14 Dec 2009

Baviaans Mountain Bike Marathon, August 2009

This was my 5th Baviaans event and my team mates were two guys, Carl and Peter, both from Cape Town. The other team from the gym was Rodney as the captain, with Amanda, Marle and Mario as team members. My ride went well with Carl and Peter but I do think it is better to train with your team so you know their strong and weak points. This is a marathon event starting at 10:00 on the Saturday morning and ends at 12:00 the next day. Be prepared for your teammates to go through euphoria stages as well as down in the dumps stages. Euphoria when you reach the top of yet another mountain and can appreciate the view and scenery and down in the dumps stages when the legs are getting very tired and there is still 60km to go and it is two in the morning.

We reached Willomore at 8 o’ clock after driving through the night. Rodney and I took turns behind the wheel and at some stage did 120km/h through the sleepy town of Graaff Reinet. Totally unintentional, but I think at that stage we were as sleepy as the town. We phoned through to Willomore to wake up Amanda whom we had to pick up and then drove through to Jeffreys Bay where we would leave the cars at the end point of the race. Mario and Marle were waiting for us there to drive us up to Willomore again. I know, it sounds a total muddle but because this event is an open ended race it means you have to get the riders at the start without their cars so that they can have their cars at the end waiting for them. Still confused? Come and be part of this great ride and experience this confusion firsthand.

Both teams decided to make use of the boxes provided instead of the 4x4 support. So on Friday night every team had to pack their boxes with the stuff they think they might need at that stage of the race. Careful planning is needed here, as there is only one box per checkpoint for the first 3 checkpoints and nothing after that and also only one box per team was allowed. These boxes had to be dropped off on the morning of the race so the truck could drop them off at the different checkpoints.

Saturday morning dawned beautiful and warm, in fact the warmest of all the times I have done this race. More than enough food was available at the different checkpoints. The riders had to make sure to fill their water bottles as this was the driest ever I’ve seen the Baviaans. Normally there would be enough water in the rivers we had to cross. This year the riverbeds were dry.

Doringkraal checkpoint looked like a picnic, but after Doringkraal it was the big climb up to Bergplaas. After setting and attaching our lights to our bikes we tackled the beast!
Reaching Bergplaas we changed our clothes into something warmer for the colder part of the night. There was also a mechanical tent where you could have your bike checked over and the chain oiled etc. That was wonderful to just hand your bike over to the specialists and have something warm to eat in the meantime. Now it was time for the very steep descent. Take care and rather ride conservatively than having a fall and ruining your bike and the chances of finishing the ride. Once at the bottom of the mountain it is plain sailing to the next checkpoint, Komdomo.

From Komdomo to Suurbron lies a never-ending hill. Slowly climbing up and up. My lights were playing up with a loose connection because of all the corrugations in the road. Once we fixed it we could keep a good steady pace again. We arrived around 2:30am at the last checkpoint and what a lovely surprise. Vetkoek with mince and jaffles and enough hot coffee for an army. We almost didn’t want to leave the warm cosy friendly area, but with only 26km to go, we dragged ourselves away.

We arrived at the end, jubilant, relieved, mission accomplished. Waiting for us was a wonderful hot spur burger. We just sat down on the curb and devoured it. Yumyum! When last have you had a spur burger at 4:30 in the morning? Unfortunately for me, the spare key of the car didn’t want to open the boot of the car where all my clean clothes were waiting for me. So I just wrapped myself in a blanket and fell asleep in a chair while waiting for the other team to arrive. And they did arrive, everyone with their own story to tell. Till next year!

13 Dec 2009

Kremetart 6 June 2009

Do yourself a favour and set aside a weekend to do the Krematart ride in Louis Trichardt. It is truly the best, friendliest, with over the top goodie bag, organised race you can imagine.

We arrived still in daylight on the Friday at our hotel, which was about 1km from the start. Perfect! Our rooms were brand new, not lived in before, but perfect. Once the bikes were off loaded and we were registered and while marvelling over the goodie bag, we settled in at the pub for a few welcome drinks. With the pasta dinner behind us it was time for bed, so we would be fresh for the long ride the next day, 175km in all.

There is just no better place to train during winter. While Gauteng is stuck in a bitter cold winter the northern parts of the country has very mild weather. Off we went on the first part of the race, which was about 48km. Starting off with a very steep climb of about 11km, but once over the top a race through the tunnels and a fairly flat stretch of road. Nowhere near the traffic like on the Gauteng roads. We reached the first stop for breakfast! Amazing! Everyone has something to eat, from soup, to sandwiches to yoghurt to muffins and coffee.
Everyone lines up for the second part of the race; about 52km. Every time the race was a precision start, with the pros starting first and ending with the Comrades, that’s us. This section is fairly flat and as long as you can stay with the bunch to help you through the windy patches, it is great. Reaching the next stop, we had lunch. Again, everything was so well organised. You could choose between a warm pie, or a roll with cheese and salad all nicely wrapped. Enough drinks to fill your bottles for the next stage. We found a nice shady spot to sit and were just watching the other riders and enjoying our lunch pack.
Lining up for the third stage after lunch and in the heat of the day, another 53km. This stage has always been to me the most difficult of the four stages. My legs were feeling a little lazy after the break and I know a few climbs were lying ahead. Here again, if you can stay with a few riders to help you set a pace, you will be ok. Every 100m of the last 1km were marked out. It was a steep climb and with very tired legs every 100m felt like a 1000. Reaching the top you were welcomed with a packet of sweets! Jelly babies, chocolates and biscuits. Very welcome indeed.
The last stage is only 22km, which would bring you back into town again. Put your head down and go as hard as you can, except you have to go over a climb first. On the other side of the climb is Louis Trichardt. Racing through town was quite something with the streets lined with supporters. We made it! We were over the line and were welcomed with a cold beer.

The prize giving was a fantastic affair with braai fires going and potjie kos and plates heaped with food. More cold beer and a lucky draw win made this one of the most memorable rides of 2009.
Leaving the town the next morning after another hearty breakfast, we were stopped by the traffic police, only to be showered with more gifts and fruit from the organisers. Tell your friends and be there next year. It is fantastic! Get even more information form www.kremetartcycling.co.za

Ride to Rhodes Dry Run: Day 2

The second day and another mountain

We got up early the next day and drove to Highover where we would leave the car. We were ready for the mountain, or so we thought. The climb was steep and with loose gravel it didn’t make it any easier.

The view was spectacular! Up and up we went and every now and again we would stop to admire the view over the Umkomaas valley. …and to catch our breath. The narrative warned about a hairpin bend and an even steeper climb from there. So every corner we turned and saw the road snaking upwards we were wondering if this was it. It wasn’t. Today we were climbing with fresh legs and a nasty thought run through my mind. How will I ride this mountain after already 80km of tough riding? That is for another day to work through. The last 800m of the steep climb we had to get off the bikes and push, it was just too steep.

Over the top and a welcome respite for the legs. The beautiful view, which met our eyes, was that of the farm, Blackwood. Such green pastures and rolling greenery and a tiny tractor moving in the fields. One other thought crossing my mind was, will I be able to look up and enjoy the scenery or will the cycling become drudgery.

I was there to support Rodney, but next year it will be me having to deal with the monsters.

11 Oct 2009

Travel to Cycle and Cycle to Travel number 1

I never know what the real reason is for all the cycling I'm doing, but while I'm doing it I'm having fun and seeing the country. Or is it that I want to see the country and just taking my bicycle along to complicate the luggage and packing for every trip. This is a post about the last 3 months' cycling and travelling.

Ride to Rhodes Dry Run

Rodney enjoys a challenge, so when he decided it was a good time for a new challenge, he decided to go BIGG. Doing the Ride to Rhodes is not for the fainthearted and a lot of preparation had to go into it. From making your own maps to trying to read them and understand them and stick them on your bicycle and make them weatherproof. That is only the maps we're talking about here. Then it was the shoes, soft sole, hard sole, cleats, a second pair just in case. Well the participants were fortunate enough to have a 100l container each to pack and repack their belongings, and pack they did! Rain jackets, snow jackets, breathable jackets, warm tops, beenies, balaclavas, socks for all weather, thick socks, thinner socks, thermal socks. An indepth study was made on the internet of all possible sites that might sell anything  usable for such an extreme event. I'm not even talking about all the technical stuff, disc brakes, chains, links, tubes, squirt and then there were lights too. Head lights and bike lights. I think the 100l was not big enough. So before Rodney could do the real Ride to Rhodes, we decided to do a dry run, just to see if he had everything for the event.

So we set off to Pietermaritzburg where the Ride to Rhodes would be starting. So much were added to the bike that it was going to be a huge effort to keep pedalling for distances of between 80-100km per day. We were in training.
With the heavy laden bike we started up and down the road and up and down, like roads do when it is mountainous terrain. Up, and up we went, past rural villages where children were looking on in wonder, clearly in awe of all and sundry strapped to the bike. It was beautiful nature, pine forests, rivulets, birds gliding high above the tree tops. It was really tough cycling but beautiful and it was wonderful to be out in the country. We had to stop often to catch our breaths but also to enjoy the scenery. Looking down from the mountain  onto the valey below. We could see the trickle of smoke from the cooking fires. We also had to stop often to consult the maps and the narrative which accompanied the maps and then we also had a GPS. To complicate matters? Well we did a few wrong turns and realised that to have a map does not mean you know how to navigate. It was going to be a tricky business.

We soon realised that not all roads, tracks and ways were going to be ridable. So we tackled the portage part. How to carry your bike in three easy steps.... maybe in three steps but not easy!
Remember all the bags and tyres and tubes etc strapped to the bike? Try and carry that up a mountain through tall tall grass. I didn't get to the carry part, I heaved and pushed and stumbled, but eventually we reached a grassy jeep track that lead us to the top of the mountain and to a lovely view.  That was absolutely worthwhile getting to the top and to be able to sit down and rest and have the valley at our feet. The downhill back to the car was a lot easier and quicker. This was day one of the dry run and we had a whole new mountain to cycle up the next day. 

4 Jul 2009

Bela Bela Ride:May 2009

It is always nice to do one of the easier rides on the riding calender. And to get more people of the gym taking part, an added bonus. Diarise this event as a "must do" for next year if you've missed out this year. It is a fairly flat ride with barely a hill, starting at the waterfront centre, going through town and then pass Settlers on the way back to Bela Bela.

The end is a nice get together with enough drinking holes to choose from. As you can see, only happy faces. Well done to Jacolien for getting back onto the bike! See you all next year!

Noon to Moon: May 2009

Now for those who have been to the Petit Paris in the Freestate will know how much fun it always is to do this event. The organising is well done, the people always friendly and helpful and with a revamped cycle trail it promised to be the best. Although I tried my bestest, only one team from the gym made it out to the event.

On Saturday morning we set out and the closer we got to the event the more worried we got. Normally by that time we would have passed a number of cars with mountain bikes on racks of various shapes and sizes, except we didn't see any. We even thought we had the date wrong! As we pulled into Petit Paris we saw them, tents, people, gasbraais, mountain bikes a plenty. With a sigh of relief and a hurried feeling to get the registration done and bikes ready we pulled into the perfect parking spot.

One minute before the Le Mans start of the race, the announcer called out our team number. Yes? Us? Can't be! A marshall closed the gate which our bikes were leaning against, and by accident cut the sidewall of my tyre with the razor wire. Oomph! Go tubeless, all the time! Just spinned the wheel a couple of times, checked the pressure and it sealed it by itself. So off we went! Well, sort of....a Le Mans start of the race means we had to run the first part, about 100m. I know it isn't a lot, but that is why I cycle and not run. Anyway, we got going.

As I said the trail had been changed and what a winner it was. Starting going passed the buildings, up a slight hill which was single track, sidestepping a few boulders, over the top, down hill, single track, rocky bumpy part, sharp left and a fast jeep track. Then sharp right, cross over the railway line, down a rough, bumpy track, where it evened out into a fast track through the trees (beautiful part) out on the other side making a fast line to the dam wall. A sharp, steep short very muddy uphill to get on top of the dam wall, bouncy grassy ride on the dam wall and then steep down with a sharp right at the bottom. Short sharp steep up again (or you could opt for the chicken run), passed the horses and the stables (that was nice) and cross the deep donga over a rickety grid. A fast track mixed with single track, next to the railway line for a short bit, and then the sharp left with a short steep climb and down the other side followed immediately with a steep short climb over the rickety bridge which brought you back to the start and the end of lap one. As we cycled lap after lap, I tried to memorise the track to make it just easier for myself when we have to do the night riding. The nose of the rock sticking out too far, or the line through the muddy part, or the up part after the rickety grid over the deep donga.

As the light started to fade, we decided to do one more lap before our stop to eat, add more clothing to our attire for night riding and of course add the lights to our bikes.

Being a noon to moon ride it meant we had to start at 12:00 and ride till 24:00. It always seems to me that the day time riding goes much faster and that during the night riding you have to struggle around yet another lap......of course it is all just in the mind.

The change over inside the big barn-like hall for the 24hour riders were absolutely abuzz with riders, friends, supporters and the like. The "grand stand" which was specially built for the occasion was packed with supporters. On the strike of midnight, our ride came to an end and we were welcomed in with a big cheer from the grand stand. We did 14 laps which came to a good 113km.

Of course we will do it again.

1 May 2009

When does one stop training?

The following poem talks about human longevity.

the horse and mule live thirty years
And nothing know of wine and beers;
The goat and sheep at twenty die
And never taste of Scotch or rye;
The cow drinks water by the ton
And at eighteen is almost done;
The dog at fifteen cashes in
Without the aid of rum or gin;
The cat in milk and water soaks
And then in twelve short years it croaks;
The modest, sober, bone-dry hen
Lays eggs for noggs, then dies at ten
All animals are strictly dry,
They blameless live and early die.
But sinful, ginful, rum-soaked men
Survive for three-score and ten -
And some of us, a very few,
Stay pickled till we're ninety-two

When does one stop training? Well, why would you want to stop? The Comrades marathon is coming up and it always amazes me how many "old" people are running, enjoying it and finishing a gruelling event like the Comrades. So the answer to the question is, never. Don't stop training.
To all of you who haven't started any training yet, what is keeping you from jumping in? Most of the times, it is just a decision..
See you at the gym or out there training!

28 Apr 2009

I'm back!

I'm back , I think! .....

After 10000 of teddy bears and attending Silke's wedding in Italy and trying to deal with so many public holidays in one month....Phew!.....I think I'm back.

So keep watching this favourite spot as a lot is happening in the coming months. From an easy Bela Bela coming up to an absolute challenge for Rodney, the R2R.
R2R stands for Ride to Rhodes. A monster, with all the ups and downs like climbing up and sliding down the Dragon's back. Check out more details and meet some of the riders on http://www.freedomchallenge.org.za/

So we will keep you posted, making you drool with envy. The rest of course is all happening in the gym. That is where all the inside stories are told, where we boast about our achievements, where we laugh. So join us and be part of some great fun.

I know this is not cycling but doesn't she just absolutely look lovely! .......Ignore, it's mother talk.

30 Jan 2009

Riding Season

This is indeed the riding season of the year where all roadies are on the road (you guessed it) preparing for the Argus Cycle Tour.

We here at the gym kicked off with a great number of riders taking part in the first event, the Pick n Pay Star Fast One (say that 10 times fast). I was quite nervous as I haven't had the change to get on my road bike since the 94.7. But funny enough as soon as your bum hits the saddle you just go into drive mode and off you go. The ride was fairly fast, with a bit of a headwind every now and again, not too badly but the rain came as a surprise and caught the tail-enders. We made ourselves at home underneath the canopy and watched the cyclists come in, patiently waiting for the rest of the team to arrive.

All had a story to tell. The story of the two punctures in one race-really bad. And about the first road race on a brand new bike and about the Garmin that is a better timer than the Polar. And through all these stories we cheered each other with another cold beer.

Here they come........

And more arrived....

We still don't know whose idea it was to go back by bus to the start. As the Fast One is an open-ended race we normally organise a driver to fetch and take. But for some reason this year we decided to do it differently. This was the result....
Eventually it was our turn to get onto the bus. More war stories were told while waiting in the queue, so I suppose it wasn't that bad. Our bikes got loaded onto a trailer and each bike was covered with a blanket. It looked strange, almost if one was going to put the bike to sleep. At last we were all on the bus and on our way back.

Till our next event which is the Emperor's Palace race. Haven't done it before, so will have to wait and see.

27 Jan 2009

What is happening @ the gym?

Well for starters, it seems like everyone is back and a few new faces too. Well done for surviving the big eating time! It does feel fantastic though to get back into our familiar routine of spinning and ball classes and adding to that a few out rides too.
It seems like the double class on a Tuesday evening at 18:30 is not getting the same enthusiastic crowd of last year, so here is the first change in 2009. No more double spin classes on a Tuesday. In place of that we will have another ball class at 18:30 and another spin class at 19:30. By the way, when last have you changed your exercise routine? Are you still on the same routine of two classes a week the way you started 2 years ago? Remember the 7-day week, ok.

The Argus Cycle Tour Is Looming
For all of you training for the Argus, this is the time to really knuckle down and work hard. It is just such a short period of time and then it is all over till next year. So come on, let’s put in an all out effort, training with vigor, raising our goals, achieving more.
By now you have booked your flight, if you are flying down, booked accommodation, and making sure your bike is arriving in Cape Town in one piece.

JH Retief
For R680 you can get your bike taken down to the Argus and back.
Packing in @ Centurion
27/2 from 9:00-17:00
28/2 from 9:00-17:00
1/3 from 9:00-17:00
Packing out in Cape Town
6/3 from 11:00-17:00
7/3 from 8:00-17:00
8/3 from 7:00
Post Argus Collection @ Centurion
13/3 from 9:00-17:00
14/3 from 9:00-17:00
16/3 from 9:00-17:00

Elliott-they are amazing
For a whopping R750 you can have your bike travel in utter luxury!

Pick up @ Centurion Cycle Lab
1/3 from 9:30-17:00
Unpack in Cape Town
6/3 from 12:00-18:00
7/3 from 9:00-18:00
Back @ Centurion
12/3 from 9:30 –17:00

Book now, if you haven’t yet. Time is running out.

Upcoming Races

  • Berge en Dale is taking place this Sat 31 Jan.
  • Emperor’s Palace on Sun 8 Feb
  • Ride for Sight on Sun 15 Feb
  • Carnival City MacSteel Sun 22Feb

    Get all the links to enter the races here on the blog.



As always, your enthusiastic, cheering you on, Bulla Team

14 Jan 2009

Feasting time......

Aaah, what a wonderful time we had, getting out and doing absolutely whatever we fancied. I know it sounds incredible, but me, your spinning instructor went on an indulging spree of note.
It was fry-up breakfasts, delicious Christmas cakes loaded with brandy cream or double thick brandy cream, pubs, pubs and pubs.
I have to show you some of the best delicacies I indulged in. Just to make you jealous, or make you feel better.How's this for pizzas, so big it could easily fill two plates, but I had the whole pizza...mmmmm.
Then came the Christmas dinner in a very quaint pub in a very old little village, with a log fire warming the dining room and driving out the cold. I'm glad I'm not smoking because you have to do all of that outside. By the way, this wonderful cheese dish was only the starters to the Christmas dinner. I was not planning to show you the rest of the meal, but all of it tremendously delicious.
Of course we had to quench our thirst as well. OOhh Pleeze... it wasn't water! No, we tried different beers, mixes and the rest. Well, in the end after seeing this billboard, I decided to stick with Guinness. I saw many other signs stating that Guinness makes you strong...thinking of the mountains I had to pedal up, I had another Guinness....to make me strong.

Of course the weather didn't play along either. In UK and Ireland it was bitterly cold. We were lucky though, no rain! We were dressed up to the eyebrows. You try and cycle with gear like that! That was the last straw to the camel's back. We were picking up weight and fast.

That was the festive season and I'm sure many of you went through the same agony. Eating, eating and no training.

Well, the festive season is over. We are slam bang in a whole new year which we can shape the way we like. It is your choice. We are back in the gym, back on our bikes and we are shedding the extra kilo's, slowly but surely.

What about you?