village Hall.  With a vague Pilgrim’s Rest feel, the town was established in the late 1800’s when the area experienced a short gold rush.
During the six days of the tour the legends surrounding the treasures of Africa became a theme as we passed through each area.  We were intrigued by the area’s mining, forestry and ivory trade folklore.  Interestingly South Africa has almost 6 000 abandoned mines.  And while there is no question that mining and forestry have had a severe environmental impact, we were struck by the significant contribution that the industries have made to the character of Southern Africa.
Our guide for the first two days was Jaco Strydom, who is pioneering a route from Beit Bridge to Pietermaritzburg.  On 27 May 2011 he will leave the South African border at the north of the country and make his way, unsupported, to Natal for the start of the Freedom Challenge, which will take him a further 2 350km to Cape Town in the Race Across South Africa.
We wound our way out of Haenertsberg, and after a few kilometres in the beautiful Magoebaskloof we reached a footpath that would take us up to the Wolkberg Reserve.  After pushing for a few metres, Doug and Fiona showed me how much easier it is to walk up a steep path with a bike on your back – by the top of the path I was already starting to consider the Freedom Trail.
The climb that followed the portage took us over the intimidating Iron Crown mountain, and Neal had an inelegant dismount on one of the shale edges as he fought with his roadie shoes.  Although it was steep and often technical the views carried us up to the Wolkberg Wilderness Mountain Reserve Office where we refilled our water, ate a snack under the trees, and took more photographs.
Within the first couple of hours of the ride I had rediscovered the thrill of testing my skills on my bicycle in new terrain without the pressure to finish at a particular time.  
Jaco trailed at the back of the riders allowing us the freedom to ride at a pace that we could sustain for six days.  [We quickly discovered his strategy, though: – also known as “Vakansieperd” he cruises at the back and moans about how he can’t keep up with the group on the climbs, but when he smells home he takes off like a holiday resort horse.] 
After the most technical downward slide of little moving rocks that I have ever had the pleasure to ride, we screeched to a halt at the bottom of the valley to refill our water bottles at the first crossing of the Mohlapitse River. We crossed the river countless times as we rode through the valley lined with indigenous trees and less friendly wag-‘n-bietjie bushes. Thankfully we didn’t see any snakes or we would have had to wait a while for Neal to circumnavigate the Wolkberg mountains.
At the exit of the reserve we started to climb the Orrie Baragwanath Pass.  It was hot and slow riding over technical crushed rock.  A third of the way up we met up with Glenn the Medic (AKA “Don't-Call-Me-Unless-You’re- Unconscious-Or-You’ve- Stopped-Breathing”) who had our lunch packs and cold drinks.  We had a short rest before making our way up the pass and into the Lekgalameetse (Place of Water) Reserve. 
Unlike the hot, rocky grind of the pass, the reserve on the other side is an open, hard-baked downhill into a little Serengeti of running zebra.  Jaco and I detoured to visit Wonderwoud, an enchanted forest in the reserve.  We then raced down the tarred pass, stopping halfway down to take photo’s of the indigenous forest and waterfall. 
After 8 tough hours in the saddle the last 10km was slightly too long and we gave up trying to catch the Vakansieperd.  We were pleased to reach our overnight stop at Makutsi Camp at the foot of a stunning mountain, already turning pink in the setting sun.
After a hot bath and more good food supervised by our support angel, Ilette, we slept well and left early the following morning.  Initially we had planned to end the day at  Crystal Springs, but the guides realised that the terrain would make the 150km ride too much of a stretch, and there would have to be some scouting to determine the best option for the tour.
The first 9km of the ride out of Lekgalameetse the following day was slow but picture-perfect.  We worked our way up out of the indigenous forest, crossing the Makutsi River more than a dozen times, and taking side-bets as to whether or not Glenn the Medic would get his beloved vehicle through the narrow rocky crossings on his own.  At the top of the climb we played around on single track cattle paths near Mafefe that led us onto the unforgettable African Ivory Route.  The group split into two to evaluate separate routes, but we all experienced countless thrilling downhills, each acting as a slingshot to catapult us over the bumps in-between. 
The Ivory Route was a treat that ended in a descent of switchbacks so steep and rocky that holding onto the brakes was futile.  We tried to take in the view on the way down, but it was way safer to look ahead. I wanted to console two youngsters at the bottom of the mountain who had been scared off by what Dylan referred to as his nut-cracking, jaw-shattering, helter-skelter descent, but those kids weren’t coming out of the bushes for a dusty woman wearing funny pants and a helmet!
Not sure when we would meet up with Glenn the Medic again we bought cold drinks at an unmarked spaza shop run by Esther Mabokwane.  She insisted that I go on a guided tour of her beautiful home, and the language barrier became interesting.  I explained to her that my surname was Garden, like the place where vegetables grow, and by the time we left her my name was Sharon Vegetable Garden, which is a very good start.
We all met up with Glenn under a huge indaba tree shortly afterwards, and then we crossed the Olifant’s River near a sluice gate.  We split up again to scout different routes, and Fiona, Neal and Ben followed the treasure trail to recce a way around an andalusite mine while we took the less dusty option.
The rest of the day was very different to the lush forests of day one.  The Venda landscape was dry and scrubby and the district road section of gravel was hot, with a slight drag that may see it booted out of the tour next year.  However, the joy of the little villages was a unique experience.  We stopped at an unmarked blue-roofed spaza.  We spent some time with the owner discussing the name of the store and by the time we left, he had decided to call it “Remember”.  So if you ever go through a tiny settlement in the Northern Province called Wimbledon look out for Mr Malapane’s forget-me-not spaza that has a very comfortable bench on the stoep. 
By this time we had split up into small groups and Dylan, Jaco and I avoided the tar by finding routes through the pretty Venda villages.  We did notice a “We were here” scratched in the dust by Derek and Doug, but we were in no hurry to catch up to them as they ate their way from spaza to spaza. We chatted to friendly, wide-eyed locals who were keen to try out their English on us...my favourite was a youngster on his way back from school who kept saying “Booootiful” as we did a bit of rock-hopping down an embankment.
We all met up at a garage in Burgersfort and the last 500m was on tar, much to Jaco’s disgust...he plans to limit the use of sealed surfaces on his ride from Beit to Cape to 10%. The gravel seam next to tar also counts as a sealed surface, so later in the trip he sometimes picked up his bike and carried it in protest when tar was only option.
With no hope of reaching Crystal Springs before sunset we called on our support angel, Ilette, to drive us back to the luxury of the Clubhouse, where we were joined by our guide for the next leg of the tour, the infamous Sabie Experience route director, Dennis Lawrie
After yet another huge breakfast we started day three with a ride through John Hood’s farm where herds of eland, zebra and rooihartebees scattered as soon as they caught our scent. We soon forgave Dennis for his Sabie Experience sins when treated us to a relatively easy climb almost to the top of Mount Anderson and then a relaxed day of riding on the endless escarpment. 
Continuing with the African treasure theme, Dennis gave us some insight into the history of forestry in the area.  According to the legend, a stray bullet from a hunter in the Sabie area in the late 1800’s chipped the rock and revealed gold. The resulting gold mines needed pit props and the timber industry was started.   The first commercial trees were planted in 1875 – great foresight considering that the trees take at least a decade to grow to a useful height - and today Sabie is surrounded by one of the largest man-made forestry areas in the world. (www.sabie.co.za)
We rode the familiar Stairway to Heaven in reverse; lunched on top of the world; and the braver souls then took a dip in the icy pool tucked away in the forest at the source of the Sabie River.
The trouble with touring, I discovered, is that you sometimes forget that you aren’t alone, and when Dennis and Ben took a sharp turn to the right on a fast descent I followed suit without thinking of the rider behind me.  By the time my bike could be reigned in to follow Dennis, Neal was tumbling over his handlebars to avoid me.  He fell with grace and without serious injury, but he still doesn’t quite understand how he got the drinks penalty that night for the incident.
Before we knew it we were at a short stretch of tar that led to 10km of gravel downhill to our stop at Gunyatoo Trout Farm just off Long Tom Pass.  The downhill was fabulous, although visibility was dangerously poor in the billowing dust from the leading cyclists.  At our overnight stop Ilette had now been replaced by Rudolf, who took care of our bags.  Debbie and her team from Gunyatoo, sorted out our laundry and prepared a very fancy dinner that night with Borscht and little potjies full of Indonesian chicken stew.
The next day we climbed for about 10km on forestry roads covered in a soft, grey powder that looked a little like the surface of the moon. 
We had more runaway downhills and a couple of punctures as we dropped into the valley and prepared ourselves for the 27km climb up to Kaapsehoop. We had an unexpected portage when we took a wrong turn – Ben was blamed and redeemed himself by going over his handlebars on the way down.  He climbed out of the section with an enthusiastic attempt to convince us that it should form part of the tour: “Wasn’t that a fabulous portage?”
The beginning of the climb up to Kaapsehoop was rugged, steep and very hot, and as soon as the gradient and terrain eased we stopped for lunch in a shady spot.  We got back onto the bikes and found a good rhythm for the next section of the climb before resting again in the shade, waiting for Jaco.  As usual the Vakansieperd flew off while we were still refilling water bottles and Neal and I hung around at the back and took photographs of the interesting rock formations on the way up the mountain. 
We entered Kaapsehoop on an offroad track – the town is definitely worth the climb, with wild horses, quaint houses and good pancakes.  According to lowveldinfo.com gold was found here in the late 1800’s and the prospectors called the place Duiwelskantoor ('devils office') because " The mountains are so rugged that only the devil could live here". 
The wild horses are apparently descendants of pit ponies that were freed in the area, and they roam the town and countryside in swirls of mist.  After well-deserved pancakes and waffles with Lieflap, the spaniel, at the Koek-en- Pan we unpacked at the local backpackers.  We met up with our guide for the rest of the tour, Glenn “Forest” Harrison, a gracious, unassuming adventurer who holds the single speed record on the Freedom Challenge – 15 days to ride to cross the country offroad with only one gear on a rigid fork Giant 29er.
Glenn felt sorry for us after the long climb of the previous day, so day four of the tour was a relaxed, easy ride. We started with a breathtaking view of the lowveld from the lookout near Kaapsehoop.  The fynbos smell, boulders and white sand is so reminiscent of the Cape that I expected to see a lighthouse on the cliff with the sea in the valley below.  We stopped at the Stonehenge of rocks a little further on which is apparently a sundial from the air. After riding along the escarpment again, Glenn took us down switchbacks that we renamed Forest Falls in his honour.  Unlike the rocky gravel of our other downhills, we sailed down on a greener road past vegetation straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
We rode through the overgrown tea farm, Senteeko, which was virtually abandoned after labour disputes a couple of years ago. We stopped for a picnic (and a snooze for some) in a pine forest.  To reach our overnight stop at Queensview Hiking Hut we inadvertently split up into two groups – some had a muddier route than others.  Proving that good old mapwork is sometimes better than modern technology Rudolf’s GPS had him circling the property for a long time trying to find the entrance.
After great boerekos, including Marie’s cinnamon pampoenkoekies we slept well in the school-like dormitories and climbed on our bikes for the last leg of our journey over the border to Bulembu, Swaziland. 
And not in the least bit tired after the relaxed pace of the tour, we made the most of every last glorious kilometre.  During the day we all got to try out Glenn’s Giant 29 inch bike, and I was a bit worried that after 60km Neal wasn’t going to give it back...a little sceptical of the benefits before the tour, Neal is now in the market for a 29er.
Derek and Ben both had high-speed falls caused by an ugly rut halfway down one of the hills.  Much later in Bulembu Glenn the Medic fixed the gash in Ben’s knee, but not before Ben had to feign unconsciousness to justify the attention.
After the downhill we took a couple of hours to ride the legendary Barberton Classic climb, and then dropped a little to fill our water bottles at a stream in the valley.  The views were beautiful, and the change in vegetation as we moved towards Swaziland was marked – each hilltop was greener than the one before. 
The only hint at a mining legacy in the area is the gently rusting cable car infrastructure that spans the mountains and was once used to ferry asbestos all the way from Swaziland to Barbeton.  Even the names of the abandoned mines are inspired – my favourite was the “Maid of the Mountain Mine” near the border.

Far too soon for our liking we reached a boom that signalled the end of the dirt for our treasure trail - the remaining 25km of the tour would be on the newly tarred road to Josefsdal Border post. 
We lunched in the forest from the well-stocked lunch and snack boxes that Wim and Marie from Queen Rose had packed, and then hit the hot tar to Bulembu.  Jaco trailed at the back – grumpy about the sealed surface.  Ben took off like a rocket and was not seen again until later that day – his excuse was that his family was waiting for him in Bulembu and he needed medical attention, but he was still temporarily voted out of the tribe. 
We swooped down the tar and climbed slowly back up in the scorching heat.  Glenn the Medic’s big rescue vehicle with flashing lights behind us protected us from the traffic.  Around 5km from the border post we decided to park under some trees and wait for Jaco.  We were lying down in the shade when he went whizzing past shouting: “Watse gesittery is dit hierdie?”  We all jumped up and spent the next couple of kilometres reeling him in. 
The border posts were friendly and fast and we raced into Bulembu.  The town was built and operated by a mining company that mined chrysotile or white asbestos for more than 60 years.  When the mine closed down in 2001 the town was abandoned.  Bulembu is being revived with assistance from a Canadian charity, providing care to 2,000 orphaned and vulnerable children. The townspeople have a vision to become self-sustaining by 2020. 
The place has a “lost city” feel to it, including a decaying and deserted movie-theatre with two massive projectors still in place in a dark room upstairs.  We had a great evening around the fire at the Bulembu Lodge and were quite sad to drive out of town the following morning while the mountains were still covered in mist.
It is impossible to do justice to the atmosphere, the riding and the views of the treasure trail.  Touring, unlike racing, allows the riders stop for every photo opportunity; to listen to the local children whoop in delight when someone in the group pops a wheelie, and to just slowly soak up the awesomeness of this country in the company of like-minded adventurers...

Sabie Exp Training week 4 of 16

This week was not spent training, but riding a very lekker tour with a group of friends. Here are some photos in no particular order:
Group ready to leave Queen's Rose - Day 6, Friday

Group ready to start the tour - Day 1, Sunday

Resting in Bulembu - Day 6

Leaving Crystal Springs - Day 3

Having fun in a forest somewhere

Leaving Makhutsi camp in Lekgalameetsi Nature Reserve

Riding up a Mountain near Barberton or Sabie or...

Walking up a mountain.

Riding near the top of Iron Crown - Wolkberg - Day 1

Cooling off in the Mahlapeets River

Hartbeesvlakte Near Sabie

Gathering before the adventure started - Day 0, Saturday

Making sure everybody knows exactly what to expect of the next 6 days

Good maps - nobody got seriously lost...

Wolkberg riding

Orrie Baragwanath Pass

Mahlapeets Rivercrossing, 1 of many - Day 1

Wolkberg riding

Lunch - Day 6, Friday

Lunch on Mount Anderson  - Day 3, Tuesday

Sometimes one must walk a bit. This is true mountain biking.

Waffle and ice cream in Kaapsche Hoop

Wild horses of Kaapsche Hoop

Crawling up a hot hill near Barberton

Border post at Josefsdal / Bulembu

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 3 of 16

Week 3 is an easier week than week 2 and the idea is to recover, but still train.

Mon 13 Sep 2010 - Spent some time trying to "run" or more like shuffle around the smallholding. There will always be portages in the kind of mountain bike riding that I do so even if "running" is bad for me, it is a good idea to get the legs used to the stresses and strains they will have to endure during portaging my bike over mountains

Tues 14 Sep 2010 - 1.5 hours in zone 2 and then 2 x 16 mins in zone 3
Wed 15 Sep 2010 - 2.5 hours in zone 2. Showed Kobie the "time trial" route. We will use this route to determine our progress through the 16 weeks. First time trial is planned for Friday 17 Sep.
Thur 16 Sep 2010 -  REST
Fri 17 Sep 2010 - Ride a leisurely zone 1/2 warm up to the time trial route. Then it is every man for himself. Top 5 beats of zone 2 or as close as possible to that and 18.7km of undulating rough MTB terrain. When I did this on the 3rd Sep I took 1h16m at an avg HR of 123. Today I took 1h10m at an avg HR of 128. 6 mins in 14 days. Progress...
Sat 18 Sep 2010 - Packed and drove through to Haenertsburg.
Sun 19 Sep 2010 - Start of adventure from Haenertsburg to Bulembu in Swaziland. 88.7km From Haenertsburg to Makhutsi in Lekgalameetsi. NOW THIS DESERVES A POST OR TWO OF ITS OWN!

The Time Trial Data

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sabie Exp Training week 2 of 16

As was the plan this week was spent riding mostly in zone 1 and 2 and a few shortish intervals in zone 3.

Mon 6 Sep 2010 - 45.5km, 2h26m, avg HR 120bpm
Tue 7 Sep 2010 - 25.9km, 1h24m, avg HR 119bpm
                             2x10min intervals in zone 3
Wed 8 Sep 2010 - 32.3km, 2h10m, avg HR 98bpm
                              an active recovery ride with The Pretty One.
Thu 9 Sep 2010 - 36.5km, 2h17m, avg HR 119bpm
                              Broke the rear deraileur, Liezl, my daughter fetched me.
                              1x8min interval in zone 3 (was suppose to be 2x10min)
Fri 10 Sep 2010 - 29.1km, 1h23m, avg HR 117bpm
                              1x12min interval in zone 3 with new XT rear deraileur
Sat 11 Sep 2010 - 117km, 7h1m, avg HR 110bpm
                              Long Slow Distance (LSD) to get the important Time In The Saddle (TITS)
Sun 12 Sep 2010 - REST

Week 3 will be a "rest week", so it will be a bit easier than week 1 and 2. The REAL hard work is lurking...

I will be riding with a group of friends from Haenertsburg to Bulembu (Magoebaskloof to Swaziland) in week 4. This is a bit difficult to marry the training programme and the touring, but so be it. At least I will get plenty TITS and many LSD's

Week 3

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Program week 2 of 16

This is still very much a BASE week ans limited time will be spent in zone 3. The bulk of the week's riding will be zone 1 and 2 riding.

The target is to train for about 13.5 hours this week. This includes a LSD of 4.5 hrs and 40mins of zone 3 riding.

No zone 4 riding yet. We will get there...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sabie Ex Training Week 1 of 16

Day 1 - Monday - 30 Aug 2010
Kobie called on Sunday evening and informed me that his Monday will be unpredictable, and he will ride sometime during the day. It is also my son's birthday so Ilette planned an evening out with the family, so I planned to get away at 15h00 and ride for about 2.5 to 3 hours in Zone 1 & 2. This is called Base Training.
In the end I rode 40km at a good pace. Did a route that I used to test myself on. I am seriously unfit...

Date            Dist             Time            Avg HR
18 Sep 08    18.6km       0h52min      127          (Day before I was diagnosed with cancer)
30 Aug 10    18.7km       1h18min      123

I will revisit this route from time to time and test myself and the progress.

The plan for tomorrow is to do some zone 3 intervals along the railway line.

Day 2 - Tuesday 31 Aug 2010
Met Kobie at the railwayline service road and we did 2 intervals of 19 minutes each in zone 3. Rode a total of 30km at an average speed of 19.5km/h. This week is very mild and is really just the beginning. The real hard stuff is awaiting us.

Tomorrow morning we will ride a leisurely ride with the Housewife Tittevators. I hope they don't bully me to much. We are going to rido over "klipkoppie" (rock hill) and that normally opens up a few blocked ports in the resparotary system...

Day 3 - Wednesday 1 Sep 2010
Spring! I thought it was a touch chili at 07h00 when we started, but the chill lasted about 3 minutes. Had a lovely ride of 40km with the housewifes and Kobie and tried to keep the heart rate really low. Although, klipkoppie managed to push me into the red and I maxed at about 155bpm. Well into zone 5! Tomorrow we will take a rest day and Friday we will do an easy ride into Buffelsdrift. Up Okkie's road we will try and do a MAX HR test. Just to establish some benchmarks...

Day 4 - Thursday 2 Sep 2010
Rest... As important as the training.

Day 5 - Friday 3 Sep 2010
Kobie and I did a MAX Heart Rate Test up Okkie's. We really pushed hard and his Max came tot 182bpm and mine at an amazing 168bpm. Why amazing? I have not seen a max under any conditions higher that 164 on a bike. Interesting. So now we have our newly calculated target training zones and from week 2 we can get down to serious business.

Day 6 - Saturday 4 Sep 2010
The two of us did a LSD (Long Slow Distance) ride of 82km in just under 5 hrs. I was tired afterwards, but felt better than I did after me and Ilette rode a 40km ride a few weeks back. So it seem that the training is starting to work.

Day 7 - Sunday 5 Sep 2010
Rest... The luxury of resting on a weekend was thoroughly enjoyed by me. Spent the day with Ilette just driving around and following our noses. Sundays will normally be used to do a Back to Back tough ride and prepare the body for multi day adventures.

Week 2

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Short term goal

I am glad to be back on the bike and although the ankle is still stiff it is getting better by the day. So I thought of just focusing on the BIG RIDE of May 20111 - Beit Bridge to Wellington - but got asked/bullied into riding the Sabie Experience with a friend of mine.

I have ridden 3 Sabie Experiences, but Kobie is a rookie and want me to "guide" him through the do's and dont's. Kobie is living nearby and went on tour with us in February 2010. He is much fitter than me at this stage so the next 16 weeks will be hard work to try and get into shape for this.

Doing a fourth SE means that I might have to come back next year and join the club of 5 completed Sabie Experiences...

Family Time

The Pajero and Mountain Bike near Kosi Bay
The beautiful seed of the local Cycad
Friday night's Kampvuur
Elephant in the road...
Plenty Njala
Quenching a big thirst
So my mother just turned 70 and we took her to Kosi Bay. We were a big crowd of 15 people and went camping at Banga Nek or something to that effect. Quite a long drive there but everybody arrived and we had a lekker kampvuur on Friday night.

Saturday we left early for Tembe Elephant Park and eventually we found the Elephants. Saw quite a lot of game, even a crocodile.

Birthday girl left and her sister (Ina and Ria)
Mum deflating Swarrie's Pajero's wheels for the sand

Sunday I got up early and with deflated tires I did some serious sand training. Went well actually and I even got to ride on the beach into a 25k/h headwind. I had to put serious effort in to keep a speed of 10k/h going. And then I turned around... Hammered it back to the entry point and rode some more sandy roads. (I must say the Pajero is much more suited to the thick sand than the Merida, but I coped. Wide tires, low preassure...)

We packed and took the very scenic road back to Empangeni for another gastronomical feast.

Monday morning we left early and dropped my sister's daughter in Vryheid at her school and headed back to Pretoria. Certainly did not do as much mountain bike training as I wanted to, but what a very enjoyable weekend.