Monday, 31 December 2012

Rapha Festive 500

I am a sucker for punishment! Whilst most of the world winds down at this time of year and indulges in food, wine and festivities, 15 248 avid cyclists around the world signed up for getting fit instead of fat and were forced to endure less endulgences (or perhaps more because of the exercise) and I was one of them. What I am I jabbering about? Well, there is this website called Strava (I am not going to go into it, but check out if you are interested) and on it I saw a challenge called the Rapha Festive 500 which was 500km between 24 and 31 December. In short, you do a ride and make sure your gps is with you and tracking you, then every evening you upload your gps data and knock off kms to your 500km goal.

I had no idea how I was going to do this but, well, I signed up for it so gave it a bash. Here is my diary of the 8 days...

Monday 24 December

4:00 - Stupid alarm is going off! 5 more minutes
4:30 - Argh!!
4:45 - Oh bleep! I had better get up or I am NEVER going to get these stupid kms done. What the heck amd I doing????????
5:01 - Off to ride....
6:30 - Home and showered. Nice 23.27km ride. Glad I got up for it. That sunrise was AMAZING!!! Seeing it rise over Lonehill was priceless. Why dont I do this more often? Now to get ready for work....

Tuesday 25 December

1:00 - Just got home from dinner. Bed time
1:30 - Dog is mif, can hear my brother talking loudly in room next door. I need sleep!!!!
5:00 - Dog wants to go outside to relieve himself, suppose I must get up.
5:05 - Just 5 more minutes....
6:00 - Time to move it!! The road calls
6:56 - Off to ride. No idea where I am going but off I go! I am so tired.
10:30 - Got a bit carried away!! Eeeeek. 30mins to get ready for lunch. 78.32km done. Legs are so sore. Hope the lunch venue doesnt have stairs and has lots of food. Mom fortunately making my recovery drink whilst I shower.

Wednesday 26 December

6:00 - Tired. Not riding. What am I doing?
12:00 - Enough slacking. Need to ride.
13:00 - Off for a quick ride.....
16:30 - Recovering on couch. 60.24km done. So much for a "quick ride"! Poor woof is upset with me. Going to so have to make it up to my boy. Rode with some guy I met on Facebook named David. Really nice ride if you exclude the major rain downpour. Oh... and the puncture - on Jan Smuts, in the pouring rain!! At least we werent the only suckers out there in the rain - Chris Froome was also out there. Saw him on William Nicol Drive, must be cool to have a car matching your kit following you......

Thursday 27 December

6:00 - Work today so no ride
16:00 - Ride or walk dog... Walk dog
17:20 - Back home - still light so can go ride
17:30 - Argh!!!!! Bryron gps battery is flat. Mutter mutter. No ride. Lets see how much charge I can get in 15 or 20mins.
17:56 - YAY!! Off for a ride. time to chase the sun.
19:00 - Awesome ride!! 20.08km  - every km counts. That sunset was special. Really enjoying this challenge - getting to see the full day. Now what is for dinner?

Friday 28 December

4:00 - Dont wake up at this time for work. Take a day of leave and I wake up at this time. Insanity.
5:51 - Time to ride. Meeting up with some kiddo named Josh from thehub forum. Hope he isnt a real racing snake or I am going to die!!!
5:58 - Oh poo!! Forgot to put sunscreen on.
11:00 - Ok.... I am dead.
11:02 - 115.24km done in insane heat and I am roasted
11:15 - Recovery drink in system. Ok, so Josh was a racing snake - he is a Junior from Cape Town. Seriously hope the dude goes somewhere in his career (he deserves it after riding with me). I got stung by a bee out there - was quite entertaining: bee hit my shirt and landed in my shirt, actually in my bra (sorry if that word is tmi) and stung me. Had to stop and well, remove stinger and the suicidal bee. Think I will name him Achmed the suicidal bee. Not going to lie -  THAT HURT!!!!
11:45 - Time to get ready for lunch with Mom. Suppose I should take bicycle to get a few more kms
11:54 - In jeans in this heat, bike ready. Off to lunch
15:30 - Hmm... that was a total of just over 10km added for day. Red wine makes you faster (only had 2 glasses but liking my theory here!). Been a long day on the bike, am tired. Tomorrow will be a bit slower.

Saturday 29 December

5:30 - Time to get up and ready
5:53 - Off I go into the known universe called The Cradle. Looking forward to riding with Pappa Yates!
6:20 - Waiting with coffee at Broadacres...
6:32 - Off we go!
11:30 - Ride done. 120km. Got stung by a wasp on my thigh - think these insects have it in for me!!! Actually didnt feel too bad today.
12:30 - Recovery drink at Hogshead - Can see the end of this challenge - only about 78km to go I think

Sunday 30 December

6:00 - Ride? Good joke. Will go later.
8:30 - Ride wins, will mow lawn later
10:00 - 30km done and dusted. Feel much better for it. Now, will the lawn please mow itself???

Monday 31 December

5:00 - Hello last day of 2012!! Time to get up for my last ride.
6:04 - Off to adventure and breakfast with an old friend
7:00 - 20km done, linking up with Ilma
8:00 - Breakfast at Fresh Earth Food. Gluten Free French Toast with Halloumi Cheese and a Chai Tea. Really great to play catchup with Ilma. Think my bunny Rex needs to move onto the bike again. But thats not race snake. Hmm.....
11:30 - Rapha 500km done and dusted!!!! 71km done today. 529km in total. That was a blast. Actually, stopping the ride was tough. Been an awesome adventure.
12:30 - BANG! The Rapha Festive 500 gun goes off... Nope... Shouldnt have left bike in the sun. Front tube just blew. Ooops.

Cannot believe I achieved the goal!! Was supposed to do another ride this arvie but decided to chill rather. For me this challenge was initially a good training camp for Liege - Bastogne - Liege sportiv but ended up being even more. I went into it scared of the amount of riding I would have to do alone. In the end, I rode my biggest days with people. I advertised on social media and on thehubsa forum for people to ride with. On Wednesday a friend of a friend joined me and I hope I gained a new cycling friend. Thanks David, I really enjoyed riding with you and thanks for helping with the puncture. On Friday I rode with Josh from Cape Town who I hope goes far in his cycling career - dude, I hope to see you on a podium in France. Pappa Yates rode with me on Saturday. Was great to do a full ride with you, get to know you better and I hope I have gained not only a new cycling partner but also a new friend. Thanks also for lunch. Next time Francis must join us!! Ilma joined me today. Ilma my old friend, its great to reconnect! Thanks for marking the 500km mark with me on our adventure. I have no idea how we did not get lost!!

To all 4 friends who rode with me this week: you were all awesome and each taught me something this week. Thank you. Hope you all have many safe and happy kms in 2013.

This week was amazing. Bring on the next one.


Saturday, 22 December 2012

The next great adventure is revealed!

On 18 April 2013 the next adventure begins! This one actually scares me because its such a great adventure. On the 18th April, Team GSS will be flying to Belgium. Yes, you read right. Belgium. After arrival in Brussels, we will be fetched by Sports tours international who will take us to the little town of Liege where we will prepare for the next day. On 20 April I will climb onto my faithful roadbike and race the Liege-Bastogne-Liege sportiv (I am going to be doing the 155km version as I am not quite brave enough to do the full 271km).

Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the oldest Classic cycling race in Europe and is known for being tough (notorioiusly for the second half) as well as for having bad weather. The first race was run in 1892 and had 33 riders (all amateurs), with only 17 finishing! The winner completed the race in 11hours which is quite a difference to this years winner who won it in 6hrs 43minutes. Its an interesting race filled with climbs and history racing through beautiful scenery and historic areas.

The sportiv we are doing is the amateur version of the race and is run the day before the professionals do the race. The sportiv offers 3 choices for distance: 80km, 155km, 271km. From what I have read, the 155km is not easy by any means! With 2500m climbing, its not a flat race and I have read it includes steep cobbled climbs. Eeek. The 271km is for real cyclists! It offers not only the insane distance, but also over 4500m of climbing. So ja, both distances are going to offer challenges to Team GSS!

The day after our race, we will get to watch the professionals race for glory and see how they tackled the climbs we did the day before. After 2days of obsessive cycling behaviour, we will enjoy a few days of exploring in Belgium and eating waffles and chocolate.

The next few months will be filled with training, eating, sorting out stuff for the tour but I will try and blog about updates and other adventures. (I will also try find interesting stuff about the places we will be going to.)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Route 62 Videos

Ok all, I finally had a brainwave and instead of loading 1 too long video, I have split it into 2. So, here is a taste of what I experienced.

Day 1 to 3
Day 4 to 7

Monday, 19 November 2012

Joburgs Toughest Race

Every year I cross the finish line and say never again. I know hate is a strong word, but I hate that race! In 7 years of cycling I have managed to miss 2 and done 4. This year was number 5 and I decided I was going to do what I had wanted to do last year - go sub 3:30.

For those of you who do not know the route or Joburg let me run through the route... you start on a slight uphill by Makro in Woodmead, thereafter you zom onto the M1 highway where you ride as slow, if not faster than what cars do in peak traffic. After your moment of thinking you are a speeding car, you are then taken off the highway at Joe Slovo Drive where you meander through town to the M2 which you ride on for a bit before going back into town, though Gandhi Square,  then back onto the M2 where you then head onto the M1 (I think); then you head to the Nelson Mandela bridge, then onto Jan Smuts Avenue. From here you fly through picturesque suburbs to the first real climb that is in Randburg. This is perhaps where the unfit wonder if they should have trained. After the cimb, the flight resumes as you go through Bryanston and Douglasdale, as you creep up to the next climb. The section through Bryanston and Douglasdale makes you feel like a pro cyclist with hundreds of people cheering you on! Then comes Witkoppen road. You are now just over half way and you start climbing but the crowd support is still there so its not really that bad. The section after Witkoppen is where it gets hard as you now in an industrial area and its boring. This bit starts with Malibongwe road, then takes you onto the N14 Krugersdorp highway. Anyone who has ever ridden this race will tell you that this section is why it is called Joburfs Toughest race. Wide, open road with no shelter from the elements, endless rolling hills and perhaps the most boring scenery ever! Yawn. After what feels like 100km of highway, the route then kicks it with a nice little hill called Summit road. Its actually not a bad section but this is where plenty people cramp after the highway. At the top of Summit road you get a nice rolling flat bit that's a relief, this is followed by a turn onto the R55 (I think) which gives you an awesome downhill before Heartbreak hill. This is a short but fairly steep section of road that is the true test of fitness. This little monster will tell your muscles if you are unfit, fit or a super hero. From the top of the hill, its a gentle cruise to Kyalami, a sweeping downhill past the race track, then a short pimple up before a quick downhill finish to the Waterfall estate.

Ok, back to race day. This year I have been training hard but this race still scared me. There is something about Joburg weather that makes this a toughie because no race is the same and the weather is insanely unpredictable. I actually think the organizers order random weather patterns for the race! My alarm was due to sound at 4am but I was awake before it. I got u, got ready for the race and my trusty soigner (Dad) drove me to the start. Being typical me, we were there super early so I had zero stress and we could get fairly close to the start. The only negative with getting there so early is the long wait but I endured and before I knew it I was standing like a cow in a cattle crush moving up the start pens with my batch. Whilst waiting the one holding area some oomies were chirping me about my split time calculators on my bike (I had stuck 2 stickers with where I should be at what time if I was aiming for 3hrs or 3:30), so when the commentator who we all know from various runs and races said he needed something to talk about, I offered my split times as a topic. He accepted and I became famous. For the next 94km, people would come up to me or I would pass them and they would say "so you are the lady with the split times, how is it going?" Well, I think that's gonna be my new trade mark: split time calculators. Anyway, eventually we were released from the cattle crush and set free to race. I started flying and at the 1st split time check point I was a minute or 2 ahead of the 3hr split. It remained this way right into town, up until after Gandhi Square when the wind hit. It honestly felt like I was riding in Cape Town! Wham. So, despite feeling strong, I was forced to hide in a bunch which meant riding a touch slower than I would have liked but it was the only option at that stage which didn't involve being battered and wasting energy. Anyway, fortunately that bit ended and the fun bit down Jan Smuts began and I could try catch up a bit of the time I had lost.

At Dunkeld, I eased off a bit to greet a friend and as usual, she was there. As was the mystery person who greets me every year - mystery person, if you are reading this, please let me know who you are. Then I started flying again, up Jan Smuts hill where I actually passed a lot of riders (which is a first for me and was quite a shock to the system as I am normally slow at this point), then down through Bryanston, through Douglasdale and to Witkoppen road. At Witkoppen I had a bit of fun and cheered the supporters, chatted to other cyclists and just generally clowned around until we hit Malibongwe where some of us formed a proper bunch again and got some speed. Whilsy cruising along Malibongwe a fellow cyclist commended me on having so much spirit. To think: I am by nature introverted, so ja, this other side of me is quite funny. By the time we hit the N14, a guy came up to me and said we were set for an easy sub 3:30 and although we were 5mins ahead of the 3:30 split, I tried not to believe him.

The highway was rough with the wind and at one point I had no group to hide in and I had my misery moment. My legs felt tired, I felt tired and my bike felt heavy. Ugh. I needed this insanity to be over. I decoded to stop being an idiot and get my head together. I ate half a banana, drank some juice and told myself to stop this. Was tough. Then a spectator gave me dry wors. I ate half of the piece, tucked the other half in my pocket and continued onto the next bit: Summit road and its challenges. Nearing the top of Summit I decided I needed more liquid so I stopped to get a bottle of coke and water which ended up being diluted coke and water. Yuck!!!!! This top although brief is exactly what I needed because I got back on track. I was at this point about 5 or 7 mins ahead of the 3:30 timing but I kept telling myself I wasn't going to make it. I turned onto the R55 and knew there was 1 hill left. Heartbreak hill. I enjoyed this climb and cruised up it, even looking back at the top to see where the real climb was. The give going up was great!!! Felt awesome to be there. At the top I looked down at my GPS and knew: I had made it. My eyes welled up with tears. I had finally conquered not only a sub 4 but a sub 3:30!!!!

I was brought back to reality by a guy on my left literally falling over from cramps and being unable to uncleat. Fortunately some other cyclists stopped to assist him. Poor guy.

The next few kms were a blur of surreal as I hammered it to get to the finish. Then came the last 1 or so km. I was having a blast and enjoying the moment and a fellow Toyota Cycle Lab club member turned to me and said "lets go" and off we went in an attack.  Was tough but we sprinted to the finish. Hands off the bars, I crossed the finish line. Number 5 was done. 3hours 21minutes. I had not only achieved my goal but I had smashed it.

This was the first time I enjoyed this race. I conquered the race and had fun at the same time.

After the race I headed to the amazing club tent where I got a clean shirt, a neck and back massage, food, beer and a coke. The club really went all out with such a great tent and it was what I needed.

Race positives: a coke at the finish. Plenty water points. The spectators.

Race negatives: stickers instead of the normal numbers. City centre is probably still filled with that carnage. Only 1 exit out of the finish venue.

Me at the start in my Kitty Puppy Haven cycle shirt:

Monday, 15 October 2012

A not so slow ride

So on my race calender I have a few races planned that are key races for me. This weekend was one of them.

On Friday morning I set off to Durban for the Amashova. The trip down was uneventful with th only noteworthy thin being the masses of trucks we saw heading to Joburg - clearly the strike was over. There was a constant stream of them with hadly a gap between them and massive abnormal load trucks overtaking normal trucks. Anyway, after dropping the person who got a lift down with me in Durban, I joined up with friends at Umhlanga where a weekend of fun, laughter, food, sunburn and cycling were about to begin.

After a great Friday and Saturday of fun (which although great fun, this is a cycling blog so wont go into the antics of building a sand fortress and getting sunburn and all the fun we had) the alarms went off at 3:30am and we were up and getting ready for Shova. By 4:30 we were on the road the Pietermaritzburg which is a solid hour away. Once we were safely at Maritzburg, the 4 of us cyclists went through our routine of getting ready for the race. Shoes on, spare tubes in pocket, bombs and levers in pocket, tissues in pocket, cellphone and credit card in pocket, food in pocket, bottles on bike, gps on bike, helmet on head, gloves on hands. Its a lot of things to remember! Anyway, once we were all ready we said goodbye to our support crew (Andy's folks whobwere driving the cars back to Umhlanga), then we were off to our start pens.

The start pen of a race is quite similar to a cow pen. You get filtered in, then once you cointed down for your race, you go through in a cattle crush fashion over the timing mats. Fortunately our timing was good and it was not too lon a wait for the start of our races.

Before I knew it we were released from captivity and set free on our journey to Durban. I managed to lead E batch to the start of climb 1, then I got dropped so up I went, overtaking plenty riders as I went. I even saw some familiar faces I know whoch is always cool. About half way up this hill there was a crowd of local kids standing around ahd signing Shosholoza and high 5ing the passong cyclists. This was a major highlight of the race for me and gave me major goosebumps. As we crawled up the hill, I joined forces with some fellow Cycle Lab roders and we worked together along with some other cyclists as a mini bunch. Near the top, we saw a big group and 2 of us ( co-incidentally it was the 2 ladies in the bunch) pulled our mini group tp the big batch. As we got there however, a massove super bunch came up and swallowed us. Imagine a 300 cyclist strong bunch growing as it passes smaller bunches.

This was the Westdene train and was a highly organised batch with a ride captain telling all what to do. Being in the bunch was actually really scary and claustrophobic. We sped along at high speed and I didnt see much other than the wheel in front of me. At Cato ridge I think I sat up for a second too long with my banana break because the bunch split into 3 with the first bump and I was left between batches 2 & 3 and was unable to rejoin 2 and 3 was way too slow. So, I rode a bit alone before the first major hill where I linked up with Trevor from the dog park who rides wit Club 100 and Driekie who rocks on climbs but is a snail on downhills. The 3 of us kinda worked together and rode together until about 75km when we found others also forming a group. Once the group was formed, we started flying again! Was awesome!! Up until then, I was seriously concerned about making my goal of 3:30 hrs but with this bunch, I was able to regain time.

Whilst cruising along and pulling the group for a fair amount of time, I saw a moron who wasnt concentrating touch his wheel with another riders wheel. Actually, this guy was a moron and couldnt hold his bike in a straight line. Anyway, I was nervous and pulled hard right just in case. I was fortunate that nothing happened but I decided to get away from that dude so upped te pace and dropped him. The next few kms went by fast and for the 1st time in any Shova, I was working hard at the front of a bunch in the last few kms of a race. The last 2kms I pulled back into the bunch and enjoyed the ride in. Ok, my legs couldnt hold the pace anymore as well.

As I crossed the finishline to the beep of my timing chip, I looked down and knew I had hit my goal. Was quite emotional clobbering that time as I had honestly doubted myself. I got my medal and headed to the Cycle Lab tent where I met with Andy and waited for the other friends of ours.

Was pretty awesome achieving this goal! Normally I rely on mental strength to achieve this goal but this race I relied on something different: the training I had done. Odd thing is that I think it worked!

Next big race is 94.7 but before then there are some training rides to do. Am scared for 94.7 as my goal is huge.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

My insane goal - 6 weeks in

So in July I woke up and decided that I would try an experiment: give myself 6months to go from a sloth to a race snake. 6 weeks in and my fitness is getting there. For the first time ever, I am training without getting sick, I am riding harder than before and I am having a blast!

The last 3 weeks I have raced every weekend. Weekend 1 was an unplanned race called the Randfontein EPR. Was 120km ride. It was tough but I flew! Up until 70km I was flying!! Then I hit a wall. For 30km I suffered. I couldnt get any nutrients in my system so my energy levels plummetted but I just kept going. 1pedal stroke at a time. Was so tough but I was not going to quit. I have been told I am hard on myself and that day I was beyond tough. My muscles and body were asking to stop and not move, they said they needed carbohydrates, my stomach would not obey. My body just wanted me to sit on the side of the road, the sweep vehicle went by, they said please. My mind said no, said I had carbo loaded and I had fat I could use. I screamed at myself in my mind to keep going. And I did. At 100km my body listened to my mind and found fuel from somewhere and I suddenly got a second wind and started flying. Was a bit too late but was a good feeling. It was a long ride but crossing the line to the sight of wonderful friends who were there waiting. Thanks Barbs, Kyle, John and Jarek!

Then came Dome2Dome. This was a key race for me as this was a fitness test for me. Was so nervous for this one. I set myself the goal of 4hrs but honestly believed that was pushing it and I would have to push from the start to achieve this goal. Race day came and I parked at Sterkfontein Mental Institution (quite fitting considering the route we were about to tackle). After a long wait it was time to get in the pens and go. I managed to get in a fast bunch after the 1st real downhill. As I was trying to catch the bunch, I found a guy struggling and offered to help him get the bunch. Later in the ride he told me he was so grateful as he didnt think he wouldve finished if it hadnt been for me. Anyway, the bunch was a fast one led by a group of riders in pink polka dots with "queen of the mountain" on the shirts. I helped as much as I could out front and enjoyed the speed that a roadie bunch can do when working well together. The bunch sped along for a good 50km beforebthe bumps of the cradle got too much for some and I managed to get in a break of a few guys and myself. I ended up doing a fair bit of the work and at one stage when it was just 3 of us and me doing all the work, I started getting grumpy. I turned to the next in the line and asked him to work but the response I got was not expected. "I am enjoying the view". Was glad I could provide a view but having help wouldve also been nice so I just upped the pace which hurt my legs but had the desired reaction and he was forced to work.  The last hill came and I remembered Andy's words where he told me if one crosses the finishline with anything in the tank, you havent raced hard enough, so I used the last of my gas and climbed those 3kms. In the end I klapped my goal with a time of 3:34. Way better than anticipated!

I continued training in the week and out a good few kms in to build on the benefits of D2D. On Saturday I went out and did a very slow 112km road ride which considering I had a race the next day, was dumb but I enjoyed the distance. Then, today I headed out to do Spring Classic 45km. Was not expecting my legs to be so shattered! But, I pushed as hard as I could and did a mediocre ride. Was very technical and hard - unusually hard for a 40km - but was food training.

With 3 weekends of racing in a row done, I am going to take my 1st real rest week in 6weeks.

For these 1st 6 weeks I have done:
43:07:25hrs riding
10450m climbing

After my rest I start building up to the next marker but for now, I am posting this, grabbing food and hitting the sack.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A trip down memory lane

I have been on a major mission to spring clean my home and with this, I have decided to do a display of my medals. Started racing in 2006 and have all my medals (missing 1 but will find it). As I sorted the medals, each brought back memories.

Race 1: I was dof! I entered a 50km mtb race at the voortrekker monument. This was nuts as a 1st race. I then did a few others including Dome to Dome mtb (think this was the last time they had it but it was a great ride!) I then entered the Argus. This meamt doing my 1st road ride and I picked the 94.7 Cycle Challenge. This was a sad day for me as I heard my gran had died whilst I was in the start pen. I raced that day just to get back to my family and since then each time I do this race, I think of Granny. Then came my 1st Argus which I will never forget as I raced to finish sub 5hr and came in 2min 2seconds before 5hrs. I bought a road bike after that race and did Wilro 100 on it. Discovered a need for chamois cream after that race...... Then came many other happy races, each with its own memories.

On Saturday I got another medal which is now up on the wall and it bears its own memories. On Sunday I will be going out to get the medal I should have gotten 4yrs ago when I got my 1 and only "did not finish". This medal will not go up on the wall, it will go in the lounge and remind me of 1 that makes all those medals seem like nothing: my little dog. It was 4yrs ago that I got him and I was so tired from his restless 1st night that, my race was wrecked. Got to 60km and quit. Bit who cares: I have an amazing little dog in my life. That said: this years race is for KD.

Many people dont like medals but I dont get it because they are amazing because of the memories they bring and how much they remind me of my amazing friends and family who are constantly behind all these crazy adventures.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Post Tour Happenings

Ok, so I know I have been quiet but I have been a bit busy post tour.

After the tour I spent a wonderful week in Cape Town. First, I spent a few days with a cousin in Stellenbosch where I got to relax, ride bicycle and recover from the tour. I then went onto Cape Town to visit family and once again relax and recover. I also started a photo dvd (which I will try upload soon).

Unfortunately for me, whilst I was relaxing a cough that had started on the ride turned into bronchitis, in true form I tried to doctor it myself but was forced to go to the doc. 1 round of antibiotics later, I was still hacking and thought I had broken a rib which turned out to actually be pneumonia. The result of that was that I had to make some tough decisions with regards what adventures I was going to do. My next great adventure I was planning was Transbaviaans – a 230km non-stop ride from Uniondale to Jeffrey’s Bay through the Baviaanskloof. This was going to be spectacular but would have required intense training and unfortunately with something as serious as pneumonia, I was going to have to ease back into training and not kill myself so I pulled out of Trans.

I am now back into training and have some nice smaller goals lined up whilst I think about what the next big thing is. I have been given some nice ideas, so its just a matter of finding time to look at the options and pick one.

Since I have been back on the bike I have done 1 really nutty ride. Its called Critical Mass and happens the last Friday of every month. A friend told me about it and the 2 of us agreed to go ride this event. We started in Dunkeld at 6pm and cruised through the streets of Rosebank, right through the Rosebank Zone (cant imagine what the people must have thought at 100 cyclists randomly coming through the open area of the mall), and on into town. From a historical point, it was quite nice to ride up to the Constitutional Court and the old fort. At Juta street the group joined the main ride (it had taken us an hour of weaving around to get to Braamfontein) where we ended up being about 300 cyclists. The vibe was quite something!! From there I got lost. We meandered through Mayfair and other parts of town with us 2 roadies sticking to the front of the bunch and the mountain bikers jumping pavements and being nutty. Its quite surreal to cruise around a place I wouldn’t dare go in daylight at night!! One of the guys on this adventure even had a trailer behind his bike with a boombox – very cool except it kept blowing its fuse. After much weaving around town, we landed up at a place called the Bioscope where there was an official beer stop. For us, this was a bit long but the beer drinkers loved it! 20 to 30mins later we were off again on the return journey. The great town adventure ended at Kitcheners where most cyclists were either picked up or stopped for dinner and drinks. This is where a small group of us ducked and headed back as we had other plans for the evening which included pizzas.

It was such a fun evening! And with the next one being this Friday, I cannot wait to dress warmly and hit the streets of Jozi.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

GSS Day 7: Worcester to Wellington

So last night was cold. No, that doesn't sound right – it was insanely cold, freezing, blisteringly icey… All I had for warmth was my thin but warm grey Sani2C jersey and a wet raincoat but that was not enough so, when frozen add a layer and since I this was a dinner as part of a cycle tour, I added a nice bright orange cycling top to my ensemble. That as no where near warm enough but it kept my chest mildly warm and the stares I got at the Dros were priceless!

After a nice dinner we walked the 300m in the ice to The Habit where we were staying, and being after 8 it was definitely way past my bedtime and I was definitely in need to crash after 2 nights of bad sleep.

And crash I did!! This morning I woke up refreshed and ready to roll. Although something odd did happen to me… during the night I got hot so took my jersey off and had some juice from my bottle but I was so tired that I fell asleep whilst drinking and woke just before 5 holding my bottle. Anyway, so back to the routines of getting ready and before we knew it, we were eating our oats and setting off into the rain. We were not even a block away when Johan wanted to change his glasses and I noticed he had forgotten his helmet, so a quick turn, and we rode back where Johan quickly sorted retrieving his helmet (a jump of a fence, grabbed the keys where he left them, retrieved helmet and locked up again) and we were off again into the darkness.

There's something pretty cool about cruising into the darkness before the sun is awake with the only sound being the rain and the sound of your tires. With the blink of an eye and the rising of the sun, we were in Rawsonville. After this we needed the map as we sorted which road to take. Turns out a left instead of a right would've been better at 1 stage but the main road was not really that bad. The big contender after Rawsonville was the cold wind. At 1 stage as we were crossing the N1, we were hit by a lovely ice rain that stung the left side of our faces. My face actually went numb! For kilometres we fought the bitter cold and occasional killer headwind. Despite the pain and discomfort, it was a nice easy ride. At a little place called Botha’s Winery, we pulled over for coffee as there was an open little padstal where we could buy milk and chocolate for our little picnic coffee stop across the road.


After a nice warmer upper, we hit the road again and before we knew it we were at the R301 where we were to turn onto the Bainskloof Pass road.


Bains is not a particularly steep pass, its just long and insanely beautiful. Once again, allow the pictures to describe this pass..


It was WOW!! I cruised up taking pics, absorbing this last hill. Then came the downhill which was a fitting end to the tour. With the blink of an eye, we were in Wellington and Going Somewhere Slowly 2012 was done.

I have just spent 7 glorious days on my bicycle, seeing the most wow scenery! It was the perfect week. I have been to places I have never seen before, experienced places and roads to the perfect degree and generally had 7 great days on my bike. I have ridden from George to Wellington via Route 62 which is a total distance of 549km.

Thanks to Johan for being a great friend over these last few day and thanks for the patience. And thanks to Mom and Dad for looking after my little woof who I have missed terribly and for your support. Without it, this trip wouldn't have been possible.

This is not the end of my blogging for the tour.. I will be giving more details on the places we stayed and the cool devices I got to play with. I will also give a link as to where to find my millions of pictures and my videos but for now, here is today’s link:

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Day 6: Robertson to Worcester

After a restless night of camping, Johan and I were rather quick to get up and get going – even starting the day without coffee. Although a really nice place with a great site, it was just icky with the number of people using the facilities over a busy long weekend. As a result of the speed with which we fled, we were out at 6:05 which meant my headlight had to be used which was kinda fun.
Unsurprisingly, we hit the headwind. It was unrelenting, smashing into us as we climbed out of the Robertson area. Johan gallantly took the lead and sheltered me from a lot of the wind but keeping in his wheel took a lot of concentration and effort which was tough considering how tired I am from 2 nights of not so great sleep. Physically I am feeling amazing, I am just tired from lack of sleep etc.Onwards we went but coffee was eventually needed so we pulled into the Rooiberg Winery where they kindly let us take shelter and make our coffee despite them being closed.
All amazing things come to an end and we were off again, into the wind. The kilometers crept by as we eeked our way ever closer to Worcester where we were going to take a break. About 10km out of Worcester we spotted a rather interesting little place that we had to stop at and where we had coffee and rusks.
After a yummy coffee which woke me up a bit, we were off into the wind. Then came the fun bit… As we hit Worcester the rain hit us. Rain + Wind is NOT fun but it was part of the adventure so I started enjoying it. Actually, as soon as the wind stopped, it became quite fun, although a tad cold.
We decided to seek shelter and decide if we should continue or not for the day. As we cruised through town we quickly realized that a nice Wimpy was just not going to happen, then Johan spotted an info sign which we followed. This led us to start seeing signs for B&Bs so the decision was made – we were stopping. The first place we tried was full but they referred us to another where we were recieved warmly despite looking like drowned rats. Our washing was done and dried for us whilst we got ourselves sorted so I am on track to finish in my home embroidered cycling shirt! Thank you Bridget for sorting our sopping wet clothing. (Oh and there are 2 cute ridgebacks here.) The Habit is an amazing place to stay with reasonable rates. Another place thats highly recommended. Their website is
Tomorrow we will continue on to Wellington.
Here is the route and pics from today:
So far in the last 6 days we have spend 42hrs, 38mins in the saddle and covered 472km!! Tomorrow we are going to clobber the 500km mark.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Day 5: Barrydale to Robertson

After a night of mozzies and oversized insects disturbing us, 5am wakeup came and we were up and ready a mere 30 something mins later – yep, I had even repacked the motorhome (gone back to day 1’s version of packing). Problem with being ready so early was that we couldnt leave as it wasnt light so we sat and waited. By 6:15 we were tired of waiting so pretended it was light enough to see and hit the road.


The road out of town as chilled and rolling until we hit the Op De Tradouw Pass. Although not steep or particularly long, it was still a nice challenge.


The next bit flew by and before we knew it, it was time for a coffee break and we had done a good 35kms so we pulled over to a side road and enjoyed a stunning cuppa with sarmies after which we completed the last 25kms into Montagu. On arriving in Montagu we quickly found the people who we were to visit (Belinda from the dog park’s parents who really do have a stunning home). After an hour of resting and enjoying the warm hospitality, we hit the road again through Cogmanskloof to Ashton.

This is one pretty little pass!! We wound our way through this pass to the little tunnel where we found some stranded tourists who thought that the spare tire was the wrong one (it was the standard little spare). Johan quickly helped them whilst I took some pics…



Then came the not so fun. As we hit Ashton we were hammered by a headwind. Wind is bad enough without a full load but this was not funny! Think the worst part was that all the coffee shops were closed, however Johan popped into the grocery store and got chips and bananas and we continued. Johan is a roadie and galantly let me slipstream him which I did with a certain degree of mountainbiker lack of finesse. Those last 15 to 20kms were hard but entertaining but we eventually made it to Silverstrand Caravan Park where we were welcomed, given direction as to where to find space (and wine). Thereafter we put up tents, cleaned up,did laundry (I am seeing how many days I can wear 1 shirt so washing is critical), relaxed and then headed into town for a very early dinner.

93km done and dusted and now we are chilling to some insane wind which is apparently bringing rain.

I am starting to feel a tad tired but my body is holding up really well. Just sad that the tour is nearly over. 1.5 days left of cycling for the tour.

Anyway, I am gonna go hydrate and relax so here is the route and pics from today…

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Day 4: Ladismith to Barrydale

First some admin stuff… due to various reasons, Tessa has decided to pullout of the tour so from today it was just Johan and myself. This resulted in a bit of a rethink with regards route but I will go into that at the end.

Dinner last night was a rather posh meal of cheese and rolls served with a fine local wine. We had a small problem tho: the wine was corked. Ok, it wasnt a major issue cause I had an emergency corkscrew I had bought as a gimick but didnt think I would use. Just as well I had it! The surprising thing is that it works exceptionally well. It was so cool a toy that Johan suggested I find a leather strap and wear it around my neck – havent found a strap yet but Johan had a piece of bungee cord which I used.

After a fine dining experience we went in search of a pub for a glass or port. The 1st 2 pubs looked scary! The 3rd one was ok but they only had good traditional Old Brown Sherry. After a quick drink, the 3 of us headed back to camp and crashed.

This morning started quite somber with Johan and myself packing tents away, having coffee and breakfast and just going through the motions of getting ready for a +70km day. What I dont understand about touring is how for 4 days I have packed my bike and for 4 days it was packed differently. Ok, the sides have been the same but the top has been different: Day 1 I used crosswise lashing (ie putting tent etc perpendicular to my bike); Day 2 Johan packed it with my camelbak and sleeping back as well as tent lengthwise; Day 3 I started carrying the netbook so that messed a bit with the load; Day 4 was everything on top. Day 4 was the worst though – I really felt the load today.


My little campsite

Anyway.. This morning started with about 20km of downhill which was amazing!! Ok, 10kms were pure smile downhills and the rest slow downhill but it still made for a very fast 1st quarter!! Then came a biting hill. But just before that hill, Johan rings his bell and asks if I am awake – I was. Kinda. A km down the road though I doubted my answer because I reached down to get my bottle (am using the back bottle holder as Rex has commandeered the front one for his drinking habits) and as I moved to put it back, I looked down and found myself on the side of the road. With a quick turn of my pedal, I was back on the tar and looking for Johan - he was a bit back looking at a sign and as yet doesnt know of my funny moment. hehe. Ok so the hill…. It wasnt long or steep. It was just a pain. But we climbed the little Warmwaterberg and we were rewarded with a sweeping downhill that was interupted by food time.Just over the top, Johan declared it mid-morning snack time so we pulled over at a picnic spot and enjoyed the sight of 3 crows chasing and eagle whilst eating cheese rolls.


With the blink of an eye, I saw the mirage for the day – some form of sign about some place I had read about. Yep: Ronnie’s Sex Shop. Dont bother going there! Its a dive of note. The coke was pricey and there wasnt much else other than a menu with food and a pub filled with bras hanging from the ceiling. This should be in a guidebook as a: “you know you are exactly 25kms from Barrydale when you see some ramshackle place on the left”. Harsh I know but seriously, what is the hype and how does a place like that get legend status?

A few drags later (some of them were more irritants than drags) and we were a mere 3km from Barrydale. I knew we were close and the hills were over cause of this sign: (towns in this area advertise what the local speciality is on a board by the town – its the local cellar’s billboard)



The downhill into town was WOW!!!! We were in town earlier than expected: 11:45am so we found a coffee shop to enquire about accomodation and get a drink and food but here we found a problem. Town is fully booked out. But, its okay because the coffeeshop lady sent me across the road to her friend Sheila who was home and who she thought may be able to give us the cottage she has out back. Fortunately Sheila was home and said we could stay so tonight we are staying in a lovely cottage behind someone’s house. This is TRUE local hospitality at its best.

So what does one think about on the road as you pedal on and on? Hmm… well, very little I think. I thought about how Rex the stuffed animal is enjoying the trip and how the downhills must be scary (Rex is being boring this trip), how my bike is holding up well despite the load, a tiny bit about work, a lot about friends and family (miss you all!!). I also look at the scenery and admire the views, try work out where the road goes depending on how the mountains are, I try guess the rock types in the mountains as well which is a fun game. And then I play a guess what time we are going to be in town game whilst looking at the kms go bye and whilst I guess where we are according to the map. Ok, so I think I think a lot but if you space this all out into +4hrs, its pretty little.

Today my mind was on the tour a lot. With Tessa pulling out, this leaves me (and Johan) in a pickle. The plan was that we were going to ride to Riebeek Kasteel as 3, then Johan was going to meet up with his wife and then on Tuesday, Tessa and I would ride on to Darling. Neither Johan nor I were happy with the idea of my riding to Darling solo so Johan suggested asking Tessa to join us in Riebeek and then getting her to ride with me the last day. I had also been thinking of the solo dilemma and had come up with an idea for me to head south to Stellenbosch and Johan could if need be continue to Riebeek. At lunch we chatted and although I feel bad about deviating from the plan, I was not comfortable with the Riebeek to Darling idea. So… the plan is that we are both riding to Stellenbosch on Sunday. Actually works out cool because now I get to see more family whilst on holiday.

Enough blabbering from me! I am going out to take pics – here is the route and pics from today:

PS: so far we have ridden 262km

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Day 3: Calitzdorp to Ladismith

Whilst on the road this morning I had such wonderful thoughts as to what to say as the start today’s blog but my forgettery and an amazing day of scenery erased those thoughts.

Firstly: Spekboom Cottages are amazing!! James, Marie and Francois (ok, and Tiger and the rest of the doggies) your hospitality was out of this world!! The taste tour of port last night will be remembered long after our bikes are washed and we are back at work.

This morning once again we were spoilt to a very early breakfast of fruit, muesli, yoghurt and coffee (thanks Spekboom for sorting us out so early, we know that our time was highly unusual for you). At 6:30 we set off into the early morning light on our mission to Ladismith – today we were going to get there!! As we climbed out of town, I started to comprehend the longness of the morning – it was an uphill climb for a LONG time. As we pedalled, it was almost as if the sun was telling us we were too early and that it was supposed to beat us to the mountains because as we climbed, so did it, almost in a race to see who could get over Huisrivier Pass first. (Think we won this one.)


Huisrivier Pass is not a particularly steep or tough pass, its just insanely long!! It went on and on and on, ever upward draining your legs. Then came a sweeping downhill. WOOSH!! And then we climbed for an eternity. Ok, an hour and a bit but it felt long. I wish I were a poet because then I could perhaps describe this pass better, however, I did have my camera handy so bear with me as I paint a picture for you….


The WHOOSH downhill


Nearing the bottom






The above pic describes how I felt about this hill: over it!

After the pass, we meandered along rolling hills and cut through road works (we road in the road works section) ever closer to Ladismith.

After the mother of climbs, we were a bit peckish so decided to find a coffee stop and well, the guidebook had mentioned something about a place in Amalienstein so we headed into the teeny tiny… I cant even call it a town! …..township where we did find the little place called Tant Carolina. Um, ja, we shouldve guessed but it was closed. Next best thing: find milk and picnic so off we pedalled to Zoar which fortunately had a little shop where we got milk, crisps and biscuits which we enjoyed 2 or 3km out of town on the side of the road.

The bit into town was pretty with the rolling hills and was refreshing after the long start.

We arrived in Ladismith at 12 o’clock as planned which was really cool so the going was good and we all rode well. I decided to ride way out back today and occassionaly ride close to someone so that I could take pics and absorb the scenery. Really enjoyed the slow, short day.

Ladismith is quite a bit bigger than Calitzdorp and its sad we cant see Seweweekspoort but we had the slowest service on the planet (do not go to the coffeeshop by the Route 62 bottlestore (the bottlestore however is wow, they have local vino and a wealth of knowledge and is definitely worth the stop). After a bit of decision making we decided to camp and found Le Roux B&B which has camping facilities. Once again, our choice was good. After sorting our stuff, Johan and I took our unloaded bikes to find cheese, wine and a thing called “Stanley’s Light”. The light was dof and not worth the visit but the cat at the tourism office is so cute so go visit him.

All in all a good day. Tomorrow we are off to Barrydale.

The route and pics from today:

Oh, just loaded it all onto google earth. Pretty cool seeing the total route. Ok, serious matters time. Its wine o’clock….

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Day 2: George to Calitzdorp

Before I go into today, here is the route from yesterday with pics:
After a good night’s sleep at De Denne, we were allowed a nice relaxed start to the day so we got our packs sorted, had coffee then loaded the bikes (Johan sorted my township bike out in a much easier fashion – although my panniers were left to my method). At 8am we were served another WOW feast of a breakfast which resulted in a bit of a slow start to the day as we digested our meal. After saying our goodbyes to our last planned accomodation, and of course to Bruno the beautiful labrador, we set off on our mission to Ladismith. Before we hit the R62, we had our first and fortunately only technical stop for the day (Tessa’s back tire needed some air).
Our breakfast table at De Denne
Now what can I say about the next bit? Hmm… let me rather let a few photos describe it….

Fortunately this was broken up by Johan who in true GSS form decided to go check out an old church just off the main road. This was quite cool actually. The builder and designers in the early 1900s really put great thought and care into the design of their religious buildings to the extent that 100yrs later they are still standing and still show the style and character of those times. In fact, I would love to see if any modern building could last that long!
After a quick tour of the old church, we were on our way again on the long, long road! Fortunately just as we were nearly dead from boredom, the colour of the tar changed and with it, the scenery. Fortunately on the long road, I had had a totally nutty idea – cut the distance for the day. It was getting warm, our brains were fried and I felt that for the sake of the group, 2 shorter days were probably better than 1 killer day and a rest day. Fortunately Johan and Tessa agreed with me.
Whilst pedalling, one can see funny things – kinda like yesterday when we saw the coffee – and today we saw a sign saying “Smits Winkel”. Hmm… we must be lost. Turns out there is 1 stop between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp and this was it and I can highly recommend this stop. Yummy homemade gingerbeer and super sweet koeksusters were enjoyed whilst watching a few curious ostriches beg for stuff from the other side of the fence.
Sadly all good things come to an end and we had to cover the last 20kms to Calitzdorp. I had to hold back big time as my legs, lungs and heart were wanting to up the pace but the tour is not an individual thing and I had to hold a slightly more chilled pace (think this will benefit me tomorrow though) but we got to Calitzdorp safe and sound at lunchtime. As we entered Johan spotted a pub (it was beer o’clock after all) with an interesting name: Neverbetter. It was rather dodge!! For R20 we got beers and sat outside and watched the traffic (Calitzdorp is a slow town) go by, after which we set about looking for accomodation. The place mentioned in my guide book looked rather interesting so we decided to go to somewhere else we had heard about called Spekboom Cottages. We were met here by Marie who said they did have space despite being busy - phew!! After settling in, we headed into town to find a grocery store which we duly found and our chef for the evening (Johan) set about finding ingredients.
Whilst in the butchery / grocer, the owner told us he had seen us on the road and had passed us. We then learnt that today was the hottest day of the year here and that as a result of a lack of heat, the grape production is down 30%.
After a nice lunch at Rose Cottage, we headed back here where we have done washing and relaxed. (Just hoping the washing dries in time!)
Here is today's route and pictures:
Tomorrow we are up early to conquer the Huilsrivier Pass on our way to Ladismith.