Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Discovering the goodness of riding in South Africa!

I live in London 11 months of the year and get to spend a month in South Africa over Christmas! I've started riding about 8 years ago now and have only been able to take my bike home with me once before and after being home last year I decided that it is the last time that I will be sitting at the farmstall and watch how everybody else rides their bikes. 

1. Local around our farm on the Garden Route

I had the privilege to ride with 'locals' around the farm; technically I was the local being born and bred in the area whilst they were just on holiday; although I was also on holiday! 

At home I was able to ride in places I've only seen from a far or driving past in a car. Some of the rides were a trip down memory lane riding where I grew up with the sea right next to me. I was also lucky to meet people to ride with which broke down my pre-conceived ideas of South Africans back home being snobbish and unfriendly. How wrong was I? 

One thing is for sure; these people can ride their MTB's fast on tar. We were averaging a speed higher than what I do on my road bike on the road when I'm fit on one those days into a head wind! I promised that I'll do a turn on the front when the wind was from behind. :-) 

They were everything but that. Friendly, accommodating and very helpful. Thank you Rozanne, Albert, Grahame, Tim, Jean-Luc, Fanie & Marius!

Canopy trees towards the N2

Coastal road near Gourtizmond with Rozanne!

Riding with the 'locals' aka holiday makers in the area! :-)
TC the local, Jean-Luc, Rozanne, Graham & Fanie

Riding in Hermanus was with my best friends. This was my 3 day break away from the farmstall. 

It was like old times; like Tango Cycling Wales weekends, but just in Hermanus. Everything revolved around a good ride, eating and kuiering! Awesome! Thank you Steph, Gerhard, Christiaan, Kerryn, Si & Pokkeljie for the memories! 

The trails and scenery was out of this world and the trails form part of the well-known Wine 2 Whales race. My favourite part was riding up The Gorge and following the wheel of Steph like old times down some flowy twisty singletrack.

Read more about 'Heavenly' Hemel & Aarde Vallei

Day 1 

The Tango Twins were lost & found again before this picture! 

Tango Train

Happy place

All together now! 
 Day 2

I indulged a little bit too much in all the good South Africa food and it felt like my breakfast sat in my throat whilst riding, but I'm so glad that I rode as the scenery was just so beautiful! 

Early morning sunrise! 

Steph & Si! :-) 

The morning after the night before! 

3. The Farm :-) 

One of my highlights was when our dog a good sized, Bull Mastiff, Mincke invited herself to join me for some singletrack hunting on the farm. She replaced me as laat lammetjie ('late lamb') or in English youngest child in the house so has never been my favourite, she stole my heart and I would like to get a trail dog now! She was so funny though, not used to all the exercise she went for a swim in the dam and refused to run after that again.

Explore more about The Farm!

The day before I returned was spent with Christiaan & Elisca on trails that form part of one of the Cape Epic stages. It was the hottest day on my whole holiday, the temperature was close to the 40's. The trail was 95% singletrack, constantly going up & down and traversing round the mountain. 

Because of the heat in South Africa there isn't much time for respite, you ride to finish your ride before the heat of the day. That means you shut up & pedal so that your ride is done by 10:00! The trail provides you with views over the whole of the Bainskloof Valley before you head over to the furthest part which spans views over to the Swartland! It has a good combination of easy rideable fast flowing singletrack and a few pieces of nice rock garden type singletrack. 

I still need to get a bit braver with the regular narrow little bridges that they sneak in regularly when you least expect it. 

Read more about Wonderful Welvanpas!


Trying out IamSUPERBAR, a healthy dried fruit and nuts bar made by Elisca's friend

View towards the Swartland!

Singletrack for miles!

Singletrack satisfaction! 

Elisca properly said something inappropriate to make us both laugh like this! 

The Dollas in action

I found riding in South Africa much better than what I expected. 

TC's Observations

1. The pace as these people can klap/cane it on the district roads with! 
2. The heat is something out of this world and mostly not in a good way for us who are used to ride in mild to VERY cold conditions
3. Rides take place early morning and you still have the whole day to do other things
4. The trails are well built not as technical as what I'm used to in comparison to Wales
5. The trails are dusty and I'm sure for us from the UK that is one thing that isn't a problem! 

The Dust-O-Meter!

Farm life, trail dog & sweet singletrack!

South African Mud!
You might remember that I wrote about 'Finding Sweet Singletrack' on the farm 3 years ago! 

This year I rode quite a bit on the district roads nearby and only ventured out on the farm once. It was one of my highlights!

Our dog a good sized, Bull Mastiff, Mincke invited herself to join me for some singletrack hunting on the farm. She replaced me as laat lammetjie ('late lamb') or in English the youngest child in the house. So she has never been in my good books, but she stole my heart and I would like to get a trail dog now! 

She didn't have any experience of any type of ride ever and she managed to not get in my way or cross the tracks! 

She was so funny though, not used to all the exercise she went for a swim in the dam and refused to run again after that. 

I just realised again that you can take me away from the farm, but you can't take the farm out of me. I love South Africa, I love the farm, I love our dog and some how these are the things that are still occupying my mind still a month after my return to London! 

First singletrack 400m from home just after a short 'rock garden'!

Ominous sky

Hopefully not my destiny... 

It is going to be a slow ride! 

Boerboon tree in bloom

In die koppe
Mincke in full flight
I thought they built a jump for me...instead an impressive home of a porcupine complete with two tunnels on the inside

And then this happened! Seal was bulletproof! My tyre did deflate as I made the rooky error and pulled them out, but I pumped it up and all was fine again! 

Behind the farmstall

Queen of the Mountains, Mincke

I ♥ the farm!

My new Bestie! 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Memoires of a commuter

I decided that this year I need to cycle into work and save a few pounds where I can.

Random things that I've realised thus far:

1. It is harder to get up when you have to ride to work than when you want to ride for fun on a weekend

2. There is annoying people on bikes the same as on the tube (maybe I'm one of them)

3. There is always that one person who gets to the lights last, stand on the outside to pull away in front of you, you overtake them in a few seconds or on the next straight, they push in again at the next traffic light (repeat). This behaviour inspires me  to ride faster so I can just shake them off for good

4. There is always a few strays that think by jumping a light or moving in front of the pedestrian crossing will give them an advantage whilst 30 others stand behind the white line like well behaved school children, this is not acceptable behaviour, please report to the head masters office immediately

5. It takes longer to get dressed than what you think, just as you think you are ready to go, you realise it might be best to put on your overshoes so that your precious tootsies are nice and toastie!

6. Then you remember ag my waterbottle, oh and my helmet AND you end up forgetting your pass for work anyway...

7. There is no sweeter thing than to get your timing right with a few consecutive green traffic lights (I think the timing gets better as you get fitter)

8. Getting to work becomes a race from one traffic light to another

9. You get a puncture within 2km from home, you lock your bike & walk to the nearest station

10. The last 500m from your final destination is the most dangerous

11. You see drivers swerving at you, you see drivers taking their foot of the brake whilst standing still so that their van can deliberately push cyclists who are trying to cross into the entry he is blocking with the whole length of his van

12. It takes you the same time to cycle to work and shower as it would to shower at home and travel to work by train

13. Somehow you forget the annoyances of your commute much easier than the ones on the train

14. FREEDOM - You are free to pick your own route

15. You see cyclist pushing past HGV's - why? Do you read the papers? If not, you will soon be in there too!

16. Commuting helps for homesickness. Coming back from SA has made me wanted to just go home and sleep, on the days I commute I feel that I want to do more

17. Last minute underwear purchases becomes routine

18. Brushing your teeth with a perfume infused toothbrush is never nice, toothpaste and perfume have each their own purpose and should never be mixed!

19. Commuting takes you through different suburbs, from the trendy upmarket Clapham through the hustle & bustle of Tooting! In the morning you see all the neatly arranged fruit & veg, where in the evening you are seduced by the tantalising flavours of Tooting High Street

20. It is 2 birds with one stone, saving money & getting fit

21. Like Gerhard van Niekerk says, I ride so I can eat more!

22. You feel great afterwards! :-)

Tango Commuting Tips/Rules:

1. Don't under dress in winter, you will feel the cold to your bones even if it's only an hour

2. Don't squeeze past on the inside of vans, HGV's or busses - arrive alive

3. Don't push in at traffic lights or jump red lights, you give yourself and the rest of the cycling community a reputation