Winter training

Normally winter is the time of year when the cold and dark get the best of me. Now with the Trans-Afrika on the horizon and remembering what happened last time. I had to put on the layers of clothes and get on the bicycle. Must say the cold in the morning at 3 am to push for a long day almost beat me.

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There was the trip past Potgitusrus and Vaalwater. The one to Belmoral and lots of short trips.

The regular training included testing out gear and getting their set up right. Then there has been the lighting problem. Have had rechargeable batteries pack up and battery pack go flat. The other night the rechargable battery died, back up two battery pack ran flat and third backup was my led head light which had to take me home.

Have had more flat wheels than have had in my life. Must add that is what happens when you go from tubless Maxxis cross mark tyres to road tyres with tubs. Also using old Maxxis that are getting smooth with tubs. Have decided to wear out all the old tyres that are hanging around. This has given me lots of practice at patching tubs.20140531_133336

Then water systems have been adapted and tested. Nothing like running out of water on a hot day. Plans to get cool water are under way at the moment. Will test that out when days start to get warmer. Nutrition and rides have also changed. Have been testing out few different ideas. Last time my mouth tasted terrible. Cannot live on rehydrate,energy drinks and carbs for so long. The body can only handle so much carbs. Well off to do some riding.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

New pages to blog

Take a look at the sub pages of countries travelled in to see impressions of Countries travelled in .

Have also streamlined pages to give room for more bicycle adventures to come.
Did this by adding page on trip Via Alma to Vaalwater. This will make it easier to find different trips.

Trip to Vaalwater via Alma in Limpopo province

I rode 240 km this weekend on my bicycle. I had heard lots about the town Alma. However did discover it is just a T junction with a bottle store, grain silo, primary school and a squatter’s camp. The road to get there is not recommended to cycle best done with a bakkie (pick up) or a 4X4 vehicle. This is the end of sand road to Alma. Only the T junction was tar.

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On to Vaalwater. Nice new tar road with some monster hills. At the camp site I was told that cyclists come to train on these hills for the Cape Augus race.Digital Camera

Feels like Africa begins here. Take note of the following signs just before town.

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It is a sandy town that wants to grow but with the lack of employment opportunities. Thus many houses standing empty. All along the main road biltong shops advertise. Looks like biltong and game animals are the main export of this area.

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I tested out some weight saving strategies on this trip. Cut tent pegs by half. Crocs (light Chines ones) for time off of bicycle. Cut unnecessary tools. Cut down on traveling with food, ate at restaurant and stopped at shops for food. Mounted solar panel on Velcro (to charge cell phone and camera) for places where there is no electricity. Pouch to hold cell and camera.

On the way I passed Modimolle and dropped in at the bicycle shop to see what needs to be done to my bicycle for the trip to Malawi. Also looked at camping shop to see if there are lighter tents.

All in all think it was a very good trip. For those of you, light is much better. Lighter load made the ride much more pleasurable. Well there is room for more weight saving for me.