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.

Waterberg activities

Have been on holiday this week. I decided to do some activities in the area where we stay. We have done some day trips to game lodges in the  Waterberg area.

First was Thandile guest farm (www.tandilecountrylodge.co.za) where we did some horse riding. The owner manages the lodge himself. He has a passion for horses. He has trained all his horses to work with herding cattle and guest rides. The horses have a very gentle nature and are very aware of your riding skills. They adjust according to the feel which you give them. So if you just want to plod along they will do it or if you want to get some wind in your hair, off they go.20140702_113415 All horses range free in the bushveld hills and are rounded up and saddled for you. So you need to make bookings with Cobus before hand.  The roads wind up from the valley bottom to rocky hills where giraffe,   kudu,impala,klipspringer and other bushveld animals range.  What is nice, time is no problem. If you want to 20140702_112320ride for one hour or three it is the same price. Cobus makes sure the horse matches you and that all saddle adjustment are made to fit you.

There are also marked out mountain bike trails. Be prepared for lots of loose rocks.

He has some nice rooms in a very old house that has been renovated. However be prepared for work in progress around the lodge area. There is a restaurant area that is your home away from home. The cats and dogs make you feel part of the family. Very family orientated guest farm.

Today we did the Zipline tour (http://waterbergzip.co.za) at Tabo Monate game lodge. It has a set of 11 ziplines criss crossing a valley.Tour takes about two and half hours.20140703_131224 20140703_131329 For a person like me that is a little afraid of heights it was a good challenge. The guides were very friendly and safety continuously. This was a wonderful experience. Would recommend it to anybody spending a weekend up in the area. Longest Zipline was about 190 m.

Was good to experience what this area has to offer. Most of the time I am riding my bicycle along the roads and just see the signs for the different lodges.

 

 

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.