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, http://www.milesforsmiles.co.za/ (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

Sleepy

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

Phone&Blogging

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

Xams

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...