Monday, 29 August 2011

Celebrating the Big 3-0 #mountainbikingstyle

August Bank Holiday 2011, 34 of us went to Brechfa in Wales for a mountain biking weekend.

The Bunkhouse
I turned 30 in the week prior to the weekend, but decided not to have it as my birthday party as then it is exclusive and I wanted everybody to have the chance to come out and mountain bike with us.

We stayed in a bunkhouse that were able to host 32 of us, Zane & Jason stayed outside in a tent, not that there wasn't enough space in the house for them, but due to Health & Safety laws on this island. I would highly recomment Gilfach Wen Barn as it is well prepared for a group of this size, with 2 stoves, 2 fridges and enough bowls, pots etc to cook for this amount of people. Enough showers and such a spacious lounge area that you never feel in each other's space. 

Brechfa was the perfect setting as it has 4 routes, a blue, green, red & black so everybody was able to ride according to their ability.

Group Start

Bike park
Seeing 33 bikes lined up like this is quite impressive and a sight that makes me very happy.

Wales is well known for the sheep to people ratio and we tried our best to bring the average down.  This bunkhouse made most of the men's dreams come true when it came to the size of the braai. It didn't have the normal half-drum braai that we are used to, it even went further and a half-petrol-tank braai. (Vegetarians should stop reading here)

We indulged in steak, paptert, welsh lamb & roosterkoek with some of my mom's homemade fig jam! 

Die Boerseuns braai roosterkoek & tjops
Gerhard van Niekerk, Braam & Pierre
My flatmates sneakily lured me away to the station to pick Polly up. On my return I was surprised with this spread. I knew something was cooking, but was still quite taken a back by the amount of effort my friends have put in and being the centre of attention.

Surprize B-day Party for me!

The treats - Dankie Dolla & kie
Nic Master Minded evening Entertainment and this was probably one of the funniest things we have ever seen. Christiaan doing the wurm race on the floor.

The black route, called the Raven, has the most amazing single track section, it is like Yoghurt Pots in Surrey Hills, but on steriods, bigger berms, twists and turns. Scary, but you are going so fast that you actually don't have time to think about it. Proper leg shaking adrenaline goodness when you reach the end of it. The single track climbing is hard work, but very rewarding.
On the Monday we did the red, Gorlech trail. It has lots of firetrack climbing and completely different singletrack in comparison with the black. The last run into the car park has a few scary berms with some lose slate stone corners, a nice and challenging run. It is also beautiful being on the edge of a mountain and overlooking other mountains on the other side of the valley. 

It was such a fun weekend and I felt blessed to have so many amazing friends around me.
On Day 2 we took on the AWESOME black route

Local wildlife

Van Niekers v Van Aswegens

Steak & Paptert - Delicious
Nic, Dolla, Braam & Al
Gesellig om die tafel

Nice, in the kitchen where they belong. #afewgoodhandymen

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Tim's Mighty Crash

Note to self: Be sensible when you take 1st timers out

The good thing is, he wants to come back for more... So watch this space.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Tour de France 2011

In July 2011 four of us (the usual suspects) embarked to the French Alps. The trip had a multiple purpose. To do some riding in the Alps & to watch the Tour de France.
I found this winter ski-chalet by chance on google one day, in summer it is a mountain bike/cycling chalet. It was amazing. Will, the owner is an excellent chef, his portion sizes are perfect. Enough to make you want more, but enough for you not to need more. I would highly recommend Ecrins Lodge. It had everything we wanted, a warm place after riding in the wet, a bike wash area, a bike storage area, a big bowl of pasta after a day out, beers in the fridge, jacuzzi & coffee and in an idyllic setting.
The downhills were something we never experienced before, they kept going for kilometres. None of the ones we did were super technical, but they had berm on berm on berm. Corkscrew berms, huge berms exiting onto a tabletop jump - you name it!
I had a bad fall in May that year and strained my left thumb quote badly, so the braking bumps at the bottom of these trails were not great & I also burnt my hand with boiling hot fudge 3 days before we left. We treated it well each day and wrapped it with a bandage and some blister plasters each day. The Alps are just beautiful, God really created a place of outstanding and unbelievable beauty.
I asked Christiaan if I could share some of his amazing desktop screen saver type pictures, so please see below.
Photo credits: Christiaan Botha
Ecrins Lodge

The boys: Louis, Christiaan & Simon - Alp d'Huez

I'm fascinated by this tree, it looks like it is crying...
A river runs through it

Simon & Louis - Les Deux Alps

TC - Did I mention HUGE berms?

Thousands of people lining the mountain at Col du Lautaret
Col du Galibier
Hairpins of Alp d' Huez
The legend that is: Jens Voigt

Les Deux Alps

Christiaan Styling - Photo taken by me :)

Friday, 22 April 2011

My 2nd MTB

Specialized Rockhopper SL Expert 2010 Mountain Bike

After pure indulgence and money burning in my pocket I just happened to find this bike on offer whilst I still had my bonus in my bank account. Fate had it that only one of these were still available on the whole of the island & it happened to be my size. Christiaan gave me the go ahead and said that I was getting a good deal. I didn't need much more encouragement than that! It was meant to be.

Biggest noticeable comparisons

Rockhopper vs Hardrock

- The Weight
- The SHOCKS - what a difference
- The Brakes

Biggest Adjustment to get used too

- Narrower wheels, took time to get confidence on the jumps

Tips on buying a bike (especially for the girls)

- Ask that question that you think might be stupid
- Demand proper bike set-up or play around with your set-up (make sure your brakes are within reaching distance & that your shocks are set-up for you specifically)
- Buy a women's specific saddle (I've learned the very HARD way)

Did I say? I ♥ my Phiets!

Phiets @ Peaslake