From CapeTown cycle tour to the Waterberg.

What an atmosphere grows around the city of Cape Town at the time of the cycle tour. The whole central business district is humming with bicycles and visitors. The bus services are full of cyclists and people sharing stories of previous year’s rides. What a nice way to market a city for good. The cycle tour generates a large income for the city. The local people all add to the atmosphere of the race day. There are the musicians along the road playing music to the passing cyclists. Then there are supporters singing and chanting. Road closers with bicycles having right of way , gives a feeling of cycling freedom. On the other hand it can get a little crowded.7cab3526d153cb331c57250b98de1b9c_DSC_4307

 

What makes it even more special is been able to travel down and lodge with other pig farmers and our vets. There is the constant joking and comradery that goes on between all.

As for my race it was very enjoyable. Weather was perfect. Not much of a wind. I rode in the cool of the day, having an early start time. I had done the 947 race in Johannesburg to get a good seeding to get an early start. If you start after 8 am that means you will land up in the middle of the day on the road. The wind normally comes up later in the day. The heat from the midday sun can fry you a little. Riding over lunch is not nice, you keep getting the feeling to eat something solid, liquid energy drinks do not satisfy. Resulting in you starting to feel weaker. My time was 10 minutes more than my target time but more than an hour improvement on my first Cape Town cycle tour.a54d88a3751a690880ec575c8ad864fb_DSC_8722b9807f5086ac6d07f7f83aa52771532b_DSC_8498

After the race it took more than a week to get the bike back to the farm. Making me very lazy. It had been raining so I had to put my old Maxxi cross marks tyres back on. IMG_20160325_184255 (2)Then I did some turns around the farm. Nice to get off the tar and back into the sand and mud. I was looking at my rainfall for this year, it is now at 450 mm. That is just 25 mm short of the long term rain average. I have been complaining about the drought. The rain finally came however little late for some crops. It looks like we will be able to harvest some sunflower. The sunflowers that the Guinea fowl did not eat, has come up quite nice, especially now that rain fell at critical times.IMG_20160323_181051 (2) Now the Kudu have been helping themselves to the top flower. Thus making some side shoots come out with small flowers. Hope they get some seeds in these small flowers.

Some waterways have been dry for a few years and these had water flowing in them for about two weeks.IMG_20160324_172421_1 (2) I now have hope that we should get enough growth in the grass before winter. This should help to take the cows to next summer.

 

Just finished a weekend on the bicycle. Had a chance to get out and do a loop through the Waterberg mountains. 2016Titan Potgietersrus

I have a problem to get into the mountains as it is very flat on the Springbok flats. I went up the Kloof pass at 35 degrees Celsius, according to my GPS it was 285 m ascent. Kloof pass has a rideable gradient. Not like some sections up to Pigs peak.  Round trip was only 2000 m ascent. This is not enough if you are training for the Trans-Afrika. My idea was to test to see if I want to sign up for the Trans-Afrika. I found that I had forgotten how much pain and pushing through it takes to finish a long day in the saddle. Found that after passing Naboomspruit, Potgietersrus, Kloof pass and getting to Vaalwater my legs did not have enough to go on. Thus spend the night at Vaalwater hotel. Where Titan had his own bed.

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This is the last stretch down to my farm.

Tweeted my trip on my twitter account @kennyfagan. However no nice scenery photos. This time it was focused on my bicycle Titan. You must tell me what type of photos you would like to see. Some people want to see what the area looks like, in case they want to ride in the area. Others want to see what the ride looks like. Others just want to hear the adventure. Some would like an accommodation review so if they do the ride they know where to stop.

Well let me know what you would like to hear by using the reply box.

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Cape town cycle tour

 

 

Time to take a rest. Bike is posted to Cape Town, for the Cape Town cycle tour. Too late to do training now. Will have to do some running this week, to stop myself from getting lazy. Looking forward to see what my time will be as I have put some road tyres on and a pair of tri bars. Need to do better than my 15 km/h on the Trans-Afrika. After all it is just a breakfast run. Next time must write in for two laps. Ha Ha.

Looking forward to the weekend. Will be flying down to Cape Town from Johannesburg on the 4 March, with our vets and a number of people from the pig farming industry. CS vet and pharmaceutical companies are sponsoring the weekend. I will be riding in their kit. They have lined up some activities for us.

This is the second time I will be doing it with them. Actually they dragged me kicking to the first one. I had never done a cycle race before. Annie one of the vets gave me her place in the race and she transferred it to my name, as she had decided not to ride. I did not even have a cycle shirt at that stage. Actually bought my first shirt on a special at the expo before the race. That KAWAY shirt that you have got to know me in. This was in 2014. I had only ridden tours in Africa. I had cycled in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi by that stage. Been a tourist on a bicycle is very different to riding the biggest timed race in the world. Think that year there was over 33000 riders. Even now I am not used to having so many riders around me. Very easy to have an accident.

So cycling will have brought me to Cape Town three time in the last few years. Amazing how cycling starts to make a big world smaller. Saying that it makes me realize how small the big cities in Southern Africa are. When I was a child they looked so big and could only be crossed by bus or car. Now on the bike it is less than an hour cross Johannesburg. Cape Town city centre in 15 minutes.

Having said all that I would be ungrateful if did not brag on getting 60 mm rain this week. It rained on three different days. The parched earth sucked up the water as fast as it fell not leaving much to run away. I was wondering what we are going to have for winter grazing. There is a marsh/water way that the farm gets its name from called Meisjesvlei. This is the first time in three years I have seen water running down it.IMG-20160227-WA0000 On the top of the farm there is a quarry that collects water in the rainy season and then it seeps down to the underground supply. Last night I found a puddle of water there for the first time in two years.

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Puddle of water at Dead mans Island

There are two months left in this rainy season. Sure hope this rain keeps up. South Africa is experiencing its worst drought in a 100 years. We have been lucky it is not as bad on the farm as some places. This rain will be enough to take the sunflowers that survived the scorching heat to harvest. Here are some photos at sunset on the farm in the past week.

 

 

December 2015

Been off the radar for a short time. Does not mean that I have been up to nothing. Christmas and New Year are a busy time on the farm. The public holidays result in working half staff. With this we have to keep feeding and watering animals. We cannot just close the doors and open in January. If only the people sitting in town knew the long hours and effort that goes into putting food on their tables. It pains me sometimes to see the food that goes rotten and wasted.

We have been in the grip of a drought. We landed enough rain in the first half of December to plant about 400 ha sunflower just to be followed be three weeks of heat wave. This was max temperatures over 33 degrees. This farm is situated on the Springbok flats bio diversity which is basically African Savanah. As the pressure of the drought pushes the wild animals to their limits they turned to the germinating sunflowers. Looks like the animals have eaten any plant that pushed its first two leaves out of the soil. Looks like we will have to plant again. That will also not work if we do not get any more rain.

We have had to continue supplementary feeding cattle. If there is no rain before winter we will not make it to the next summer rains without bringing in extra bales from our other farms where we have stock pilled some hay. Normally it is very dry in February and march with some rain in April. Hope January and April bring good rain. It will be good for the cattle but too late for crops.

The pigs have been under pressure from the high temperatures resulting in lower feed intake and thus growth. I have not spoken much of this part of my life but it is the main activity which I am involved in. All other farm activities are side lines.

Having said that you may have seen on twitter that I have done a few rides. There was the quick weekend to my sister at Belmoral. That was a nice warm up ride of 320 km. I have made two trips down the R101 to Pretoria to see family.

All in all they were very hot rides. Resulting in me looking for times to cool off. There was the dip in the irrigation canal in Rus De Winter.

Two rides home from Pretoria finishing in dipping in the pool with cycling clothes on to cool off.

 There was a comment on twitter saying that I should rather take up swimming. Swimming long distance could be very dangerous when the sleep monsters strike. If you see how slow I ride my swimming is even slower. I would need a life jacket.

As the New Year begins the question all ask is what I am going to do in 2016. That is the same question I ask myself. Is always nice to have a goal to work for. I am in the Cape Town cycle tour. This is just a nice short party trip. A lot of pig farmers and their vets normally go down and do it. Then I am very tempted to ride the Trans-Afrika again to defend my title of Lantern Rogue. I really enjoyed the Trans-Afrika. I am not much of a racer but it was an amazing adventure. I see @BufflSoldier01 is planning a trip to East Africa in December. It would be nice to join him. I have been longing to cross some boarders up in Africa again. There is the element of the unknown. By the way Andy Masters I think you should start a Race from Karonga Malawi to Johannesburg or Cape Town. Call it the Trans-Rift. I would most likely be on the starting line. Well will let you know what I will be up to.

SWAHILI GAME LODGE

The owner of Swahili game lodge invited my family and I to come around and visit. I help to supply meat for his lions. He has started a Lion breeding project to try establish the original genetic blood line of the area. The lion numbers have been dwindling and together with that comes a smaller gene pool. Resulting in the lion becoming more susceptible to other cat diseases. He is now hand rearing the cubs to make sure of their survival. His intention in the end is to turn the lions out into his game farm once the lions are adapted to the environment.

He gave my wife ,daughter and I a chance to play with the cubs. These are some amazing little animals. The have these big paws with razor-sharp claws. There is now way of getting in contact with them without getting a few scratches.

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Then there was the Zebra foul that was bottle feed as its mother was killed by lightning.

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Also heard some sad news that the next door game farm had two rhino poached the previous week. Now this week there was another rhino poached on another farm in the area. Looks like the poachers are focusing on our area now. This is so sad. This terrible scourge is destroying the rhino population and one day there will be none left to show the future generations.20150307_154044

All in all it was a wonderful day finished with a game drive.

 

Sunset over a African Savannah

 

How nice it is this evening. I sit in my garden typing this post as the sun slips away over the African Savannah. Actually the sunset on the top of my blog was taken last year in the winter from my garden. Tonight sunset is a lot different to that cloudless evening last year. There is an expectation of rain with the sun peeping around some clouds leaving a silver lining with some orange pink touches. Well forgive me for not giving the right name of the colour .You need to be an artist to know the name of that colour.

 

Every evening from the time the rainy season started I drive across the farm passing this wetland to find the White face duck. As I get there they fly up in a cloud. So I decided to take this photo. Actually it is quite nice. It makes it possible to count how many there are. This is not all the birds as they do not all fly up together. The white bird is a Sacred Ibis.

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Today I came across this very well camouflaged insect. It looked like a tree seed that had legs growing out of it. If there is anybody that knows its name you are welcome to drop a comment.

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Actually I started writing this post to tell about the preparation for the tour I am taking with my father. Looks like I will have to put that in another post.

Summer rains start

There was no late summer rains last summer. This lead up to a very dry winter with a shortage of grass for the cattle. Then the rain did not come. This is a very unpredictable area. We have had two dry years in a row. The average rainfall is 470 mm per year. However on a good year we get 900 mm and in a bad year we can get 250 mm. The rain came in on Friday. It was such a heavy down pour the lands got washed away and the bush wetland areas have water standing in ponds.

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The rain was one month late and the cattle had calved and the cow were starting to get a little thin. We had to give them some extra feeding. Now it is Monday and the green grass shoots are starting to sprout. When the ground dries out a little more, then we can start planting. The planting team will have to work night and day to get the seeds into the ground before the window for planting passes.

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I always love the rainy season. The clouds are amazing and the sunsets are out of this world. Then there are the migrant birds that come in for the breeding season. You cannot see it but there are White Faced duck out on this body of water.

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Waterberg road trip(Nyl zen oog)

Thought to do a few long day rides this long weekend. So off I cycled to Nylstroom and purchased some slime, knowing my back wheel was dry. Using some insulation tap strapped it to my carrier. Next stop was the biltong shop (beef jerky shop) to make sure the stomach had something to work on. Planning to ride for a full day with no stop for lunch. Then a little extra water just to fill up the water used to ride to Nylstroom.

I love the signs I find along the road. Take a look at this.20140614_120209 Every winter there is run away fires that are very difficult to stop in these mountains. They sometimes burn for days. Normally fanned by a strong wind. They often burn down game lodges and farm houses. Not easy to get into the hills with fire fighting vehicles so they have to fight on foot. Due to the trees and wind these types of fires are best put out by fire fighting vehicles and helicopters. However cost of helicopters is prohibitive.

 

 

There were some nice climbs with some good solid gravel. I can see in the rainy season the road gets washed away in places. May get a little slippery. So if you want to try the Nyl zen oog road winter would probably be better.

Interesting to watch the farms and lodges along this road. Most farms were small and can be seen that their economic viability has been pushed to the limit.20140614_122546 Most turning to a mix of guest farms and agricultural practices. Others going all the way over to game farming. These tending to be up on the hills where irrigation water is limiting.

Coming near the top of the mountains my water started to get low. I thought to get some water from the streams. As water is seeping straight from the mountains. At every stream I thought no let’s get at the next. To bad as at the top of the hill there was no nice clean streams to drink from. The top of the hills opened up to open cattle country. 20140614_132140The road became very sandy with big corrugations making going very slow. Just had to ration water and eat some biltong to get the mouth wet.

Came across the main water supply dam for the town of Nylstroom. What a nice deep body of water between the hills. Having steep cliffs coming up to wall it in.

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Name of dam is Donkerpoort.20140614_140737

 

Round about here the bicycle wheel bearing started to give the same feeling as two weeks  back. That time one ball bearing had worn flat on one side and had to be replaced. Put wheels back together after greasing them and all looked good until now. Estimated to be about 60 km from home so had a look and decided that I could not do much. Wind had come up and fortunately turning to ward home it helped. Knowing the condition of the bearing I set out on the tar road home from Nylstroom. Making it 132 km for the day with average speed 19.6 km/h.

Stripping wheel down at home found the axil cone has developed some rough spots. Will have to make a trip to town, to get some spares. Looks like Jimmy cycles is seen a lot of me lately.

Waterberg roads

This weekend rode bicycle into Nylstroom and did some business. After which I took the Vaalwater road. Just out of town I found this new sign. 20140531_114110

This touches my heart as I am a farmer and people do not know what goes into putting a plate of food on the table. Some way down the road I took a right turn at this sign.20140531_122309

Not more than 2 km a right at the next sign.

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Now at this corner stood a herd of cattle that were crossed with an indigenous breed called Inguni. I see the owner has chosen not to burn the horns. There was a study done which found animals with horns could handle more heat than those with out. As the horn acts as a type of radiator for the blood. That is also why they stopped cutting off Rhino horns to prevent poaching. However due to the number been poached they had to resort to removing them again.

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This road had a good surface but after some way it became very sandy and corrugated. At one point there was a steep down hill which I used to my advantage but due to the rough surface it felt like I damaged my front wheel bearings. The down hill in the distance is what damaged the bearings.

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Passed some dams up in the mountains. Here is one of them.

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Rattled my way to the end of this road and decided could go no more until I had taken a closer look.

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Could not see or feel what was making the strange feeling so had to carry on home as there was another 50 km to go.

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Pity the impala ran away from in front of this dam before I got my camera out.20140531_144516

This just looks like a dirt road but was trying to show the straight road. The road on the horizon can be clearly seen with the eye but not by my camera. From this point it is about 20 km home. This road also gave me a puncture forcing me to stop and pump wheel up once. Tried to make it home with out pumping again but could not ride any more when I got  200 m from my gate.

Did 125km for the day. The sand roads and hills had pushed my heart rate quite high for most of the day. By the time I got home it felt like I had just run the Comrades marathon. I had also tried to use Energade for the second time. It gave me the same problem as the first time. It gives me a head ache when I first drink it, then once it gets to the muscle it burns. I then have to drink extra water to try to get the extra energy out of the muscle to stop the burn. Looks like I will have to stick to Game. What is nice about Game it is a powder. So can pack extra with me on the long cross border trips. I use one packet per 100 km. I also mix it weaker than recommended taking into account the day temperature. The hotter it is the more I dilute it.

Well as always when pushing yourself to the limits. You make a decision to never do it again. Now a day later I am planning my next route into the hills.

 

Waterberg

Had a good ride in some nice hills of the Waterberg. Did 220 km all together. That is counting 105 km from the Nylstroom side down a fair amount of dirt road. Some stony stretchers and other sandy patches.20140418_054412 20140418_054357

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was about 18 km  riding around the farm.20140420_07165920140419_001207

Came back home past Naboomspruit and Cresy.

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Down hill to Naboomspruit. With Springbok flats stretching out in the distance

Was very disappointed to see the tar road that was ripped up by a contractor who ran out of money or was it ran away with the money. Ripped the tar road up in about 2011 has not even been taken to court or the government has not got another contractor to retar the road. There is about 5 km of dirt road now. It used to be one of the main roads to transport grain, fertilizer and other goods out and in of the Springbok flats. Now transport company’s have to use other longer routes.

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Can see what road looked like before it was ripped up. This piece of road was left untouched

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Road after been ripped up.

Cannot say too much about the fishing. Did not even get a bite. We tried all different baits, worms and lures.

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As can be seen from the pictures it was in a lovely setting. The winter temperatures are on their way in. Night was a little cool (6 degrees celsius) and day time temperature going up to 30 degrees celsius.

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Well there are lots of nice off-road places in the Waterberg. Game farming is reclaiming the bush and cultivated lands are returning to bush.

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Africa is at Gautengs door step. Malaria free and close to the big cities.