Sunday, May 27, 2012

AMA Rider 100 miler

Saturday 26 May and time for the AMA Rider 100 miler in the Malmesbury District.  I had some business in Stellenbosch, so on Friday my wife and I took a drive put there and I popped in at Dirtopia to pick my number up. Took my bike to Cycles Direct to get the gears sorted out. They were not 100% after my Prince Albert/Wellington ride. That got done and I stocked up with "bombs" for the race. Our Trans Baviaans team agreed to use this race as part of our training, but on Friday Rob pulled out due to lack of training and on Saturday Danie pulled out due to a bad might with chest pains! Pierre was still riding, but I only had his email and having not yet met him I gad no way of finding him.  Mike Smit picked up at 06:00 and we arrived in Malmesbury just before 07:00. It was just as well that we were early, because there was a 10 minutes Stop and Go due to roadwork’s just before the start. Mike still had to get his "tag" validated with the result that we missed one another at the start. I down loaded last years course onto my Garmin so that I could monitor my progress. We got going promptly at 07:30 and as we were making our way through the vineyards, I saw guys, who were cutting it fine and were caught out by the Stop and Go, still arriving!
The tracks/roads were wet, but although it was over casted there was no rain. It was quite misty but the mist was not very thick. The first part of the course involves quite a bit of climbing. Nothing serious, but enough to ensure that your average speed remained under 20kph. My aim was to try and finish in 8 hours again, so I had to try and maintain an average above 20kph. At the first water point I have managed to get my average to 19. There is still quite a lot of climbing up to just after the "Breakfast Stop" where after we get into the undulations of some District and Farm roads. The wet roads are causing havoc with my gears. I oil them at the stop, but do not find an improvement. I cannot get into my big blade at the back, but as the climbing is not that serious; I manage to get over them without having to revert to pushing. I start maintaining a good rhythm and lead a bunch of riders into the next water point. At the point I decide to see how I am progressing compared to last year. I find that I am behind. At this point my average have increased to 19.7kph. By this time I am still optimistic of finishing at around 8 hours. The selection at the water point is not very good and I settle for a couple of glasses of Coke, a bit of banana and some oranges. I get going on my own. After a while some of the guys who were following before the water point comes past. I fall in behind them, but after a while decide that their pace is too high and fall back. Another lot went past me before the "lunch stop", with the same result. The "lunch stop" arrives at 110 km and we have a choice of soup, pasta, bananas and oranges. I settle for two cups of very nice vegetable soup. I also fill my water bottle with Powerade. I get going on my own again. The last 50 km will be a lonely  "slog" as I will most probably not be able to keep up with whoever comes past.  This is confirmed ad some guys come past. I do mot even try and stay with them. The route involves a number of steady climbs from this point to about 145km, so it is difficult to maintain a good average. I start accepting that 8 hours is out of the question and adjust my aim to 8:15-8:30. A number of other riders, including a guy and a girl, whom I passed earlier, came past. I manage to maintain eye contact! Just before the last water point Louis Loubscher, from Fairview Dairies comes past. We meet up again at the last water point and he tells me I "look strong"! My reply is the I do not feel so strong! Adrian Winsor is at hand to give my chain and rear derailleur a good dose of oil. Hopefully they will work better for the last 20km. I set off on my own again, in front of the guy and girl who passed me earlier. They come past before we start the climb of the hill just past this water point. Three quarters of the way up the hill I pass her and him just before the top. Over the top and onto a very nice down hill. I give it all I can to distance them. At the bottom of the hill we turn right onto a farm track, over some more ups and downs that leads onto the road that signals that the end is in sight. Along the way I pass a number of other riders. My Garmin also informs me that I have reached the finish at this time a year ago. From this vantage point I can see the buildings at the finish line in the distance. I still have 18 km to go and I have been in the saddle for 8 hours. I realise that I will only finish in about 8:45! By now I give it everything I have got. I want to make sure I come in before the guy and girl I passed on that long hill as well as the guys I have passed since then. My heart jumps with joy when I can see the Swartland Kelder buildings. Just before the end they have found a novel way if getting us over the R45. A single track has been constructed, taking us along the river and underneath the road. I complete the last km and finish in 8:48, a whole 57 minutes longer than last year. Well, at least I do have the challenge of improving again next year. Mike came in at about 8:30 and Pierre at 9:10. It seems at though Pierre and me are at the same strength for the Trans Baviaans!
Race distance 163km; 2,394m climbing; average speed 18.5kph; actual riding time 8:26:09. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trouthaven to Wellington

Trouthaven to Wellington

After a good night’s rest, I managed to get going at 05:55. While I was busy getting dressed, I realised that it was rather cold. I therefore decided to put my leggings and winter jacket on. Once I got going, the temperature settled at about 4-5 degrees Celsius, but the closer I got to Rawsonville, the colder it got, reaching down to 2.4! As I had to go through Rawsonville, most of the day’s travelling would be on tar. Total distance would be about 10km further, but travelling time would probably be 6-7 hours shorter. I stopped at an open CafĂ© and bought my customary 1-liter Coke. At the same time I got my winter beanie and windbreaker out to help keep me warm. I was not too pleasant sharing a road with cars and trucks, especially after a couple of days with just about no traffic. I did find the drivers curteous and no one tried to push me off the road. A number a vehicles actually crossed the white line while passing me. The N1 also had a good shoulder. The section between Rawsonville and the N1 and the old Pass from the tunnel to the top did not have much of a shoulder, but had very little traffic. It took me 51:54 to do the 7km from the old tunnel to the top of the pass. From there it was down hill all the way into Wellington. I arrived at the Wimpy at 10:15. A relitive short and easy day. 56.78km; 3:57:59 riding time; 4:20:22 travelling time; 736m climbing.

Summary for the trip:

549.17km; 7,465m climbing; 43 hours in the saddle.

Montagu to Trouthaven

Montagu to Trouthaven
I woke during the to the sound of raindrops, the first thing I did when I got up was to check what it looked like outside. It was wet with a light drizzle. I could handle that ad long as it did not come down in bucket loads and a stormy wind.
My "breakfast pack" provided by the hotel because I left early consisted of two salami and cheese sandwiches and apple juice.
Windguru predicted 70% change of rain, so I decided to dress for the occasion! Out can the rain jacket and I now had an opportunity to try out the rain pants I bought for last year's Freedom Challenge.
I managed to get going just after 06:00. The rain was not to bad, but the road between Montagu and Ashton was quite busy so early in the morning. I stopped at the garage in Ashton go fill my water with Coke. In the darkness I missed the Zandvliet turnoff, but realised it quick enough not to loose too much time. I now stated raining harder. Fortunately I was on tar. It stopped raining by the time I got to the Bonnievale road. My bum was holding up quite well after yesterday's pounding! As I took the turnoff to McGregor at the Bonnievale/McGregor inter section, I really started to rain again. The road was getting very wet with some muddy patches, which caused me to become quite a site and settled on my bike. 
In McGregor I stopped at one of the houses and got permission to hose my bike down and oiled the chain. The sky was looking gloomy over the Greyton Mountains, but promising where I was going. I had some drizzle at the top of Coenies Rivier, but nothing serious. As I was making my way towards Kasra, my phone rang. It was Meryl informing me that traversing over the top of Stettyns is only allowed while the Freedom Challenge is in progress. I therefore would not be able to concur the” sting in the trail" of the Freedom Challenge again! I dropped in at the Oestervanger, Kasra to say hallo to the ladies, but nobody was home. I then took the liberty and hosed my bike down again. The mud was clogging up due to some wet patches I went through.
On my way to De Fonteine, I came across a most peculiar sight. Two guys counting traffic in this remote area. It must be equal to watching grass grow! Trappies Kraal felt more difficult than the previous times I went over. Very rocky, which made pedaling difficult, whit the result that I pushed a fair part of the way. 
From the top it was plain sailing to the store at Hammanshof, where I filled my water bottle with Coke again. Once I was over McKays Kop, I felt relieved, but the stretch around the dams felt very long and the same goes for the first part of the turnoff past Dashbosch. It just goes on and on and on. I finally reached Trouthaven at 17:45, only to find nobody home, not even the farmer! I made a number of phone calls but all were on voice mail. I saw light at one of the cottages and decided to see if it was open, but it was locked. As I was busy trying to arrange for somebody the come and fetch me, Meryl got through to me and told me to look for the key under the mat. Volla, I was settled for the night. Tomorrow will now be a bit of an anti climax seeing that I cannot go over Stettyns. I will have to go through Rawsonville and over the Du Toits Pass. At lest I will be able to enjoy the decent into Diemersfontein.
Statistics for the day: 155.4km; 10:10: 32 riding time; 12:41:22 total time; 1, 769 meters climbed.

Rouxpos to Montagu

Got up at 05:45, had oats for breakfast and hit the road at 05:55. The first section to the divisional road was uneventful in the dark with some fast flowing ups and downs and a mean little hill at the end. After s couple of kilometers I took the turn-off to Wagendrift. This is the section where I lost my way last time ending up using to tar options. This time I did my homework better and got it right. There is a reference in the notes not to take to left turn after the farmhouse. Last I had the wrong farmhouse. The route through the veldt was quite nice with s few sandy patches and a two meter high fence. 
Fortunately Johann Rissik warned me about this gate and told me to go underneath about 30 meters to the left. That definitely was easier than trying to scale a 2-meter gate! 
The condition of the track was generally hard and easy to follow. It ended at a major from which the next turn-off was 9km further on. This track took through the mountains, up some dry riverbeds, which forms part of the track, through the North Eastern part of the Anysberg Reserve, a farm of a farmer who is trying to restrict access and back into Anysberg. The road through the reserve generally was in a fair to good condition with some very bumpy and rocky sections, which did not go down well with a backside, which had to support a 10kg rucksack. I was glad once I reached the end of the reserve because the road improved immediately. This linked onto the Montagu/Touwsriver, linked with the Montagu/Ladismith road. Both roads were in excellent condition but with some more climbing leading onto die Ou Berg Pass. From there is was a mad dash to the bottom followed by some more mostly downhill sections resulting in me making good time, although some of the corrugations did not go down well.
Statistics for the day: 144.6km; 9:57:41 riding time; 11:13:57 total time; 2,160m climbed.

Prince Albert to Rouxpos

Got up at 05:45 managed to hit the road at 05:55. It took me 2 hours to do the 14 km to the top of Swartberg Pass. I once again was awed by the beauty of the rock formations of the mountains of the pass. Awesome! The sign to Gamkaskloof indicated 37km and 2 hours travelling time. I would have loved to do it in 2 hours but I knew it would take me longer. I actually managed to do it in 2:27:15 riding time with a maximum of 53.7kph. Stoppages probably added another 30 minutes. I once again was amazed at the number of "false tops" in the hills on the way. Numerous times I thought I was at the top of the final hill only to encounter a” bit" more. It took me another 1:23 to cover the 20km to foot of The Ladder. From there it was a hard grind up the 900m with 275-elevation gain of The Ladder. This took me 30 minutes of moving time, giving an average of 1.8kph. The actual journey took me about 1:30 if I include all the rests I had. I even picked up a puncture while carrying my bike! A thorn from one of the bushed punctured it. As this was some way up and as I was pretty exhausted, I decided to first fix it before carrying. I also had two "lunch" stops, which I also used as "recovery" time. Today The Ladder was Hell!!

The 10km to the divisional road also was heavy going being quite rocky and having some steep sections. It took me 1:16 and I was very relieved once I had the main road in sight. The last 41km was nice smooth Divisional road with a fair number of hills, which did take its toll as I was fairly tired by now. I did manage to cover it in 2:30.

Total traveling time was 12:02 and I cover 125.19km; climbing 3,153m and burning 6,439kal! Actual riding time was 9:48:23. The other 2:24 was resting (especially up The Ladder, taking pictures and eating.

Blouberg to Prince Albert

Left home at 07:25 and cycled to Cape Town to catch the train to Prince Albert Road. Got to the station at 09:00 and handed bike in for transport in the goods van. Shosaloza Meyl left on time at 10:00. Journey to Prince Albert Road was quite pleasant with two other guys in the compartment with me. They were both on their way to Johannesburg. One, a very healthy looking 80 year old was quite talkative and shared various stories from his life with us. We also discovered that we both were at Kings Park in 1961 when the All Blacks and Natal played and drew 11-11! Had a very generous Curry and Rice for lunch for R40! Initially the train was running about 8 minutes late, but by the time we got to Laingsburg, it was made up. We arrived at Prince Albert Road 10 minutes early. I got my bike from the goods van and set off to Prince Albert. I knew to road was fairly easy with no serious hills but a number of "ups and downs". After about 15 km it got dark, but there was very little traffic and my lights were working fine. At 20 km I could see lights in the distance and was looking forward to a nice downhill run into Prince Albert. Unfortunately this did not materialise as the last km is either flat or with a slight incline with the result that I only finally saw lights again when I had 1 to go. Dennehof also is right at the other end of town so it was quite a "drag" before I finally arrived there at 19:25. Supper was ready and after a few minutes Johnn Rissik arrived to join me for supper. We had a nice pleasant chat over the meal talking about the surroundings, access problems and the Freedom Challenge. We finished at 20:45 and I bid my farewells and went to my room. My first priority was to see if I could not lighten my pack. I took out some excess clothing, which Johann agreed to bring to Cape Town early June. I probably managed to save a kg or so, but realised that one of the big weight factors was the water in my pack. The easiest solution to that problem was to half empty it. As water along the way would not be an issue, I decided to follow that route. Well I have had my shower and now am ready for a good night's rest. I have a hard day in front of me tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Voorbereiding vir reis

Alles is reg vir my jongste avontuur. My fiats is reg. Cycles Direct het hulle werk goed gedoen en alles het baie goed gewerk tydens my oefen ritte gedurende afgelope 10 dae. My sak is gepak en ek is 'n bietjie bekommerd oor die gewig, maar eerder te veel gewig as om koud te kry! Had a skype chat to Jens Hildebrandt from Das es Salaam this morning. Was very encourageing. I trust that the people who access my blog will enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Freedom Challenge Recci

I planned to do the Freedom Challenge route from Rhodes to Darlington Dam with some friends in preparation of a possible asault on the Freedom Challenge RASA again. Unfortunately, like the parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22, all the invitees found reasons not to partisipate. I therefore decide to take on another challenge. Cycle from Prince Albert to Cape Town via the Freedom Challenge route. I will get on the Shosholoza Meyl to Prince Albert Road, Cycle to Prince Albert and sleep over. During the next four days I will do the balance of the Freedom Challnge route, unsupported and on my own. The time has arrived and on Friday 11 May I will be on my way to Prince Albert. Watch this space for progress reports.