Aug 8, 2010

Rainy weather

Since i'm hibernating and studying is taking up too much time found an old quote again today. Was on an old Addidas advert, with Muhammad Ali.
"Impossible is nothing. Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world that they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing"

Some more impossible quotes:
"I don’t fail. I succeed at finding what doesn’t work." – Chris Titus
"A diamond is a piece of coal that stuck to the job." – Anonymous
"Reality can destroy the dream; why shouldn’t the dream destroy reality?" – George Moore

Ok so with all that motivation i should be able to get back to working on my impossible assignments and try to forget that it's a long weekend. Hopefully it rains enough for river to start flooding...

Jul 31, 2010

A day in the mountains

To take advantage of perfect winter weather and to take a break from the constant programming and frustrations that go with it decided to have another wild ride in Jonkershoek. This time however i've done the whole route beforehand and knew what should be rideable and therefore what we're going to attempt.

Roping in my partner in crime wasn't too difficult, thanks Harry, and we set off early Sunday morning in quite chilly weather. Overview of the route, start by riding up to Bergriviersnek, over Dwarsberg and then onto Swartboskloof route and down it. In total close to 18km of very tough riding/walking over some very scenic mountain terrain.

The first section went a lot quicker than the previous times, made it to top of Dwarsberg in about 3.5 hours. Had a quick detour to have a look at the path to Victoria peak, will definitely come back to do the first part of it. Some very technical and exposed riding later descended to top of Kurktrekkersnek and made way up to Sterrekykerskop. Surprised some hikers, most of which just stared in disbelief. Reckon i would have done the same thing a few years ago, it just doesn't seem possible/sane to take a bike that far into the mountains.
Although i can imagine that Cape Nature would be ecstatic to find us with bikes on the route i seriously doubt there will ever be a problem with mountain bikers causing erosion up there. Not enough crazy people to do it.

Once we hit the section next to the Triplets the trail smoothens out becoming probably the best section of riding in Jonkershoek (or above it), still a lot of technical sections but very rideable and with spectacular views of surrounding mountains and areas. Saw a Mountain Adder on the trail, very beautiful but gave it a wide berth after some photos.

When we arrived at the top of Swartboskloof decided to ride down as far as possibly before taking break. Our first mistake of the day came when we started discussing the ride as an adventure and and before it was over. Harry said, "One of us should just break something then it's an epic ride..", well 5 minutes later i rode over some rocks, which when compared to the rest of the route really wasn't even worth looking at. Maybe i should have been more focused on the trail than the views but never even felt the rock that hit my big blade, broke tooth and ricocheted off into my rear derailleur snapping the hanger. Well no worries i told Harry, will just make it a single speed and then ride down. Take out the multi tool. Ok look in the other pockets, open zip shake out bag...remembered that i took it out to put camera in. Luckily had some tape, taped up the jockey and proceeded to nature-fix the chain so that it doesn't flick into spokes. Good thing it happened right at the end, would have really sucked if it broke on the singletrack earlier. Still made for some very tough and interesting downhilling on last part of Swartboskloof trail (first half down is not very rideable).

Eventually made it all the way down to the circle route, that's when Harry realised he now needs to push me all the way home. With Lady Luck smiling on us just after the first small rise ran into some friends one of then busy fixing his chain. Great, converted the bike into single speed, took random guess took out couple of links and ended up with a 30*16 which actually worked really nicely.

Jul 23, 2010

Equipment Review

The time has arrived to do the equipment review before studies starts vying for space in my mind. Posting might become irregular/cease to exists if the academic load keeps on piling up.
Starting off with things i didn't find as useful or wouldn't take again would probably be the easiest.
  • Shoes- even after reading about the nature of the event i really didn't grasp how much walking there was going to be. Stupid me. With the backpack and trying to conserve energy i soon lost the urge to cycle to the top of every hill. Also certain hills were aptly renamed 'prostaat bulte'. Marnitz arguable had the best shoes i saw in the race, Shimano SPD boot. Actually anything except normal cycling shoes would have worked, even tekkies would have been too bad for the first week. That said i'm still really impressed with the abuse and bashing that my Mavic Razor shoes took and they're still going strong(ish).  
  • Gloves- i used full fingered gloves just about every day worked fine. However instead of buying a pair of wind proof gloves i opted to go for the surgical glove approach. One pair inside and one as outer layer over gloves. Even though this probably saved me from some frostbite;-), my hands were still freezing. On certain days even with Grabber hand warmers inside. So next time wind proof gloves.
  • Socks- Normal woolen socks worked just fine (the R30 ones in cycle shops), but for the first part of the race, especially with the cold and river crossing sealskin socks would have been worth their weight in gold. Definitely not attempting this again without them and decent shoes.
  • Condensed milk in 2l boxes. Even though his seemed to be a great idea at the time, we skipped a lot of the support stations which meant that spending a couple of hours outside having some great snack and appreciating the scenery was simply put, impossible. One Can would be able to tell his friends about an amazing night hike over Lehanas and another spectacular 400km's of travelling before falling prey to some farmers kitchen.

Jul 7, 2010

Beating the Pofmuis

Still not quite sure what to do with myself, busy updating the blog and sorting through the photo's. i've successfully beaten the dreaded Pofmuis (according to Marnitz this happens after the race when your body start retaining water and you start swelling), and adjusted the timer for next year;-).
Photo's will be on the slide show, but probable easier/better to just view them here, Freedom photo's. Well need to get back to some projects and find the motivation to not take my bike and backpack out somewhere on such an amazing day.

Since i'm going to redo most of the posts and layout, any comments would be appreciated. Also anyone wanting to join on excursion through the mountains are more than welcome...

Jul 6, 2010

Day 16

Last day. Finally caught the double Deckers and got 5hours of sleep. Woke up, everyone seemed extremely tense about Stetteynskloof,lot of stuff lying around that people left. Went up first part of trail,looked like hiking trail, seemed quite easy. Stopped before river to take bikes apart,rest of group didn't. Went right a bit early and spend some time creating new routes for the rest to follow:-). Found the airplane wing from the Shackleton crash and the rest of the plane shortly afterwards. Mixed feelings,exited to find it,but seeing the crash site and thinking about what happened to the crew, can't even imagine.

Shortly afterwards forgot about it all as moving forward become the only goal. Photo was at the easiest crossing (no jokes), the rest i really didn't even think about taking out my camera. Went for some serious bundu-ing through hakea,reeds, bramble bushes and all kinds of impassable underbrush. Luckily i packed my bushbreaker, Marnitz. Absolutely amazing what he went through, things i wouldn't even look at twice he just went through and created a nice road for me. Took about an hour to do 50m. Even with the bike strapped to my back it seemed to get caught on just about everything. Eventually made it through and up to top of climb,got David there waiting for us. Spectacular mountains all around. Heard that there was a path cut open at the bottom,but that's just part of the fun. Found quite a lot of leopard tracks on way down,and two cameras (made some interesting photos for cape nature).

Got to bottom of Du Toits kloof and went up the old pass, probable one of the worst moments in the race, up to the second last day we've been passing through the most amazing areas, scenic ride through South Africa and loved being out there. Now we were riding up a pass with amazing scenery and mountains surrounding us,but with more litter per every 10meters than the whole trip before that.
Lot of different thoughts as we coasted into the final few kilometers, bit of unbelief that its finally finished,wished i could turn around and to it again. Not going to go into too much detail,but it has definitely been a life changing experience and learned a lot about myself.
Will go through photo's a bit later and start uploading and edit posts a bit.

Jul 3, 2010

Day 15

Anysberg to Trouthaven:  235km, 21hrs, 1hr sleep.
Made a pit stop at Anysberg, in retrospect this was a good choice, i was still keen to go on when we arrived at 10, Marnitz in his infinite wisdom convinced me otherwise. Struggled a bit to sleep with the Leopard in the house with me ;-), but got bit more than an hour, didn't feel too bright when it was time to go on. Felt like i wanted to do the last 4 stops in 4 or 5 days and not in a single go. But got this far might as well keep going. 

Being the eternal optimist i am, i decided to treat the last part of the narritives into Montagu the same way if people tell you in a race that it is all downhill from here, or that you have a 15km downhill. i'm not a pessimist, but except for Swartberg pass and a few others there just isn't a thing such as a 20km downhill. As Marnitz said, if they tell you its downhill in mountain biking that just means it's a very flat road.

So with this mindset i just kept the pedals ticking thinking the last 29km downhill would be something similar to the previous 5km's. Was i ever surprised. Ok it's probable not really a 30km downhill, but after having been on the bike for about 24hours, with short stop at Anysberg, this was the easiest part of the route by far. You would be able to coast almost into town, with exception of one or two slight rises. Hit 68km/h in the dark, would love to do Ouberg pass in the daylight again. Stopped halfway down to put on some extra layers, suddenly very cold again.

Got into Montagu, had a warm shower and huge breakfast, aaahhh the small things. Left for McGregor, up and to this point in the race i'm guessing we've probable done less than 50km on tar, and it felt like we did 50km today, feeling very weird to ride on the tar. Then the camera crew caught us, of all the places, mad downhills, insane singletrack, taking some unplanned drop offs, riding some absolutely spectacular roads we're on tape on a tar road. At least the vineyards should make for a nice background view.
The camera crew seemed to unleash a new source of energy for my new GPS, taking climbs in his stride and actually making me work hard to keep up with him. Thank goodness they didn't pitch up anywhere with serious climbs ;-).
The worst part of riding came on the way to Brandvlei prison, on the tar road almost got hit a few times, would not make for the finish i imagined. This was the second worst part of riding on the whole trip, the worst part being Du Toits kloof pass. Don't want to complain, but i'm sure there must be better ways to finish off the last few days. But then again, with the exception of a few sections, say 30km's this has been a lifetime's riding the most spectacular roads, trails, paths and unridden sections of mountain biking which has been an absolute blast so culd easily look past this.

Jul 2, 2010

Day 14

Die Hel to Anysberg: 150km, 14hrs, 4hrs sleep.
Started at 5, i thought it would be fun and games to try a Rageltjie de Beer impersonation. Just couldn't get warmed up. So cold that i got back into bed after got dressed to just try and stop shaking. Marnitz snapped his gear cable after about 10 minutes. Then abused Tim's offer to stop there for breakfast (the provided frozen bananas and pears just didn't seem that appetizing) they were touring down the route this year. Saved by best oats ever. Thanks Tim, Michelle and Murray, for your helpfulness and hospitality and helping just about everyone on the route this year, absolute lifesavers today!

We only got to Die Leer at 9, but the stop was more than worth it. Unfortunately i tried cycling through the last river, whilst standing in the middle i saw the path to the left. Shrug, well that's how you learn, at least my shoes had dried out a bit before the walk up the ladder. Went through 4pairs of socks trying to keep my feet dryish. An absolute must -Sealskin socks.
Amazing walk up, can't believe donkeys go down there. Most of day was a rush to try make Montagu. We had some insane downhills though hit 75+ 4 different times, great. Tried hitting 80 on the Horlosiekrans downhill. This was probable the most accurate part of the narratives for the race:
"When you reach the top of Horlosiekrans prepare yourself for one of the fastest downhill rides
around. The gradient, the surface and the camber combine to draw you into a great descent.
Top speed reported on the downhill is currently 78 km/hr." 
Spun out at 65km/h twice and went down as aero as you can with a 10kg backpack, started to catch up to Marnitz and then nothing. Never even got near my brakes but reckon the weight disadvantage was just too much, never got above 77km/h. Next time i'm stopping at the top and stack up on as muck rocks as possible and then hit 80! ;-)
Got to Anysberg, wasted 30mins to search for the support station, 22:00. Decided to sleep bit,got 1hour and carried on to Montagu. Marnitz though he heard a Leopard, saw some tracks, but the only wildlife i saw was a Panda,  world gets a lot smaller when you can't see beyond your bike light and have been going almost non-stop for the whole night.

Day 13

Willowmore to Die Hel: 250km, 19hrs, 5.5hrs sleep (Last long sleep till end)

Early morning, started riding at 3. Difficult eating so early, but then again i'm not quite sure if i still have a natural biorhythm. Left Willowmore and yesterday's decision to wait turned out to be a good one, didn't really have any wind to speak of. Took about 7 hours to do the first hundred which took Carl 12hrs yesterday.
The first 180km was actually pretty flat riding, although for most of the way you had a choice between thick sand and heavy corrugation. Going to check in shower whether or not i have a Kore logo imprinted on my ass. Good thing i have an old Fox terra logic shock that doesn't distinguish between flats and corrugation. This section must have been an absolute blast to do on a rigid singlespeed-MUCH respect to Glenn Harrison.
Luckily we found a yellow monster which made the last section of about 10km a lot easier.
Got to Prins Albert at 2.30, left again at 4.

Cycled about halfway up Swartberg pass and walked the rest, took about 2hours. The kloof section at the bottom is a definite highlight, picturesque views. Went into the hell, normally can cycle everything easily now however with backpack it is quite a different story, walked most of the steep climbs. Lights died again at least i'm becoming quite good at descending in dark :-). Actually i'm very impressed with the light, bought the Hope Vision 1. For the price class it sits in and the weight this was probable the best buy of the trip(after the backpack), will do an equipment review afterwards.
Last hill felt like it was never going to end, think we had a quiet competition about who can make the most tracks going sideways. Heard car approaching, Tim James! He drove out to come see how we're doing and brought some coffee along, what a legend! Down into Hell scary downhill, especially at night, took it easy down after almost taking the straight line to next level on first few corners. Going down it felt like someone opened the freezer got immensely cold. Starting to struggle to maintain body heat, in the shower i was shaking so much almost couldn't get dressed. At least there is no sign of that imprint. Planning on going to Montagu tomorrow and then easier day to Trouthaven and home free after that, if all goes to plan.

Jun 29, 2010

Day 12

Damsedrif to Willowmore: 90km, 8hrs, 3hrs sleep.
Was really confused this morning, kept on doing stupid things probable just very tired. Got to bed at 3am set alarm for 6 instead of 7 couldn't sleep again. Amazing what your body can do, getting less than 5hours of sleep on average,riding more than 18hrs daily and still going. At a cost though, getting very into a very one-track mindset, eat-ride-eat-ride-sleep. Still getting stomach cramps this morning almost broke my handlebars just trying to think of something else, very unpleasant Felt better after couple hours of riding. Realised again just how beautiful the Baviaans is. This together with the riding through Natal very high on the list to do again. Marnitz just told me how close i came to hitting kudus last night never even saw them, too tired. Just remember that they were cementing the MAC climb, they will need to redo a few sections after we went down it last night.hehe.

Heading out of Baviaans hit that friendly headwind again making it three days in a row. If you look really closely at picture you'll find the pretty purple flowers which made the climb out of Baviaans considerable shorter. First climb in a while that i really felt strong on, starting to enjoy long climbs again;-). Apparently some houses got their roofs blown off, all i know is it took us 3.5hrs to do the last 28km into Willowmore. Was walking faster than i cycled at stages. When the road turned a bit wind would catch my backpack and it was quite a struggle to stay on the road. Got into Willowmore and decided to break until 2am, by which time hopefully the wind has died down.

Going to try and make up day so that we finish within 16days, Marnitz is raising funds, (Waar daai jong werkende vriende v my met die baie geld?), and got some sponsers if he finishes within 16days, so thing going to speed up from now on. (Actually it stayed about the same sleep just dramatically decreased).
So need to get going, hoping wind dies down then put in a few long days in the saddle.

Day 11

Bucklands to Damsedrif: 150km, 20hrs, 8hrs sleep.
Today we went from Bucklands over to the entrance of the Baviaanskloof and halfway through the kloof towards Willowmore. Tim James said the ride from Bucklands to entrance of Baviaans is a day's ride. Thought we could do better, since we had a whole day off doing nothing but sleep and eat and serviced the bikes. This was in fact the only real service the bike had in the two weeks, put on the spare chain, fixed gears, brakes, cable tied the bottlecage (only thing that broke during the Freedom Challenge).

Started early the morning, made some tracks all over the place to confuse some other people;-). Had another stunning sunrise. The portage over Paardeberg was fine, luckily didnt get shot at :-), very rideable road on top with fun fast downhill on the other side.

Had my first problem with bike, rock hit the front derailer and shifted it, but could fix it easily so no worries. Marnitz said it's because i ride like a hooligan, i just think the rock was bored of lying there all this time. Got  heavy wind on top of the mountain,guessing something like 40km/h with gusts over 60. Blew me off the track a few times.

Had some really really insanely cool downhills. Hands feel like they have thorns in,most mornings i have puffy hands when i wake up from all the shaking. Don't really want to list everything that's wrong, trying to focus on positive things. Truth be told there is a lot more of those if you just take the time to look around a bit and realise how privileged we are.

Went down old ossewa trail,extremely rough and crossed the river at the bottom 11 times,good for oumens voete. Got to Glencoe cottages, just before the Baviaans, round about 4 ate, got everything ready and left for Damsedrift. Should have made it by 12. Instead we got a heavy headwind as entertaining company. Expanded my vocabulary some more. The last 24km of flat/rolling riding took us close to 2.5hours. On the last uphill before the end of Baviaans everything caved in again,was shaking, sweating, couldn't even walk. Hoping it was something i ate earlier. Rode last two hours with bad stomach cramps, not fun. Marnitz helped me over again, absolutely no idea how i can ever thank him, feel really bad though, if it wasn't for me he could have been a day ahead in position to win race and maybe even go for the record.

Jun 28, 2010

Day 9&10

De Doorns to Bucklands: 295km, 26hrs, 6hrs sleep (previous day).
Have no idea how to start describing the day. After Carl spend an hour or so bundu-ing last night he got frustrated and decided he wanted to head off on his own. Which i can understand since we are riding with completely opposite goals, for myself, i want to enjoy the ride, take photos and ride a more constant pace throughout, similar to Marnitz, he's raising funds, quite sure he wanted to jaag Carl, but not go for the win/record necessarily. Carl however wants to chase. From here it should be a safe(ish) bet to say he should win. But in this race you can't plan, you can only do.

Anyway,so we headed off about an hour after Carl,went down Struishoek portage, a farmer painted rocks on way down, helps immensely. Thanks. Last year people went down a 'cliff' there, must have made for some interesting stories. I reckon most of it is rideable,but 8kg backpack, and bike shop, what bike shop...walked the first section with Marnitz. Eventually got bored and rode the rest down. Got the legend at the bottom, Tim James, spend some time chatting there, and had second breakfast mmmm. What a gentleman, really a super man. First really easy riding through Karoo. Impressed by people again, a farmers wife saw us and drove out to make sure we know the way to the hunting cottage, Van de Venterskraal, and opened the gates for us. Must have climbed a hundred fences by now and opened as many gates. Or getting close to that.
;-) On that topic,have learned to climb the normal 1.5m fences,2m,3m and 4m high ones with bike and backpack.

Had some spectacular riding the afternoon to Toekomst,through a nature reserve, really high electric fences,luckily the gate was open else you need to climb under it. Marnitz: "Ek weet nou nie hoe ek en my pikante lyfie daardeur gaan gaan nie". Had so much corrugation felt like my eyes where going to shake out, the night and next day as well. After Toekomst went around Darlington dam,had some funny moments with about 100cows following us. Went into Gwaas valley,really hard,just never really get going. Time 12ish. Everything gave in, Marnitz pushed my bike the last 500m or so. When i walked had sections where things went black,stumble along another few metres, crab a few meters...just keep going. Oh and by now we've done about 19hours, 180km lot of climbing and it has been raining for an hour. Went to sit down at abandoned farmhouse, ate whatever i thought i would be able to keep in.
Thought i truly learned something about limits. Absolutely wrong.
Rode next 14km to farm heavy headwind and horizontal rain, luckily most of it downhill. My light died thank goodness for trees next to road, could almost see the edge of the road, just stay in the middle. Almost got some fresh kudu steak. Told Marnitz i can't go any further. Said our goodbyes. Time 1:30.
Decided, screw this only two more hours to Bucklands, already wet, tired and what not, and went with him. Super nice 6km downhill,turned right and went on for another 5km's. Unfortunately while Marnitz was looking for the turn off to the farm on the left he missed the previous right turn. Turned back, he decided to go to the tar road, off the map and then try and head up back to Bucklands. After about 6km of hilly riding decided to go back since we don't even know where the tar road goes, could make big loop. Got back to farm turn off, really over the limits tired, can't really hold on to handlebars anymore, my hands were too sore. Time 3:30. Still raining.
Headed off to Bucklands,too tired to get batteries out of bag so still just using marnitz light. Climbed forever,or felt like it. Rise just never ends. Still 40km to go. Got to Kleinpoort, got some water, still raining and we picked up a headwind. Started going down, at last. Only 25km to go. Sleeping on bike. Tried turning my head into the rain. Tried slapping myself. Tried throwing water over my face. Tried sleeping. Tried not to sleep when going 60km/h. Woke up from heavier vibrations when bike started leaving the road. Started seeing some really funny/weird things. Eventually made it to Bucklands turnoff,spend 30mins going up and down looking for road, narritives wrong. At least it had stopped raining by now. Long story short, pulled in at Bucklands farmhouse 7:20.
Did 26hours of riding. 295km. Actually didn't feel so bad anymore, thought i could have carried on. Although breakfast happened in slow motion. Decided to sleep over, so rested whole day,ate&slept,really glad didn't go on, wouldn't have enjoyed it. Redefined my understanding of limits. At least it makes for a good story.

Jun 26, 2010

Day 8

Hofmeyr to De Doorns: 170km, 17hrs, 6hrs sleep.
Had another tough/easy day. First section quite flat. Woke up early and left at 4. Was first time i felt angry/frustrated so far and didn't really appreciate the riding. There was no breakfast(since Hofmeyr is not a support station only emergency stop, and we started early), ate what i could,but knew not enough. Not blaming race organizing or people or anything, the tannie probably would have gotten up and made us breakfast if she knew what time we were planning to leave. Have to say it again, the people at the support stations are absolutely amazing. Started bonking on Elandsberg portage, 3hours into ride and that was before sunrise, not a good way to start the day;-). At Romansfontein had huge breakfast, got my new chain, still wondering if i should put it on or not. There was two huge dogs,one stole my duct tape,when i started chasing it,the dog was loving the game, so when i eventually gave up it decided fun's gone, game over and proceeded to swallow my duct tape. Luckily still got some. Carl was pushing really hard to get us past De Doorns for day. Pacelined for couple of hours which i didn't enjoy, struggled and think only took about 5 photos. In our haste to start again we missed a turn, wasted about an hour going up and down on wrong road. Eventually found right road. Long walk to top,3km,with 1.5hrs of climbing prior to that. Had another breathtaking sundown, and a amazing downhill, about 10km long. Got lost for second time at bottom of hill. Carl and Marnitz had huge argument about direction,with Carl going right and Marnitz left, what a choice,up to now when Marnitz headed off left it turned out to be wrong. So there i was looking at Marnitz' light fading left and Carls light going around the mountain to the right, mmm coin toss? 50% chance of success. Luckily stuck with Marnitz,arrived here about an hour and half (after some conversations, post freedom i need to amend this to only read 40mins max, will make a mental note to correct this sometime) before Carl, although his route involved some serious thorns and bundu-ing. Tomorrow we'll try to go to Bucklands most likely just Toekomst, hopefully not the same as today.

Jun 24, 2010

Day 7

Brostelea to Hofmeyr: 170km, 13 hrs, 5hrs sleep.
Today went quite well,did 170km and finished before 7 tonight. Had the most amazing sunset, again:-).
Had an insane 12km downhill,lot of fun. We actually averaged above 20km/h today for last two hours, felt quite good. Starting to get second saddle sore,first one already gone, hopefully this one wont be too bad. Some wildlife again, jackal, small game and the Monkey (found new way to sit on saddle). In Hofmeyr now, according to oom Carel the race is now on,between us and Alex Harris.(Truth be told, in hindsight we lost it here by stopping early, but then again i wasn't exactly racing, and Carl still finished before Alex). I really couldn't care less, the only thing that concerns me is that i get less time for photographs and looking at the scenery and natural beauty surrounding us. In any case,tomorrow might be a very big one, again, getting up early, again.

Day 6

Slaapkranz to Brosterlea: 140km, 17hrs, 6hrs sleep.
Had two big portages this morning,about 6km in total,took 4 hours to do 16km. The second portage took us to where the Karoo starts. Amazing sight looking back and seeing where we came from. Almost immediate difference in riding,seems like everything is just a little easier,but still really tough. First setback, Carel's bike broke today,makeshift fixed it with some bloudraad. His brother drove through from Klerksdorp to bring him a new bike. Still had to ride 130km with it today. Rest of day was mostly jeep track with farm roads but still had some amazing scenery. Riding through the trail so far has really taught me a lot about myself,its quite a humbling experience when you realise what the people did to make you comfortable. In Vuvu you get to sleep in one of their houses while they sometimes stay outside the whole night. We truly have an extremely beautiful country,should spend more time exploring it and realise its beauty and what sets it apart is the different people and cultures we have. Ok maybe i'm losing track a bit. Rode 17hours today, legs feeling 100%,wish could say same about my rear end. Waterbottel froze last night on way in to Brosterlea. Time for bed, 5hrs of sleep then do it all over again :-).

Day 5

Rhodes to Slaapkranz: 108km, 12hrs, 3.5hrs sleep.
Today was an easy day, although we all just sat in our very small worlds for most of the day, could see the previous couple of days was quite hard. Got up at 6 this morning after only 3.5hrs of sleep,with the usual, Jong man! Staan op ons moet ry! Just though about it, in last 5 days did 74hrs of riding and slept about 26hrs, fun. Had another portage at end of day, but felt like we ran up it compared to Lehanas, got some snow/rain at the top and had the most beautiful sunset with snow in background. Very scenic portage, at the bottom some travelling Italian painted in an abandoned house, must come back to have a look at that, just tried getting out of rain and wind today. Most of day was jeep track, but downhill at end was semi-unrideable because of mud (black turf that Marnitz calls the "polisiehonde modder"), luckily stopped raining after we finished the ossewapad, had some fun sliding sideways down there, more out of control than in but made it safely. Very impressed with support stations and people along route,extremely friendly and they truly go out of their way to help us. Funnily enough,had worst service at a four star hotel. Long day again tomorrow,170km.

Jun 22, 2010

Day 4

Malekholonyane to Rhodes: 145km, 20hrs ,6hrs sleep.
Had interesting morning,we went searching for, 'is there a frog' (try direct Afrikaans translation). Since i'm not really doing any navigation,i think i found a way to tell who is right, if Marnitz heads off left i follow Carl ;-). Had some insane singletrack to Black Fountain and over,epic epic. Rode for bit on edge of cliff/valley, very scenic. Huge smile, even the Commander smiled on downhill. Would love to come back and ride around here for couple of days.

Went into Vuvu and then headed off to Rhodes, had a long look at my condensed milk and decided to take it along (eventually it travelled about 400km before i gave it away). The toughest day i've ever had, for just about anything. The portage up Lehanas is truly something to experience, carried bike up for four hours,started getting snow about half way up. A few days earlier the challengers did the pass in knee deep snow, must have been an insane experience. Walked all the way just using the moonlight (and the occasional flashlight to find Marnitz and Carl), an experience i will never forget, absolutely smashingly beautiful. Not exactly sure i'll try it again at night but had faith in my trusty new navigation system. (If anyone has some photo's of Lehanas i would love to see what it looks like.) 

Over top got onto road to Tina lodge, was freezing, my feet were sweating and i could actually feel my toes starting to freeze together, interesting. Must remember to take sealskin socks next time.  Walked up long hill, cycled some but was pretty wasted, did tough 20hrs today. Down Naudes nek was the most amazing sight, went down at night, and snow all over place, some ice but great piece of riding with spectacular views in the moonlight. Would love to do it in the day sometime,about 10km downhill. Luckily for the most part it was easy riding into Rhodes after Lehanas. Got David at the Rhodes hotel for supper at two in the morning :-).
Tomorrow will hopefully be a bit easier.

Jun 20, 2010

Day 3

Banchory to Malekholonyane: 146km, 16hrs, 6hrs sleep.

So today all the extra riding paid off,made the double to Malekholonyane from Banchory, lunch stop at Masakala. Started at 5 this morning, was freezing, close to -12'C. Pipes in the house froze even though the taps were kept running. Waterbottel leaked a bit and froze to frame. Had some fun riding over puddles. Riding into Masakala was quite fun, two portages and a lot of singletrack/cowtracks. Some spectacular scenery. After Masakala the Commander,Carl Crous, said right, Marnitz said left and we did a field trip through the middle. About 5km of very bumpy riding. To give an idea,after 14hours on bike, my ass hurts,obviously,and my calves and kidneys from shaking, not quite sure that a hard tail is the way to go in this race, although it is a bit lighter. Think bouncing ball in tumble drier ;-). Eventually found right track again, had some awesome singletrack. Up another big hill, downhill we had some SUPER insane singletrack, probably 5km fast followed by 3km sweeping jeep track, awesome! Then missioned down a cliff to take short,crossed freezing river and last 3km uphill home. Tomorrow might be a very long one...

Jun 19, 2010

Day 2

Centacow to Banchory: 80km, 13.5hrs, 5.5hrs sleep.
Day 2 was super, started out a bit chilly but turned out to be another excellent day for riding. Went from Centocow to Banchory. Had stretch through grasslands from Ntsikeni, insanely bumpy but very rideable, wish partners could ride it, we walked a lot. Realised later on that whatever they lacked in technical skills they more than made up for with determination, hardkoppigheid and buckets full of vasbyt.(Must be that army training).

Heard some stories about getting lost through the dongas, similar to the de Decker brothers, made it through easily though. Before that had two long climbs, very steep, but worth the view. Saw first snow on road and that's after two days of sunny weather, poor people who started earlier. After some really entertaining night riding we eventually made it to Banchory heard we were at the wrong place, only got the sms from race management later on. Got some amazing food and hospitality, seems to just be getting better and better as the race progresses.

Day 1

Petermaritzburg to Centacow: 190km, 18hrs, 5hrs sleep.
So the first day didn't quite go according to plan. Went out with carl and marnitz seeing that they know the route, it made navigation a lot easier. Had some amazing riding for the first day with lot of highlights.
  • Seeing my first Njala
  • Going down SUPER steep concrete road, fun
  • Cycling up helahela.
  • Lots of singletrack
  • Longest shooting star ever
  • Second worst bonk
We arrived at 15:45,wind was bit against us and Carl was bonking,had fun pushing him. Anyway,they then decided to push on,i went along with my two new maps, but only untill we find the next group and i could realx take photo's and enjoy the scenery more. What was supposed to be a 48km ended up being 79km. Pay it forward, received lot of help when i started bonking, Marnitz even pushed my bike for bit. Got in just past 12, after some entertaining walking and route finding, or lack of it. Got to go, the commander is getting restless:-)

Jun 17, 2010

Night before

So everythings set,and lot of thoughts running through my mind. Mostly super exited to start,bit scared and worried,but just looking forward to doing the scenic route through South Africa. Really glad to be getting away from vuvuzelas;-). Had bit of problem with bike today,hopefully doesn't act up tomorrow.
Marnitz & Commander Crous want to go through to Ntsikeni tomorrow,well good luck, i've made up my mind, i'm on hday&most likely wont be pushing it before the Karoo. Anyway,time  for bed,breakfast at 5.

Jun 16, 2010


Ok so the blog has been pretty quite, not really sure if it's going to pick up in the next few weeks, we'll see. Tried making time to go through backpack and give equipment feedback, prob better idea to do it after the event in any case.
Bike is looking at me funny, methinks her feelings are hurt from being wrapped up in bubble wrap, but it's for her own good. My bed is currently being occupied by the clothes and spares that should see me through the event. For my hordes of followers(haha dankie freddie), if you see a cold front closing in, and you have a pretty good idea where i am gimme a sms. Apparently they closed off Swartberg pass today because of the heavy snow falls, luckily i only need to negotiate that in two weeks time, and i'm sure the Drakensberg didn't get as much snow ;-).
Ok time to finish up, to all those poor  people who need to work..shame..catch me if you can..

Jun 13, 2010


So this is the first post from my phone, just checking that everything is working, for those who haven't noticed yet the timer's a bit off, but hey who cares, Friday 06:00 is the big day!

Freedom Boxes Part 2

So at last here is the follow up with the content of my 2l ice cream boxes. Still haven’t finished my project, seeing it only needs to be in tomorrow there’s still plenty of time, ha. Also since the Freedom Challenge started yesterday a great new source of procrastination has arisen, tracking the poor people who have started already. Looking at the weather makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, actually no i'm really looking forward to cycling in the snow, but not freezing -Rhodes.

Back to the boxes, things i distinctly remember to have packed:

Jun 8, 2010


By popular demand(thanks phlippie) here is my newest post. i'm busy with projects and xams till Thursday, so don't hold your breath for anything before this weekend.
Short recap, 2l ice cream boxes have been post with lot of goodies and surprises, will post more details if i'm bored sometime. Or once my backpack is fully packed. Bike is in for final service and lot of replacements, eish very expensive. Going to buy last of the clothes i need on Friday and flying through to Durban next Tuesday. After that posting might become a problem, but you can always track me on the website(if the trackers are working), Freedom Challenge.
Ok back to the books...

May 26, 2010

Freedom boxes part 1

So i've been sitting behind my computer the whole day (and the previous two) and still not finished with the project. Good thing is after Sunday i probably would not have been able to ride anyway.  Went hiking in Jonkershoek at 'volspoed' (which with flat batteries=no photo's), amazing view of the mountains, and except for the wind howling over the top it was a great day out. Started with the Pieke, always some great views over the valley and Stellenbosch, then went over to Rifberg, then Cathedral. This bit looks impossible but there is quite an interesting route between the two, as our fearless leader remarked, "Hierdie is nie 'n skool uitstappie nie..", and eventually down Bergriviernek. Luckily we got a lift almost to Langrivier kloof so saved a bit of time. 

So almost time to get back to work, Friday is the big packing the 2l boxes. For the Freedom Challenge you can send these to every support station, lifesaver. Still need to try and figure out what i will need the most when, wonder how much peanut butter samies can fit in one (and in what shape it is going to be after a month).
Reckon biltong and chocolate might be the food of choice here, will post an update later

May 21, 2010

Landroskop hike a bike (misadventure)

So the official rematch was on. Woke up got ready and hit the road to Jonkershoek, getting used to the extra weight of the backpack but still interesting cycling with an extra 8-10 kg on your back and bike, especially the first hill of the day. I knew it would be a tough day, though it would be similar to the Boegoeskloof hike a bike, wow was i ever wrong. Lesson one, don't ever trust second hand information about a route you intend to hike a bike it. But i'm getting ahead of myself.

After our previous epic over the mountains excursion i heard from a friend that there is a much "easier route" over the mountain instead of taking the route through Boegoeskloof. Obviously i was interested and tried to find out exactly the scope of the route, how long?, rocky?, and most importantly is it rideable?
After being assured that the route would be a lot easier than the kloof i was quite exited to try out this new route. Would it open up a new dimension of mountain biking in Stellenbosch area? Hopefully no one of Cape Nature will ever read this blog.

May 19, 2010

Mountain hike a bike Rematch

So after taking a few days off and recovering, yesterday's mountain bike ride was just easy getting back into it. Today was an epic, ride all the technical singletracks in Jonkershoek, day. First time with an 'almost race weight' backpack, about 8kg's, makes a huge difference on just about everything, up, down, sideways and falling ;-).

Just checked the weather report and tomorrow seems about as good as it is going to get. The official rematch is on. A quick recap for those in the dark. Most of the photo's at the moment was taken on the previous excursion, starting in Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek going over the mountains and into Grabouw, most of the terrain was ride able but there was some interesting hike-a-bike sections. Interesting meaning tell your grandkids about it someday. I've scouted most of the route beforehand, hiking it, and needed someone crazy enough to believe that its possible on a mountain bike, thanks Harry. Well about 90km, 12 hours and a couple of spills later, battered and bruised we made it home. Did so much rocks and technical riding that most of our normal riding routes seem quite tame now.

Anyway, since Harry is working and i need a lot of long hike/riding days before the Freedom Challenge, tomorrow will see me attempting a new route over the mountains. If i survive will give an update and some new photo's later.
Remember to feed Hammie...

May 15, 2010

Royco weather

Rain, Soup, Vitamin C.

Yes the inevitable happened, i'm blogging in English. Whatever. Actually i'm sick which is why this blog came to life. Way too much time on hand and there is only so much of a day i'm willing to spend on academics with deadlines more than a week ago and three to go. ha sounds cool.

Hopefully this is the start of things to come with regular updates etc for people to waste their time with. Soon as i can hit the bike again it's time for a rematch with Groenberg...
Oh and while i'm at this, a big up to my unofficial official sponsers making this adventure possible.