Monday, January 31, 2011

Mapping a Game Farm

Sunday sight seeing. The Limpopo in flood. Normally a border post.
Sunset. Perfect ending to a perfect day.
The Pretty One at a giant ant nest

Great riding

More great riding
Very few mountains, so no downhills...
A friend of mine has a game farm in the north western region of Limpopo Province near Swartwater very close to the Limpopo River. The farm is about 1000 Hectares and to see the game and manage the farm properly a network of tracks was made over time. I was invited to bring my GPS and my mountain bike and plot the tracks and create a map for him. The circumference of the farm measures to about 24km, and I rode over 100 kms on Saturday and there is a number of tracks that still need to be mapped. So I will have to go back there.
Cycling amongst the Giants of th North

Before this can happen though I need to go to hospital. During December I developed an uneasiness in my lungs when training hard and because of my Cancer history I thought it better not to ignore this and hope it will go away. The X-rays did show something so now the procedure to make sure what it is is to do a bronchoscopy (putting a camera down my airpipe), a Torascopy (Making a small cut between my ribs and sticking a camera into my lung) and then making a bigger cut to take a sample and die a quick microscopic analysis to see if it is benign or malignant. If it turns out to be malignant then they open up the chest and cut out what is needed.

So let us pray that it is indeed not necessary for any drastic procedures and that I will be back training in a jiffy. I will try and keep you posted.
Sunrise with the breeze creating condensation on one of the few hills

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cycling at Swinburn

After a bit of rain durimg the night the day turned out to be exactly what one can whish for in a perfect world. It started off cool and cloudy, and only became warm later in the day. The rain stayed away until late afternoon when we wanted to braai. So we braaied under the roof on the stoep.

The ride was brilliant and I ended up doing 116km with nearly 2000m ascent. Down De Beer's Pass I was held back by strong winds but managed a respectable 86km/h. And then there was the mud... Glorious mud... Getting dirty is so much fun on a mountain bike.

I had big plans for Sunday, but the rain persisted and the laziness got the better of me. Eventually we went for a little ride (3 of us, Paul and Charles joined in) and this turned into a nice adventure when we decided to ride around the mountain at Swinburn. Only 12 km but it turned into a 4 hour ride/freeride/slog/hike. And did we get soaked by a thunderstorm of note!

But a great weekend and the mountain biking potential will definately see me back.

Lovely early morning riding along the service road.

Every indentation was a river after all the good rain.

The low point of the ride was that this pass was tarred recently.
It did make for some stunning downhill riding.

The escarment awaits. A lovely ride up the old railway pass near Van Rheenen

Marelize (organiser), Paul, Sharon, Linda and Charles
The Mountain in the Mist. The round trip was 12 km,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mountain training at Swinburn


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beit2Cape - 2011 edition

20 Days to go
My programme for the first leg of the Beit Bridge to Cape Town Mountain Bike trip. From Pietermaritzburg I am part of the Freedom Challenge Group.
Friday 27 May 2011 - Drive to Beit Bridge - The Pretty One will take me and hang around for a few days. Mobile Support Station (SS)
Sat 28 May 06h00 - start riding at Beit Bridge to Mangwele - Ilette wil man a "mobile support station at Mangwele, so there will be something to eat, the donkey should be warm and stock for the next day.
Sun 29 May - Mangwele to Madyisa Lodge. "Lodge" is maybe a bit overstated, but it is comfortable with your own room and bathroom.
Mon 30 May - Madyisa Lodge to Haenertsburg - Ilette will drop your/my stuff and head back to Pretoria. If someone need to go back - she only leaves as we arrive to say goodbye, so you can catch a lift.
Tue 31 May - Haenertsburg to Camp Mafef. If we can find a brave soul with a proper 4x4 to support us at camp Mafef, then so be it, otherwise we are on our own. There will be a bed, and I can arrange for bedding, but no towels or cutlery. There is a gas stove sometimes and drinking water, but I will take dry rations like nuts, dried fruit, pro-vitas, etc for lunch, dinner and breakfast.
We 1 June - Camp Mafef to Burgersfort - We should be at the first spaza in about 2-3 hours after we leave Mafef for coke and basics. We sleep in luxury at either Hannah Lodge or Iketla Lodge.
Thu 2 June - Burgersfort to Pelgrims Rest
Fri 3 June - P.R. to Mankele near Sudwala. I was catered for perfectly last year.
Sat 4 June - Mankele to Barberton.
Sun 5 Jun - Barberton to Piggs Peak - Know nothing yet of Piggs Peak
Mon 6 Jun - Piggs Peak to Mbabane - Know nothing about Mbabane yet
Tue 7 Jun - Mbabane to Amsterdam
Wed 8 Jun - Amsterdam to Lunaburg
Thu 9 Jun - Lunaburg to Bloodriverpoort
Fri 10 Jun - BRP to Rourke's Drift
Sat 11 Jun - RD to Kranskop
Sun 12 Jun - Kranskop to Dalton
Mon 13 Jun - Dalton to Pietermaritzburg
So, who is coming along? Even just for a fiew days...

Camp Mafef - You need a mountain Bike or Proper 4x4 to get here

I have crossed the Olifants River here before, hope it is not as full as this in June

Monday, January 10, 2011

Next Adventure - March 2011

Newsletter 2 

May 2011 be full of new adventures for each one of you, and me...
It is time to give some serious thought to the tour through the Baviaans in March
In short. There is a portion of the kloof that is now closed to individual cyclists, but a group with support vehicles can get a permit. I am arranging this. I need to know the numbers to book accommodation and get the permits. PLEASE REPLY BEFORE 12 JANUARY 2011 so I can get the ball rolling. (
The logistics is also challenging since we ride from a to b and not a circular route. I suggest 4x4 station wagon type vehicles (Pajero, Prado, Land Rover) with enough seating. Trailers with good ground clearance (else they might get wet at some of the river crossings). So typically 5-6 cyclists and a driver for your vehicle (7 seater + trailer) or Double cab with 4 riders and a driver.
The programme
Sat 19 March - Gather in Kabeljousrivier Caravan Park - Jeffriesbay
                       Camping at R110 per site with 6 person limit
                       Self catering at R550 per Chalet - Sleeps 4
Sun 20 March - Jeffries to Heron Cliff camping site - 51km
                       Camping at R40 per person
                        Self catering - 1 house with 3 rooms
Mon 21 March - Heron Cliff to Rooihoek Camping site - 46km
                         Camping only at Rooihoek. NO ELECTRICITY. There is no Self Catering close by.
Tues 22 March - Rooihoek to Bo-Kloof Camping site - 64km
                         Camping at R60pp
                         Self Catering (limited - 3 bedrooms) at R180pp
Wed 23 March - Bo-Kloof to Willowmore Guest House (spoiling ourselves) - 68km
                         about R475pp DB&B
A possible add-on
Thurs 24 March - Willowmore to Prince Albert (There is a very special guest house in P A) - 155km (flat, sandy, corrugated)
Fri 25 March - Prince Albert to Gamkaskloof Camping and SC available - 53km
Sat & Sun - Meander back home

Sabie Experience 2010

We trained. We raced. We enjoyed. And that is the reason why I ride my bike. Because I enjoy it. Someone said he would rather leave his wife than his bike. Well I love my wife, so I will not go that far, but I enjoy cycling...

Due to a seriously depleted field, The Old and The Pittyfull team managed a second place in the Masters category. But I will take it. It was OK to be on the podium again, but I think it was important for Kobie and I am glad we could do it.

Pitching Camp

After the time trial.

Ready to go

Support. THANKS!

Great to ride with our friends


The "outoppie" podium with walking sticks and all

Dirty and happy

Dirty and Happy

Holiday at Dullstroom

Bike wash

A decent size rainbow. Smoked and mmm...

Tranquility. Hunting for a Rainbow...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Steteyn's Kloof

Also known as "THAT Kloof".

A "kloof" is Afrikaans for a ravine, gully, valley
Steteyn's Kloof or Valley is part of the last 60km of the Freedom Trail that is raced once a year during the Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa. When I did this race in 2008 I could not traverse the KLOOF because of flooding, so the score was Steteyn's 1, Jaco 0. In 2010 I planned to ride the freedom challenge again but on my way to Pietermaritzburg I slipped while walking down a hill and broke my ankle. Steteyn's 2, Jaco 0.

My son was studying in Cape Town and when it was time for him to drive back home, The Pretty One decided I must fly down and drive back with him. (Must be the protective Mother Instinct). I did not complain and grabbed the opportunity to go an see (in the Cape's dry, warm season) what Steteyn's can throw at me. Me and my trusted steed boarded a midninght Khulula flight to Cape Town and was picked up from the airport by Antonie (my son).

In the good old days Steteyn's used to be a VERY overgrown lush valley with nobody going there. The pioneers of the Freedom Challenge faced a HUGE battle to get through the kloof, and how they did it, I don't know. Cape Nature started with a programme to remove the invasive foreign plants, and a footpath developed into the kloof. During 2009/2010 a fire break was cut in the high regions of the kloof and this became known quickly as the Steteyn's Highway.

Armed with all of this info I embarked on Saturday 11 Dec 2010 at 05h30 on my trip to follow this "Footpath highway". Piece of cake...

The footpath started out clear and easy to follow, but very soon it became clear to me that it was not used for a while, and nature is quickly reclaiming the footpath. And believe me, there does not grow many friendly plants in that kloof. Higher up in the kloof the fire break does make it easier to carry your bike without it getting grabbed by the lush Protea bushes, but the pioneer plants that covers the ground where the Proteas used to be, are very unfriendly and claim their share of your skin and blood.

BUT, the kloof is spectacularly beautifull, and once over the top the cycling on the Cape Town side is simply divine. It took me 11h46m to get back to Paarl. But it was good that I did it. will make my life easier in June when I do it again as part of the Beit2Cape ride 2011

Pictures say a thousand words... enjoy!
Start of the hike-a-bike section at the dam

The footpath
The flowers in summer are spectacular. I hope there will be some in winter?
The plants are not friendly and everything that grows there have a way of extracting blood from you.
The scree. Important to find it, not easy to get across it...
The fire break and the brutal climb out the valley top left

Sabie Exp Training week 16 of 16

13-19 Dec 2010

Monday I recovered from the drive back from Cape Town, fiddled with the bike and started getting everything ready for the race.
Tuesday we did a 5 minute test, and Kobie did better, I was a couple of meters short. I think I struggle with the high intensity stuff. Don't know why?
Wednesday we packed and drove to Sabie, pitched camp and got everything ready for the next morning's time trial and the 4 days of racing.

I was wandering how strong I would be and if I would not hold Kobie back to much, but we had 4 day of glorious mountain biking ahead of us and we did work hard in the last 16 weeks. The weather is always unpredictable in Sabie, but that is another story...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sabie Exp Training week 15 of 16

6-12 Dec

This was the so called "TAPER" that started so the intensity was lower.
Monday we did 20 15sec/15sec 100%/50% sprints along the railwayline
Tuesday we rode about 2 hrs in zone 2 - Flat roads
Wednesday morning I spent time with the "Bosbokkies" and joined them for breakfast after the ride
Thursday was time trial day and I equalled the time of the previous time trial exactly. On thursday night I flew to Cape Town to drive back with my son, and took the bike along.
Friday morning I had a not-so-easy ride with my uncle of 70 years. I hope I wil still be able to cycle in 20 years time!
Saturday Morning very early I tackled Steteynskloof, the last day of the freedom Challenge and what a spectacular day it was. 62km - 11h46m. It deserves a separate blog entry, watch this space.
The last part of the hike-a-bike section.

Sunday was spent driving the 1300km back from Cape Town to Pretoria