Jun 27, 2011

Life is beautiful (ter nagedagtenis van Franken)

Started the day feeling a lot better, food actually stayed with me. As i was cycling along the route and taking in some of the Karoo sights i started thinking about the route in general. Whatever people might say of David (which normally cant be repeated in most conversations), he is a visionary, a magician and along this route, the freedom challenge and everything it entails you get a chance to experience that magic. Phoned home to let them know i'm feeling better and received the news that a family friend passed away the previous day. The rest of the day blurred away with unanswerable questions. What his parents must be going through, there are no words, my heart and prayers go out to them. The only thing i could hold onto to move forward was that life is made up of moments,its up to us to make them as special as possible in the time we have here. As someone said, you only get to live once, but if you do it right maybe once is enough.

Jun 26, 2011

Living on a prayer, direct

With this in mind somehow i decided i have to leave now before the rain starts. Got dressed,took my lunch (dry toast) and just before setting off oom andre said a heartfelt prayer for me.

When u start bonking on a bike you know trouble is on the way. When i started bonking cycling downhill for 500m from the support station with two big portages on the way not a lot went through my mind except maybe survival. Started pushing my bike up,was feeling too weak to pick it up so just dealt with the extra mud and weight accumulating. Backpack must have eaten the dog,thing weighs a ton. Somehow made it to the top,no recollection of the walk up. Left my yummy half digested toast up there. The whole time the prayer kept recycling in my head, i kept adding Lord give me strength. The descend was awesome,steep muddy slippery and brought me out of the haze a bit. Went down,and started making my way to the bonthoek portage.

The bonthoek portage is one of the magical moments of the race, forming the barrier between the mountains behind you and the 'flat' karoo in front of you. Just keep swimming... At the top i sat down,completely depleted,nothing left. Only good thing was that i couldnt really feel my knee anymore. Eventually some sheep came to investigate,had to start smiling and took in some of the views. The descend was muddy,rocky, steep and still iced over, very technical but loads of fun. Somehow at the bottom started feeling a bit better and cruized off to Moordenaarspoort for the night. Once i got there realised i made the 10hr trip in 7. ? Dont know how. Missed a lot of the views but made it,thanx for the prayers oom andre and everyone else.

Jun 24, 2011

The Spraypainters

If anyone was wondering about the funky blogging,forgot phone in outside pocket for cold start so it has been doing some weird things.

The stopover at Chesney Wold was as to be expected, something else. The amazing food (which unfortunately never stayed in very long), a warm reception and great hospitality made me feel ready for the next big push. Thought i could try for Kranzkop with an early start and try and catch up to Marnitz a bit. After a hearty breakfast started a bit late, 6.30, and hit the nice and crispy weather outside (about  -8), making drinking almost impossible, both bottles froze solidly along with my beard. The best freedom advise i could pass on would be the tips from Carl and Marnitz, when in doubt aim south then west, follow the telephone lines, never ever get frustrated, and my own from experience, grow a beard.

Anyway, as every day there was a lot of scenic riding and i just started getting into a nice rythm climbing up to the first portage when breakfast decided to stay to admire the views. Not the best way to start the day, but almost at the next support station so just gather yourself and keep going. The descend down Kapokkraal was very much rideable this year, the muddy parts still being frozen. Very fun downhill, stopped quickly at the painted farmhouse, so much to see on the trail, should be touring it.

Arrived at Slaapkrans and found Marnitz bike standing there, probably felt the same way he did when he found my bike at Ntsikeni. Went inside and found him in bed, as oom Andre said he should think about starting a spraypainting shop the way he has been redecorating their house. Since i wasn't feeling too great either, and would love to ride with marnitz again, decided to call it a day as well. Stopped at 10.30, a bit unheard of but hey was a fun day out and now i get to rest a bit and give the knee a bit of a break.

Had a lovely middagslapie, woke up close to supper when tim james arrived, a big legend of the race and amazing person. Thought would be really special if i could ride with these two as long as my knee held, might even come close to last year's experience with carl and marnitz. Had a great supper with andre and oyce (can't really thank the support stations enough, these people make you part of their homes and lives and make the journey that much easier). Went to bed early planning to stay with marnitz and tim. Had a peaceful sleep for about 3hours when the fun games began. Give or take an hour every hour till 6 i had to run to avoid a rerun of marnitz's spraypainting of the house, had a interesting cycle going alternating between...well lets not go into the details. Needless to say i really did not feel like riding, rather try and sleep and recover.


So the updates are a bit behind. Stayed over at Ntsikeni since my knee wanted a holiday..seriously considered withdrawing from the race for most of the day. Luckily Marnitz arrived and helped me get out of a bad mental rut and back onto the bike. For the next two weeks riding through a painfull knee injury was the only way to see the surrounding beauty. Soos Marnitz se, rein gedagtes...

Took easy ride into Banchory with Marnitz, great stop over. The next morning was freezing start, but nowhere close to last years -14. Still made for a very cold early morning start. Had a close to perfect day riding with great weather and riding partner. Despite knee not feeling great made good time to Masakala and decided to stay on the bike with Marnitz to Malekholonyane. Arrived there just after dark, great thing seeing my start group again. Had to make the wise/realistic choice and tell Marnitz to push on without me, the knee was seriously not loving long hours on the bike.

Next day started out just aiming for Vuvu before dark, had a interesting poineerig section with Ricky, Di and Deon, reckon our route is faster than the trail out of Malekholonyane. Seemed like another great day of riding coming up, especially with Black fountain on the way. Eventually left the group, just want to keep a steady easy pace with the knee and minimize stopping (much easier on your own). Starting again even after a 5 minute stop feels like a small horse, or a huge rugby player kicking me in the knee for a couple of minutes, seriously not fun.
Got to the top of the ridge and was almost blown off my bike, this wind was something else. Turned off to Black fountain for some amazing singletrack riding and immediately my speed kicked up t about 40km/h. This was without peddaling and going slightly uphill (gives an idea of the windspeed). Actually had to brake quite hard on the downhill to avoid some race threatening crashes, was a lot of fun being blown about half a meter off course for the small jumps that i did take...none of that for the rest of the downhill. Caught up with the ride to rhodes guys at the bottom and we formed a nice group pushing for Vuvu before dark. After some seriously hard headwind riding (people walking faster than what we were riding) made the turn off to the valley. This section of road must compare favourably with the corrugated parts later on for being the worst section of road on the race.

The valley is one those amazing sections of riding that no-one really seems to enjoy while they are there. It is a mixed walk/swim/tight lines of riding with no-one around and an amazing backdrop. Really cool adventurous riding. Made it to Vuvu just before dark after a super cool day of riding some of the best trails around, missed a lot of the scenery because of my knee though. Unfortunately DDR had a epic day out, only arriving at 04:30 the next morning so never saw the rest of my batch again on the trail.

( -->>lehana 1+2)

My knee is keeping a steady 4-6 on the better painscale (for some brilliant humor go check out hyperboleandahalf), but managing quite nicely on between 4 and 8 myprodols each day. Which might be why everything seems so pretty, but i've found this new riding partner or rather that friendly red dragon thats persistently following me. In any case lots of sheep/easy food along the way so i should be fine. Made it to the start of last climb still feeling great,started climbing nice and easy rythm and then it hit me. Or rather my lunch hit the side of the road. Thought might have been the soup so had something to eat and drink and carried on to overnight stop. Got there nice and frosted, nothing better than a warm shower after a 6km -something descend. Met up with Errol and Estelle (two amazing rasa riders, keep it up guys!) Had some coke (i know) to help settle my stomach and had to run for the bathroom. Definitely the pills so time to stop the drug abuse, hate them anyway.

Jun 20, 2011

Trail update 2

bags, inflated them and floated across. Heading off had some mechanicals and lost some time to centacow,but arrived still feeling extremely strong. Heading off into the night i was going to make ntsikeni,maybe at 12/1ish...not to be. Going over one of the climbs had a look up and saw the start of the lunar eclipse. Hard to put in words exactly how amazing the next two hours of riding was under a full moon disapearing into a full eclipse. The science behind it quite easy,sun,planet,moon,line. But the feeling,atmosphere and riding...magical. Probably the best ride of my life.

Unfortunately picked up knee problems,decided to stop early and sleep over at some locals,next morning saw the chicken nest i almost stepped into at the bottom of my bed.

Started off feeling very good,but hit the first climb and knew i was in trouble. Knee started locking up and had a very painfull 6.30hours up what would normally be a 3hour section...time for breakfast...
to be continued

Sent from my Nokia phone

Trail update

A tad late,but here's the update on the first 5 days on the freedom trail.

First off, this year is proving to be way more a mental challenge than a physical one. The first day of riding started off at pmb,with great weather and a smashing sunrise. The aim for the day has always been ntsikeni,about 200km away. Hit the halfway mark at allendale still feeling refreshed from my swim over the umkomaas. Had a look at the rapid/crossing and knew was going to get washed away so put everything in my dry b

Sent from my Nokia phone

Jun 9, 2011


So it is almost 1 in the morning, the rain is softly falling outside. Inside however it's an entirely different story, clothes strewn over the floor, medical, mechanical and a 100 other different what ifs lying around in my room.

Oh well, for all the exitement i'm feeling it could have been much worse.
Yip hard to believe it is time for the Freedom Challenge again, 2400km of breath taking riding over the country. Luckily at the moment it seems like i might catch a break from the weather, forecasts are nowhere close to last years -12'C starts. Lets hope thats not basking in the sunsine that might never be there.

Still unsure if i will be blogging from the trail this year. The main reason for this post is to help create awareness for the Freedom Scholarship fund, a bit late on the wagon i know but whatever.
So this year i'm doing the Freedom again with the following two main goals:
Raise R30 000 for the Freedom Scholarship fund.
Raise R30 000 for Die Herberg.

Feel free to have a look at these projects and even more so to donate to these causes!
Have fun watching us getting lost!