Mankele

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We stayed over at Mankele for the weekend.
286km out of Pretoria heading out East on the N4. The route was quite easy to follow, N4 East and left on the R539.

With a warm welcome from the gate keeper right through to the complementary wine, it felt like home. The wooden cottage was super clean, spacious and well equipped. You name it, the cottage had it. Even an air conditioner! All for the price of R280 (If I remember correctly) per person.
They also have a HUGE camping sight and a couple of ready made tents that you can rent.

The swimming pool was well maintained and the little one played at hearts desire on the trampoline and jungle gyms.
An entertainment area with TV, pool table, foose table etc could make for a great night of fun should you decide to go as part of a big group.

There is a small shop with some bare necessities like beer, chips, sugar etc. and a little coffee shop.

As for the routes. 9/10. There were one or two spots where the signage was not perfect. That said, even I got home safe.
The routes are well maintained and the single track simple exquisite! Pine forest, waterfalls, hills, jeep track, down hills, bridges, ramps. It has it all.

All in all a very nice visit to the lowveld.

Races to look out for will be the Lowveld Quest and the Mankele 3 Towers. I think both of these will be awesome to do and stay over at Mankele.

About this mountain biking thing

So it was at Van Gaalens last year that I last had my deep dark encounter with the thick wheels monster called a mountain bike. I still wake up at night with a cold sweat thinking of that day.

All forgotten and forgiven, I entered the Sabie race on recommendation from a friend. Yah……he is crossed off my friends list for now.
Lined up for the 75km Marathon….I mean…how hard can 75km be, right? That is like a mornings training on the road bike. I still had a hint of flu in the system but was feeling OK for the moment.
Starting in B bunch it was never about winning the thing (Yes, I thought about competing for the win….it’s what we cyclist do) but rather how close I can get to the overall winners time.

1,2,3 GO. Heart rate 180, check. Climb, climb climb. (I love climbs by the way)…..the first 20km was insane. Climbing out of Sabie we had spectacular views of the Lowveld below. The temperature was heating up nicely and things were getting interesting. Ian, also a TCS/BP/C rider, decided that he was not waiting around and within 5km he was out of sight….I was lying 2nd in the B bunch going up……all good.

Then…..I hear a very faint click sound……..yip….MY wheels were coming off. Not just the rubber…..the nuts, bolts, brains, guts, everything. I had NOTHING in the legs. With 35km done and still 40km to go I started writing my last will and testament in the sand next to the road. I could have sworn it was written in blood but I was later told it was just written with my tears. It was hot, my heart rate was not going up or down, bottles empty and hills to climb. Riders started to point and laugh.
Long story short, I crossed the finish line in 04:27….had a fat chat, drank some Coke, searched for my medal….just to find out I was at the 10km finish line and had to go back on course to find out where I took the corner wrong. And it was such an awesome sprint for the line at that…..10km riders….gmf.
6 minutes later I crossed the line AGAIN (The correct finish line), fans cheering (Actually only my 4 year old daughter that worships her dad because he brings her medals all the time). Official 4:31. I did not care. I finished the worst day on the bike in my life.

Having a look at the results, there were people doing 8+ hour rides on the day. That is soooo incredible! I would love to employ people like that. Not giving up. Going the distance. Finishing what they started no matter how crazy stupid hard it was. To everyone that competed….well done. MUCH respect, especially from my side!

I will be back. Just need to try and forget all the pain and suffering and get another friend to convince me to do something stupid. Can’t wait.

Here is to a good 2013

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So the new kit has been flashed on the mailing list. Stunning. Add a nice pair of snow-white shoes, white helmet and flashy sunnies…..PERFECT.
We will be spotted miles away! And hopefully miles away IN FRONT!

To all our sponsors, a HUGE thank you for investing in cycling and specifically in our club.

We will be racing Elites and Vets mostly this year and there are dreams of a SA champs jersey in April…..Oudshoorn jou lekker ding!

Thus a toast to 2013. Many a happy smile!

Sidi Ergo 2 review

Sidi Ergo 2

So a bit of a long term review………..
I bought my Sidi Ergo 2 shoes about 3 years ago at the local SA agents. I had previously owned DMT, Nike, Northwave and Shimano shoes. Compared to any of them, the Sidis were way more stiff. The sole of the Sidi is just rock solid.
I sometimes take a spin on the stationary bike in the man-cave and uses the old DMT shoes……WOW, the amount of flex you have with the DMTs…..scary!

30 000km and counting. And they still look like new. The white plastic did fade as expected………The warm Africa sun tends to do this.
The front end of the carbon sole has remarkably not that many scratches. I thought it would be more, clipping out at red lights etc. The only little damage I have on them is at the back of the heal. There the material has a bit of a scuff in it from all the shaving. For 30 000 odd kilos, I guess that is not so bad.

The shoes are narrow though. So a guy with big flat feet will suffer a bit.
Apart from that, the shoe is very comfy. I added the Pearl Izumi insoles and it fits like a charm. Way much better than the standard Sidi insole.

No hassles at all with the little clip on the side and adjustment is very easy and flawless.

All in all 9/10 shoe. Why not 10? They are pricey. The new Sidi Ergo Wires are R5 000.00 at this stage. So not cheap. Take that over 40 000km hopefully, a good investment.

Shoes in the same quality range out there on the market and perceptions I have of them:
* Giro – Very light.
* Fizik – Unknown in the market. One or two pro teams being sponsored with them on the Protour.
* Specialized – Heard a lot of good things about the 2013 but will only be in SA in about 6 Months time!!! Stiff, light, almost half the price of Sidi. Not as durable in seems.
* Gearne – Uncomfortable
* DMT – They still have to sorted out the tong on their shoes. Lots of blisters for me!
* Shimano – Personally I will NEVER buy Shimano in my life purely because they screwed me over on a set of STI levers under warranty many, many moons ago.
* Northwave – Awesome shoe. Average on price. More suited for wide feet. Only gripe on them is there isn’t a local agent that I know off.
I will be getting my Sidi Ergo Wire shoes on Monday. Report on them to follow soon……