TCR No.5 Part 1 – Kit

Be careful what you wish for

Regular readers will have noticed the blog has been rather quiet for the first six months of 2017. There’s a reason for that – the letter right arrived in my inbox on January 5th. Reading it was both a moment of elation, and also a stern wake-up call. An immense and sudden ground-rush of hopes and dreams about taking part in an ultra-endurance cycle race. It was actually going to happen, in seven months’ time, ready or not, I’d be lining up to start #TCRNo5 (the PedalED Trans Continental Race No5). Continue reading “TCR No.5 Part 1 – Kit”

TCRNo5

Funding the Unfunded

For some riders, The PedalED Transcontinental Race No 5 (#TCRNo5) is a full blown race. A gargantuan ultra-marathon across the continent of Europe. Battling it out alone, unsupported, around the clock, for a distance of close on 4,000km from the start in Belgium to the end in Greece. For other riders, like me, it’s an adventure. A physical and mental challenge unlike any we have undertaken. Victory for us will be simply to reach the finish inside the 18 day cut-off time. Or better still within 14 days to arrive in time for the party! But for all of us taking part, one thing this is not is a sponsored event. Most riders, like me, are privateers – funded from their own pockets, and using up precious annual leave for their race across Europe. Not being sponsored or funded does not mean that no funding can be raised though. And for me, there are a couple of local causes which I’m passionate about and have chosen to raise funds and awareness for.

Continue reading “TCRNo5”

Not a fluke

Cape 600km, 17th March 2017

With no Argus for me this year my March riding highlight was the Cape 600km Audax. With near perfect timing, my Niner RLT9 rig was complete in close to it’s planned final TCR form the week before.  And just to top things off, we’d be riding a new variation on our regular route, with around half of the Randonneurs – myself and Theunis included – taking a novel ant-clockwise option on account of the wind forecast. There was much to look forward too. Continue reading “Not a fluke”

A gem of a tour

It’s a little before 8:30 in the morning. And it’s Wednesday. But this is no ordinary weekday. I’m not sat at my desk working – instead I’m cresting this morning’s climb. It’s been a long, tough, and utterly delightful haul – made even more pleasant for a number of, also unusual reasons. Firstly the bike I am riding. We are far from home, and we have a full 160km of riding planned for the day, but I am not on my normal heavily loaded Audax bike. I am on my Giant TCR Advanced – a nimble rocket-ship that has just made effortless work of the first 40km and 1,000m or so of ascent to this point. Continue reading “A gem of a tour”

Battling The Beast – part 3

Calitzdorp, 643km – 06:30 Monday 12th December 2016

One bonus of no longer standing any chance of making the 75 hour cutoff time, was that it made our stops considerably more relaxed affairs. Nico and I were both still keen to complete the full 1,000km route, but there was no longer any specific target time hanging over our heads – aside from a vague notion of “sometime tomorrow“. As a consequence, we didn’t exactly hurry to get moving after our sleep. Both of us grabbed showers, and once again I sat on the wall outside drinking my tea whilst Nico got the rest of his kit together. A flock of small hawks took flight from the tree they had been roosting in a couple of blocks away. Raptors are generally solitary birds, so even without a close look I knew they would be lesser kestrels – their SASOL bird guide entry describes this exact behaviour pretty much word for word. My tea drunk, I went back inside for a last check around the room and to chivvy Nico along. I was keen to get started on the steep climb ahead before the day got any hotter. Continue reading “Battling The Beast – part 3”

Battling The Beast – part 1

16:30, Saturday 10th December 2016,

Slumped over a table in a garage, sun-burnt, heat exhausted, probably dehydrated, and struggling to make any headway on the burger and fries in front of me – I slurped on a chocolate milk shake in a desperate attempt to get some form of calories down. Comparisons with my Joburg 600km DNF didn’t end there. We were 330km in and, as on that earlier failed ride, both Henri and Kenneth were sat at our table. The omens, if you believe in such things, were not good. It felt like we’d battled weather and terrain the whole of the way so far, often both at the same time. Our riding time of 22.5 hours to this point was already dangerously close to the cutoff time, and for the second time today I was giving serious thought to quitting. Continue reading “Battling The Beast – part 1”

Climbing a South African icon

7th November 2016

A faint trail of dust rises up behind the bakkie, depositing a fine coating on frames, saddles and bars of our bikes, before swirling across the arid landscape and fading out completely. It’s somewhere after 7am, and the morning air is fresh and crisp as I step out to open one of last gates as we leave the farm behind us and head back to civilization, family, jobs, and lives where something other than cycling takes centre stage. Continue reading “Climbing a South African icon”

Walking doesn’t suck either

Stickman Warrior

Landroskop Hike, 29th October

Two non-cycling related posts in a row – this is getting to be a habit. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of meaty ride related posts just around the corner. 

Few things are more enjoyable for me than an outdoor event with both a significant physical element, and a load of logistics which also need to be planned. In this case though, the much anticipated and discussed event was not a cycling one – but a family hiking trip. Over the past couple of months we’ve been gradually inducting our son Ben into the love of a good ramble. He’s surprised us both to be honest, both in his zeal and his lack of complaining. So much so, that neither of us were remotely daunted by the task ahead – a strenuous, largely uphill 12km hike to a hut in the mountains for the night.  Even the low grey clouds scudding through the mountains around us, and the light drizzle that was falling couldn’t dampen our spirits. We’d been excited about this trip for months and now with backpacks loaded (perhaps a little too heavily) we were about to set off into the hills. Continue reading “Walking doesn’t suck either”

Running doesn’t suck

Bentonville, Arkansas, 6th October 2016

Business travel can be a chore, but it becomes significantly more interesting when one’s destination is new. Not only had I never been to Arkansas before, I’d never ventured into the southern US states either. I must confess, our destination of Bentonville, Arkansas was a complete surprise. I’m not really sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t a hipster cafe society vibe – complete with uber-trendy coffee shops and art galleries. It was easy to forget we’d actually swapped from our regular venue in Sausalito, California. But this was not just Arkansas, it was “North West Arkansas” – a subtle but important difference which we were reminded of more than once. Continue reading “Running doesn’t suck”