Rookie finnishes Trans-Afrika race

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What an amazing race. Setting high goals can make you achieve more than you ever think you can. To have finished 2800 km with 30000 m accent  in 13 days, 9 hours and 17 minutes,seems like a dream. However I need to write to the honor of those supporters that said just the right thing at the right time to move me along the road. To my surprise some of these supporters where tracking me while the were riding their bicycles on a trail of over 1000 km in Australia. They to are heroes to me. Others that were along the route that said pedal or go go go. Or the team from work at Walt landgoed that put on a going away braai ( BBQ) for me, to show their support. Could I have let them down. Or CSvet that had staff tracking me and reporting back to others on my progress.

I have wondered how to let you feel how it was. The good old travel log might bore you. On the other hand it might make the future races more difficult and tactical. I walked into this very nieve  not knowing that it could have so many tactics. The planning that goes into a race of this natures is very important. The route chosen can make or break you. The gear can be too much or to little. Can the bicycle make the distance, remember it is not only you that has to finnish.

I found out that training and equipment planning was to be very important. As always you learn lessons along the way. A word of advice is to try out supplements, food and equipment before the race. As in my case supplements gave me cramps and head aches. Best was to go back to the basic foods and eat what you normally do. Your body does not need another strange thing to cope with in the race.

As always I over planned on equipment and decided to go with more than I needed which added to my weight. I also like to travel with 4 litres of water. I do not like to have fears of running out of water. This makes me panic and hampers performance. In the past on my tour in Mozambique I had a few close shaves with dehydration and lack of water. I did not have any problems with water this time. Turned out to be the right amount for the distance between towns. Remember the search for water can slow you down. 4 litres is 4 kg but remember that gets lighter as you drink and urinate.20151012_104043

I must thank Gary van der Merwe for the ride up to Musina. Traveling with other riders started off the excitement of the race. At the Old mine house made me realize that I was out of my league with all the experienced endurance riders. This Rookie with 1 X Cape Argus, 1 X 94.7, 1 X Sondela classic, 1 X Sondela MTB, 1 X Druiwe fees and 1 X Druiwe fees MTB. Now faced the longest endurance ride in South Africa. Andy Masters just said to me my experience in long cycle adventuring will come to my aid. He was right it helped me to scratch around for food and accommodation. Time in the saddle is also important. It is easy to get in the saddle and roll off a quick 100 km. However when you have to be in the saddle for 15 hours or more it is a different story.  Must say Andy had more faith and trust in my abilities than I did or was it the way he motivates you to do more than you can.

Looks like the race blog will have to come in pieces. Will spend next few blogs on the roll out of the race.20151015_121115

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Tour de dad

I received a request from a family member to see the video of this trip. I see I had not entered it into the page for tour de dad. It was laying in one of the blogs and she could not find it easy. So I have now embedded it into the Tour de Dad page under trips.

Taking a second look at this video brings back memories. It was probably one of the nicest tours I have done. To spend sometime with my best friend, my Dad. At 76 he does not let the world say he must not do something. His health is not all that good but he fights to keep it going. He was in his 20’s when he had his kidney removed. At 40 he ran his first Comrades marathon. He then did 2 more and one of them he got a silver medial. For those of you that do not know. This is a 80 km marathon that has become world renound. He does all this in his own quite way as he has one paralyzed vocal cord from childhood. Not many children can say they have never heard their dad shout. Thanks Dad.

Round trip Home-Nylstroom-Vaalwater-Lephalale-Maken-Potgitersrus-Naboomspruit

Did some training for the Trans-Afrika race this last weekend. Left home just before 5am. Saw sunrise near the T junction of Settlers and Marble Hall road (R33).20150829_061047 20150829_085342Just before lunch took this picture unfortunately they ran away. As they were right next to the road looking at me. 20150829_110953Stopping for an early lunch at Vaalwaters new shopping mall. Actually this town has had a little face lift. It was a dusty African frontier town. Now it has something more modern buildings with some paint. Laid bicycle down to get right angle to let solar panels charge phone and gps as I eat lunch. No luxury of dynamo yet.20150829_120222

Using the R33 continued on to Lephalale (Ellisras). Was a good day for game viewing. Started early just before sunrise with a Sable just 15 m from me, behind a game fence. To many Kudu sightings to count. Warthog,giraffe, fisheagle,vultures, impala and not to mention the common cow and horse.

At Lephalale got to stop at KFC just as sun was setting. Relaxed had a good meal and rehydrated. It had been a very hot sunny afternoon which had dried me out. Did find one roadside shop along that road and purchased a nice cold Poweraide. Other wise it was high game fences on both sides of the road. No water in river beds or open farm gates to ask for water. Many signs saying poachers will be shot. So would not recommend trespassing to look for water or stealth camping.

Rode into the night looking for a nice place to stealth camp. Much to my disappointment the game fences did not give way until 60km from Marken. There was a rural area with some Sukelbos. Took some scratches and a thorn puncture one of my water bladders to find a nice resting place. Tested out some camping equipment. Will not go into detail as you will probably laugh at me. Put it this way. I did not use a tent and did use a sleeping bag with some kind of covering sheet. Landed falling asleep looking up at a full moon and waking up a few times just to fall asleep just as fast again. Easier to pack up camp with less belongings.20150830_063226

Set out on the road again before 5 am. Stopping at Marken for some nice toasted cheese and ham sandwiches. Refill water and energy drink and on the road again. On my route plan it looked like it would be mostly down hill. Did not feel like it. However there is a very nice decent passing through a pass that sets you down on the same elevation as Potgitersrus.20150830_110633At bottom of pass there is a hill that looks like a castle. With some breeding sites most likely for vultures. 20150830_111628There is a village at the base. This must have been a sight of some meaning for past generations. There was church music from the village that was echoing through the bush. Giving the feeling as if the mountain was alive and calling out to you. Sure if you pass with a car you would not know of this. Gave some kind of spiritual undertone to the area. Some way down the road found a nice river and cooled off in it. Washed some of the sweat off. Then almost across the road was a small shop. Here I refilled water by getting a bag of ice to put in my bladders

Traffic was heavy on all the roads but as I got closer to Potgitersrus the traffic picked up. At Potgitersrus I had KFC again. Hit the old main road to Naboomspruit . This was very busy road. Landed peddling into Naboomspruit at just after sunset around 6pm. Had arranged to be picked up by Righardt as I knew there was not enough time to get home to have a good sleep before work the next day.

Was really nice to get out to see if can do the Trans-Afrika race. To be quite honest I think I have bitten off a big chunk. Have to replan target towns to be at to make sure reach Cape town at a given time. Looks so easy on paper but get down on the saddle.  It is going to be some long days in the saddle.

Druiwefees fietswedren

It was the Druiwefees festival in Modimolli this past week. To close the festival off there was a road cycle race and a mountain bike race. I did the longest road race which was 105 km. Am quite happy with myself as I raised my average speed to 24 km/h. This was done on my mountain bike with Maxxi cross mark tyres.

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I also did the mountain bike race of the longest distance of 50 km. The results are not out on the internet yet. However I am very pleased as it was my second mountain bike race. This was quite a technical ride compared to my first race.

Mountain bike race was at Bosfontein caravan park. I was very pleased to find a well run little out of the way caravan park. Bosfontein is nestled next to a mountain that is covered in trees and has been stocked with game animals. 20150111_062121They have also laid out a mountain bike route that you can ride when camping. Very nice getaway form the city. Has a central swimming pool where the children can also have a good time.

The course criss crossed rivers over small wooden bridges. Then there was endless twists between the trees. Not giving any time to fall asleep on your bike. Then there was ‘Martelbult’ which challenged your hill climbing legs. Only way out was on the granny gears. Then there was a rock decent which lead to some carefull riding. At one point I thought an antelope was charging me, as what happened to that one mountain bike rider on youtub. However it was just spooked by a rider coming across the opening.20150111_06224320150111_072849

All in all The road race was painful and the mountain bike race was very nice and enjoyable.

MOMENTUM 947 CYCLE CHALLENGE

Last weekend I rode the Momentum 947 cycle challenge. I really enjoyed the spirit of the course. I must say there was more supporters along the road than I thought there would be. The large number of participants made it a big challenge to get to the starting point. The new venue will have to be improved to cope with the traffic .

Momentum947 cycle challenge start

Momentum947 cycle challenge start

The course has more hills than I thought. When I grew up in Durban Natal we all used to say it is flat in Johannesburg. Well try ride it on a bicycle. I think the hills make it more difficult than the Cape cycle tour. On the other hand it made it very interesting to ride. I found that the hills made it difficult to keep my heart rate constant. After halfway I turned the alarm off for my heart rate target zone. Just glanced at my monitor from time to time.

Sunninghill area

Sunninghill area

Coming from the Springbok flats I am not used to the down hills. Reaching speeds of over 65 km/h can be quite scary. I do not get much chance to pick up speed like that down hill were I live. Then there are other riders that do not hold their line and can crash into you. I saw a few people who had taken bad falls. There was one woman laying in the middle of the road on a steep down hill. Lucky the ambulance was not far away. Other riders behind me said they saw there was a big puddle of blood and the paramedics were stabilizing her with oxygen. Also laying her out straight so they could get her on to a stretcher. That just can take your nerve away.

Well a side from the dangers of road racing with bicycles or should I call it fun riding. If you want to see Johannesburg from a different perspective, try riding the streets on a bicycle. I think I rode through the old centre of Johannesburg faster than you could ever do with a car. Went through all the red and orange traffic lights.  Roads were empty of cars, that was strange. I have never seen Johannesburg  without cars in it. All the road closures for the race made it seem so different. Then there was riding down the M1 highway and M2 highway on a bicycle. If you did that normally the police would come and get you. Or you might be knocked over before they even get to you.

The road passed Johannesburg Zoo and going through Randburg and Santon was just a big street party. People playing music,clapping calling out. Then there was all the braais (barbeques) and camping chairs along the road. There was a man offering his beer to me but it smelled like he was burning his meat on the fire. Looked like he had to many distractions to watch how his meat was cooking.

Heading north out of the suburbs brought some nice long hills to test your stamina. By this time it had reached 32 degrees. Thank goodness they had placed some sprayers across the road to cool off the riders.Then passing the Lion park was a nice down hill. This tricked me into think it was down hill to the finnish. Well not so fast the organizers made sure there were two monster hills coming near the finnish. About 50 % of the people climbed off and pushed up these two hills.

There were riders that did two laps for the day, that makes about 200 km. Then there was Batman. People in Rhino suits and one rider had a Rhino around his bicycle. Others with short skirts on and super hero capes on. Other fund-raising groups helping three wheel bicycles along, dressed in cow outfits.

All in all I really enjoyed the ride.

Some riders after race

Some riders after race

Change in Trip in December

There have been no responses for anybody to join me to East London. However my father has been itching to take his first long ride. So I have changed my mind. I do not have many years left with my father. Thus I have decided to take to a shorter trip from Johannesburg to Richards bay via St Lucia Natal South Africa. This will be done at my fathers pace and we plan on doing about 50 to 60 km a day. Thus giving us time to rest and enjoy some time together. He is in his mid 70’s and not a spring chicken anymore.

Anybody who wishes to join us is welcome. This my be in the range of more people. We will be camping wild and stopping at some nature reserves. Then ending with some swimming in the Indian ocean. My father is an avid bird watcher so he will want to stop and look at birds.

Departure from my house will be on 12 December and will meet my father at my sister’s house at Balmoral on the 13 December. From there we will hit the road together and head east. Doing a mix of sand and tar roads. We will be avoiding all major routes to keep out of the traffic. Plan to bus it back to Johannesburg on 27 December. Once I have done more planing I will post it on my Next trip page.

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Vaalwater trip

Took a training ride to Vaalwater this past weekend. The aim was to ride hills on tar roads to get fit for the Momentum 94.7 cycle challenge. On top of it was to do a two stage ride. To make sure I am getting fit enough for my December adventure to East London. I covered a distance of 209 km for the weekend.

Left at 09H45 on Saturday and stopped for lunch at Nylstroom (Modimolle). From my house to Nylstroom there are no hills.

From Nylstroom to Vaalwater is in the Waterburg hills. Must admit they are big for me but will be small for those of you that are riding in Europe or in Natal. Must be getting fit as the hills did not seem as big as I remember from the previous time I did this route.

The road climbs up out of Nylstroom in steps leaving the Springbok flats behind in the distance. The hills are fenced with game fencing. From time to time you can catch a glimpse of Impala, Kudu, Nyala, Vervet monkey, Baboon,Wildebeest or a cow. The scenery then opens out to grasslands and crop lands. As you start to descend again into the next valley the peach orchards begin. Peaches are now in season and can be bought along the road at small stalls. Not to mention all the Sekelbos wood been sold for camp fires or braai (barbecue). After this there is a goat farm that has a restaurant and makes goat cheese. This would be a nice little outing for the family.

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To climb out of this valley is the steepest part of the ride. After passing some game farms comes the monster climb. On the way back home I had to make some noises to chase the Baboons off the road, as I was freewheeling and reached a speed of 65 km/h. It would have caused a terrible accident if I had hit one of them. My heart rate monitor started to beep as I was not peddling down the hill. To the mother baboons in the trees this was terrifying. They just dropped out of the trees baby and all. Their feet were running in the air, so when they hit the ground they hit it running.  Fortunately the up hill is not to long in the direction of Vaalwater and then you are rewarded with a nice long down hill to Vaalwater.

First time I went to Vaalwater I had all these romantic ideas of a town surrounded by game farms and pumping with tourists. Well it has some game farms around it. It has a grain silo and a rundown town centre. This town centre could have come out of some middle African town. The buildings are in need of paint the roads are very fill of potholes. There are street vendors selling vegetables. Must say some of the nicest tomatoes I have seen in a long time. Signs everywhere to sell biltong (beef jerky). There are any type of biltong, starting at beef all the way to Eland.

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I camped at a small lodge come camp site tucked away behind the sports bar. The sports bar is a nice neat restaurant come bar that serves very nice pizzas or steaks. Their salads are nice and crisp. They say there are two other places to eat in town. I have not tried them. The local farmers sometime come with their wives and children to eat out. Open people if you start to talk to them. They will enjoy a chat with you. Note big topics are the weather, rugby, crop farming and game farming.

Word of warning there is a night club where the local blacks like to hang out. This place has the music up loud and goes all night. Almost until the sun comes up on Sunday. Then there is the busy road that runs through the centre of town. This is one of the main routes to the mining and game farming towns to the west of Vaalwater. So any place you choose to stay at in town will have the back ground noise of the road and night club. The town’s name is also Vaalwater which means unclear water. This means the water source is caring a high particle load and the local municipality can not clean it up so good. Do not think it will harm you but bottled water tastes much better.

Left Sunday at 7H00 and was home by 11H30. Much more down hills on the way back. Early riding is best as it is cooler. For example on Saturday it went to 35 degrees on my cycle computer just before getting into Vaalwater.

Momentum 94.7

I am registered to ride the Momentum 94.7 cycle challenge in a few weeks. Using it as a motivation to get fit before my next trip from Johannesburg to East London South Africa.The Momentum 94.7 cycle challenge is a very popular race in Johannesburg. It draws the serious riders and those just out for a day’s outing. This is one way to see Johannesburg and get the right of way at the traffic lights.

Planning on riding with my mountain bike. So do not expecting a very good time. Time should be better than the Cape Argus earlier this year. See they have renamed it for this coming year, it is now Cape Town Cycle Tour.

If any body wants to link up with me to chat about my cycling adventures. I am riding in group K and my number is 9743. Will probably ride with my pannier rake on without panniers. My bike is a titan. Most likely will be riding in different kit to what I am in on the photo. Other wise drop me a tweet on @kennyfagan.

Cape Argus 2014 Sukerbossie

Cycling with my Dad

Not many sons can say that their Dad is their best friend. When I was a teenager we used to do training runs together. In those years he and I built a house from scratch. We stood shoulder by shoulder and laid bricks. This gave us time to talk about all sorts of things.

At the age of 40 he started running to keep fit. He went on to complete three Comrades marathons. This is a world renowned ultra marathon. He got three medals: one silver and two bronze. He kept running to keep himself fit until the age of 70. Where upon his circulation prohibited him from running. This forcing him to start walking.  Last November (7 months back) I gave him my bicycle that I rode in Zimbabwe and Mozambique with. Then he could just ride 2.5 km. This week he came to visit and rode a 21 km gravel road with an average of 13 km/h at the age of 75. So nice to be sharing a sport with my Dad again.

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