Training weekend in Waterburg

Weekend in the Waterberg with Annie, Steward and David. Finding out on Thursday all accommodation is fully booked in Vaalwater. As there was a Festival at the primary school in town. So I began looking for camp sites. Finding where I normally camp at Bosveldrus had changed owners and no longer has camping. After phoning around I found camping at Vaalwater river oord. Then had to let my fellow riders know that the plan had changed. Now they needed to take kit with for camping. That turned this into a real hard core adventure for two days. Fortunately they had kit for bike packing. However this made their ride heavier and would give them more of a work out. After all it was for training.

They arrived at my house about 6H30 on Saturday. After putting all the bikes together and strapping on all the gear we left at around 7H00. Traveling with gear put more strain on attempting to ride 140 km on rough dirt roads.

After about 15 km the road turned into wash board and stones. Have to admit I knew it was like this. I made an adjustment to my frame bag the night before as it was wearing out after the last year of extreme trips. However the modification did not work. The rough road shook the Velcro undone. Then to top it off the GPS came off and I had to ride back to find it in the road. This is the first time the GPS has ever come off. I must have bumped it when fixing the frame bag back on the bike. We crossed other roads more bumpy than this stretch and it did not come off again.

Hit a luck as we found the farm store open just as we came off the Jasper road on to the old Naboomspruit – nylstroom road. Here they had some fresh vet koek that we slipped into our bags for lunch.  Then we started the pass up to the top of the Waterberg plateau. I seem to remember that it was a lot steeper. After going up to Pigs Peak or Monteng pass this was like going down a flat road. Having said this the heart rate lets you know you are working. Loos stones let the wheels spin out a little. So have to put some weight onto the back wheel to stop it slipping in the stones and gravel.

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Just to make things interesting all three of our GPS did not tell use to turn left. We landed up having to ride back a few Km and took the second left which added about 10 km to day trip.20140418_133307

At this point it was clear that I was riding with some strong riders. There legs were like pistons with no wobbles and regular strong pace. They know what their bodies are asking for. Something to eat at the right time and water as a good backbone to rehydration. With an eye for enjoying the outdoors.

The whole aim of this out ride was to train for the ride to Rhodes. After 70 km Annie’s back was paining from a previous injury. At this point we found a water tank on a farm and filled water bottles from a hose pipe at a cattle drinking trough. I had drunk about three litres out of my 4 litres of water and all the others water was also very low.  Annie called it in and Steward turned back with her to Nylstroom to get picked up by a person from the farm.  So Annie and Steward did about 100 km for the day. David and I pushed on to

Vaalwater on the Melkriveir road coming out at Vrymansrus turning just before Vaalwater. In my view this was the most scenic part of day ones ride. We did 154 km for the day. Lots of sand, stones and climbs. We arrived in Vaalwater as the last light was disappearing from the horizon.

Stopping at a Shop at garage to get a few supplies and rode out of town to the Vaalwater river oord. This is just a few km on the other side of town. They have a few rooms, with a small bar and restaurant with a limited menu. David and I landed up eating steak egg and chips. By this time the temperature started to drop and warm clothes needed to be put on. As we went out to find the camp site Annie and Steward arrived in their car. So off we went and pitched tents. My bike and tent left and David slept in tent right.IMG_20160501_061457

Steward and Annie decided to sleep in back of SUV.IMG_20160501_061506Must say it was very nice to have a warm shower. IMG_20160501_061529To slip into a sleeping bag was very comforting on this cool night. I wanted to travel light but chose not to as the weather forecast was for the arrival of a cold front. Thank goodness I listened to the weather report.

Rising after 6am we rode out at 8am. This time it was Steward, David and I. We rode out to Alma along the dirt road that I had previously vowed never to ride again. Lucky it was in reverse. Gentle downhill helped us over the washboard and deep sand.IMG_20160501_093219 If you wish to see how hard a vehicles suspension works this is the road to ride and feel it. You can also watch the passing vehicles wheels bouncing up and down. Stopping at Alma shop we shared a Coke.IMG_20160501_095817 And headed towards Nylstroom taking the second road right. This led us to a network of roads that I had not ridden before. Must say the road surface was little better here as there is less vehicles using these roads. Seemed that we were just going up and up never getting down hills. Having said this there are some beautiful hills and farms. Very nice to take a step aside from the main roads.IMG_20160501_093233

Finally we found the down hills and began the decant towards Tabo Monate. Then it was my turn to get a puncture. Thought it was from some of the rock ridges down the steep decants. However it was on the side of the rim. Think there was some spokes that must have moved from the strain we were putting our bike through on these rough roads and fast decants. Just as we started ascending out of Vaalwater earlier in the morning Steward had a puncture on the paved road. He also had one on the first day. It was like chocolates to get these nice down hills. We came to the conclusion it needs to be ridden in reverse to train or punish a new comer to long off roads.IMG_20160501_093200

Out of the dirt we slipped down the hill on paved roads stopping at Rocking horse nursery for water refills. With 40 km to get home before the sun set. Passed over the N1 highway and back side of the Kranskop one stop garage. Finding all of us little worn out we opted to take the paved road short cut and finished on the last 10 km dirt road down to the farm.

For my first group ride this was amazing. Felt like Christmas. Need to gather some like minded people together again and do a few loops of the Waterberg roads again. Also Annie decided her back was not ready for Race to Rhodes. Steward and David’s tender parts were tender, giving them a little better preparations for the race. Once the rash and red marks are gone on their butts, they will find less pain on the race. Good luck to them and hope they enjoy the race. David and I did 297 km in two days and the race is 500 km with portage. So think they will be able to finish well within 5 days.

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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.

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.

Camping in the Waterberg

On my bicycle for the long weekend to another farmers farm in the Waterberg. Plan is to cycle there and do some fishing and camping for the weekend. Then ride back home on Monday. Not to many km for the weekend. It should be about 160 km. Will get a chance to test the heart rate monitor out on a longer road. Will be interesting to see what it does to my over all time and different terrain covered.

My step son and his wife will be going on his motor bike. Well it promises to be a bit of a caveman weekend. No shaving and just hanging out by the fire and river.

Will bring back some pictures of Africa and life in the outdoors of South Africa. Looking at posting again on Tuesday next week.