Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Owl's nest Trail Run

Man, it has been a while since I posted anything. I really should pick it up...
It's not that I haven't been busy, on the contrary. But nothing that I felt really excited to write about.

Anyway, let's start here.

This Sunday past was the inaugural Owl's Nest Trail run. It is situated on the side of a hill, and, having ridden my MTB there before, I knew the route would be awesome.

I intended to make it a duathlon, meaning cycle the 25km to the venue, do the run, and cycle home.
Nice :-)

However, Mother Nature had different ideas, and apparently I'm made of Disprin...
When I woke up at 4:40 to leave at 5:00 (race started at 6:45 and I like to be a bit early) I heard the ominous rumbling of thunder. I could just start hearing the tin-ting-ting of rain on the roof.
Shucks. I hope it doesn't start really raining...
Ten minutes later the heavens had opened up - seriaasly.

So I did what any good Disprin would do, and got back into bed.

I eventually paddled my car up the road at about 5:45, and got to the start 30 minutes later. I was amazed at the amount of cars there already. Apparently, though, a lot less than half of the expected number actually pitched...

Hung around chatting with Leon Smit from Outdoor Freedom (under his gazebo), waiting for the 7:00 delayed start, while keeping the wetsuit on standby.
With a 5-4-3-2-1-GO!!! we were off for a 800m loop to spread the field a bit before piling on the custom built MTB singletrack. However, as we were heading toward the singletrack, the leaders came charging back saying WRONG WAY!!
Knowing the place, I knew we were going the right way, and kept going after some confused milling about. It seems a marshal had gone AWOL, so the runners were never told to veer left, around the new fence. Which of course I discovered the hard way...
Once on the singletrack, the going was quite tough due to treacherous footing, even for the studded sole Montrails I had decided to use. Slippery as 5n0t... Every corner, and there were plenty, was a carefully negotiated affair, with quite a few people acquiring some real estate.
But man, 7km of beautiful singletrack...
Once done with that though, it was time to head out of the venue onto the district roads. I stopped for a quick sip of GI32 at the (only) waterpoint, and walked up the road to catch my breath. (I'm a mountainbiker, OK???) Luckily I did, because within 50m they called us back and said WRONG WAY!!!
See? This is what happens when you don't give a racer a map. At least here we can blame the organisers for getting us lost ;-)
They had to send the bakkie to go fetch the lead runners and turn them around. This was the first inkling I got that I wasn't that far behind the leaders.
Jeep Track
The road led us down into the valley (quite steeply, I might add) and onto some jeep tracks, which of course led us back to the top of the hill via quite a nice steep technical rocky climb. Only about 2km to go...
I was running with a lady at that stage, and as we turned the corner back into the venue with only 500m to go, he took the inside line, and I went wide, only to see her suddenly trip and disappear into the grass. Of course, being the gentleman that I am, and used to team racing, I stopped to help. turns out, she had gotten tangled in some old barbed wire! Eish...

Luckily she was not hurt, and after freeing her, we ran for the finish. She pipped me by 2s, but given that it was manual timing, I think they just saw her first. Anyway that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Turns out, she did the "short" 50km Addo Trail run two weeks before. So I don't feel so bad :-)
Race stats: Distance with footpod - 12.46km, vertical ascent - 195m, winning time - 1:03:34, my time - 1:07:51 for a 19th overall out of 121 finishers.

Good, clean fun :-)

Next up, Ystervark and Legend 24hour adventure race. Our team is assembled, and raring to go. I can't wait...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trans Baviaans 2010 part 2

The Start

The vuvuzelas sounded and the race began... slowly...

To get 1000 riders in 350 teams out of the start area was always going to take a while. When we finally got to the start blimp, people were going around it, through it over it... no, not really over it :-)
It was quite cramped though...

There was another whole mass of people off to the left of the blimp which you cannot see, because they are not on the photograph :-)

Finally reaching the blimp, I went through it and blasted off down the road in chase of the leaders. The team was on my tail, and we caught and passed the leaders at that stage in about 45 seconds.

Oh wait... That was the dream I had the night before...

What actually happened, is in the start confusion, I managed to sneak through the crown fairly quickly, and promptly lost the rest of the team, who are obviously not as adept (rude?) as I am at crowd swimming. So I rode along at a nice easy pace waiting for them to find me, which they eventually did - about 1km later :-)

We toured through the town of Willowmore, down the main street and the turned off onto a rocky jeep track, which would eventually (at 7km) spit us out onto the main dirt road leading through the Baviaans Kloof. On this road we would stay for the next eternity.
This would last until about CP2 at 110km, with Hammer Nutrition CP1 at about 50km. At CP 2, we had sent our light ahead in the race box 1, so we spent some time refilling energy drinks, lubing chains and attaching lights. Then we were off again.
We rode along one of the most beautiful riverside jeep track, with plenty of small river crossings, just enough to get your feet wet...
Some small climbs, and then the first "biggie" for the day - Up to the top of the Baviaans Back. Not high by any means at about 200m, but fairly steep and at a time in the race when the climbing legs haven't really done anything yet, so it comes as a shock. Also, we hit it about 16:00, meaning it was actually quite hot. But it was quickly dispatched, and the a rocking downhill the CP3, with box 2. Here we ate a quick supper of sosaties and potato and coffee, with some orange slices thrown in. I didn't eat too much, as I am prone to and not particularly fond of cramping. Fortunately, it was starting to cool down a bit as the sun dipped below the mountains.
Then we hit the fangs: two short sharp climbs of about 100m high and 1-2 km long each. They were almost over before they began. By this time it was starting to get a bit darker, so the light were beginning to come on.
We had finally reached the MAC - Mother of All Climbs. It is 500m high stretched over 10km. All I can say is that the granny gear was used copiously. I put my head down and just went, eventually cresting after running out of water about 4km from the top. I had a bit of a wait for my team, and then we hit CP 4 where we had soup and sat at the fire trying to get a bit warm. It was after all, after 21:00. Luckily we had sent all our warm clothes here in box 3, which was gratefully donned.
In the dark...

We pushed on to CP5, which was reached after an awesome descent in the dark, with lots of switchbacks. It was amazing to look back and see the lights coming from almost directly above us. CP5 also heralded our first meeting with our SuperSecretSecond Support driver. I caught an energy dip here though, and it was decided, quite unanimously I might add, that we were going to have a sleep here for a while. Long story short, I slpet for about 30 minutes in a camping chair freezing various parts of my anatomy off, while the rest of the team slept in the Sharan, fogging up all the windows...
I went to warm up at the fire, and managed to bum a piece of game sausage off the people there. I also consumed copious amounts of Energade or some such, not really sure what it was, and I didn't really care. I have to say, some of the people there were also "well lubricated"...
We finally left for the final stint to the finish. We still had another 50km or so to go, and were finally beginning to smell the end. A bit prematurely, as it turns out though.
As we hit the Never Ender, a climb which is not steep specifically, but stretches over approximately 18km with 400m accumulation, we also got caught in a windstorm, with gust of up 80km/h, if I had to guess. This wind came from all directions. You never knew when it would come from where. It almost blew me off my bike on more than one occasion. To make matters worse, Cat-I was seeing some seriaas sleep monsters, which were threatening to put her on the ground and keep her there for a while. She did manage a 10 minute snooze while I changed a battery, and we finally made it to the unmanned CP6, which was at the very top, and earlier than expected based on the route instructions.
CP7 Followed soon after, and here we had Jaffles, Coke and coffee and Cat-I had another good snooze. The people manning the refreshment table said that the last person who laid on the ground like that was put on a drip by the medics. Cat-I, however, said just leave me, I wanna sleep :-)
Much refreshed we attacked the last 22km, which turned out to be the only piece of singletrack. OK, it was a narrow dirt road come jeep track, but it FELT like singletrack :-)))
One climb of note, which was rocky and technical, then we were back on big dirt roads. Finally reaching the main tar road going past Jefferys bay, one could literally feel the spirits lifting. We were almost there!
We turned off into Jeffreys Bay and rolled into the finish after 18h42min.
The Finish - YAY!!!

We gratefully munched the complimentary Spur burgers (who knew they could taste that nice?) and went off to our campsite, which our SuperSecretSecond Nicolien, henceforth known as Kattemaaier ;-) set up while we were still busy with the first half of the race.
Funny story... Kattemaaier is an ardent amateur photographer, as I mentioned in part one, and part time mudskipper. The lack of proper photos is due the the fact that she tripped and fell in the mud, covering herself and her camera with mud. I hope it's fixable...

Yes, we were at the sea
Mudskipper Pan

 Thanks to all for a very memorable time. I would race with you guys anytime anyplace.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trans Baviaans 2010 part 1

This weekend past the long awaited and prepared for Trans Baviaans took place. It happened to coincide with the Leadville 100, a 100 mile MTB race in Colorado at high altitude (see Fatcyclist's blog here and here - well worth the read...)
The Trans Baviaans is somewhat tougher.
Yes, it's at low altitude, and yes, the climbing is similar (slightly less, in fact) over a longer distance. This sentence, however, also contains the reason for my statement. A Longer Distance. 65km longer, to be more precise.
This race is billed as the the longest single stage mtb race in the world. This may have been true at its inception, but now with Sani2C nonstop and Desert Dash, it may have lost its claim. However, because Desert Dash can be done solo, and many do it, it can also be done as a relay, and Sani2C Nonstop seems to be a bit erratic in taking place, I'm going to claim that we finished the longest single stage mtb race in the world. There is no halfway, no team relay.
You just keep going. And going. And then you go some more :-)
But man, what a beautiful piece of country. I tell you the truth, SA must be one of the most beautiful place in the whole flipping world.

The Journey

Anyhow, the team (Adri Ferrari, Carine Cat-I, Brendan DuctTape, Nicolien Without-Nickname-yet and I) drove down to Willowmore (the start) on Friday. It's a long drive from Gauteng. It took about 10 hours to get there from picking up the girls in Jozi, and another 2.5 hours before that for us guys to pack and travel to them. This of course includes lots of stops to rest eat and take photos (Did I mention that our designated SuperSecretSecond and support driver Nicolien is an ardent amateur photographer and part time mud-skipper?)

We came from there...
We're goin there...
We also discovered just about how far a VW Sharan TDi can go one a full tank... Pretoria to Willowmore... 1050km on 80l with 5 people and four bikes...
We made it with a fume to spare :-)

The Accomodation

Registration and Race Briefing were dispatched  with jovial informality, and then we were off to our accommodation for the evening. A bit of a drive back along the way we came, but we weren't scared of a little thing like that. We were booked in to a guest farm owned by Cobus and Louretta Lotter. It should be noted here, however, that they own TWO farms, one which is the guest farm previously mentioned and one where they themselves stay. We were supposed to go to the one where they stay. Of course, the gps coords were for the other one...
Luckily here in Africa we don't trust high technology, so we also had paper directions. Luckily.
The place where we were to stay is nestled in between the Witteberg and the Skoorsteenberg mountains. It makes for spectacular views and a slight minority complex. Of course, it also makes for excellent cellular reception... NOT!!!
Our hosts were incredible.
We arrived there in the dark, and were immediately greeted by various dogs as we stepped out.
then Tannie Louretta came out and welcomed us in and ushered us to the dining room where she had prepared a meal of epic proportions for us. There was enough food. Now, we are a bunch of cyclists (OK, actually adventure racers) and, as everybody knows, only a true cyclist is a bottomless pit when it comes to food (and I'm willing to extend this to adventure racers as well), AND given the fact that there were at least 25 of us between the two farms, AS WELL AS the fact that the food was scrumptious I must give all praise here. And all this with no electricity supply. That was taken care of by a generator!!! These people know how to host. Really well.
View past the farmhouse
We slept like rocks after sorting out the race checkpoint boxes. It's amazing how quiet it is when the nearest tar road is 16km away, and there is no light pollution. We awoke the next morning refreshed.
I climbed up a small koppie to the north of the farmhouse to watch the sun come up. It has actually become a special time of day for me.

Race Day

We had breakfast, another awesome meal where we couldn't finish all the food, packed the car, and drove off to the start.

Adri Ferrari
Carine Cat-I

I can't really wheelie...
Brendan DuctTape

Arriving without major incident (apart from a slight tire blowout) at the start, we get ready (mostly lubing bikes and placing purple alice bands on our helmets) we get to back of the start group and wait for the start in slightly nervous anticipation. For me anyway. At this stage, let me mention that my previous longest ride was 114km and my wife thought I was dead (she kept checking my pulse while I slept just to make sure I wasn't  :-) )
So this was at least double the length of anything I had ever tried.

But we were full of determination to see this through. Quitting is not something any of us take lightly, even with injury.
After the national anthem was sung (a first for me at any race, and a very nice touch), the vuvuzelas were sounded and the race began... be continued :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cullinan Diamond Dash MTB

Ok, no Kinetic Adventure for me. But I did do the Diamond Dash MTB on Saturday.
Brendan was also there (eventually :-) ) and Adri. I had a thought that we try to do it as a team, but du to various discombobulations that didn't happen.
AdriFerrari was in the starting group 5 min behind me. I have no idea where B-Dawg was, as I never saw him on the morning...
This did create some mild... worry... as he had arranged to fetch our numbers and race packs. AdriFerrari said that he was under the impression the race started at only 8:15, not 7:30 as it was actually the case.
So I started at 7:40 (3rd start group) after having waited and looked for B-Dawg without a number board. No one seemed to mind except me though :-)
The route was fast. Very fast. Not too technical, mostly, but with a fair amount of thick sand.
We headed out of Cullinan toward the northern side heading mostly downhill-ish for the first 15km, with some short sharp exceptions. Then after an orchard, we were onto some jeep track, followed by a piece of singeltrack with a mucky river crossing. 
Then one of the best parts: we were routed into a private game reserve (not sure if it actually is a reserve...) with another river crossing, but then we hit rocky singletrack as we headed into a gorge (see the image just before the "lowest point" - you can actually see the greenery of the gorge) with a waterfall and a cave. 
Strue. A cave. Well, maybe more of a tunnel than a cave, it had two entraces, but we'll stick with cave :-)
Very nice.
Then we were back onto district roads and smaller farm roads for some good timetrial training. At about 40km we hit my other favourite piece of the route. About 3km of downhill singletrack. Not technical by any means, but flowing hardpack fast. I almost felt like going back up to do it again!!!
Some more roads (This was not Magalies Monster, remember :-) ) and then over a rickety bridge and onto a piece of road next to an orchard. 
Hang on, I know this part... We came the opposite way earlier! for whatever reason, the organisers did not take us round the other side of Cullinan like last year (with its killer climb right at the end), but back along the same route we came out. Of course, then, one knows that all the nice fast downhills of the outride were now uphill drags... At least we knew what was was coming.
A little surprise loop at the end took us to within spitting distance of the big hole and then back to the start finish, for my time of 3:17:25, which I manually had to give to the timekeepers, as I had no number board. I measure just over 62km and 700m vertical ascent, so by no means a fearsome tough race.
All in all, though, a well organised most enjoyable outing.

Trans Baviaans, here I come....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Great Adventure part 3

It is now nearing the end of an exceptionally long, tiring and , for my wife, very painful, day

Jesse was born this afternoon at about 14:15, weighing 3.985kg, being 52cm long and having a head circumference of 36cm.

Not a small baby, then. But par for the course, given that my second son, Connor plonked a 4.16kg onto the scale 6 years ago. With one small difference, which I'll get to in a moment.

Yesterday my wife went to see the gynae for her check up, and she told him that if he thinks the baby is ready to be born, then she's ready for him to be born. Very much ready.

He said it was fine and that we much be the hospital at 05:00 to get ready for an induction. Administered, we settled down to wait.

And waiting would be the theme of the day to come.

Funny how time can be such a relative thing...

Anyhow, at 10:00 nothing much had happened yet, so the doctor decided to rupture the membranes. It was very shortly then that things started happening very quickly.

So from 10:30, until 14:15, less than 4 hours, the labour went form almost nothing the fullblown extremely painful contractions which followed quite rapidly on each other.

We had decided upon an epidural, as with the others, but as the labour progressed, the anaesthetist just didn't shown up. My wife's gynae had a Ceasarian section to perform at 13:00, but the the same anaesthetist was late for that. This was problematic, seeing as how he was supposed to come BEFORE the C-section to give my wife her epidural.

So she never got her epidural.

Let me rather not get into bashing people who are not able to defend themselves, however.

It may actually have been a blessing in disguise.

Jesse took one look at the outside world and tried to climb back into the womb... Seriously, he got a little bit stuck at the shoulder and almost got pulled back in. But a heroic combination of pushing and pulling from mother and doctor got him out in one piece, if a bit bruised.

But I have never heard a woman scream like I did today. You alway hear it on TV and think that they're dramatising this whole event.

Believe me, they're not.

My wife is an absolute trooper, and did an awesome job today. For all my experience in suffering with endurance MTB and painful injuries (I will repost a story I wrote last year about my shoulder in a month's time, watch this space...) I don't think I could ever have dine what she did. Not just 'cos I'm physically not able to, but I don't think I (or most men for that matter) am mentally capable of it.

But to see that little child come out into the light... That is the start of the greatest adventure of all - LIFE.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll

It is now... really early on a Friday morning, 2010 World Cup morning in fact, and it has fallen (hehehe) to me to write this report.
Just shy of seven on the clock last night, about ten like minded insaniacs pitched up at the MooMall ready to brave the slightly... fresh, I believe the word was... conditions to do the famous Rock 'n' Roll Dark 'n' Dirty route. After the usual "social ride nobody gets left behind" speech by Hardy, we were off up the hill and onto Cruiser.
You can say what you want, but Cruiser at speed is still one of the more awesome tracks around :-)
After a quick pomp by Hardy - his rear tyre was squishy - onto Vetseun, taking it easy near the top with all the very loose rocks, and hen bombing it down to the stop street at Smuts Street. Then loop back onto Beeg-Dipper, with some nice technical rumbly climbs. It was somewhere up this where I earned the right to write this prose. I managed to almost endo. On an uphill. But I settled for an inelegant dismount. Unfortunately, my hands touched the ground, and someone was there to see it...
Oh well :-)
Then onto Mielie Muure DH Rush, which was awesome!!! We waited a while at the regrouping point for one guy (I believe it was Willem-without-the-helmet) lost his light. Reattaching required some innovative cable tie usage, and while it pointed somewhat sideway, it didn't come off again.
I took the first speed zone up the hill next th the tar, and then the other Leon took the second from the Shebeen.
Hardy took the third one to the Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Vision). Then down Mineshaft SZ, but just after Blair Witch, Hardy decided he was tired of pomping his rear tyre, and decided to replace the tube. He whipped out a coffee thermos, and some plastic cups, and we all cheered him on while he replaced his tube. Kudo's for taking LATEOTT SZ with a full, seemingly never emptying thermos of sweet milky coffee, by the way :-)
Next it was onto another awesome piece of singletrack, then back into Irene at the cemement factory and onto Python. After tour de Tar, where Mark came flying past me like I was looking for parking to take the tiebreak SZ, which stuffed up all the stats, prompting Hardy to call Quadbusta the tiebreak. This was taken by Leon Smith again, meaning that the Leon's took 3 of the 6 SZ's :-)
Almost home, we hooked onto a piece of dirt road which I have, in my capacity of Writer Of Report, have decided to call Chicanes, and onto the first half of Cruiser, only in reverse.
We were back at the MooMall at 22:30, after 3:14 and 30 km.

Here is the track recorded last night. It was a bit darker than the image though :-)

Thanks to all for a good good night...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First Ascent Domestique Shorts

So the other day (just before Magalies Monster) I decided I need a new pair of shorts, seeings how my current favourite pair of Capestorm shorts (which is probably about five years old) was starting to look a bit like something out of a porn movie.
NOT that I know anything about that.
Although, almost any new movie nowadays can be classified as such.
Anyway, what was I talking about again?
Oh yes.
The porn shorts.
While still very comfortable, they were starting to be a bit... transparent in certain places...
So off to Sportsman's warehouse I go. Hiho, hiho...
Now, I prefer a more minimalist padding, cos I don't like the feel of wearing a nappy, and it's hard to run with thickly padded shorts, and also bib shorts don't do it for me. Which is a good thing, cos shorts are cheaper than bibs.
Anyhoo, SW did not have any Capestorm shorts. Only First Ascent and Howzit. So after having a good feel at both's padding, I decided on the slightly more expensive First Ascent's. These had an subjectively better feel to them, and being 8 panel, the fit is better than the others. For me anyway. The padding is a bit thicker than I prefer, but also quite firm, unlike the Howzits. The paddin is multiple density, with thicker harder padding on the sit bone area and thinner in the front and on the sides. Also, it touts to have "Anti-microbial padding". I would take this with a pinch of salt, cos after a few rides and (hopefully...) washes, I don't see it making much difference anymore.
So I pays may moneys. All R450 of it, which is slightly more than the recommended R440 on the First Ascent website.
Next day I do the Magalies Mini Monster, and lo, I completely forget about the shorts. I don't notice them at all. Which, to my mind, is exactly what you want. These shorts just fit nicely, pad comfortably without being squishy. No movement, and no uncomfortable squeeze from the waistband, which, by the way, is about 3cm wide.
So, there you have it. Even at the price, I believe these shorts are worth it. In fact, I have since bought two more pairs, which should sort me out for the foreseeable future.