Monday, October 18, 2010

Rawsonville to Diemersfontein 17 October 2010



The alarm woke me at 04:30, in time to start the day with some quiet time and breakfast. I managed to hit the road at 05:36. Merwida is about 15km further from the start of Stettyns than Trouthaven, so I had quite a stint to do before the "real challenge". I arrived at Stettynsdam at 07:39. Fortunately I have "walked" Stettyns in March this year, so I had a good idea of what lay in store for me. I tried to stay as true as possible to the narratives as I did discover during my previous excursion that there are no "short cuts" in Stettyns. The markers set out by the Adventure Racers also makes life a little easier, although it still is very easy to take a wrong route and discover it to late and then you have to back track. The previous time I took the wrong route past the Shakelton wreck and this time I wanted to make sure I do not make the same mistake again. This is were the discussion with the Avidon's the previous evening really came in handy. I did once realise I was on the wrong route resulting in some serious "budu bashing", but it probably only cost me 30 minutes. After this I decided to "scout" the route before I take my bicycle along whenever I was not sure about the route. This ploy probably cost me an hour and a half in wasted time, but I am convinced that it was time well spent as the waste would have been more had I taken my bicycle up the wrong ally! At least I managed to find the elusive track through the reeds, which takes about 10 minutes rather than David's 2, but if you do not find it, it could take you more than an hour to get through! Once I got out on the other side I could see the ridge where I was due to end. What caught me by surprise was the number of smaller ridges and valleys I had to navigate through before reaching the bottom of the final "monster". 150 meters of climbing in a distance of 200 meters, that is some serious climbing, especially with a 10 kg rug sack and 13 kg bicycle on your back. It actually is surprising what one can achieve if you put your mind to it! With this hill you just have to grind your teeth and keep on going. It is so steep that it will be dangerous to stop and put your bicycle down because you may loose your balance and that will result in some serious damage to your body. I managed to reach the top by 15:30. That is 8 hours from the dam to the top, a total distance of approximately 12 km! Once on top, it is a scramble down the hill to the jeep tack that joins up with the road out of the valley. I reached the bottom of the old Du Toits Pass by 16:30. Then it was just a grind up the old pass and down to Diemersfontein where I arrived just after 18:00 to end two days of amasing cycling. After this i feel I really do have the ability to tackle the Freedom Challenge. What really also amases me is that there are some ladies that does this. I have renewed respect for them after this trip up Stettyns! I hope to get another one or two real training rides in before next June.

Bonnievale to Rawsonville



16 October is here. Set alarm for 04:00 because I have to be at Diemersfontein at 06:00 to pick Trevor up and along the way I must also collect my brother who will be bring my vehicle back to Diemersfontein. Everything went according to schedule. Treveor arrived at Diemersfontein at 06:05 in his new Kia Sorento. We transferred his bike to my car and set off for Bonnievale. Arrived at the turn-off to McGregor just before 08:00. Set of on the first leg at 08:06. Nice leisurely ride through to McGregor and onto Coenies River. The pace was reasonable, but I picked up that Trevor is struggling up the hills. We had a snack at the top of Coenies River while we enjoyed the awesome view. Just past Kasra Trevor's chain broke. Fortunately he had some spare powerlinks so we were on our way within 15 minutes. Up Trappieskraal Trevor started picking up problems with cramps. By this stage I started preparing myself mentally for tackling Stettyns the next day on my own as I though Trevor would not make it. Trevor had to walk up most of Trappieskraal due the cramps so it took us quite a while to get to the top. Once there, it was nice to cruse down the hill with no major climbs right through to Rawsonville. We were fortunate not to encounter Brandvleidam's notorious wind and had a quiet cycle around the dam. Due to Trouthaven being booked out for a wedding, we had to stay at Merwida, just outside of Rawsonville. Arrived there just in time to see the last 35 minutes of Western Province beating Free State in the Currie Cup semifinal. Trevor was pretty much "nackered" and decided, rightly, not to tackle Stettyns the next day. As we parked our bicycles we saw to other bicycles with map boards, which raised our curiosity. At supper we were surprised to find the Avignon' s, who did the Freedom Challenge this year, there. They took the train/bus from Gauteng to Lainsburg and was cycling from there to Bloubergstrand via Bainskloof. We had a nice chat and I picked up some more useful tips on how to navigate through Stetyns. Trevor was gone the minute his head hit the cushion. I was planning to get going by about 05:30 the next morning, so I also was gone by 21:30.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our party for our training ride from Bonnievale to Diemersfontein is down to two! Errol Derricke injured himself and pull out and Bret Rightford has allready arranged to take his wife away for the weekend. We will miss Errol experience, but we will manage!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Next training ride

A group of us are planning to do the Bonnievale to Diemersfontein leg of the Freedom Challenge on 16/17 October. We will hit the gravel at the turnoff to McGregor just past Bonnievale on the Stormsvlei road at 08:30 and travel through to Merwida at Rawsonville on Saturday 16 October. On Sunday 17 October we will leave Merwida before sunrise and hope to be at Diemersfontein by sunset. Stettyns here we come!