Winter training has hit home now…the very early rides mean full brightness lights for the entire ride and parking the bike as the sun comes up… it’s not easy to get motivated, especially when it’s so cold the dogs don’t even raise an eyelid when I leave the house. This weekend though I had 2 good rides and the sunrises were so amazing to see it made the months riding worthwhile.

Saturday morning was misty, a thick white haze lay over the whole bay and even up high on top of Ou Kaapse Weg it hardly thinned out. Coming down the pass I was riding on memory as the corners jumped out at the last minute. Luke and Christo had recovered better and my legs were toast from the two back to back days climbing, and now they were putting me to the sword up every climb. My lung were searing and I was being mentally challenged because all I wanted to do was slow down. The competitor in me urged me on, even though I was losing ground fast.

W played through Simonstown and attacked each other a bit, half in jest, but I was trying to get Luke and Christo to lose the edge! That didn’t help at all when they rode away from me up Smits, so quickly that in the mist Luke hadn’t realized they were even on the steep part!

We plunged down the back of Smits and headed towards Redhill, we’d have the final showdown there and I just plodded on at the best pace I could manage. We hit the hill together and Luke assumed control, I had to try hold his wheel but the power from my legs was long gone, I held on until just over half way up and then he started to make some meters. Christo faded with me and I tried to limit the damage to Luke but he didn’t fade and took 15-20 secs over the top, Christo faded off my wheel at 3/4 was down and I thought I had him beat until he came flying back 100m from the top and made me kick again! I had just enough juice for that and as he gave in I could sit down and cruise again!

The sun was just about to poke out of the mist on our way down and I had to stop and take a pic. It’s not worth the sweat if you cant enjoy the view from the top!

Red Hill Sunrise

On Sunday morning it was way warmer, I’d had a few beers before, during and after the Stormers win and had to go flush the system! I pulled out the 29er! I met Christo and Carel and set out up the cheat route into Tokai. The 4km climb is a tough start, but I think the beer was gone when we finally got the the top of it at the plateau near the waterfall. We turned left and chatted along the contour road up to Silvermine gate. We cruised up the tar road and through the car park and into the dirt again towards Noordhoek peak. Christo was taking strain from his jousting with Luke the day before and his saddle was a bit too low forcing his quads to do too much work.

Carel and I had a nice pace going, not easy but also not too fast that we could squeeze a few words out 🙂 I hadn’t been up here since just after the Epic and the gravel was thick and loose in places. We got to the top in around an hour and had a bite to eat while we waited fro Christo, who wasn’t far behind.

Then we started the fun part! We gunned down the loose gravel road back towards the dam, nearly taking out a dog walker or two but hey that’s what good brakes are for! We nipped past the dam and down the tar road again and back into Tokai. We cruised along the contour again and past the waterfall and caught some friends there and chatted a bit before heading off again and down into a quick singletrack, then back up the jeep track to the switckbacks.

I hadn’t  ridden the switchbacks for ages and I was glad we did, there have been cleaned up and are awesome to ride once again. We go stuck behind a slower rider or two, but once past them Carel and I raced off in tandem, flowing through the tight turns and little drops. It really is an amazing piece of track and I vowed to visit more often 🙂

Then it was off to the main singletrack along the jeep tracks again, Carel and I again whipping through the turns together, his technical skills are very good and he stuck to my wheel like glue. We got held up a bit again but I made a nice move heading into the middle berm and paced away, I went the long way around though and our blocker took the shortcut through the sandy bridges I thought would still be closed… anyhow we caught him again and popped out at the bottom together. We took the singletrack all the way down from there, they are so nice and solid after the rain compacted them and it makes it fast and so much fun. I’m always here in the dark so I really enjoyed seeing where I was going to really maximise the days ride. Two and a half hours of thrills, it’s going to be an awesome day!

The sky was blazing red on my way out the door.