Monday, December 6, 2010

Bicycling 24hr MTB at Rietvlei - 2nd place!

The team: William, Con, Adri Ferrari and Goofy Mike.
Lickety Split attended the event with experience gained from last year. We arrived early and set up our gazebo's in the hot, hot sun - right next to the Do it Now gazebo, staffed by Keane, Lizelle, Wiehan, Weylin and Waldus - racing as www.kl.aar. Cat-i Carine also joined our little huddle of tents. She had planned to race as a 2-man team, but found herself going solo, to her horror - but she is game for anything! Time passed quickly and we found ourselves seated amongst a full score of racers - all shapes and sizes, for race briefing. The start was a midday sprint in cleats down the road to your bike. Con was nominated to get us a good lead on the slower teams and beat his way through the field.

The afternoon was hot and VERY windy - entertainment provided by gazebo's rising like balloons and bowling across the field. We checked ours....and added more tentpegs and ties, after three of them tried to get away! Dust and heat coated racers, turning to mudpacks with sweat. The organizers had set up a computer for racers to check their progress - to our surprise, the first couple of laps had pegged us into second place in the mixed fours....and there we stayed! The team was determined to try to close the gap with first place and plugged away hard throughout the night....we hoped that our experience with 'going all night' would serve us well, when other teams slowed down to sleep.

The campsite stayed busy all night....riders coming and going every few minutes, although a few teams stopped to sleep the dog shift. We changed from single laps to double laps to give our tired riders a chance to sleep for a couple of hours. The course was twisty and technical, with a whole new section punctuated with young trees to squeeze through. A soft dusty track and negative camber made sure that riders ran into trees on most laps and during the night, those trees took quite a beating.

Dawn arrived with the cries of peacocks at the unearthly hour of 4.10, during Adri's 2-lap shift. Hot and dusty, it was soon windy again! A check of the computer revealed that we had indeed pulled away from the third team during the night, unfortunately Edenvale Wheelers had been going all night as well, and now had a lead on us that we could not hope to close. Con had been hoping for a podium position and second place it was to be! Actually quite a successful placing, (we did more laps than several other teams who won their categories) we felt somewhat cheated by being unable to win, consoling ourselves by agreeing that we had run our race as efficiently as possible, not wasting a second in transition! Amazingly the solo men's winner managed to completely eclipse the number of laps turned out by any team and was deservedly the winner in all eyes. Cat-i was narrowly beaten into second place by a determined younger rider, while she slept a couple of night hours. Well done Carine, well done Lickety Split!
Thanks Do it Now for the support and companionship!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

William and Mike win Veteran Mens Foot Rogain

The whole team attended the Rogaine at Kaapschehoop this weekend. William and Mike won the Veteran Men section of the Foot Rogain. But were so tired that they only finished 3rd in category on the Mountain Bike Rogaine.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Training.....what's that?

Juggling the business of race director and work, leaves very little time for pleasurable pursuits... like training for races - especially when you are holding down more than one job at a time. William is presently under pressure to train for Expedition Africa. The Lickety Split team got involved with suggestions for doing 2 tasks at once, such as investing in a treadmill or indoor bike rollers, so he could train while working from home at night. Which prompted the following........

William hard at work invoicing clients & training! (Sometime after midnight)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Lesser Spotted Lammergeyer Mountain Challenge

Race report by Keane Ludick 

What a weekend for racing and breaking mental and physical boundaries!
Adri and myself travelled down to Aliwal North this weekend to visit some family and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Witteberg mountain range. It’s a beautiful part of our country and any adventure racer’s dream training ground with breathtaking mountain peaks, rugged trekking terrain and the Orange river for hours of paddling.

A few weeks back we decided to scout for events in the area over the same weekend and came across the Lammergeyer Mountain Challenge. It seemed like the perfect event to do the Saturday morning with the start time being 7am at the local sports club in Lady Grey. The event was hosted by local farmers, Anna-Marie en Pieter, which promised a true and vibrant feel of the area of which it came to deliver on both. This was a totally different race to what you will find in Gauteng. Most of the competitors being local and those who were not travelled from far and wide giving the 4Peaks a skip to attend this challenge. 73 competitors, from young to old(75),from strong to first time trail runners pitched up for the event.

The Lammergeyer route is a unique route and runs through the Skyrun and Wartrail routes for the first 12km. The race starts with an easy run through the town towards the foot of the Witteberg mountain range that has pain and sweat on the menu for the day . Before the race we decided we would go out and break through some mental and physical boundaries and we definitely selected the best race to do this. I joined up with two sub 8hours comrades runners and Adri set the pace in her own group pulling and motivating other runners all the way to the end. 

Hitting the foot of the mountain, our 10km-700m climb started with warmed up legs and steady heart rates. We tackled the old Lesotho paths to the highest point in the challenge at approx the 11km mark from where we descended via the third highest mountain pass in South-Africa, the Joubert Pass. Pacing ourselves down the long and painful pass we finally got to see the town. Just as we thought we were as good as done, we got the signal to make an unexpected left turn away from town up the last climb and then turn back towards the end. Looking at the time we realized we could finish this challenge in an even better time than planned so the pace was lifted and pain pushed aside. Coming round the final turn, with legs burning and lungs pumping, it was the smell of pure “boere wors” and the look of friendly faces that kept us going. 

The race was well organized and one of the better races I have ever participated in. Anna-Marie and Pieter ensured that we had a clearly marked route, water point every 3km, T-Shirt, Medal and a guaranteed spot prize for every entrant. They might as well have called the race the White Indian Tiger Mountain Challenge considering that we never saw a Lammergeyer, droppings, or any form of evidence of their existence. 

We arrived as total strangers and left with dozens of new friends to visit on our next trip. One thing is for sure, you need to be twice as fit for one of these local farm races to compensate for the social chatting that carries on through the entire race. Much better than running next to a Joburg boy with his ipod plugged in!

Otter Trail Run

It's been a bit hectic from my side since the weekend hence no feedback on how my race went. My legs are still recovering from all those uphill's and downhill's we did (3050m ascent and decent). It was an amazing race but very tough. I finished in 8h17min, well within the 9hr cut-off mark. I hope to put a small report together as only then may you understand and sympathise with me.

One positive outcome from the race is that my foot injury (plantar fasciitis) did not hamper me to much throughout the race and on Monday the pain was altogether gone....a miracle it seems or is it just the muscle pain in my legs that is camouflaging it. So far so good and apart from sore quads, i have no other pains or injury....yipee!!!



Saturday, September 25, 2010

Are we Adventureres or Racers (Scouting Report)

Our sport has 2 words in its name – Adventure Race – so I wonder how many of us, or what proportion of each of us fits into each word – are we Adventurers that race, or Racers that enjoy some adventure. I know I would rather be seen as an Adventurer than a Racer, but I don’t think I really am – yet.


With only 8 weeks to go to the first race the team has organised we still had one leg that needed to be finalised. On our last trip to the area we struggled to get an understanding with the one farmer who’s land we wanted to cross, so much that we changed the route. This new route had to be finalised. The next team trip to the area will be only three weeks before the race, not leaving much time to finalise maps, race books etc. So I decided to take a weekend trip to the area and do the scouting myself. No other members of the team were available so it was to be me on my own. My plan was to confirm the locations, as agreed with the team, of a hike leg, and then finalise the new cycle route.


My goal was to turn the scouting trip into a mini adventure – a night out in the mountains under the star. As I had lots of time I decided to hike the cycle leg, looking at the map it was to be a hike of between 16 and 20kms. I would leave in the morning, meet the new farmer, then finalise the first set of points returning to the farm in the afternoon and sleeping on the mountain before finishing the leg the next morning. All the team members wished me a ‘safe’ trip. It is rather scary to think that we city folk think a solitary hike in the mountains could be considered dangerous.


My plans did not work out quite right. The farmer was on his way to a family reunion and could only see me at 7 in the morning. Meaning I left home at 3am. I met up with him and he insisted that he should take me around on the route with his bakkie and show me his ideas. I finally left the farm at 8:30 and quickly did the other points, returning to the farm at 10:30. Much earlier than my planned 4pm. I quickly changed and started my solitary adventure into the mountains. I hiked the route, plotted the 4 points, and hiked all the way back, finishing the route at about 5:30pm – my planned  time of starting the route.


I slept in the car and woke at 3am to drive home – was at home for breakfast.


So my solo adventure turned into a day outing. I carried everything for a night in the mountains, warm clothes, sleeping bag, shelter, groundsheet, 3 meals.... and never used them. That probably means I still do not qualify as an Adventurer - yet.


Friday, September 3, 2010

So will there...?

Team: Lickety Split

Members: William Cairns, Sue Belcher, Mike Underwood and Paul Venter

So after Swazi Xtreme the question was “Will there be a Lickety Split team doing the Full Moon race later in August?” The Seconds from Swazi (Mike and Sue) were both keen to do Full Moon as seconding can make you quite excited to race.... But as they have proved before, there could just be a navigational challenge in that case.

Anyway a few days after Swazi I decided to do Full Moon and Con was drafted – but he chickened out- and once again we picked up a highly excited but inexperienced recruit from my work colleagues. Paul was very excited to be given the opportunity and rushed out and bought the stuff he needed to do the race.

We all got to the race in our own ways... Dropped off the bikes and rushed off to the start. Rather a small crowd of excited racers was present and it was clear that three weeks after Swazi prevented a lot of teams from participating. I was feeling fine and was surprised at so few ex Swazi racers attending the always well organised Kinetic race. At race briefing we were informed that there would be no ‘added value’ to the race which caused a laugh and was quite a relief. Unplotted maps were handed out covering the whole route. A quick look over the maps showed a route that needed to followed rather than a challenge of finding the optimal route.

So off the race went. Paul was paddling for the first time ever so I put him in the front of the boat thinking I could see what he was doing and explain how to improve his style. In the end it meant that I was forced to paddle with the same rhythm he used which didn’t suit me very well. The first paddle was slow and heavy across large wind driven waves. Our boat continually pulled into the wind as if the wind was using our bodies as a sail. By the time we got to the end I was really pleased to finish.

Our transition to the hike was easy efficient and quick – off we went along the roads, the beach route was faster but roads are most often worth the extra distance. After the first checkpoint we did a cross country route while everyone else seemed to be retracing part of their route. Not sure which was faster. At the next point we saw a team that had no emergency gear with them. Each team member was carrying a bottle of water and nothing else. This 4 km hike ended at the first bicycle transition where we had earlier dropped off the bikes.

We were onto the bikes and out the gate, down the road and turn right – my words “the checkpoint is 150m down this road” – and yet we missed it. Paul’s bike started giving problems and he and I stopped to see if we could fix it while Mike and Sue went back for the point. And yes it was exactly 150m down the road from the corner. Before the race I had measured all distances between points, turns and landmarks and written them on my map – it made it easy to tell the team exactly how far we had to go, what we were looking for – definitely something I will do again. Poor Paul’s bike could no longer freewheel and he got very tired and his knees did not like his bike any more. After a while gentle hills became a walk for him. We came into transition and he had a serious rest.

The night hike on the map looked epic. No roads to where we needed to go but a quick hike briefing from marshal Alex confirmed my belief that there were a lot more roads than were shown on the map. Off we went into the dark. About half way through the hike I did my normal fall asleep while walking trick and we had a 15minute stop. It didn’t feel like I slept but I have been told with some conviction that I was snoring. Anyway – off we went and finished the hike. Into transition we came and Paul started taking his bike apart. After looking at the cassette he decided the chance of losing all ability to cycle was quite large and decided it would be better to drop out than having to push for 30kms, he went to have a quick sleep before meeting us for the final paddling legs.

The rest of us grabbed out bikes and disappeared off into the night. Things were going well (other than me wanting to sleep – but it wasn’t that bad – actually I think Mike needed sleep more than I did) until Sue’s recently serviced and scrubbed bike finally decided the hole in the tyre was too large for slime to seal. We pumped it a few times hopefully then gave up and decided to change the tube. Due to our mental state no one wanted to do the dirty work so we went to sleep instead. 25 minutes later Sue and I were woken by the alarm and changed the tube, then woke Mike up who slept through our noisy wheel change. Climbed on our bikes and disappeared into the night to finish the leg.

At the final manned transition we found Paul had not arrived (later we found out he had overslept). We had a nice peaceful transition, had some breakfast, devised a towing system for the second boat and went paddling off to Grooteiland. The worst part of my Navigation is over terrain that contains no landmarks – and water certainly counts in that regard. I struggled to decide on a final destination and when I did we could not find the transition. I think the light at the transition had been removed and the teams we later met on the island seemed to confirm this.

We finally transitioned at a random spot on the coast, rushed off to do the Check Points, and included a stop at the real transition – and could find no light when we were there. And returned to the boats – we saw Zebra, Wildebees and Springbok on the island as the sun was rising as we finished trekking around the island.

Back into the boats and what felt like an endless paddle to the end. Once again with me struggling to actually work out where we wanted to be.

A very nice fast event. No real navigational challenges (even the paddling navigation should have been easy). And our team really enjoyed the race.

Our thanks to Kinetic for organising the race, as well as giving us an opportunity at prize giving to advertise our race in November. It seems a nice gap in longer races up until the Balele Tracks race which will give everyone a nice rest.

I was surprised at how weak I felt during the race, obviously three weeks is not enough recovery time since our 320km epic in Swaziland.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The ‘Second’ Point of View – Swazi Pro 2010

Ably represented by Goofy Mike, Trish & Mighty Mouse Sue.

Life as a second is not an exact science as you are part of the team, yet not a part at all! (It’s life Jim, but not as we know it!) Pre-race meetings to finalise team gear, leave you sitting around with a mouth full of teeth, unless it’s about meals or tents. Packing goes more easily than normal, no bike or paddling stuff, only a tent, sleeping bag and treats for the team.

A Comrades injury to Nando left us with only 3 team members willing to race the distance, so the week before Swazi was pregnant with emails flying back and forth testing ideas for making a team. Abel stepped in and unfortunately pulled out, Nico in / out, Larry in / out, Hein in…..and finally we had found our 4th Crusader! (I’m not even going to go into losing our Team 4 x 4 to a gearbox injury on Tuesday!)

The Swazi Border….an anticlimax, as we had been told horror stories of hours spent in mile long queues over long weekends – luckily, not! So, without incident, we arrived at Nisela Safaris (Faaaar to the South). Team registered, we scouted around and found a suitable campsite to set up tents enough for 16 people, but we were only 7. (More stuff for the seconds to pack tomorrow, but who cares, the team was comfortable!) At this point, the seconds were expected to swing into high gear. “Where is my Hoejockapivvy…..anybody seen my Thingammybob……I’m sure I packed an extra Widget?!” Much scouting around for missing items of clothing, stuffing and discarding of extra gear.

Exhibit A: 10 Race boxes, 2 tents, 1 gazebo, 4 camp chairs, 2 x K2 canoes, 4 MTB’s, fridge, table, stove, 2 cooler boxes, 3 water drums, 3 adults, food for 4 days, numerous groundsheets and assorted other necessities.

Exhibit B: One standard size station wagon Subaru.

………and it all fitted. Just!

Actually there was a fair amount of shuttling back and forth and re-packing which went on between transitions and the Mercedes and trailer, which were full of gear, too.
Nisela Safari’s put on a spread for supper, fit for a king! A 3 course meal, with hot & cold vegetables, assorted meats, pastas and a spread of desserts, however race briefing beckoned and we set off to find seats. Later, rather than sooner, Darron arrived and warned us about the ‘added value’ in store for the teams. Many were left wondering what they had let themselves in for.

Race morning…up at 5 a.m for the start at 6, not much to do, but see them off and collect Hein’s life jacket from Anita. Then pack up the 4 bikes - drive to the 1st transition down the tar road and into a dusty field. We have lots of time as they will be in at around 9, so we plan to be there before 8. Arrive last and start pulling boxes out of the car. The ground sheet is somewhere on the bottom. Wait! The’re here already! Quick! The boxes….. The team is in high spirits and have moved up the field quite a bit already. They grab the bikes and some fresh food and are off in 15 minutes. Boxes back into the car and we are gone in a whizz, leaving other teams looking at us wonderingly.

1st Overnight Transition
….. this was on the dam at Big Bend, with reasonable showers (no hot water) and loads of space for camping. The rest of the day’s transitions needed 4 x 4 capabilities, so we shuttled the Mercedes through to the dam and found ourselves the first to arrive. We left the car and trailer sitting in solitary splendour, next to a tree on the grass. Then off to the bike / canoe transition where we were the last to arrive again. Luckily, this meant that the first teams had already transitioned and the best spots were already empty, leaving place for us to set up the gazebo and settle down for lunch.

At around 3 p.m, Team Lickety Split arrived and being hot and thirsty, have us scurrying around mixing drinks for water bottles and tea in mugs. Orders for sandwiches came in thick and fast. The next time we would see them was going to be late that night, so they needed to pack dry clothes for after the canoe leg (expecting to swim a bit) and food for later.

The put-in was difficult, being a choice between a small crack behind the weir in scary fast running water, or a larger area further along, right up against a huge bush of reeds and before a L-bend of note! We chose the easier put-in, but William and Hein elected to swim straight away. Maybe they thought to get the nasty bit over first?

Then the ‘offroad’ drive following the canals through the sugarcane fields to where we had to wait for the team at a bridge. Here they once again surprised us by arriving sooner than we expected.

We were told to warn the team about a sharp right bend and a submerged bridge that could only be navigated by using a metre wide sluice on the extreme right (under another bush) Booby trap of note! We were driving right next to the teams paddling and traded insults, until we found the submerged bridge and stopped to cheer and shout warnings. To their credit both boats navigated this without mishap, while the preceding team and the following teams both swam.

Another Canoe / Hike transition took place shortly thereafter. Here, we found ourselves handing out drinks and food to hungry paddlers from both our own and a couple of other teams who had misplaced their seconds. We had not been near a tap all day and were happy to still have enough for all. Some hot and lots of cold.

Back at the 2nd overnight transition, the empty field had sprouted a mess of tents, 4 x 4’s, gazebo’s and tired seconds. We were not sure we would be able to reach our campsite at all! Set up camp and waited. Lickety Split was due in about supper time and did not disappoint. Trish had made some delicious Macaroni Cheese and brought it as several frozen blocks. The test was to defrost it and re-heat in small pots on the gas, without turning it into cinders! It was also Con’s Birthday, so the secreted Chocolate Cake was unearthed and decorated with candles. It had survived the journey unscathed and was thoroughly enjoyed by us all.

Team transitioned and they set out on the arduous dirt road Hike Leg up into the Lebombo mountains, while we were left to drive to the next transition, at 10 p.m in a convoy of cars. We had to leave bikes at an unmanned transition – a school high up in the mountains. The road was long and very dusty and I felt sorry for the hikers we passed in the dust – managing to nod off in the back seat, in between moments of excitement. We had been looked at pityingly with our bikes tied so low to the ground, while everybody else’s were high and dry on roofs and trailers. Well we had the last laugh, as bikes were dropping off cars like flies, while the Subaru managed admirably!

Transition reached at around midnight and ‘Oh Woe!’ Hein’s bike has a flattie. And it look’s like it’s a tubeless too! We tried pumping, we tried spinning, we thought about leaving it for him to deal with, we asked advice from others, we stopped and watched it deflate at least twice……then we got stuck in and ripped off the tyre to put in a tube. At this point the convoy left us as it was getting early (after midnight) and everybody had already done a 20 hour day….. Mike was peerless at pulling out every last thorn, squishing through a swamp of white goo, which had not managed to quell the puncture and we left the bikes with a note and hopes that the repair would last….at least a mile or two! More fun was yet to come… we needed petrol and the GPS said we were too far from home to make it back.

So at one in the morning, Mike is asking his GPS for the nearest town and off we go into the night, down the mountain. Petrol found – Good they take Rands…more driving back to the Dam, where we brew hot chocolate at three in the morning. My 5mm thick mattress never looked so good or comfy!


Day 2 dawned beautifully – the camp and I up at 6 for the start of the Sport Race. Smoke on the horizon from the sugarcane fields burning at night and a most stunning sunrise! I was under the impression that the team could arrive at any time, so was running around looking for matches to boil water and waking up Mike & Trish – not to be recommended. Eventually Trish checked with Anita who said that the team had only left the school transition at 6 a.m and would not be expected much before lunch. Back to bed, but now too awake to sleep anyway. We sat around, periodically chatting to Pro teams as they came wearily into transition. They told stories of loooong rides through sugarcane fields like a medieval maze. Stories of lost & found. I think you did good work there, Con!

Another transition and they set off on another bike leg. We had to move quickly now, as we were to meet them with the canoes not far away. A friendly farmer allowed the race to transition right on his doorstep in a most beautiful setting. Team in and transitioned, but now they were neck and neck with just about the last team, so it was quick onto the water for a trip down towards Mozambique. William asked us to repair a problem with his rear wheel which looked buckled, but without a workshop, about all we could do was move his brakes shoes apart.

Back to camp to pack up and top up with water and make loads more sandwiches. We did not expect to see a tap until the bitter end. A spot of indecision as to whether to drive the Mercedes to the next transition or the 100kms to the Race end point. Mike committed his trusty diesel to towing the trailer up the Lebombo mountains, with me following gingerly behind, bikes hovering dangerously over the road and dipping into every bump and ripple. Trish loves people and spent the entire trip lifting the spirits of the entire Swazi nation by waving and greeting everyone she could see. The people responded in kind! We were having fun!

Dusk brought an ominous cloud that got darker and wetter over the mountain, until finally it started spitting down and embedding the dirt which already festooned both cars. We needed to stop and drop off bikes for the team in a dusty field which was not supposed to be the overnight transition, but in light of the rain and anticipated schedule, we decided to set up camp then and there.

It was an excellent idea as it got much colder and very windy. The plateau on the top of the mountain was covered in mist and rain and I was surprised that not many other seconds had decided to do the same. Most teams were expected to arrive in the rain, transition on a groundsheet in the dark, hop onto their bike and go off on a 60km cycle! We settled down for a long wait, gazebo surrounded by sides so amply provided by William and gas stove set up to heat supper. Tonight it was Bolognaise, much anticipated after the previous night’s macaroni! Thanks again, Trish!

Old Brown Sherry out and supper heating on the gas. I popped out to check if our canoes had arrived on the last trailer and found instead…..our team appearing out of the mist. Cold, wet and far too early. What’s wrong? Seems they had gone ‘unofficial’. So the Lickety Split seconds roared into action, gave up our chairs and supper and swapped stories of mayhem on the river, a helicopter evacuation, and miserable conditions on the next leg. It was decided to miss the bike leg, get up at an unearthly hour, pack up and drive the whole team through to the beginning of the Day 3 leg. Good job we brought the Mercedes as it made it possible to do so! Team settled down for the night.


6 hours sleep and we were woken up by various cell phones at 4 a.m. Somehow we managed to squeeze everything and everyone into the cars and drive for what seemed ages, through Siteki town, where we passed Pro racers on a hike leg, to the overnight transition, just in time for the 6 a.m Sport start. Once again a farmer’s field, lined by a cage of indignant geese, littered with groundsheets, bikes and porta-potties on a trailer. This long-suffering farmer also owned the helicopter that had been helping with the race, so periodically there was a coming and going of helicopter blades.

Everybody out of the cars, water brewed, breakfasts eaten, backpacks packed and the team set off on a long hike leg. I was happy to find a tap and we filled up all the drums again. Everything back into the cars again… now it had become a well worked pattern….everything in a certain place and order ………although somehow the race boxes never did seem to find an exact pattern, what mattered was that they fitted. Our very own Rubik's Cube. By now we kind of expected that the boxes would have become a little lighter, but I swear Hein went home with more in his box than he started with….in spite of everybody helping him to eat some of it.

Bikes back on carrier (again) and set out to the next transition. However, since we were already halfway there, we decided to drive on to the finish and leave the trusty Mercedes ….and pick a good camping spot! Leaving the field, we picked up another second in a bakkie, who accompanied us all the way to the Simunye Country Club. Unfortunately he was lost and did not want to find the finish, but rather his team at transition. Sorry for him, but we had some spare time and spent a couple of hours putting up the big tent, making lunch and sandwiches for the team and generally enjoying the surroundings and green grass.

Back past the Hlane Royal Game Reserve (saw some giraffe), up another dusty road to find the Hike / Bike transition in long grass. Once again we were last arriving and got a really good spot. The well oiled organisation springs into action again, gazebo out (as it was HOT) and begin unloading boxes, when…..Oh Crap! The’re early again! Team watered, waterbottles filled, most of the backpacks serviced, sandwiches whoofed down and the’re off! 5 Minutes pass and William is back complaining that his bladder is empty! Somehow it was missed in the rush. Lucky he discovered it so soon, as 5 more minutes and we would have been gone! Once again…last in….first out!

Trek back to the Country Club…once again the empty lawn has sprouted tents and gazebo’s, with 4 x 4’s parked right around the hockey field – THE END POINT! I had been lucky to set my tent door only 10 metres from the finish, so could lie in my sleeping bag and watch finishers…..which is what I did eventually. We were like cats on a hot tin roof, watching for finishers right from 6 o’clock, when the first of the Sport racers started coming in. Missing the previous night’s MTB leg had catapaulted the team to the front of the Pro race, so we expected them anytime….. now……..later.
Let’s have supper first...then Mike & Trish wisely went off to bed. I was up every half hour clapping in finishers until after midnight, when I got wise and asked Anita when they were due? She replied that they had not yet gone past the last checkpoint, which put them hours away! So back to bed….just dozing when a team comes in….I hear Adri! UP! And clapping and laughing and hugging sweaty people! My people!

Day 3 over – the seconds race also over!

Everybody was still keyed up and supper was on offer all night, so we sat and ate and chatted until around 3 a.m. Another late night, followed by a buffet breakfast and a long trip home.

High Point: Team work and friendship – completing a(nother) race together.

Low Point:
Losing William’s teabags and missing filling his bladder on the final day. The seconds who had so far done a sterling job lost all our kudo’s over that one small thing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Swazi Xtreme - Before and After pics


Before......clean and fresh


After........still look good......with the exception of Con’s hair!


Posted by Sue

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lickety Split standing by for team briefing!

Swazi Xtreme

Team Lickety Split is about to leave for Swaziland where we will be participating in the Swazi Xtreme adventure race. The race starts 6 am Friday morning and continues to 6pm Sunday evening. Over the 60 hours we have to travel 250km using our feet, mountain bikes and canoes.


The team is William, Con, Adri and visitor Hein

Our Seconds are Mike, Sue and Trish


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A training outing for the Swazi seconds – also known as Kinetic Adventure : 25th July

8 Legs (Run, MTB, Paddle, Run, Paddle, MTB, Zip Line, MTB, Paddle & Obstacle) Distances guessed at 22km MTB, 6km Run, 600M Zip line, 1km paddle.

Participants: Mike Underwood & Sue Belcher. Both hot in training for fetching and carrying!

Venue: Paddle Power near Pelindaba.

A check of the web site for Paddle Power carried a promise of hectic white water and steep drops over a weir! Discussions ensued as to whether we would need life jackets (with our swim at Yster Vark still fresh in our memories) but since Mike’s lifejacket stayed in William’s car all week, the issue was never resolved. Upon our arrival we were pleasantly surprised by millpond flat river water, a bank festooned with lashings of sponsor banners and tables dripping with race gear for sale. The air was chilly near the water, but with a promise of heat to come. Layering was the order of the day for Good Adventure Racers – such peeps well represented by Lisa, Carine, Alex Pope and their teams….all of whom were well represented on the winners podium, at race end.

All legs were pre-plotted on Google maps, which we collected after each completed leg. Stephan upped the anti, by supplying a race card with a barcode on the back, which was to be scanned into the computer after each completed leg. Each CP had an alphabetical letter to match to a letter on your race card.

Leg 1 could be done in any order – choice of North or South. We went North because it looked good, along with around 15 other teams and having decided to avoid congestion at all costs, conserved our energies by jogging gently and chatting, until we were happy that our CP was relatively free of the crowd. Picking up our punch for the rest of the race, a gentle jog back past Carine to greet the marshall who recognised the team and asked where were Nando and Adri? Mike warned me that it was a devious plot by our rivals to slow us down and to watch out for further delaying tactics!

The MTB transition was made even speedier, when Mike decided that his missing bike pump could become a fatal problem and we decided on a 5 minute detour to the carpark to get it – worse luck, it was not in the car either, so we made do with just an adaptor for my pump. Actually, this was a good decision in light of Mikes puncture later in the race!

Now the CP’s had to be done in numerical order and we quickly picked up CP 1 through 4, with only a 800m detour down the steepest hill, to check out the gorge & view, before turning back past other lost racers to CP 4. Hightail back over the river bridge, transition to paddling back over the river again, for the next run leg. Now I can only think we were tiring without traditional stops for breakfast, because we stormed right past CP 8 and bushwacked into 9, telling other racers who were amazed to see us pop out of the tall grass, that we were following our race plan to confuse and mislead other rival teams!

Transition to MTB, quick bite to eat, peanuts (you have made at least one convert William!) and a false start down towards the river, no…back past the carpark and finally out for our ‘long’ MTB leg. Relatively uneventful, with only one short detour. Chatting to other teams, a chicken run over the Muldersdrift tar road, with a blind rise and motorbikers doing 250km/h……into the lodge grounds and a search for the correct zip line tower. One of 9 fixed lines Stephan had told us. Ah, there it is all covered with USN banners and flags! Promised to be the slowest of the lines, we were still mightily impressed by the speed with which we winged over the valley. More impressive still, was the speed and skill with which the zip line crew, strapped us in and sent us off! Almost no time wasted hanging around this CP, no time to have breakfast, only welcome drinks supplied by USN.

Once again Mike and I added some extra mileage to our route, but were soon back on track, until mike says “Stop, I’ve got a flattie”. With only minor grumbling about Bruce having messed with the inner tubes (Sorry Bruce, we take it back) because it turned out that the tyre was slashed and even slime could not stop that hole! We wondered whether it was once again a fiendish plot by our rivals to slow us down? A quick change of inner tube and after much pumping, Mike unscrews the adaptor ……..and the inner valve……and we begin again! Fortified by a 5 minute rest and more peanuts, my brain synapses started firing again and I suggested that we convert my pump to presta – then for some more pumping!

Back on the road again, into transition, a short paddle down the river to hand in our race punches, back to the obstacle, up and over ……..and the first sprint of the day! Through the race finish…..stone last and just 2 minutes before prize giving! Whoop, whoop! We were perfectly happy!

True to form, Urban Kinetic outdid themselves with prizes for all the categories up to third place, and a table dripping with give-aways. Mike scored a puncture kit!! (wonder why?)…and I grabbed a Morningside Cycles service for my MTB. A beefy burger from the kitchen together with a boozy cooler, a relaxed chat next to the river with Mike and it was the end to another event thoroughly enjoyed by us both. Now highly trained and primed for any eventuality, we are raring to take on the supporters role, at Swazi Pro.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hens Teeth

At about 8pm William and I climbed out of the car at Oom Dirks place near Loskop dam ready for new adventure. The stars greeted me happily from an inky black sky, scintillating with joyous freedom at the thought of ruling the night without any moon for a whole night. The beautiful night sky complete with Milky Way and all its nebula had been there all along since my last rural outing, waiting to astonish and lift the minds of the adventurers from the city.
Our minds were ready and excited, waiting to face a night and day of continuous human powered movement. The car was full of the equipment, prepared for whatever Hardy might have up his sleeve for our entertainment. The two canoes had made the journey intact, lashed tight onto the cars roof rack, and the bikes were on the back, repaired from their last outing. The girls arrived about an hour after us and we dressed and did our final preparation, filling water bladders and lubing the bikes. Our team comprised myself, Willaim, Sue and Adri. We all had some new kit to test. This year’s proliferation of Adventure Racing events in mid-winter has broadened the season for us to enjoy our sport, and following a fortnight after the icy adventures on the Noon to Moon at Bronkhorstspruit dam ,my three team mates who had all participated there had a new respect for the cold and new preparations for sub-zero racing, met eish, ne.
This night was fairly mild in comparison, probably at about 7deg C when we started.
I was a little apprehensive of my ability to meet the as yet unknown challenges, having become a happy chocolate eating couch potato for two months after breaking my collar-bone and having a metal clavicle fitted. I hadn’t even been out on my Mountain Bike in that time, having lent it to Bruce for the last race. An hour’s sleep in preparation brought us to race briefing at 9:30 pm, and then having an outline of activities helped us to concentrate more on detail planning than worrying. 3km paddling up river, a 4km hike, 3.3km in the canoes back down stream. We could just float (how easy), but Hardy mentioned RAPIDS! Then 7km Cycle, 4km hike,14km cycle, 14km paddle, 7km hike, end. Straight forward. Wonderful. Now its 11PM. Go!
Sue and I picked up our K2 and carried it on our shoulders the 800 metres to the river. Sue is tough. Testing my new Sealskin waterproof socks I tested stepping into the water. The socks worked extremely well, dry feet, warm toes. Sue steered sitting in the front, me at the back, testing my repaired arm for paddling. Not too bad, no pain, quite strong just a little apprehensive about doing this for 20km.
The beauty of nature intrudes into the race. Mist rises up from the river and engulfs the boat, swirling wisps disorientating as in the blackness it is your only reference. When thick you can’t see the reeds of either river bank, and then a gap swirls past and the stars shine reassuringly, looking down on these going on from above. We explore a few cul-de-sac dead ends, and battle with turning the canoe around in the tight space of each disconnected pond with many other lost canoes doing the same manoeuvres. Whoops, there goes someone capsizing into the cold waters, and I think that we mustn’t do that. No we just can’t. And so we feel our way up through the waterways in the night, and the adventure is definitely on.
We arrive at the start of leg 2 hike. Sue and I pull the canoe up onto high ground and take off our life jackets and new waterproof pants. Their design is poor, pulling down at the back. We won’t recommend those but we are dry, and so we climb the steep hill away from the river. We need to cross a barbed wire fence, but as William leans on it, it snaps, a deep scratch is ripped across his palm, and his hand lands on five barbs from the strands beneath. It’s very rusty, and the pain and inflammation becomes a companion for Will for the rest of the race. He wonders out load (very) how long since his last Tetanus jab. We just hope his navigation remains good. William is our navigator, an integral discipline of the race, and one that ‘Will’ enjoys thoroughly. Its serious business, with Adri seconding the role and gaining more experience in the art. We discussed the differences between Orienteering, Navigation and plotting. He gives us stars to walk towards, and we find our checkpoints easily in the dark, crossing little rivers and surprising cows in the dark. We are connecting with what’s real and finding nature, - and it is magic.
The hike is pleasant and my new dri flannel tights covered by thermal long johns are warm and comfortable. Its been 4 years since Will and I did our first race in Clocolan and nearly froze by not having the correct clothes or experience of what works for AR. It’s much easier now, and remarkable that distance and time are of much lesser importance compared to mental attitude. We complete a circular route and get back to the boats, put on our water proofs to prevent splashes wetting us and put on our frosty lifejackets and helmets, just in case. The current will take us back.
Lisa shouts out to switch off our headlights to use the natural light to see, but there is none, and we don’t take the time for it not to be scary. Its new moon, 2:30 am in mid-winter and we’re paddling on the Wilge. At places the current is quite strong, and suddenly Adri and William are having problems with steering, their rudder is not working. Sue and I slow down, but suddenly we go nose first into the reeds and the current spins the boat. I don’t want to go backwards down the river and I paddle furiously in reverse trying to straighten the boat against the strong current through the narrow section. The canoe wobbles from the effort and tips and next thing we’re over, capsizing into the mid winter midnight darkness. This is an incredible intensity of experience, a moment of acute awareness. All the thoughts of don’t and mustn’t and what if, and the cold reality of the water combine. This is adventure.
My life jacket bobs me up to the surface and I check for Sue, - she’s ok, also holding onto the boat, using it to keep together as we get swept through the fast flowing area. I can see how cold Sue is, but I seem to be OK, all those layers of thermals keeping me slightly warmer. I joke that my water-proof socks aren’t working. I call out to the others, telling them we are out, in the water. Rescue us. Take me home to a fire and bed, but they are having problems too, their rudder cable has snapped and they can’t steer. So Sue and I and the sorry waterlogged boat float into the reeds downstream. With super human effort we pull the boat out and empty it, but the cold is getting into Sue’s system. If we can paddle hard enough we can warm up, but we need to wait for the others who are crashing into each river bank side in succession. It’s cold and Sue starts shivering in the way you think it’s necessary to do something to prevent hyperthermia and there is no time to fix the other boats steering. We carry on, paddling to get warmer but it’s not too long before we are back at the place from where we had set out.
We pull the boats out, 300metres shy of the rapids that Hardy included in the downstream leg. We can legally portage around those and we carry the boats back to the camp. Sue and I go and have a warm shower. I stand under the water in all my clothes and wash the mud off, and then take off everything I'm wearing. You can’t carry on so sopping wet. Ok, so I’m nice and warm again, no hyperthermia for me, but surely this upset has ended our race, Sue looked very cold and said she didn’t have much in the way of dry reserve clothing. I put on a tracksuit and step out from the showers barefoot ready to find a warm sleeping bag and get some sleep, only to find Sue and the others already dressed in her cycling gear waiting for me to hurry up for the next leg.
I pretend I’m not surprised by this and pull on my wet waterproof socks, dry cycling pants and cycling jacket. My cycling helmet pours water on me. My Ledlenser headlamp is still working - remarkable, it must be very waterproof. And then we’re off into the night, first on foot about 1km to the other end of the rapids to get the checkpoint. We see other frozen capsized racers warming themselves at the fire, and are glad to have missed the rapids and more spills. Then it’s back to the base and we're on our way on our bikes. My saddle reminds me to train more.
After 7km we reach a checkpoint and transition to hiking. A short walk to a lovely waterfall and pool and then up a steep kloof scramble of about 250 metres assent to the top of the mountain. Route choices are available and Will decides to stick to the ridge and try and identify the correct spur from the top to find the next check point. We hike across the top until Sue spots a very thin sliver of moon just preceding the rising sun. There is solar eclipse for Easter Island the next day, so Hardy really did choose a very new moon darkness for us, on this side of the earth.
We have a bite of breakfast and descend into the forest valley, going deeper and deeper, like a trip in ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’. It’s an incredible countryside, beautiful and fascinating. A hike around some spurs and over yet another hill bring us back to our bikes and we ride for 7 km finding checkpoints before getting to the place where the others are starting their final 14km long canoe leg. When we tell Hardy we can’t paddle because our boat is broken he looks at us incredulously like he expects good Adventure Racers would have fixed their boat by now, using bubble gum and plaster. Anyway, that choice makes us unofficial and we are now part of the Hoona Tand category.
We do a fun obstacle course and cycle the alternative 14km to the base camp racing each other on the way. From base we set off on the last 7km hike. It’s very technical, (read difficult) walking over loose rolling boulders, up onto a hill and back through several valleys and hills with rolling stones to test ankles, judgment and luck. We couldn’t find one of the checkpoints on top and so probably added three km to our walk while searching for it. Adri commented that being navigator for the team is like been a goalie in soccer, nobody blames you for losing the match but everyone knows you could have prevented it. Well, we’ve won the game, we’re the first team in. We arrived back just after 4pm (17hours 10 minutes) having thoroughly enjoyed our adventure. The race was an excellent mix of paddling, cycling and hiking. Thanks Tersia and Hardy and all the support crew for presenting us this opportunity to be out having fun doing the things we enjoy so much, with wonderful team mates for whom our admiration grows each race.

Lickety Split coming into Transition

We did ride all the way to here – it’s just the last little bit we walked... Promise!



Lickety Split at Tswane Ystervark and Hoona Tand Adventure Race

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Full Moon Adventure Race - Team Please wait for us!

Event: Kinetic Full Moon Adventure Race

Team: Please wait for us! (Part of the Lickety Split adventure racing team)

Members: William Cairns, Sue Belcher, Bruce Barker


A race report never does true justice to the actual race. I really really enjoyed the Full Moon race. Overall it was an easy race, no physically or navigationally difficult sections. I was also properly prepared mentally for the race which always helps to make a race more enjoyable.


Sue and I have been racing together for about a year now. Our normal 3rd team mate Mike is currently suffering from a broken collar bone so we invited Bruce to join us for the race. As his first ever AR experience it was maybe being thrown into the deep end.


Between us we had all the required gear - except PFDs, fortunately Sue knows lots of people and could organise some - but they were at the Bronkhorstspruit dam and we had to rush there before the race to collect them. At the race start we met up with Bruce and tried giving him all sorts of advice on kit choices - more than likely confused him rather than helped him.


Leg 1 - 14km Paddle, with a bit of a run


Due to the paddling practise from a few weeks ago we knew that the fastest way to paddle was by not using the seats in the bath tub, but rather to make our own, therfor we arrived at the start with extra pillows to sit on and fitted neatly into the boat. At the start there was the normal rush by everyone to get the boats into the water, which we stood around and watched - rather confusing Stefan who asked us if everything was OK. At CP1 I was elected to do the run while Bruce and Sue paddled up the river. I was close behind 3 other runners when we went past the check point - all three of the others missed the check point - I was kind enough to tell my fellow Lickety Split team member the answer but the other had to go back about a kilometer to fetch the point....


Leg 2 - 10km Cycle


The cycle leg was uneventful, however I quickly realised how unfit I really was because the hill from the Transition area out of the main gate made me walk.


Leg 3 - 13km Hike


The weakest part of my navigation is going directly across country where I cannot see the end point of my route. For this reason I decided to go the long way around and kept on the roads. Probably about 1.5km longer, and 15minutes longer in time, but less hardship on feet and legs. We had no problems finding the point and then the biggest navigational challenge of the route was to go across country and find the checkpoint on the "small dam wall" - somehow, probably mostly by luck - I hit the point dead on after hiking the 3kms in the veld - not even 10m off.

After that it was over the hill follow the road. We found the next check point quite easily - and while punching another two teams caught up - not wanting to spoil the fun we quickly left, and strangely one of the other teams followed us instead of clipping the point first. After a few 100 meters they realised their error and had to return.


Leg 4 - 30km Cycle


Rather straight forward, and most surprisingly exactly 30kms. Poor Bruce was struggling during this leg, the previous week he had done his first long cycling training, and his tender rear end had not yet recovered enough to ride again. This leg was where it really started to get cold. When we reached the Transition at the end of the cycle the marshal "kindly" told us that the current temperature was -3. So -3 seemed to be rather cold, but the real impact of it only struck when we reached our boat and found that it was frozen over, picking up the PFDs made a crunching sound as the Ice broke.


Leg 5 - 3km Paddle


Both Bruce and I struggled to paddle, my right arm kept cramping as I paddled on the right hand side. Poor Sue probably did 60% of the effort to get us to the next transition. Now if you realise Sue is half Bruce's height and probably half my weight (and a 3rd of Bruce's) that’s quiet an achievement.


When we reached the other end Bruce had had enough and decided to drop out. It was quite comical seeing his face when Sue and I said "OK, bye" and marched out to do the orienteering. Maybe if he knew that dropping out would not stop us continuing he would not have felt so bad...


Leg 6 - 7km Orienteering


The many locked gates, no access zones and a map without enough detail made this leg a little frustrating. We decide to do 5,6,7 in that order but the access gates between 5 and 6 were locked so we had to take the long way around 5,7,6. After that we came back toward point 5, took a short cut under a few wooded white fences. And here I got confused. At one point I thought North was in the East and therefore could not Orientate my map properly. For about the first time ever the compass helped in getting my bearing correct and we discovered we had walked straight past OP3 Earlier in the evening. I also made a bad route choice choosing to do

OP1 before OP2 making us walk back up a steep hill we had just walked down.


Leg 7 - 3km Paddle


In all honesty I cannot remember this leg. I think the sleepy monster was getting his claws into me. I can remember the finish and realising our packs had been moved. Then getting to the bikes and finding them frozen. Also here we once again saw Lickety Split and Con admitted to not having plotted the last Hike - so I lent him my map to plot from - This must rate in the same category as taking a tube with a hole in it on an AR....


Leg 8 - 50km Cycle


We went peddling off, getting our legs going after the frozen paddle was quite tough but we slowly got going. A minor navigational mistake took us down the wrong road to the main road and resulted in us backtracking a kilometer or so to collect the point. Back down the main road and left off into the dark. Most of the cycle my Odometer was showing a cycling speed of 14km/hr, suddenly i looked down and it said 11km/h so I peddled harder and it dropped to 10km/h. I then realised I was peddling with my eyes closed, one eye open to check where I was going. Suddenly I fell asleep on my bike and just caught it before it fell. We pitched camp in the grass next to the side of the road and caught 20minutes sleep.


When we woke the sunrise had started and we peddled off at about 16km/h - quickly making up the time lost. We were cycling "so fast" that I missed the next check point and we had to again backtrack to collect it. The morning quickly warmed up and slowly layers of clothing were removed. Soon we were at the transition.


Leg 9 - 7km Hike


We strolled over the grasslands to the next checkpoints. All were found with minimal effort and we reached the abseil. We quickly decended and hiked off down the valley. It was quite interesting chatting cheerfully to all the people busy climbing on the cliffs. Many of them were quite interested in the race.


Leg 10 - 2km Paddle


Paddling the bathtub at this point in the race was like asking us to climb Everest. Even Sue was getting tired and was taking rests on the way back. Coming toward the finish the first person we saw was team mate Mike which was great - and then everyone came out of the Marque to cheer us in. The best time to finish a race is during prize giving, you then get the most cheers!



Socks - due to the cold weather we had bought ourselves waterproof socks (seal skinz). Even though my socks became wet inside I think that my feet stayed warm all the time compared to not having the waterproof windproof socks on.

Cellphone - I have been regularly buying myself a new phone as each race I go on I seem to get my phone wet, it has never mattered what waterproofing I put around it. A while ago I upgraded to a Sonim XP3 Quest. A waterproof and impact proof phone. I did the whole race with the phone pushed into the back pocket of my cycling top - it remained working right throughout and proved to be as waterproof as promised.


Big thanks go to Stefan, Heidi and their marshal team. I think their approach in supplying boats, staging unsupported races is a great way of growing and maintaining the sport of AR in our area.