Capetown cycle tour

Had a nice get back on the bike ride this morning to see if the bike is ok, for race tomorrow. Did 33km past Green point and Campsbay. This is photo at look out point where we turned back.

Had a nice walk and high tea at Kirstenbosh gardens. Here is some photos of group I am with and in the garden.

Forecast for weather for the race is not looking good. Race organisers send out warnings of bad winds. Andy it looks like the wind knows where I race. Just hope wind does not blow a roof on me tomorrow. Will have to dodge the falling trees and riders.

Well time for bed so can have early breakfast.

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Waterberg dirt roads training ride planned

Waterberg dirt roads is the plan for this coming weekend. Annie and Steward asked me to plot a track on dirt roads so they can do some training for the Race to Rhodes that they will be doing in the beginning of June. This race is a portion of the Freedom Challenge. You can read up more on the web page. I would like to try the Freedom Challenge. It is quite hard core. Temperatures can drop to -15 degrees celsius. It is off road mountain bike one stage race. They say the scenery is amazing. Tracks go places people do not normally get to see. There are no GPS’s allowed. All navigation must be by 1:50000 maps and compass.

I plotted a few tracks for this coming weekend. Finding it would be a little long if I want to find all the accents and keep off tar roads. So finally after sending them two tracks they opted for the two day 285 km route, sleeping at Vaalwater.( Have not learned yet how to copy gps tracks to blog so you can see.)20140531_122309  There should be about 40 km paved roads on the whole trip. I have ridden some of the roads, there are other roads that will be the first time for me. There should be some nice game viewing to be done with one or two good mountain passes to ride. The real challenge is carrying enough water unless you go asking at farm houses or fill bottles at irrigation systems. There will be no support. So clothes for overnight at Vaalwater will have to go with.20140531_13002420140531_130648

Have just confirmed they are on for next weekend. Will be riding out at 6:30 am. They will also be bringing a friend. This will be a new thing for me traveling in a group. Group on dirt roads should be fun. Never can find people to go with me. I am also not used of having to pace in a group. Just normally ride and listen to what my body is telling me. If I feel good I go faster, if muscles want to cramp or feeling low on energy and need some food then I go slower.20140531_123150

If you contact me and say what your needs are it would be fun to ride with somebody. So contact me with the reply on my blog. Then we can see how to match our times up.

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.

Back on bicycle and to Kosi Bay

Started riding around the farm yard to test shoulder. As with all injuries it tacks time and pain. After a week of doing this I headed up the farm road for a 21 km test run. No fancy gear, just in my farm clothes and helmet as the sun was setting. 20150613_174119Much to my joy it looks like it is time to start building up the shoulders and legs again. Righardt came back from New Zealand to settle down in South Africa. So he took a few rides with me. He has become bicycle fit now after his two trips to New Zealand. You may remember I posted they were going. Bicycle riding is such a fun way to get fit and see the world around you.

At this point my annual leave with the family was starting. The time it tacks to get an abridged birth certificate was too long. Resulting in having to cancel the two days I was planning in Mlilwane game sanctuary in Swaziland. It is a new law in South Africa that you must have an abridged birth certificate stating mother and fathers name before getting a child to cross the border. A passport and both parents is not enough. The law was to clamp down on child trafficking. I must not complain, it has a good reason why it was bought in. This law was enforced from the 1 June 2015.

I had also planned 5 nights camping at Kosi bay camp. This is in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park (Formely Greater St Lucia Wetland) which includes the sea and an extensive estuary systems on the Natal north coast, it boarders on Mozambique. Well known for deep sea fishing, diving, snorkeling ,beaches and leatherback turtle breeding area.

This far flung corner of South Africa requires some patience to get to. Lucky they have just compleated a nice paved road all the way to the border. However there are speed restrictions passing every village. Cattle,goats, donkeys, chickens, pedestrians and slow moving vehicles are very common and can be dangerous.20150623_084741 In my mind the road from Pongola dam to boarder at Ponta de ouro will offer any cyclist a monster of a climb up Lebombo mountain range and then a nice flat open road with good shoulders. 20150623_095333Offering lots of entertainment to watch along the road side. With a strong African cycling experience and some KFC and other restaurants and grocery stores at Kwangwanase.

To enjoy what this area has to offer it is recommended to have a 4 X 4 vehicle and a boat. Do not forget swimming cloths and snorkel. Can swim winter or summer but for the little older people water is a little cool in the winter. Remember it is a very popular holiday destination in the summer. So if you planning on going then book well in advance. To get entrance to beaches and other areas there are permits needed. This is the way the park restricts the impact on the ecology in the area. So if you planning on going to any beaches or see the turtles get your permit a few days before in the peak season. For us that was not needed as it is not very busy this time of the year. If you have your own boat become familiar with the rules. There are no go areas and no interfering with traditional fishermen.

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We went down to Kosi mouth. We do not have a 4 X 4 so we parked our car at the gate and engaged the services of a guide to walk us to the mouth. He helped to carry bags and took the shortest route to the mouth. Then helped us wade through the shallower part of the river to get to the reef in the estuary. He showed use the best places to snorkel. It was amazing there were all sort of coloured fish. There was clown fish and stone fish. To many types of fish to name also I do not know all the names. On the sea side of the sand bank there is a nice rock shelf to give safe snorkeling for children and inexperienced snorkelers like myself. The colours of the fish is not so nice here but there are lots of fish to see. Then the rock pools at low tide will keep you busy for a long time.

We also did a three lake tour with a charter. This is a must to do. He explains how the lakes work and how the traditional fishermen work. The water is very clear so that you can see thousands of fish passing the boat. He also will tell you the different names of fish. Then he stops at a safe place to snorkel and look at the traditional fish traps. He has an agreement with the owner of the trap. There is documentation of early explorers that found these traps some 700 years back. The trap tradition is handed down in the families and they are repaired and maintained year round. They have a sustainable way of setting up the traps so that smaller fish can return to the see to spurn and then return to the estuary to grow.

20150622_100650Map of Kosi Bay20150622_115420 20150622_115342 Kosi Bay - 23 Dec 2009 11420150622_104753 20150622_104602We also spend lots of time on the jetty at the camp watching the small fish and watching the sunrise.20150621_080800 20150622_063226To anybody planning on visiting south Africa this area would be a nice place to come to. However most travelers have limited time and do not visit.

Shoulder dislocation to Krugar National Park

Lots has happened from the last post. I have been testing out different tyres. One night while training with 2 inch reverse tread tyres I got stuck in a rut and crashed my bicycle. Shall I rather say I hit the ground rather hard on my shoulder and dislocated it. Had to ride 9 km home with on arm and drink some pain tablets. Staying out on the farm and having a small town near by the medical help is not always so good after hours. So thought it best to wait to the morning.The doctor send me for x-rays. X-ray was not so clear and staying in a farming community the doctor had to get the radiographer report over the internet. Need less to say the internet was playing up at the x-ray department at the hospital. Four days later doctor phones to say must come in from the farm, the shoulder is dislocated. They did a left shoulder reduction that night.

Well it has been rather painful and have not felt like posting posts with all the pain and not sleeping well. On the other hand work had booked me and some other managers to go to the Kruger National Park to do walking trails. So five days after reduction with arm in a sling and a hand full of pain pills off I went.

20150525_133344The Kruger National Park is a world renowned nature reserve. It is bigger than Israel. Something like two million hecters. The Honorary Rangers have a safari camp called Sand river camp. From here they do fund-raising to help nature conservation. You have to book the whole camp for a few days. The camp takes eight guests in four tents. The honorary rangers do all the catering and cleaning of the camp. The services of professional guides are used to take you on a game viewer vehicle and walks. They track the big five on foot while you walk in their steps.20150525_070211

Creeping up on lions that did not even know we were 50 m behind them. Leaving them undisturbed to go on with their kill. Just after that a large herd of buffalo came down to drink, passing just where the lions were laying up. All this happened as the last glow of the sun vanished.

Next day tracking leopard and finding fresh tracks of lion. Landing up looking into the lions eyes not 30 meter away. Thank goodness he decided to high tail it out of our sight.  On with some more leopard tracks, to come over the river bank to find an elephant bull on musk. Elephant decided we should not be there and started flopping his ears and walking in our direction.  So we promptly turned around at a brisk walk and crossed the river to the other bank.

Then there was a spotted hyena cub sharing a small cave with two porcupines.20150525_081330 Just before that there was the carcass of a black rhino that had been poached. We were walking in areas of the park where nobody goes. Much to the guides disappointment he came across poachers tracks a few times and called it into the anti-poaching unit, on his satellite telephone.

20150526_170218 20150526_164858 20150526_164921 20150526_103058 20150526_085502 20150526_071649 20150526_071430 20150526_063147 20150525_170200 20150525_085814To round off a very nice few days in the park. On our way out we came across Leopard copulating. Just so happened that the guide was telling us the pattern of events to expect the day before. It was as if the female had read the protocol before. Every detail to the book or should I say to the laws of nature. The presentation , the paw clout and roll on the ground after.

Well all good things come to an end. I am now back at work. The shoulder is now needing physiotherapy and strength training. At this time I am not able to ride the bicycle.

Settlers to Tzaneen and back again via Hoedspruit

What a four day Easter weekend I had. I quickly slapped together a route that should take me about three days if fit enough. Made sure to take all the back roads to avoid the holiday traffic. Only using main routes when there was no other way round. Packed very little in my bags. Only packing a jacket, T-shirt, sweat pants, first aid kit, chargers, solar panels,new sleeping bag, tent just incase I did not land in the right place at the right time.

Starting off on friday with a nice low heart rate making sure that I would be able to maintain it for a few days. First heading in the direction of Marble Hall along my normal training route. Swung left on a gravel road to wards Roedtan.20150403_104154 - Copy

Stopped at Roedtan for lunch. Not really a town. It has more than one petrol station and a few shops. Village is over shadowed by a Grain silo. From here I sped along a flat road towards Zebediela.

As I passed Lebowakgomo people started to pass comments of surprise to find a white man on a bicycle.

Once the sun had set it was quite clear as to where the villages were and the cattle grazing areas lay. Here I picked a nice bushy section that was surrounded by thorn trees to set up my tent. There was a wonderful full moon that made it not necessary to use a torch. Laying on my back with the tent door open, watching the clouds moving in front of the moon and stares.  This made me drift off to sleep with such a relaxed feeling.20150404_063840 - Copy

This is the sunrise next morning back on the road. Slept in the bush on the left of photo.The hills started to rise so that the road had to snake through them.

Coming up one rise I realized that this place is Moria. The place which the religious group ZCC pilgrims to every Easter and Christmas in their millions. The week after I spoke to a fellow worker who went there. He said there were over 13 million people in attendance for the weekend. 20150404_075101 - CopyThe smoke from the cooking fires was drifting on the wind down the valley. The night before I had thought there might be a run away fire as I could smell the smoke drifting on the air. 20150404_090657 - Copy

From here the road rises to the Haenertsburg.

This was the highest point before dropping off the escapement down the Magoebaskloof pass to Tzaneen.

Tzaneen is a very tropical part of the country. Been one of the high rainfall areas of South Africa with a mild temperature. There are lots of road side farm stalls selling the fruits that are grown here. Here is a short list of some of the fruit: bananas,mangoes,pine apples,oranges,avocado pears and grape fruit. See there is a very large tea plantation.

Stopping for lunch at KFC in Tzaneen. Took a little time out and fulled up on water to cross the lowveld. There were more down hills towards Letsitele, Gravelotte and mica. This stretch had lots of orange farms and then the game farms start. 20150404_150104 - Copy

At Mica I found this sign post. If you go down that road you will be entering the Kruger National park in about 60 km. This is one of the world renowned national parks. Home to Elephants and Lions or should I say Africa at its best. 20150405_071058 Also found this sign for Foot and mouth control. This is a disease that is controlled by the government. They try to contain it in the areas were there is a lot of wild animal movement. The movement of wild animals makes it very difficult to control. They need to control this disease otherwise other countries will not import meat products from South Africa, if there is no controls in place.The road down to Hoedspruit is lined with nine foot game fences. Making it feel like you are passing down no mans land at a country border.

Rolled into Hoedspruit not long after dark. Here ordered a pizza and booked into a Hotel. It was good to have a hot shower and scrub two days of sweat and dust off. Washed my cycling clothes, as the cycling kit I had on was the only set I had. Nice to put a clean set of clothes on the next day. Must say I slept just as well on the hotel bed as I did the night before on the ground in my tent, even with out a mat.

Rolled out of Hoedspruit finding there had been a light rain in the night. This gave a sparkling new feeling to the day. Passing fruit orchards and fruit packaging plants with names that I recognize from the supper markets all over South Africa.20150405_070839

Crossing the Blyde river on the way to the JG Stridom tunnel.20150405_073918Looking at the mountains of the escarpment I was getting that hollow feeding in the stomach knowing that I  will have to climb them to get home.20150405_093531 Wondering if I will be able to conquer them. It was a good thing I started early as the road to Ohrigstad had a long climb.  20150405_092105 At the foot of the hill before the JG Stridom Tunnel is the place to stop and take your sun glasses off and wear a pair of gloves with a supper absorbent back, so as to wipe the sweat out of your eyes. This hill is not recommended for beginners unless they plan on pushing for 20 km. I used all those granny gears most of the day. Pushing is not an option if you are training and that was the purpose of this tour.

Just to pop your bubble of conquering the climb (400m to 1200m) the road makes a very steep decent the other side down to Echo caves (700m).Then started climbing again untill reaching Jane Furse the next day at 1350m.

Back to the road. Took the road to Burgersfort just before Ohrigstad. Stopping to take a look at the Voortrekker graves. They must have been some tough people to stop and farm in these hills. Getting their wagons over these hills must have taken some nerve. They were wise to stop in these vallies away from the Malaria and Tsetse fly that killed their oxen and horses.20150405_131538 20150405_131545

Stopped at Burgersfort to have a late lunch and get some supplies for supper as it looked like I was going to sleep in the tent again.

On to Steelport. Well it shows how little I know about my own country. This is a major steel mining area. There were so many trucks transporting steel to the smelters that I had to ride on the sand shoulder of the road. This stretch of road is not recommended for cycling.

Turned off to Jane Furse just as the sun was setting. Could see there had been some protest marches in this area as there was burned tyres that had been pulled off the road. Not far up the hill it was getting dark and seeing I was not going to make it safely along this road I stopped for the night. Crossed some farm lands and found a nice ditch with trees to set my camp up. Had another nice wild camp and set out at sunrise the next day. This was the view at sunrise.20150406_062826

On the top of Dihlabeng mountains I found a real gem of a sight. There were these rocky boulder mounds with bushveld plants that I have not seen in a long time. It was like a rock garden. With a paved road that snaked through the bush like on a game drive farm. Felt as if an elephant was going to step out in front of me at anytime. Must say the wild animals have long last roamed these bushes.20150406_085137 20150406_091039From here the pave roads ended and turned into a loose gravel. Passing two more new dams the government has built to supply water to these rural communities. 20150406_092734From the last dam it was back to paved roads all the way to Marble Hall. Lunch was in the saddle after stopping at the supermarket in Marble Hall.

Last stretch from Marble Hall to home is my normal training ground. Got home at 15H30 monday. With 720 km and over 5000 m ascents. It turned out to be just the training ride I needed for the Trans-Afrika race. May have to do it again sometime.

Vulture restaurant

I have been establishing a vulture restaurant for the last year and a half. It took sometime to get colonies to frequent the restaurant. There were 1 to 10 that came frequently. The Marabou storks started to come when the first colony came.20150215_172842

I think what helped was a visit to Vulpro at the Hartabeespoort dam. They are a vulture conservation organization. They gave me a few tips on what vultures like and do not like. Even now the colony likes to come on hot days when they can use hot air thermals to take them long distances in search of food. When it is cold and cloudy I put out less for the vultures. So that the few vultures that come every day have something to feed on.

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I have counted up to 85 Marabou storks and 60 yellow-billed kites on a day. The vultures are a little more timid and take to the air when you come close enough to count. There was a day when a vet counted about a hundred feeding and about 50 circling in the air.

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Did you know there are only about 2400 white back vultures left in the world? That means if somebody puts poison on a carcass they could easily kill off one tenth of the population at one sitting. Scary thing to think.

My apology for the quality of the photos. A Samsung galaxy cannot zoom in close enough for photos of birds. I do hope you get a feeling of what I see on a daily basis.

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.