Monday, November 30, 2015

CHAPTER TWO

Chapter 2 and the run up to Christmas has begun…

After my 40 day biking odyssey I hadn’t so much as planned anything and was stuck with a “what now thought” even though I had preliminary plans looking ahead but ended up taking five days off the bike. It was somewhat weird in a way as my biological clock was still ticking over for those early morning rise and shines and it was a force to reckon with to roll over and nod off back to sleep which didn’t happen in most of those events if at all. Still getting up at the crack of dawn with a mug of warm brew and sitting out the back yard taking in all the crisp air and what dawn had to offer, was rewarding in its own way before heading off to work. With the weekend spent doing some home maintenance, it was rewarding in its own kind of way. Time spent with my better half and doing something different can be a worthwhile break from the norm.

It was sort of refreshing to know I had set a goal and seen it through. I had my trusty steed seen to and a minor service with the bike shop for all the memorable and good miles that were given in a short space of time along with given a clean bill of mechanical health over and above the odd tweaking of cables, gears and brake levers was well worth a big smile.

Chapter 2 has begun and this will take me up to Christmas eve.

My weight has remained constant over the past two weeks and I would still like to see another 3.7kg go south.
The plan for the Christmas season going forward and towards the end of December month is to be spending some time with the family and extended family on the coast and some time in Knysna, South Africa where plans have been set aside to take some mountain bike rides in the Knysna forests with my brother in-law. I am really so looking forward to this!

Even though still six months away, the planning and gear selection is properly underway and has been with regard to obtaining a few accessories needed to pursue and ultimately finish the amazing adventure that Freedom Challenge race across South Africa is and can be. New robust wheels ordered from a “Black Friday sale done and ticked off. I say robust in that I feel they have been tried and tested and will do the work that is required to cover the terrain that the Freedom trail throws at you. So that is now out of the way. Fortunately with having most of the gear bought and stored from my last Freedom Challenge attempt, there will still always be the odds and ends that require upgrading. Unfortunately, mountain biking or any biking of sort has become an expensive commodity depending how you look at it. Starting from scratch can set you back a few ‘dollars and outlay if planning an adventure, expedition, endurance race ride like this. I was fortunate and grateful to had been sponsored bib riding shorts last year. I will be on the look- out this year for a new sponsor if it’s possible.

This morning with my first ride in five days after my unplanned break, I felt like a race horse at my conceived level, feeling really good, strong and with a positive mind. A break is under estimated in what it can do for your body. It was good to be out again!

Looking forward to the next four weeks ahead………….


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BLESSED

40 Days I gave myself to get my ‘mojo back!

 After 25 years of cycling on off and in the past year with a lot happening in and around my life, I seemed to have lost some of the passion I had for cycling, so I believed. The 40 day plan I set for myself was just the recipe to rekindle some of that passion. I would guess it was almost like a writer having writers block. With my Freedom Challenge mountain bike race across South Africa in 2016 I desperately wanted to grab hold of that joy and satisfaction of being on a bike and taking a ride.  

There had been a couple of setbacks in the past 10 months before my 40 day plan and as a human being it tested and affected my train of thoughts, my level of motivation, my emotions and outlooks. But that is all in the past and life is not really about yesterday but really about how you are living your Today. We’ve all heard it. If you are sad and depressed, you could be living in the past. If you’re anxious and stressed, you could well be living in the future. If you going all out today and making the most of what it has to offer and are happy and content, you living in the moment, the present, and that is where you need to be.

My 40 days of cycling kicked off on the 13th October and with 3 days missed in this plan within the time frame, spanned an extra 3 days on to cover this. I was left feeling pretty okay with my efforts and let’s call it my introduction into what lies ahead and the foundation laid to build onto. Freedom Challenge is effectively around 190 days away and I am positive about how my planning will play out over the rest of the 6 months leading up to the event. As a working class citizen along with the work commitments most of us cyclist find ourselves with along with keeping family time in check, I have been happy with how my applied mind coped. Most importantly, spending all rides on my own, I have been happy to have been able to maintain consistent riding habits along with throwing in a couple of interval sessions on the bike. An average of 40km (1600km total) ridden daily, an average of 325m (13000m total)of ascent attained per day and keeping my average cadence at around 82 rpm, I have been satisfied with the base I have laid out for myself.

The training format from here will remain pretty much the same going forward but with a structured plan, with short rides in the week (at least two interval days, two regular fast paced days and a recovery day) with longer back to back rides over the weekends when not working. 
The aim is to get to a 15 to 20 hour week. Thrown into this will be mix of walking, running and hiking as well as gear testing but also most importantly, recovery time. I am also looking forward to start testing my Osprey and Buff gear when the time comes as well as Apidura bags on the bike.






I have been blessed with good health in the past 6 weeks and when your body starts going through transformation it can be a shock to the system. The stresses on your body, weight loss, can all cause your system to go south but I have not felt this good in a long while. It's a good place to be in. In over 6 weeks, one of the things that has been noticeable is I have had no heartburn also know as acid reflux, of which I suffered from periodically and that is thanks to cutting out sugars and most processed foods along with the weight loss. With riding off into desolate places at times I have also been blessed with safe passage and have had no incidents that would warrant alarm other than the cheers of some rural kids cheering you along as you pass them by; Older men puffing on their pipes nodding a greeting gesture whilst sitting on a pile of rocks in the late sunlit afternoon. Farm workers on their way home on a dusty road at dusk waving you along. All this captured in my ability to do what I can do. I have also been blessed with no serious bike mechanicals and so it proves that to keep your trusty steed in good shape and regular maintenance is the key.


AND now! We ride on…..

Monday, November 16, 2015

THE RIGHT PLACES

Week five done and dusted of my 40 day commitment and the goal to get my body, mind and general fitness onto the right track is moving along way better than I envisaged.

Going into week six with eight more days to go to complete what I dubbed phase one of my introduction to the path of readiness for 2016, I am super chuffed with where I am right now. Once done, phase two will roll out and more on that when we get there…

Two years ago, 2013, after a five year wait and eventually pressing the Enter and pay button in August of that same year to enlist my heart, body and soul into the 2014 Freedom Challenge race across South Africa adventure  and dream of doing it, I started training immediately with much jest and vigour! So much so, with gathering more information, advice and scouring scores of blogs and write-ups of the Freedom Challenge thinking I still hadn’t gained enough insight and on what to expect, how to train, what to take and, and…

In hindsight, I just threw myself into it with no real training plan. By April, May of 2014 with all the riding done, in all honesty, I was already totally bored and tired of a bike. When the day finally arrived and on the start line I was amped but also nervous, yet nothing prepared me for that first day! I think nothing does if you have never done it before. After the crash on day three and my eventual withdrawal eight days later, I knew I had to go back! I learnt that some of our mishaps can bring us to the right places. Mistakes can also be the portal for self discovery. In those eleven days I pulled a magnitude of wisdom from it for myself. This I hope will stand in good stead going back to Freedom Challenge 2016.

For me, the race across South Africa is not about racing for me, it’s about forward momentum. It’s about the journey itself. It’s about discovering things about yourself you never deemed possible. It’s about experiencing the raw side of South Africa on a bicycle. I believe, everyone doing Freedom has their own reasons for doing it and we take away different outcomes from it in the end.

My week five of training had been a good recovery week on the bike. Yes! I lost a little more weight with the total being nearly 5kgs lost up to now. From this I can definitely feel that difference when on the bike and the proverbial ‘power to weight’ ratio starts to come into play. For those not in the know, simply put, it’s all about balancing the body weight you have to push and the power you have to push it. The law of average, the lighter the weight the easier it is to push. Now, I could write a whole chapter on this, but we will leave it at that. Let’s just say it can pay to read up and know how your body functions and how it reacts to what you do to it. The human body is an incredible machine. It can do far beyond what you think it can.

I am looking forward to reaching my first milestone in training. It is still around another two hundred days to go for the start of Freedom 2016. I am so grateful I have a structured plan moving forward. I have a supportive family which counts for plenty and I have some close friends supporting me all the way!

The Carel du Toit Centre, Cape Town cause of which I am trying to rally support has been very slow. When the first two donations came in just after launch, I was excited! I am still hopeful though and look forward to those that have made pledges going forward in due course.

If you would like to make a donation, please do @:



Monday, November 9, 2015

MAGIC POTION

Week four into my 40 day cycle odyssey done! I have had a magical week of riding. The mind shift, the body adapting, the habitual process of things have all but moved along like a sweet song. However, do not misinterpret that it has been a week of pure bliss. With effort comes some discomfort but at the same time also finding the will to keep going.

 With the will to keep going, it has also allowed a page in the book of my perseverance to be stored in a chapter somewhere deep in my subconscious. Hopefully when the moments come, when all seems really long, hard and daunting, I can pull out the chapter, find the page and reaffirm that it says; I’ve got this! I can do it!


There are many cyclists in the area I live and having trained and cycled the past twenty five years in groups and on my own, mainly road biking and racing until about six years ago when I started the switch to mountain biking, I have over the past two years spent many hours on my own training. I have had a number of invites to join groups for group rides of which I have really appreciated the gesture but just this weekend it dawned on me that I am very comfortable in my own company. 

Sometimes the arrangements to meet, decisions on where to ride, people not pitching, should we go, should we wait debate and so on had me realizing that with me just getting on my bike and riding, making my own decisions on what time to leave, where to head, how far to go, when to pit-stop, how long to stop, changing a course of direction mid ride and more, brings on a sense of adventure as well as a sense of selfishness I guess, within me that I seem to thrive on and enjoy. 

I do also believe that riding with a hearing impairment also plays a role in that it isolates me whilst riding in a group as I do not engage in much conversation due to wind noise and not being able to always hear clearly on what is being said, hence riding and training on my own pretty much evens out the score. I have been bemused that in the distant past, I have been thought of as being rude by not replying or engaging in conversation that has been afforded to me at times. This has been purely because I did not realize or failed to hear properly. I have found people normally understanding of this when I inform them of the realities. This had also caused some embarrassment for me when it happens but I live through it. I generally feel I mean well to all I come in contact with but at unintentional moments like these, others may or could perceive otherwise. 

Blazing glory



Generally and as a contradiction to what I’ve just said, I do believe man is not destined to live his/her life alone. With my outlooks, I think there are only four or five people that really understand me. The rest I believe run on assumptions. As the quote saying goes and I believe applies to a lot of people as well as some not; ‘I am not in a competition with anyone else. I ride my own race. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone else. I just aim to improve, to become a better person than I was yesterday. That’s me’. 

In for the long haul



The training week has been good! Basic stats put on the table again. This past week saw a 28% increase on distance covered. 27% increase on time spent in the saddle and 18% increase in the amount of climbing on a bike, concluded a worthwhile build week for me. I believe a little of the interval training has also helped a bit. Over the past four week I have managed to shed 4.4kgs of weight and I can already feel the difference on the bike yet that little rubber band of flubber around my mid section, even though smaller than before still appears. I am positive and hopeful that over the next four weeks to come, more changes will appear and I should be at my goal weight. In the past week gone I unfortunately gave into some of my vices but yet was pleasantly surprised that I could still shed 1.1kgs. At middle age they say your body clock starts to slow down. My turbines still seem to be turning. I was pretty impressed! No guilt!

Crossing the landscape


People have asked for the magic potion but there is none. It is all just a conscious decision that one must make to cut out all the ‘bad stuff’ and ride the storm as your mind and body renders resistance to the challenge. It takes 21 days to form a habit they say. At 26 days, I am starting to believe it!

Anyone reading this blog, please visit and ‘LIKE my Facebook page at:  www.facebook.com/afrivence

If you have already done so, please share this all over the place. I am looking for support for my cause supporting:  http://careldutoit.co.za/site/index.php


And one can also support me and make a contribution by making a once off secure online donation at: http://www.givengain.com/activist/141916/projects/10833/

Monday, November 2, 2015

BRING ON NOVEMBER!

Day 20 of 40 and half way there!!

Pure Landscape

Week three ended and into the fourth I go. I cannot believe how well this is going and barring some heavy wind in the past three weeks, there has only been three days of rain whereby I still found a window in the weather pattern to get out and not get drenched. There have also been two heavy mornings of thick mist of which one I got pleasurably soaked.

Misty Morning


The weight loss as being part of my objective has been 3.8 kilos with the past week being a little on the slow side as well as the ‘cheat’ side but still with plenty willpower intact. I haven’t had as much as a glass of coke, beer, coffee or tea, touch my lips in the past three weeks and that is an achievement for me! I have been pleasantly surprised that I have had no serious withdrawal symptoms seeing I had practically cut out all my sugar vices other than two bar one chocolates, a handful of liquorice all sorts and a small bowl of ice-cream in the past 21 days. Water, water and more water along with eating six times a day in very small amounts I believe has been part of the trick.

Sunburst!
My training schedule in week three was up from week two with 3% up on miles undertaken. 7% up on time in the saddle and wait for it! 58% up on the amount of ascent undertaken!! And I am grinning!

Not to be fooled, there have been one or two occasions where the getting out of bed at 4am has been a drag but pushing on or not is not negotiable. My train of thoughts was that I committed myself to this strategy, so letting myself down was not an option.

Dawn under lilac skies
With November 2015 here, I need to devise plans to get my Facebook page, 'Afrivence rolling a little more and with a little more exposure. Anyone having any tips and ideas, I have always been open to suggestions!

Carel du Toit Centre Cape Town could do with some funds and donations would really come in handy! I realize that there are many fundraisers going on and one I see predominantly is fundraisers for Cancer. Supporting Deafness is also a good cause as instead of being left out and shut off from the world, facilities such as the Carel du Toit Centre is also effectively giving kids a second lease on life.


The Freedom Challenge race office has been contacted with my intentions made about wanting to recce a small section of the trail in early January. Dates and time still to be confirmed but nevertheless planning can start for what I would deem a 4-5 day ride across the section I wish to transverse.

For now, the “show goes on….


Bring on November!!


THE STORY OF 2016 RACE ACROSS SOUTH AFRICA

The full 2016 Freedom Challenge race across South Africa race report https://view.publitas.com/private-18/2016-freedom-challenge-rac...