At some stage in the middle of the night, an enormous crash made me jump out of bed for fear someone had hopped over the fence and was stealing my ride. Only as I finished up in the bathroom in the morning did I discover the real cause – the soap shelf had detached itself from the wall and crashed to the floor. The bike was, still safely parked outside, covered in a fine layer of ice cold dew. As I pottered around repacking and mounting the fork bags the decision to backtrack my route from home was firmly set in my mind. You’d think that might mean a less interesting or adventurous day ahead, but cycling is never like that. The same route in different conditions can feel very different, and in reverse, looking at the landscape from the other side, it often bears no resemblance to the previous ride. Today’s journey had other surprises in store for me than just a different viewpoint though.Continue reading “There and Back Again – Day 3”
Breakfast TV was talking to itself in the background – the news was typically grim and I had more pressing issues on my mind. In between mouthfuls of muesli and swigs of coffee, I was churning over the route down to Land’s End. I’d intentionally followed an off-road section for the last part, but after the heavy rains I was pretty sure it would be even boggier than had been described in accounts I’d read. By the time I was kitted up and ready to go the decision was made, I’d take a largely on road route down and back. This meant an operation I am always loathe to trust a Garmin will do reliably out in the wild: asking it to reverse a track. In theory, it should work with plenty of track points, but in practice it makes me nervous. So I wasn’t entirely confident in the little purple line as I wheeled back down the alley and out into the streets of Truro.Continue reading “There and Back Again – Day 2”
It was never planned that last year’s Highlands to Home tour would include a complete JOGLE. But I did always intend to ride from home down to Lands End at some point. And as the mornings slowly grew darker and chillier, I’d failed to do any kind of distance riding during the summer of 2021. The idea of ticking this last piece off the list with a 3 day mini tour down to the bottom of the country started to take shape.
In between family and work commitments, free weekends were in short supply. I was doubtful of the chances of decent weather when I commandeered the earliest opening (17th through 19th September) and stuck it in the calendar. Luckily the AirBnB I found with 2 nights available in Truro had a generous cancellation policy, meaning I could take a view on the weather forecast on 12th September and pull out if it looked truly horrendous. Of course when it came to it, things were not quite as simple as that. The long distance weather radar had some strong bands of rain passing over – but the worst was late on Friday, with mixed and generally improving weather across the weekend. It’s all too easy to find excuses not to ride (the weather wasn’t the only one bothering me, but more on that later) – and the forecast really wasn’t that horrible if viewed overall so the decision was a ‘go‘. If I missed this ride, there’d likely be no other tour opportunity in 2021.Continue reading “There and Back Again – Day 1”
Really pleased to be able to announce publication of the first Just Keep Pedalling book. “Mungral” is the story of the adventures myself and friend Theunis Estherhuizen had on Munga 2018, together with an extensive section of tips for those inspired to see if they have what it takes to become a finisher themselves.
A special print run has been commissioned to ensure South African readers can enjoy the authentic experience of a proper book, printed and bound locally in Cape Town. Orders can be placed here.
The Kindle edition, and paperback version are available for readers in other countries in the usual way via Amazon. Please be careful to select the same Amazon store your Kindle is registered with when ordering – usually Amazon UK or Amazon US for most people. Amazon don’t make it easy (or event possible) to transfer a Kindle book to a different regional store.
Some feedback from readers below.
… I did not ‘read’ the book, I listened to you talking to me. I hear T’s voice, felt the aches and pain as you cycled the Munga, tasted the dust, laughed and cried with you … reading this book will make any cyclist think of doing the Munga …Hendrik
Just a note to say that I have received your book and have already read it in full. It was a fabulous and nostalgic trip down memory lane for me and should be prescribed reading for any prospective entrant to the Munga. I am pretty sure it will turn out to be just that. Thank you not only for taking the time to write it, but also doing it in such an authentic and unpretentious way – I loved it.Dawid
” … Thanks for a humorous and very instructive manual for friendship and mutual suffering …”Izak
“The book is great, especially the portion on gear and what to pack. Hopefully I’ll be able to apply it in the Munga this year.”Kwame
Cracking read for anyone into cycling. This is an ideal book for anyone considering riding the Munga or in fact any ultra-long distance cycling event for the first time. It is also beautifully descriptive of the people and places encountered on this 1000km trek across the middle of South Africa in the height of summerSimes (Amazon reviewer)
What a fantastic little read! The first half is a beautifully-descriptive, informative, unassuming and awe-inspiring chronological narrative of Rob’s successful Munga attempt, whilst the second half is an invaluable reference guide to anyone attempting the same (or similar) long-distance offroad bicycle epic.Waltus (Amazon reviewer)
The author’s description of his ride though the most desolate parts of South Africa, take you there. You feel the highs and lows, emotions, the exhaustion, and perhaps, most vividly, the joy of reaching the next rest stop. You get a sense of the natural beauty as well as the desolation.T W (Amazon reviewer)
Highlands to Home was an experiment. All of my previous long rides have been events – personal challenges to see if I could ride that far, pushing my own boundaries driven by the desire to finish in time. And although (mostly) solo and unsupported in nature, all of these were organized events, which means they were never really done alone, or in isolation. H2H was the very opposite of this. I had a goal to complete it in 10 days, but there was no cutoff clock running. And with no official route, or checkpoints, my route was not only my own, but also not fixed – I could (and did) change it on a whim. The daily distances I set myself were also conservative – designed to maximise my enjoyment of the scenery by riding almost entirely in daylight, and ensuring I had plenty of time to sleep and recover for the next day. So how was very much my first experience of what could be called “solo long distance touring”?Continue reading “H2H – Epilogue”
Just over 100 miles left to home – I woke up eager to get started. But there was zero point in rushing – Yoli would be on a work call in the evening, meaning the optimum time for me to arrive home would be 9:30pm. Being forced to curb my enthusiasm did bring the benefit of having time to really enjoy the breakfast and coffee that was waiting for me downstairs. There was a definite sense of rain in the air as I trudged out and kitted up in the slightly damp market square.Continue reading “H2H – Day 10”
1338km – 23 Aug 20, 07:15 – Nantwich
I looked at my watch before rolling out. If I waited another hour and a quarter I could set my day up with a solid breakfast before riding – one which was probably included in the room price as well. But adding the time it took to arrive and savour, I’d be two hours later leaving this spot. At touring speed that was around a sixth of the distance I wanted to cover today. As I rode slowly back past the entrance I could almost taste the delicious food I was missing. It took a massive act of will to resist and keep pedalling along what seemed like the high street of the lovely old town, and out into the countryside beyond. I knew the road ahead would offer up some kind of breakfast, but I had no idea of when. The instant coffee and biscuits were only going to keep me in good spirits for so long.Continue reading “H2H – Day 9”
1145km – 22 Aug 20, 07:04 – Cross Keys Inn, Tebay
Tempting as it was to lie in and wait for the staff to arrive so that I could enjoy a full breakfast at the pub, the best way to start pulling back some of the lost time and distance from the previous day was to get up and going. Luckily the emergency provisions in my fork bags still contained one freeze dried breakfast, although despite its name (chocolate muesli), it was actually the least tasty of the lot – closer to weak hot chocolate with a few grains floating in it. Of course it’s entirely possible I hadn’t read the instructions properly and had over-hydrated it. If the energy stats on the side of the packet were to be believed though, the lack of flavour would be compensated for in calories to fuel what appeared to be another damp morning.Continue reading “H2H – Day 8”
Any notion that the storm predicted for today by charity group riders in Lairg wouldn’t materialize was dashed when I looked out through the glass door to the pub car park. I stared across an expanse of tarmac, that the rain had already turned into a shiny, grey mirror which reflected the dark clouds above. It wasn’t an inviting prospect – getting wet during a ride is one thing, but starting out in the rain is an order of magnitude harder. The arrival of my bike up from the cellar broke the contemplation – I dropped my bags beside it in the hallway and headed for breakfast in the vain hope that the conditions may brighten up whilst I ate.Continue reading “H2H – Day 7”
875km – 20 Aug, 08:00 – Loch Lomond
There’s something special about reaching the point where you have less distance in front of you than already travelled. It feels like a big wave of kilometres building up behind you, and all you need to do is keep your balance and ride the surf home. As if that feeling weren’t enough, today also offered the unusual pleasure of an extra hour of lazing around in luxury room, and a properly good breakfast before fetching my bike from the shed and kitting up for the day. To top it all off Diane, as hoped, had been able to spare some strapping for my nigglingly painful Achilles. With only a short stretch to ride I had plenty of time to get to Alexandria (just north of Glasgow) to meet my friend’s for a quick coffee and a catchup.Continue reading “H2H – Day 6”