Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quo Vadis mountain biking?

For 6 years, the mountain bike industry in this country has thrived. Participation has exploded and the standards of riding have improved substantially.
But now I ask, where to next. We have seen a plethora of events arrive on the calendar. There are no weekends without several events to choose from. Multi day racing has taken off, appealing to the long distance freaks that make up South African athletes.
But when is it enough or too much? Have we had enough of a good thing. I wonder whether the rest of the world has the intensity and breadth of choice we have locally. As a race organiser ( and, I find myself wondering what is the next big thing.
Having personally experienced touring and loved it, I don't want to let my bias colour my thinking. So I am asking you.
Answer on this blog or go to the online survey I created : Plan your future riding here
All in all, the responses should be fascinating. Oh, and send the link to all your riding friends too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time Running Out

I had the most terrible string of thoughts this weekend. They left me in a panic.

I worked out that I have about 20 years left to do significant things. That's only 20 big adventures if I work on roughly one a year. All of a sudden I can see the end of my life looming (if I don't crash and burn inbetween). This is scary and I don't want to waste a moment any more.

This sentiment is good in theory but there are so many other considerations that conspire to tie me up and allow me to make excuses. Family and work commitments. Decisions on what to do and where to go. Company - finding people who want to do something different and mad and can make the time.

How much time do you have left? Have you thought about whether your life is greater or lesser at the moment.  Me, I'm panicking right now. There are a couple of small adventures planned but nothing that will allow me to check off a year well lived.

Last year was the Freedom Challenge and I am so glad I got that done. It was big and meaningful. This year is still early and luckily, I have time to create something. What will it be? Dunno yet but I am looking for ideas and volunteers.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A few calm days

So the weekend stalled a bit. I took the toys but they were largely unused. It was hot in Nylsvley, Limpopo - very hot. This was good forcing us to veg out a bit.

Its a smallish reserve but well known for its birdlife. The vlei or marshy area had a lot of water and stretched across the valley. Apparently in the dry months, there can be no water at all. But frogs, birds and leeches (as all the kids discovered to their intense fascination) abounded as well as a gazillion mosquitoes.

The Myth and I went for a ride around the reserve and spotted zebra, kudu and disturbed a herd of Wildebees. I didn't get into the birdlife much but I figured it was ok to be lethargic for the rest of the day. Its helluva confusing in that area because all the town names have changed so you are pretty much guessing where you are in the country. A quick jaunt to the local town for ice and ice creams still didn't enlighten us. Mooph...- what ever its called was either Naboomspruit or Nylstroom in the old life. Even that is not a given. But the stores are all the same and you can still buy the ingredients for ice cold beer shandies.

Sunday (no - there were no Valentine's Day chocolates!) was a great chance to check out the bird life. Even the Myth enjoyed it "more than I thought I would". We found some hides deep in the vlei with long wooden walkways to access them. I spotted some new birds to check off my list and rued the fact that I could find the bigger binoculars before we left. Hornbills and crested Fancolin visited the campsite and wandered among our feet while we sat quietly watching them. Ants removed crumbs that were scattered on any surface. A Monitor Lizards and Golden Orb spiders also topped the list of sightings.

It was a different weekend from the usual head banging riding and running.

But there are only 2,5 weeks to the training camp for this year's MTN Panorama Tour and I realised I need to do some emergency training so I don't suffer too badly. Eek!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

I can't help myself

I was getting into the Monday blog post groove quite nicely but I've had such a cool two weeks of getting back into my personal "happy space" that I had to share.

You know when something is missing and you want it back but you don't know where to look. Plus, you don't have the energy to look either. I felt like that about my exercise regime. And my scale was feeling the love as well. But all of sudden, The Crazy Switch seems to have kicked in. (Thanks again Josh)

That elusive mojo seems to be back but without a specific goal just yet. And I'm loving being back in the exercise pond. The running is picking up nicely with a two minute improvement in my time trial time (boast, boast and thumping of chest). The dodgy calves are settled at the moment thanks to some intense massage and a bit of chiro tweaking. Leen-pie, running partner and friend, is hellbent on her Comrades mission so I have to hang in there. The ego doesn't like being left behind.

I'm only riding the road bike and its great to have a different vibe, different scenery, easier riding (those skinny wheels are just great for improved momentum). The 100km I did last week was ridiculously easy. I didn't even have to have a little lie down afterwards. So, its no wonder the world is shiny and bright and I am living in the moment.

This Valentine's weekend, the dust is coming off the mountain bike. Not sure if I'm ready to feel this lurve but we'll see. I'll take my trail shoes in case. The sad thing is that I had to buy my own chocolates. Myth...are you reading this?

Spoil yourself this weekend - I am.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Avatar Who?

I am not sure where this originated from - but oh, so recognisable!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ok, I'm a day late

Gosh, its nearly Wednesday and I'm way behind in gathering my thoughts for this week.

I've been reading some really good stuff this week. Through Josh (The Worlds Strongest Librarian), I discovered another blog called Storyfix. As you may have read in previus posts, I have tried my hand at writing and this blog falls into that genre.

But what is really grabbing my attention, is Larry's deconstructing of the story of Avatar. You have seen it, haven't you? Even I, a once a year movie goer, have seen it. Now you might not find this interesting, but for me its given me more insight into the complexity of the movie and how its success is a large part of getting the story right.

There are a number of brilliant blogs out there and no doubt, I'll be sharing much of their wisdom with you. Your ideas are wanted too. I would hate to miss out.

(The Crazy Switch has flipped and I am, all of a sardine, fully back into the training mode. A 100km cycle and a 16km run - amongst other sessions - in the space of couple of days. Take that, my mojo!)

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Monday, February 1, 2010

The Crazy Switch

Blogging is an art. Irrespective of how technical your writing, the art is the peeks we have into another world and another perspective. Josh is courageous. Not only does he write exceptionally well, but he has allowed his readers into his private world of Tourette's Syndrome with grace and courage. I am privileged to share with you some of his thoughts.


When I crossed the finish line after my final High-School Cross Country race, I fell to my knees and puked.  My teammates had all finished far ahead of me—they were all runners, as opposed to someone who joined the team because the most attractive girls in our school all ran cross-country.


"How do you feel?"


When I could breathe again, I said, "My new goal is never to run another step.  Ever."


They thought I was joking.  I thought I was serious.  We were both wrong, sort of.




I hate running.  I always have and I don't expect that to change.  But I love competition, particularly with myself.  That, and a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome which basically turned me into a hermit for a long time, brought me back to physical culture and physical challenges again and again.


I was talking about this with David Whitley, a former professional wrestler and current performing strongman.  I was babbling on about why we all do the things we do.  Why we push ourselves in the ways we do.


I look at the madness here on Dash For Freedom, and just about all it of makes me smile.  Not just because it's inspiring or goofy or insane—it's all of those things--but because it's all so familiar, even though this isn't my sport.


"It's like we all have the same madness," I said, "but it manifests in a lot of different ways.  It fascinates me." 


"You're taking about the crazy switch," he said.  "Everyone's got one.  When you flip it on, it feeds off the same pool of energy, but you never know what's going to make sense to someone when they turn it on.  Everybody needs something different, but for the same reasons."


I believe it.  I do.  Whatever it is that creates the need for us to test ourselves and challenge others—to excel and to grind our teeth and just see what we're capable off—it comes from the same place.  I know it. 


We feed off of the same things. There are people out there who climb, lift, wrestle, cycle, throw, jump, tackle, sprint, marathon, parkour, tumble, swim, motorcross, dive…on and on and on.  And they all have one thing in common, besides the craziness, I guess:


They're all alive.  They're not just breathing and sucking wind and thanking their lucky stars that they survived another day. 


They're alive.  They have purpose and they don't apologize for the things that drive them.  And their purpose improves them.  Their improved bodies lead to improved minds.  All of these things lead to a stronger, better individual.  And as each individual improves, their capacity to improve others grows as well.


They're alive and they help others to live. 


Is this too grandiose of a sports metaphor?  Not for me.  And if you read this blog, I suspect you might see something here that sounds familiar to you as well.


Flip the switch and come to life.  The more frequently, the better.



About the Author: Josh Hanagarne is the twitchy giant behind World's Strongest Librarian, a blog about living with Tourette's Syndrome, kettlebells, book recommendations, buying pants when you're 6'8", old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh's RSS Updates to stay in touch.

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