Monday, June 20, 2011

The end and the final chapter

Spend Sunday in Umhlanga. Woke at about 07:30, had breakfast, went down to chemist to get something for the eye and the dry skin and relax. Met my cousin and his wife for coffee at 14:00 and had a pleasant afternoon. Went for pizza and popped into Grace Family Church on my way home. Got to bed by 21:30. Had a very restless night with lots of sweeting and waking up. Ended up taking a sleeping pill, which put me away for four hours.

Booked out after breakfast, got collected by my cousin and dropped at the airport and caught plane home at 13:10. Everything went fine. Bike arrived in Cape Town in good condition even though it was not wrapped at all. Got home at 16:45 and went to doctor at 17:15. After check over he confirmed kidney infection and some slime on the lungs. Put onto antibiotics. Heart seems OK and should be able to get going again soon.

With this I am signing off from the 2011 Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa. The time I managed to participate was very tough, but fantastic. This definately is not for sissies. The weather conditions through the Karoo also seems to make it a tuffer that usual with tick mad being experianced by the competitors. Is was great to be part of it!

Philip

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day seven


Day seven
When I woke up I found a message on my phone that my transport, Dave and Dawn, will be picking me up at 08:00. I immediately proceeded to pack and get ready to leave. I quickly phoned Dawn to inform them that I probably will not be ready by then. That was fine with them and they duly arrived at 07:35. Dave started loading my stuff, while I went for breakfast, which consisted of Matabela and coffee. ( I just love Matabela). we got going at 07:50 and headed for Matatiele. On the road I received a message from George that he also pulled out and that they bring him through to Matatiele. It was decided that I will wait for George at a coffe shop and that we will make further arrangements. When we got to the Guest House, I was informed that George received a lift to Rhodes and that he will. Be going home from there. I started making arrangements to get home. Avis on Kokstad, which was 75 km away was not open, was not up to a journey to Durban in a taxi, so the only other option was to phone my friends at CABS and get them to fetch me. That was agreed, but it was a four journey so it was unlikely that they would get to Matatiele before 16:00. They arrived at 15:45. In meantime I started looking for a flight home. Nothing was available on Saturday and the Sunday flight was priced at R2,529. O made some sums and quickly realised that it would be cheaper to spend two days in Durban and fly home on Monday. I then proceeded to look for a guest house close to King Shaka airport. I managed to get a booking at the Umbrella Guest House in Umhlanga, paying with my cheque card, which the system accepted as a credit card. Now it was time for the flight. The best one was leaving at 13:10 and the cost was R929. I continued with the booking and again used my card. Unfortunately Kulula's system would not accept my cheque card as a credit card, so I went for the EFT option. That went fine until we got to the payment confirmation. After hanging on for about 15 minutes, I had no other option bit to cancel the transaction. When I

Day six

Day six
Got up at three, had breakfast and was ready to go by 03:45. We finally got going by 04:12. When I got to the gate I realised that I have forgotten my water bottle. Dropped bike, ran to living, look on table, no bottle, ran to room, look next to bed, no bottle, ran back to living room, look around, found it on another table in corner, ran back to bike, close gate, chase after other guys. Fortunately they were waiting, so the panic was over. Meanwhile the wind was blowing at between 50 and 60 kph. The retain also was such that we had to push, but it would have been difficult to stay on a bike in that wind. The first two hours of navigation was through grassland with the odd stream to cross. The only "riding" which we did was when we crossed a stream that was about five meters wide and the only way the get across was to ride! It was not deep, but wet shoes on that wind would have been very unpleasant. We got to the Ongeluksnek gate after two and half hours of walking. There we found shelter from the wind behind the gate house and took a bit of a breather. The weather forecast said that the wind would stop at 12:00, the locals said 07:00. After a rest, we started pushing our bikes up Ongeluksnek. Over the nek we managed to get on and do some riding for a change. After a ride of about an hour, we had to turn off and follow some tracks to get the Taba Chitja peak. By this time the wind had died down. We were now starting the climb to Black Fountain. It was a reasonable climb and most of it could be ridden.


Just past Black Fountain, which consisted of some abandunt buildings, we had a rest stop. Keith Scott looked at me and took my pulse. He did not find anything irregular, but suggest that I stop immediately. We discussed this with some of the other guys, who confirm that most if the rest is downhill. I therefore decided to continue at my own pace. It was about 13 km to Tinana Mission. This should normally take about two hours. It took me 6 hours to complete the journey! I got to a point, which I was sure was the "koppie". When I finally found my way around the right way, according to the narrative, I realised that the end was still some way off. When I finally found the right "koppie" I descended to quickly. I could work out the route to Tinana Mission from there and proceeded at my leasurely pace. I also found some people along the way who understood enough English to confirm that I was heading in the right directio. I came upon, what was described as a "good track", and followed that around the base of Ntabayikoniwa. A bakkie came down this "good track" and was only travelling at about 10 kph, due to the condition of the road! In some places it deteriorated to a single track in the grass. During my journey down from Black Fountain, I made peace with the rralisation that I must pull out and informed Race Office accordingly. I finally reached Tinana Mission at 16:30. I was offered a hot chocolate, which was greatfully accepted. Due the time it took me to get down the mountain, it was decided that I will sleep in Tinana Mission. Somebody would take me through to Matatiele in the morning. I was accomodated at Mrs Zibi, who provided a hot meal, a nice bed, some plastic bowls and hot water to wash with and a longdrop toilet which was 100 meters away from the home and so small that my knees touched the door! The bed was wonderful with enough blankets to keep me warm. I went to


sleep at 21:40 and slept like a baby. Breakfast was scheduled for 07:45, so I set my alarm for 07:00. Arrangements were made for me to be picked up at 09:00 at the mission.

Day five

What a pleasure to "lie in" a bit when you are on such a hectic schedule. We got up just before for breakfast together with Justin and Mike Woolnaugh who were taking the kit of the Riders to Rhodes though to Vuvu. After they left we were just taking it easy. Outside there was quite a cold wind blowing, so we remained inside most of the day. After lunch we washed our bikes and I fitted the spare chain I brought along. During previous evening Mike and Justin "took me on" on the weight of my pack. The result was that I "dumped" some excess clothing and some equipment as well as fitting the chain. In total I must have managed to shed about 2-3 kgs.
The first riders of the next group arrived at 16:20. Among them was a doctor and I queried him about my inability to get my heartbeat up. He checked the regularity of my pulse and found nothing wrong. He did mention that I may have light influenza, even though I do not have a cough. The test of the days group clocked in between 18:00 and 20:00. They were affectionately know a "the fat farmers". Most of them were farmers from the Natal Midlands and they carry some excess weight. There were four ladies in this group to.
As the stretch from Malekonyane to Vuvu is very long, the decision was to get up at three and start riding at four. Outside the wind was picking up speed!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 4

Day four



Due to the fact that we only got into bed at 01:00, we decided that we will start later and got going at 07:48. Once again navigation was not that difficult and we were making good time. I was having difficulty with energy levels being short of breath. Where I often get my heart rate up to 150, I was now running out of breath at 120! we had to cross some flood planes but it was mostly rideable or walkable. We missed Queens Mercy shop, but was lucky enough to foknd the Mpharane Supermarket! We bought a Coke to share and George had a tin of baked beans. I had the sandwich which I made for lunch. We then had to go up a hill where we had to carry our bicycles due to steepness. Once at the top, we were rewarded with the most breath taking views. Finding our way down was quite tricky. There was a Freedom Challenge marker, but the track seemed go to a dead end. We continued a bit further and found our way down to the Gladstone farm house. We once again pocked on an incorrect road, but saw from the map that it would get us to our destination. We arrived at 19:00 after 11:11 for 63 km and they say this is supposed to be an easy day! Due to our level of exhaustion, we decided to take the next day off, rest properly and continue again on Friday.

Day three

Day three


We left Ntsikeni at 06:10. The going was though, like usual. Initially we could not fine the track in the dark. After bashing through some long grass, we finally picked up the track. From there it went quite well. Justin, the guardian for the guys going to Rhodes, waited for us at the entrance to the Donnybrook forest. At this stage we were still all together. In the forest the faster men got going and George and myself carried at our pace. Navigztion was not to difficult and we were making good time. Towards the end we took a wrong turn, but we were at Centacow by 11:30. Justin met us there with some Coke and eats. We were going at a reasonable pace and found our way down to the first river crossing. Here the "fast guys" who got a bit lost in the Donnybrook forest, caught up with us. We tagged along with them for a while and they dropped us again. Once again the navigation was not that difficult and we were going along at a good pace. We still had about 20km to go when darkness fell. Finding cattle tracks on the dark is not easy! We found our way onto the foot of a hill where we had to pick up a two old farmhouses and a cattle track. In the darkness we could find neither. We had cellphone reception and tried to get some help. Everybody agreed that we were very close to the track but no luck. There also was abig donga directly in our way in an Easterly direction. After a while we decided to spend the night in bush and continue in the morning. We were also informed that one of the faster guys, Ugene Nel was due by 12:00. So we put our bikes on a high spot so that he can notice us. I decided to try one last time to look for the track. Walking in a SEdirection, I managed to get around the dongs and after while picked the track and the houses. I went back to where I left George and my bicycle and said "lets go"! At this stage George have already made himself comfortable under a bush. It did not look at though he was going to change his mind, so I left on my own. Three quarters of the way through the kloof is saw some lights up front. This was Justin who came looking for us. What an amazing guy! On my way home I still missed two turns in the dark, but found my way home and clocked in after 18 hrs 53 min! In the meantime found George and convinced him to ride home with him. So we got in at about the same tome. 96.21 km in 19 hours. What a day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dag 4

Na 'n baie laat nag gister 14 Junie, het Philip vanoggend 8 uur vertrek, en 7 uur vanaand by Maskala aangekom. Beplan om more rusdag te neem. Hoop hy sal julle opdatum hou met die afgelope 2 dae se reis. Sue

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dag 3

So pas met Philip gepraat; hy en George kry nie hul blyplek nie, en gaan vanaand sommer in 'n bos slaap; sonder aandete en kombers! Ai!! Ai!!

Dag 2

Day two
What a day! 103 km in 15 hours 20 minutes! Climbed over 2,300 meters. Due to the severity of the climbs, a fair amount of time was spent pushing. Fatigue probably also had something to with it. I remember from my childhood, when I spent five years in Natal, that this place is very "up and down" with one hill followed by another. The problem also is that most of the hills have a number of "false" tops. You think you are at the top, but then there are still a number of tops before you get to the end. I do not know if I ever have been so "knackered" as today! This race really is though. Most definitely not for sissies! We will have to dig deep and push on! And I fell about ten times. Fornufately all at less than 5kph

Dag 2

Day one
We got up at 04:20, had breakfast at 04:45 and left for the city hall at 05:30. At the stick of 06:00 we were off. Any thoughts I had of pushing through to Centacow disappeared in the first 500 meters as the Woolnaugh brothers set a blistering pace and disappeared into the distance. That was another blessing in disguise. The rest of us set about riding at a reasonable pace. A couple of groups started forming with myself in the third group. This became the forth group with me on my own when we hit a long climb and the RTR guys with their lighter packed surged ahead. At the Bynesfield turnoff I stopped for some pictures and George joined me. We then road together for the next 60 km.
The route was all I expected. It really is amazing scenery. We rode on some district roads and forestry tracks but also some road where very few cars ever come. This took us trough some villages onto a jeep track that turned into a concrete road do to the steepness. Fortunately it was downhill. Mostly at between 25-20%, but I think I once saw 33%! When we reached the end and I let go of my front brakes, I heard a "funny". When I tried to break again, there was no front brakes. Fortunately they came back within the next couple of kilometers. When then had to go down to the Umkmaas river and find our way along the river bank. We also had to scramble over some rocks, but the narrative was quiet clear and we found the route. Then we hit Hela Hela! What a hill. We must have climbed 800 meter in 8 km and whenever you think you are at the top, there is another hill. Arrived at Allendale at 17:05. 107km in 11 hrs 5 min with over 2,000 m of climbing and 6,872 calories burnt.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 1

We got up at 4.20, had breakfast at 4.45 and left for the city hall at 5.30. At stick of 6 we were off. Any thoughts I had of pushing to Centacow dissapeared in the 1st 500 meters as the Woolnaugh brothers set a blistering pace and disapperard into the distance. That was another blessing in disguise. The rest of us set about riding at a reasonable pace. A couple of groups forming with myself in the 3rd group. This became the 4th group with me on my own when we hit a long climb and the RTR guys with their lighter packed surged ahead. At the Bynesfiel turnoff I stopped for some pictures and Georgejoind me. We then road together for the next 60 km. The route was all I expected, it reall is amazing scenery. We rode on some district roads and forestry tracks but also some road where cars ever come. This took us through soem villages onto a jeep track that turned into a concrete road do to steepness. Fortunately it was downhill. Mostly at between 25-20% but I think I once saw 33%. When we reached the end and let go of my breakes, a heard a funny noice. When I tried to break again, there was no front brakes. Fortnately they came back within the next couple of kilometers. Whe then had to go down to the Umkaas river and find our way along the river bank. We also had to scramble over some rocks, but the narritive was quit clear and when we hit Hela Hela!! What a hill! We must have climed 800 m in 8 km and whenever you thnk you are at the top, there is another hill. Arrived at Allendale at 17.05, 107 km in 11h 5 min over 2,000m of climbing and 6,872 calories burnt.

Friday, June 10, 2011

On my way!

Yesterday was the last practice opportunity. Last bike and luggage was packed. Now I am ready to go!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Laaste Saterdag

Die laaste Saterdag vir oefening voor die begin van die Freedom Challenge. Lekker rustige rit vanaf Blouberg oor Hillcrest en terug. Het 'n bietjie re├źn langs die pad gekry maar gelukkig niks ernstig nie so ek het darem nie te nat geword nie. Hillcrest was 'n bietjie modderrig en ek dus maar besluit om die Groen roete oor die eerste deel te doen aangesien die Rooi pad se bult te glad sou wees. Rit was baie rustig en aangesien ek eers 08:36 by die huis weggekom het, het ek besluit om totale rit tot onder vier uur te beperk. Op die einde van die dag het dit my toe net drie uur vyftien minute geneem. My fiets was egter goed bemodder en ek wou ook nie die nuwe ketting nou al blootstel aan te veel verwering as gevolg van die modder nie. My agterrem is ook nie "lekker" nie en daar sal, voor ek begin, daarna gekyk moet word. Nog net twee moontlike oefen ritte voor die grote begin!

Friday, June 3, 2011

10 days to go

Ten days to my starting date for the Freedom Challenge RASA. Went for leisurely ride to Koeberg Nature Reserve this morning. It was a perfect day and the view if Table Mountain from Koeberg was stunning, although there was quite a think band of smog.