Wednesday, November 25, 2009

End of year blues?

For once, this has seemed a long year. Normally they fly by and before you know it, another one has started.  Its been a year filled with milestones and wonderful adventures. And although there has been a paucity of cycling stuff in the last four months, I have been kept busy with other issues.

Now, we run up to Sabie Experience (the 4 day mountain bike stage race) of which I am the organiser. It is the usual scrummage of getting all the bits and pieces together to give the riders an incredible send off to the festive season. Four hard days of riding will give them a calorie deficit of note which will soon be filled with festive fare.

For those who have battled with the economic downturn, an event like this may sound extravagant but what better gift to give yourself than the joy of riding your bike in some of the best mountain biking terrain in the country. Finishing the year doing what you love best is the perfect antidote to doom and gloom and you can look forward to 2010 with renewed vigour.

Its a pity I can't ride.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

I did it!

I reached the milestone in my other life. November has been NaNOWriMo and today I reached the goal of 50 000 words. In NaNo terms, I am a winner. No one reads your novel or judges it, you simply submit it for word counting and then it is erased off their system. I stalled a little when I got to 45 000 and it almost seemed that I was sabotaging myself but the words flowed and here I am.

I am still disbelieving as 50 000 is an enormous number and my wonderful characters are still not finished with me.

So its Friday night and I am sipping champagne (any excuse for bubbly).  Tomorrow may be a day off then I will join the other Jo'berg writers at the weekly write-in to see where I go to next in my novel.

What a good week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Next year, I will train

I have discovered that muscle memory is a wonderful thing. Six months of training including a 3 week jaunt across the country has left me with enough in legs to actually enjoy Sunday's Momentum 94.7 cycle race.

I was pretty nervous because I knew it would hurt and I hadn't done the work required. Once a week is simply not what the experts recommend. Well experts be damned. If you've got miles in your legs, you can drag them around 97 odd kms. I didn't do a sterling time but did what I hoped for and I really didn't suffer.

My ego did though as my bunch rode away from me and the leaders of the next group and the next. Then I saw the odd M  batch come past too and I cringed (I started in J). Riding solo because you dare not push too hard is not ideal for road riding, especially when there is a pumping wind. It was quite weird in that my lack of training manifested in straining quads and this after I had punished them in the mountains of Sabie.

I think I should check my saddle height. I really think that must be it.

But I reckon I rode myself fit because by the time we reached the highway (of ill repute) I was having fun and was tucking in behind all the larger riders. Actually I rode in an echelon of two because nobody else realised it was a wind from the side or they don't watch the Tour de France enough. I also have the wind of St Francis Bay to thank for the practice.

But back to the race. One of the things I marvel at is the range of logistics required to pull it off. As a race organiser, I understand more of what goes on behind the scenes. I always get a thrill when I see all the straw bales and fencing lining the road on the Saturday afternoon. Sometime after midnight, when all the riders are tucked up in bed, a team of army ants swarm all over the roads, erecting the barriers and blocking off access ready for the first bunch at 5.30. And there it stays until late in the Sunday afternoon where it all magically disappears again.

Every single access road or dirt road had a marshal and straw bales or fencing. That's an awful lot of people and stuff over roughly 97km. Good on them for hanging in there for so many hours in the searing heat.

I resolved to do the race justice next year. No more narfiness. Its a great race to ride well and I just know I can knock off lots of minutes. Any volunteers to pace me?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Race across SA - Race around the world?

I picked up this article on The Adventure Life. It reminded me that there is always life after a major event, even if mine was "only" 2300km of cycling.  The trick is to keep the momentum and dreams alive.

On September 19, 2009, British cyclist James Bowthorpe rolled into London and climbed off his bike for the first sustained period in six months. The 32-year-old had just smashed the record for circling the globe on a bicycle: His 174-day, 18,000-mile journey was a ridiculous 20 days faster than the previous record. Along the way, he raised $100,000 for Parkinson's research, was chased by thugs in Iran, and found that Turkey and Kentucky are rivals for friendliest spots on Earth. The Adventure Life caught up with Bowthorpe as he was recovering in London—after six months in the saddle, he still can't stand longer than a half hour at a time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Over halfway

(My secret writing tool)

There's not much cycling or training of any sort at the moment for various reasons.  But whatever the lack in this department, I am gunning it with the NaNo novel.

Our local NaNo Liaison, Chris, organised a write in at the Melville Mugg and Bean and about 10 of us arrived, some with laptops and couple of diehards with paper and pen.

Glen, who has raced to 70 000 words as I write this arrived to help anyone stuck.  It was a strange afternoon with all of us ranging between absolute focus and picking up snippets of conversation from the others.  I set a target to write 3500 words in an hour and half.  Feeling fairly antisocial, I tapped away at the keyboard half listening to the goings on around me.

"How do I get two women to talk to each other," asked Chris.  Errr, you open their mouths, I thought but the other answers were far more ribald than that.

I hit my goal well within the time limits and it was a great feeling - it was the most I had written in one session.  Later that afternoon, the last of us packed up and it is at these times, you often get gems of information.

We were talking about writing and not thinking about it.  Chris summed it up best "We channel words".  He's so right.  I don't feel that I am making up the stuff as I go, more that the words are flowing through me.

So I am now more than halfway - yes, over the incredible 25 000 mark.  That particular angle of the story came to an end and I felt myself worrying about what would come next.

Sitting down at the computer, I forced myself to not think and to just write.  Over two thousand words flowed forth and the scenario appeared like magic.  So my main character is still alive and facing a huge challenge.  I can't wait to find out what happens.

The only bummer about this chapter was being 4 (FOUR) words short of 27 000.  And I couldn't find anywhere to slot some in.


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Friday, November 6, 2009


Err, sorry, he says as we head off for the third day of strenous riding in the mountains of Sabie. I'm not very conversational today. Its usually when I don't have enough sleep.

Oh, I say all sympathetic - what happened? 

Well, you see its like this.  After two days of riding, my bowels haven't moved yet.  So driven to desperation, I resorted to laxatives last night.  They're supposed to work within a hour but they didn't so I ended up taking three!

Now I can see kak coming and this was coming from a looong way off.  Spellbound, I listened as did a couple of riders who slowed their pace to hear more.

And... I prompted.

I felt so terrible, he continued, that I couldn't sleep at all.  And then this morning, they kicked in and I had to walk down the stairs backward so I could keep my butt cheeks together so I didn't embarrass myself.

My mate was in the shower hogging the bathroom, so I ended up pacing around the kitchen table with a tight ass cos I knew if I relaxed the muscles, I was history.

By now, we had ridden off the road in hysterics.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Writing, writing, writing but not for here

The NaNoWriMo fever has hit more than 170 000 (at last count) would be writers around the globe.  Writing started at midnight on November 1 and there have been wild swings in input from the over and under achievers.

I missed day one because I was riding my mountain bike - funny thing that.  And I have started now, cranking out about 2000 words a day so far.  Oops - that sounds better than it is because it is only day 3!  But I figure the words will run dry at some point and while I feverishly search for inspiration, at least I'll have a buffer.

There was one over achiever on the international forum who wrote over 30 000 words straight.  That's just intimidating.  How are the rest of us supposed to feel.  Eejit (I wish I had that skill).  I wonder if he will carry on once he hits his 50 000 tomorrow?  Short month for him but for the rest of us, its going to be hard to maintain momentum.

But what a great opportunity to just write with abandon.  Posts on the blog will be read by someone so there is a degree of structure and sense to be made.  But with NaNo, just write.  There is no one watching, critting or even vaguely interested in whether it makes sense or not.  Which is just well as there has to be chunks of drivel that pour out at times.  But that is December's problem when you finally get to read what you have written in its entirety.

I didn't choose a cycling or mountain biking topic but maybe somewhere I will have to weave a little of that into the story.

So here's to keeping writer's block at bay and 50 000 words by the end of the month.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

And we climbed

The fourth stage of Sabie Experience pre ride was a mere 55km.

If you think you will hammer it, think again. Its tough especially on fatigued legs and by this stage, trust me, your legs will be very fatigued.

I was so tired even before starting but miraculously, the legs kept turning. Climbing out of Sabi Star Chalets made me wish I had gym work in my legs. It took a huge amount of power and determination to keep riding and not to walk.

Cool, misty conditions helped but the humidity was hectic. Sweat poured off everyone in the group.

The first water point is spectacular and as we arrived, the mist lifted enough for us to look out over the cliff to the valleys below.

Microwave Alley was a great descent and the next 15km or so was really interesting riding. Undulating track through massive bamboo groves, eucalyptus and indigenous bush brought us to the second water point.

Then we did two serious climbs, damn, they tested the boundaries. Once past them, it was a brilliant fast descent down Ross Hill and pretty much single track all the way home.

We had such a cool group of people riding together over the 3 days and the humour was legendary. Only mountain bikers could relate to the chirps.

Marinus was our group leader and his calm presence backed by some serious riding talent kept us all together. But if you did falter, there was the reassuring presence of the Off Road Rescue Unit - our incredible medical and moral support group.

How they dragged the trailer over some of that terrain, I don't want to know.

As for me and my comeback, that was three damn fine days of riding. Now, where is the number for my massage therapist!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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