Today I rode with Kevin (a blanket wearer) and Nick, a first time with either of them. I wasn't really looking forward to it as my fork is still stuffed and really hurts my hands and wrists.
Also, I wasn't feeling that great with a sore throat and snotty nose. But I had committed to showing them some routes that they had not experienced but that I had ridden countless times in preparation for the race.
Ho Hum. I could practically visualise every rock and rut along the way. My big dilemma was which kit to wear. Now that was a big decision. Luckily I went with more than I thought as it really didn't warm up until the last 20km.
So without any great expectations, we set off in the cold and semi dark. Its probably been over two months since I last did this ride and changes there were aplenty. The normally soggy sections of single track had dried out into hard pack and the grass had died back enough to avoid normally hidden ruts. It was fast and flowing but not fast enough for Nick who couldn't contain himself and dashed off like a little kid.
Horrors, the first shock was the huge green palisade blocking our path to the Total garage on the R24. Luckily we spotted the rotating green gate which made for interesting navigation. I managed to maneuver my bike through but the others passed theirs over. Nick's bike - a Santa Cruz - weighed just over 10kg. I hate him.
Snigger - Kevin's bike is a hard tail with v brakes and he doesn't ride with cleats. A free rider, he calls himself!
It was clearly the day for green palisades. Next up was a monstrous fence surrounding the new business park next to Lanseria. This hadn't been completed so we could still pick up our route but that wont last long. There are also massive road works on the main road which had eroded our normal path too but the local pedestrians did the job of walking a new section flat for us.
Which brought is to our third palisade of the day. The dirt road to the Refilwe school had been closed off but here, at least, they (whoever they are) had considered pedestrians and by vague association, mountain bikers. There was a narrow pathway left between the palisade and razor wire. Hold your line!
And so we were able to finally reach untarnished track and head into the Cradle. It blew the other two away. They were thrilled to discover kms of single track, technical riding and wide open countryside. Nick especially, as he had just immigrated from Cape Town and was desperate for good riding routes.
An additional bonus was the rare sighting of a small brown buck bounding away from us (dunno what kind) and the magnificent sight of an Eland loping majestically up the mountain. But this wasn't all. After doing part of a technical climb towards Kalkheuwel, we spotted a Gemsbok on the ridge. Problem is, these two guys now think I can produce fauna and flora at will.
Then it was back to the Chicken Pie place for apple pie of course before heading for home. It was shorter than we thought but we left each other with promises to re-visit the routes and explore other options.
Looking forward to seeing all my old routes through new eyes.