Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Balele Tracks - Scouting

Brief photo report from Sue – possible race clues removed.

For those of you who were not there.

Home away from home!


The Lickety Split squatter camp. (Hot water, kettle, fridge, unlimited wood, etc)

The nights got VERY cold!

Luckily Con kept the fire going.........  Chopping wood.

But the days were cool and dry.

Pancakes at the Birthday Party for Lolly.

Site of Con’s new checkpoint. Fantastic view over the escarpment into Natal. (Through the mist!)

 Port a bike........ Hike a bike!

William somewhere up  there in the tall grass.......

Looking for another of Con’s checkpoints? How to get through all that thick bush & trees....

Found it! But will anybody else ever find it?

The climb up .........   William says the GPS reports it’s a 1 in 3 climb

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lost in Da Bush

'Twas adventure racing time again, this time with one of my favourite teams, Lickety Split.

The weekend started with a fuel tanker that blocked the highway out of jozi, and Con swearing to never ever EVER go away on a weekend again.

But that was soon forgotten when we hit the open road and Adri took out pizza, cinnabon-ised muffins and cookies.

We arrived just in time for race briefing - then set up camp in Mankele's camp site.

Race started early on Saturday morning with a quick run to a mini-waterfall - would have been quicker if the mankele singletrack was plotted on the maps, though ...

We than transitioned on a cycle-leg that took us on some of mankele's sweetest singletrack, hike-a-biking up koppies and bundu-bashing through Lantanas. Here's the team (sans the photographer) discussing route options before we left the tar ...

We found controls 3 & 4 quickly. Here's Adri and Will dragging a bike up to control 4.

Control 5 was easy to spot - the paths leading there, less so. Here's Con & Adri running up to the control.

It was a bit of hike-a-biking up to control 6.

We couldn't find control 6 anywhere (we later found out it was about a kilometer off where it was supposed to be) so we took a picture to proof that we were there:

On to control 7, but that one was also misplaced. We heard afterwards that some teams phone the organiser, who directed them to the correct control. Here's some bikes of other teams also searching for the control:

K, so by this time we lost a little enthusiasm and decided that while we're unofficial anyway, we might as well just go for the 'cool' controls. We purified some river water, then headed off to 7. Found it quickly (and where it was supposed to be) and then on to 8 via a sweet singletrack-detour.

Here's will taking a nap at the top of the mountain, just before we clipped control 8.

And then it was a serious downhill that left the bikes with scorching hot disks at the bottom.

The we searched a parking lot for a control that ended up being in a tree about 50 m from the parking lot :(

Here's Adri at the river crossing (where we heard that the last cycle leg was cancelled)

A quick cycle to the transition, and on to the next hiking leg. We decided to go for a finish and a braai, rather than collecting all the points - so only collected one next to a river, and one at the top of the downhill course. Here's the view from the top of the world:

... and here's the whole team at teh finish - just before the sprint to the swimming pool.

Posted by William on behalf of Carine who raced as part of Team Lickety Split. (Carine was part of Lickety Split on our first ever races - it was great having her back for this race)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Sunday Ride

So we had a couple of RSVP’s for the proposed Sunday ride at Groenkloof at 2h30. Allowing ample time for a good ride before sunset and eat/drink at Moyo afterwards. Carine confirms she’s in Afrikaansstad and already did a ride at Groenkloof in the morning with some others. Oh ofcourse… Joburg2C training. Leaving Randburg already late and hot, I pack ice water, sunscreen and a baking tray with hot cinnabuns (which made me late). The sky towards Afrikaa… Pretoria looks rather grey and the closer I get to Centurion Carine confirms its rather wet. We can deal with wet…already had 2 wet& muddy rides. But looking in the direction of Groenkloof, it’s a dense grey and not long before I enter a heavy rainfall accompanied by cinnamon flavoured steaming windows. Remember the storm-chasers in the movie “Tornado”?

Towards Eufees offramp the water is now really pouring down and traffic slows down to cross the river making its way trough the half-built bridges and construction, all the way to Fountains. We agree to go to Café 41 for coffee until the rain’s passed. (Will I really drive 60kms for a coffee?) Deekay’s also at the Groenkloof entrance, but no-one can go in or out because of the little stream now twenty times its size and taking everything not anchored to mother earth with it. A drenched duck… mountainbiker confirms looootsa water inside the park. Carine’s already inside, and now trying other exists out of the reserve. Everyone out, Carine, Deekay and myself make our way to Café 41 to wait for the torrential rain to go north, hoping to still sqeeeeze in a ride. In the parking area I share the cinnabun-joy with the others. We order hot drinks and already the skies are in our favour. Brilliant, coz for 60kms here the mega-cappucino could at least have had decent foam on it. No worries, as we are going to play now.

Get to the Fountains entrance we are asked if we’re sure we wanna go cycle now.. there’s lotsa water. YES, thankyou. Driving around to Groenkloof… there it is: water and water and more water. The parking area not accessible from either sides as its non-existing. It’s a river with some pine trees not even interrupting its mighty flow! Wow. And wow again. Water is surely not to be underestimated or challenged. Touché. We park on the side of the road, about a 100 metres from the usual parking spot, take a couple of photographs and gear-up for an interesting ride A park-officer and also mountainbiker parks next to us and confirms we can circle the Northeastern part of the reserve without trouble, but crossing to the other side in the valley is a no-go as the Limpopo is surely getting its fire from this side today. Sure, and we head off. It stopped raining… except for under the trees, of course. Deekay, who often sweeps for the DnD rides leads us onto the first track and admits he’s forgotten what a single track looks like. Within seconds our chests open and faces light up. Yea… this is the joy. The joy that makes 60kms and a cappucino-with-no-foam worth it. Single track decorated with mud, slippery bends, rocky ups & downs, tall & wet grass, spider webs aiming for a smaller catch and a 100 different after-the-rain smells. The wooden bridge next to the fence was kind today and the 3-in-a-row climbs next to the road reminding us to be kinder to our bodies.

At the top we enter the snaking playground of short bends now slipperytoo and we are short for words to duly describe the joy of riding on the footprints of only rain. Our single track soon became the obvious path for little streams making their way down to the mighty one. I caught myself laughing like I haven’t done since allowed to write with a ballpoint pen. A long downhill dirt road leads us to the banks of a once shy little river, now scarily impressive. Against the advice received earlier: we’re crossing it. Hike-a-bike-style aware of every little step through knee-deep water. Deekay in, Adri in, Carine taking pics. Deekay out and then coming back for my bike. I was feeling unsteady with my bike and now even shakier without the extra weight (note-made-to-self). Out the other side we slot our now-2kg-cleats into the pedals and make our way up the other side spotting a couple giraffes graciously making their way down the dirt road.

“Good day sir” as we meet up with another courteous giraffe standing tall about 15 meters in front of us. He must be nr 4 and far too relaxed to be the sweeper. We know there are 8 giraffes in the park, so looking back we examine the surrounds for the entourage. And yes, there she comes, straight towards us. Nr 5. Has anyone ever been trampled by a giraffe? Coz this one is walking-with-a-purpose! Heehee! And then it passes slightly left we are in awe of these impressive animals. What a privilege. Right on our doorstep. On just another Sunday afternoon. My white-skinned sacred Sunday afternoon nap is forever outweighed.

The last of the clouds now make sunset seem a little closer and we agree to head round to the fast & endless single track. Blessed again as we meet nr 6, 7 and 8. One sir and two teenagers. Wow again. Mik-en-druk a couple of times and we head off. Left into the anticipated single tra…river! Whahooooo!!!! Left, right, left, right, left, left…. More and more… if this is what eternal life is like, I can go now. Tell my family I love them, and this was great. Oke, not now then… right, left, water, right, left, swoosh, and some more wet bends and sadly the end nears. We take a breather, recollect and decide the route for the ride home: next to the stream with the river crossings. And again we are amazed to see the course the water had taken a couple of hours before. Flattening most of the bushes. The trees next to the fairytale stream garnished with 40c-plastic-bags, a bright orange roadworks beacon, a BIC lighter, lunchboxes and the rest nhhof our streets. About another kilometer and sadly… it is over. But wow, the best ride in a long time. Heading back to the cars the established parking area is still under water, but the tar road next to it negotiable and soon proving to be an excellent bike wash too. Thank you Deekay & Carine for taking up an uncertain challenge with a certain reward! Carine, please follow up with some of your inspiring photographs!

Taking stock in the car on the way home was done with tenderness as the Easter Message has now taken full circle. Scarlet skies greet the day and grace like rain fall down on me. You have set my feet upon a rock that is not moving. Life and life in abundance because He is risen and now lives inside of me. Through Your love we are endless.

May we chase the storms again.