Monday, June 29, 2009

My good buddy jack….. (Sunday middle of the day!)


Sunday 28 June Day 14

Another day of rain!

We left Toekomst this morning in the dark at 6:00. We had to head out through a large flat land area (part of the Sundays river valley national park). We headed off in the correct direction and within 45 minutes found we were riding over our own tracks again. Navigation in the dark is not easy.

After the park we headed out according to the maps. Fiona had an uneasy feeling about the route the rest of the group were taking so we stopped an rechecked. We found that the route the others were taking was completely wrong and we found the correct route. This saved us about 3 hours.

The day was generally cold and wet with very little view because of the low cloud. There was an intermediate support station listed but when we got there we found no one home. All we wanted was a hot coffee to help us warm up. We continued on the route and about 30km from the end we came across a small shop with a restaurant attached. We dashed in there and ordered some toasted egg & bacon sandwiches with some coffee. I had a Jack Daniels that we didn't drink last night so took that out as well. It went down a treat and warmed us beautifully.

When we got outside again the rain had stopped and the rest of the ride was fantastic. Arrived at Bucklands at 16:30 with time to do some maintenance on our bikes. This is a beautiful place, nestled in the base of the very imposing Perdeberg.

Today I tried to tape up my shoes with duct tape but this only lasted about half the ride. When Derek came on this evening he said he had the ultimate solution. Cut up a bicycle tube into a long strip and wind that around the shoe to support it. I found some rubber based glue which I used to stick it on with. Tomorrow will confirm if this will work.

Total distance covered today, 110km

Tomorrow we go over the Perfeberg

Note from Aileen – only 6 more sleeps til I see my hubby – yahoooo!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sat 27 June Day 13

We left DeDoorns at 5:20 this morning. We skipped a day ahead yesterday so we had the group ahead of us hanging onto us. The route lead us up and over a mountain and the a hike down the gorge on the other side.  This would have been classified a difficult hike even without a bike.  Well this seems to have completely trashed my shoes. By the time we  got to the bottom the group had split up so Fiona, Sean and I continued on alone. We reached van de Venterskraal at 13:15 and had a quick lunch. At 14:00 we left to skip another day. We had an 11 km technical downhill through a nature reserve. At one spot we came across heard of Giraffe.

Today was the best day of riding we have had so far. The weather conditions was also perfect. We arrived in record time at 17:30 after cycling at total of 140 km today.

Note from Aileen – not such a fantastic wife – the shoes did not arrive this morning so i need to try find away to forward them onto the next available post office.

26 June Day 12

Today we left Elantsberg at 6:15 and Fiona, Carl and myself setoff at at blistering pace while there was no wind. The temp at the start ok the ride was -5 Deg C, but this was not at problem as we were generating a lot of heat. In the distance we could see all the snow covered mountains, not realizing we would be crossing right over the top of them later ok the day.

We arrived in Stuttart around 11:30 which is a support station. We decided to have lunch there and continue.  The next support station is De Doorns but there are two large portages and an estimated 7 hours in good conditions. The approach to the Skurweberge wes very slow going as there was thick clay that was un-ridable an un-pushable. We struggled on this 5 km section for around 2 hours. We the started the ascent of the mountain covered in snow. We made steady progress an eventually reached the top an had to descend the other side. The snow on this side was much thicker, about 300 mm deep. In the beginning it was quite difficult but with a little practice I was using the time of my life flying down the side in this deep snow.

The next portage we reached just before the sun was setting so we could find the start of it. The rest of it was quite challenging as it is very dark out there, no moon at the moment. Our navigation was faultless and we arrived at the support station at 19:45 13 hours our today.

My fantastic wife had organized new shoes to be delivered tomorrow so everything is going fantastically well at the moment.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thurs 25 June


image Pie shop in Hofmeyer

image About 20 seconds of sun – looks like Doug is trying to catch a tan so that when he gets back he looks like he had a fun holiday!

Messages for Doug and Fi – 25/26 June

Thank you so much to everyone who sent messages to Doug and Fi.  Doug can’t read his blog along route so I emailed him the messages – I am posting them all on this blog.  He is able to read all the comments that you guys post tho.

Hi Dough & Fiona,

Good to see you guys are hanging in there! Respect from all of us back home. Sorry to have missed you on the road to Rhodes. Did the chaperone thing this year - even that was hard! Surprise-surprise!  Take care & hang in there, even though conditions are clearly horrendous.  If you quit now you will come back to do it all again (ref Mark Fussel)

Ben de Lange


I rode with Doug and Fiona to Rhodes. Please pass on my very best wishes to these 2 extremely brave people. I am following their progress as much as possible on the website/blog. The conditions seem diabolically atrocious and I admire their strong will and spirit. Sitting in an office it is easy for me to tell them to hang in there but I am sure they know by now to take each section at a time and they will get there in the end. Tell Fiona with her photographic this adventure will be imprinted on her mind forever.

Ray Farrenkothen


Hi Aileen

We pray that God keep Doug safe and help him to succeed in his Journey .May God guide and protect him every step of the way .And May you all at home be safe and may God look after you too while your husband is away.

Kind Regards Phidelia Cornelson Debtors Clerk

GO DOOGLE!!!!!!!!!!!  You’re making us all very proud of you!!!!!!  See you soon and ride safe!!!!!!


Sue Eddey


Hello everybody,

As you all know our Famous IT director  is on a journey of a lifetime some of us have been following his blog , as you all may of heard that the Cape Town weather is at it extreme and Doug has to do this challenge in these conditions I thought it would be great if we could send some motivational messages to encourage him on his journey and wish him safe travels , please forward these on to his Wife Aileen and I am sure she will pass them on



I told you a it would have been easier on horseback-horse would do the running!

Just keep up with the guy in front and you will finish!


Nigel Pilling

Dear Doug, Fiona and the other heroes

You have finished the most difficult bit (except for the little stroll near the end). You are doing brilliantly. Just hang in there. The weather is changing for the better, you are going to cycle through fantastic areas and the Boks are again going to beat the Lions. Take it day by day. Tomorrow is likely to be much better because of the wonderful Terreblanches. You have to meet Johan Rissik ( not negotiable) and get to Oestervanger for estelle and Alda's fantastic food and hospitality, and then you are only 2 days from the end. Hell, even I made it in 2006. If they had trackers then I would have had days and days of penalties.

Fiona, Myprodol (plus lots of water) worked wonders for me.

Gerrit "Agteros kom ook in die kraal" Pretorius


Just a Quick Hi from everyone here in the IT dept.

Keep it up, our thoughts are with you guys. J

Lee Zurcher


Thinking of you all from behind my desk. Keeping you in my prayers

Keep warm, Keep stretching, keep eating!!!!!!

The Monk

I tried to use the blog but I’m soooo blonde and it’s not working .. I’ve sent Doug a sms and will again sometime today .. Rory and myself are thinking about him and Fiona in their great trek across the country and we pray that he is safe and comes to no harm .. please relay our love to him and we know he can make it we have all the faith in him …

All our love to you too .. how are you holding up, your nerves must be finished … If you need anything at all please don’t hesitate to call us ..

All our love ..

Nats and Rory


image This is from Sue Ngema – there is writing on but it won’t transfer across

Thurs 25 June Day 11

I have lost track of what day it is.

One of the things that makes this race doable is the hospitality of the families we stay with. They are absolutely fantastic, they pre-prepared huge delicious meals, do our washing, and essentially give us all the support we need. (dankie Stephanie an familie).

Today Fiona, Greg and I started from Romansfomtein at 6:00. It was bitterly cold, snowing and a driving 40kph wind. We couldn't do the portage over the mountain because it was in the clouds with no visibility. We had to detour around the mountain on the road (50km) We stopped in Hoffmeyer at 14:30 and had some lunch, they are famous for their pies after the Freedom Challenge Tv show. I then bought some plastic gloves from the co-op. The famous SealSkinz gloves are a load of shit. They get soaked after an hour of riding in the rain, then when you take your hands out the inner liner comes out and you can't get them back together easily.

After Hofmeyer we left for Elantsberg. This has a portage over the mountain but due to the strong winds we only got to the start of the portage as the sun was setting and the snow started falling. We had to navigate the mountain I'm the dark. We eventually made it with only one mistake and arrived at 21:00 this evening.

Early start tomorrow as we are going to try and skip a support station.

My cycling shoes have eventually packed up from all the hiking in them. I will be calling tomorrow to arrange for Aileen to send me some more, and a space blanket sleeping bag and may be some waterproof gloves.

image  There were no notes attached to this picture from Doug but he is smiling and not being rained on!

Note from Aileen – I managed to get shoes and the space blanket – there is no such thing as water proof gloves.  I also put some choccies and fudge in the parcel.  It should hopefully be in Jansenville tomorrow morning and the farmer will collect it from the town.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pic from Tue Goevlei


They were all trying to dry out and thaw out.

Day 10 – Wed 24 june

It's interesting how priorities change on this race. It's no longer important how long it's going to take rather, how am I going to finish.  We have opted to take the unofficial route to get to Romansfontein today. We will have a time penalty tomorrow but we just needed to get to an official support station to try and recover.

After spending last night out in the cold with very little sleep, we were unable to make logical decisions. Another one of our group has withdrawn from the race after last night.

After some strategy planning later we will decide on the way forward.

Note from Aileen – to anyone following this blog please feel free to send messages to Doug.  All strong positive thoughts are needed.  If you are not signed in to this blog then email me on and I will post them on the blog.


Fi and her smoked oysters – she was really looking forward to these.  She also needs lots of positive thoughts please.

Day 9 – Tues 23 June – extreme to the extreme!

What a day. We had a late start at 9:00 due to Fi's time penalty. We headed out into 60kph wind with rain and extremely muddy roads and 1 degree C. At times we had to push the bike down district roads because of the wind.  We were hoping to get to Brostalea but 20 km before we hit a storm of mammoth proportions and had to find shelter. We found an abandoned farm an stayed in the shed. Later we found a small room with a carpet where we slept. The temp was extremely cold. We hardly slept at all At 8:00 the owner from Bordtslea came to look for us. He took us back home and fed us some breakfast.

This was the most extreme day of my life.

Note from Aileen – there was no cell phone contact so I had no contact with Doug from yesterday morning.  We spoke today (wed) and as usual he has bounced back to his normal levels of resilience and humour.  Respect to you my great husband – you are an inspiration x

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 8, Mon 22 June – hard days in the saddle

Today we left Slaapkrantz at 6:45 to have some light to do the

portage. It was a 24km technical portage, but because it had been

raining all night it was very muddy. We couldn't push our bikes

because the mud stuck to the wheels and they wouldn't turn. We had to

scrape them clean an carry the bikes on our backs. This took us 5

hours to complete. After this we were on farm roads and ran into 2

thunderstorms with hail.

I stopped at Moordenaarspoort for some coffee and to try and warm up.

Three of is then left for Vaalbank 40km away and arrived at 22:15. The

last part of the ride this evening was the best riding of the day - no


Fiona has a 2hour time penalty tomorrow so we can only leave at 9:00

which will change our plans slightly.

Note from Aileen – I spoke to Doug this morning – there is a 60km wind blowing with a 1 degree max temperature expected.  It is likely to be a slow day and they may not get as far as their plan. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Follow Doug in Netstar

The following is a link to follow Doug.  It is also in the side bar of his blog.

Day 7 Sunday 21 June

Left Rhodes at 5:45 this morning in the rain. It was really cold as well in the morning. I rode the entire morning on my own which was fantastic. We had lunch at Chesneywold. The owners were fantastic hosts gave us a huge meal. We then had to go an see his pub where he has a collection of 1400 caps. They tried to get us to spend the afternoon but we managed to extract ourselves after 30 min.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly fast riding except for a 1 hour portage. We are staying on the farm Slaapkrantz this evening.

Fantastic hospitality again. These farmers know how to entertain.

Thanks to my fantastic wife, kayla and Michael for the fathers day wishes and cards, it was very special.

Mark Fussell has withdrawn from the race due to a foot injury.

Note from Aileen – spoke to Doug last night and he really loving this adventure.  Kayla also spoke to her Daddy and gave kisses and hugs to the phone.  She is missing him – we both are.

More from Doug on Day 6 -

Had a leadirly start at 7:00 from Vuvu. The climb up Lehana pass took

about 3:30 hours of hiking with bike over the backpack. It is really

slow going climbing 1000m over 4 km. The view from the top was

breathtaking however the wind was gusting so hard that at times that

it blew us backwards.

We then stopped at Tinahead Lodge for some coffee before doing the

last 30km into Rhodes. There is a spectacular 1200m decent through

some very gnarley switchbacks.

We have just had a fairwell supper for the Ride to Rhodes riders that

are leaving us. Tomorrow is a 6:00 start to Slaapkrantz

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rhodes – day 6 Sat 20 june

Doug and Fi made it into Rhodes about 14:30 yesterday.  They received the parcel with the spares in it and Doug felt like he had a new bike.  They said their goodbyes to the RTR (ride to rhodes) folk as they finished yesterday.  They got in just before the cold weather – but is will get them on the next part of the journey.

Day 5

Subject: Day 5

Left Malekhaonyane at 5:30 this morning to do the newly opened route.

Found the narrotive was wrong ( turn right in stead of right) a whole group of riders went the wrong way. We fortunatly went the right way.

The route to Black Fountain was perfect and we were the first to arrive. Had lunch at Tinana Mission. Then headed out for the dreaded Vuvu valley. After spending many hours last year scrambling on the low grass lands we opted for a higher option. This proved to be a brilliant option as we got on first at 17:00 today.

Tonight we are hosted by the locals in Vuvu. After dinner at the school we will spend the night at their homes.

The attached pic shows the absence of the razor


(note from wife – having some computer problems so only found this post today)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Doug and Fi at Malekhalonyane – june 18 Thur

Doug and Fi got in about 5ish.  The tyre and breaks were fixed and Aileen has sent down more spares via courier to get to Rhodes for Saturday morning.  Some treats were packed in the courier package.  Fi is still struggling with her knee.

Having lunch somewhere around Springkana

image Doug called – having a good day.  This pic was taken today while having lunch is a huge grass plain.  Some angel arrived this morning with spares to fix his brakes and tyre.  They seemed to do a good job but another angel somehow needs to find a way to get his brake bleeding kit and tyre to Rhodes in less than 48 hours.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lunch at Banchory 17 June


Day 3 Masekala June 17

Doug and Fiona had a fabulous day - one which had flawless navigation. They are at Masekala for the night and got in at about 18:30 or so. Fi is still battling with her knee and Doug with his dodgey tyre. Doug also has no front brakes - eek!! They are both in high spirits and enjoying themselves.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 2 16th June

Doug and Fi decided to stay at Ntsikeni for tonight.  Fi is having some knee issues and it is a long way to go.  Doug is having some problems with one of his tyres.  The wife is really hoping they get the tracking gear in order soon!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 1 - 15 June

Fi and Doug have reached Donnybrook after 128kms in the saddle and 13 hours. Doug fixed a gash in his tyre and was pleased he had bought the new wheels.  His words of wisdom for the day are “my pack is too f….!!##ng heavy”.  Note from the wife and friend – you go you good things!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fi is being a guinea pig

Wife is testing out the system. Blog posted by iPhone and edit by wife becoming a gadget geek

The Real Hero's

The preparation for this race has been intense to say the least. I have a full time job so the majority of my training has been over the weekends. My fantastic family have been the ones who have paid the price, especially the past two months have consisted of a long 8 – 9 hour ride on both Saturday and Sunday. Most evenings over the past weeks have consisted of preparing maps and getting boxes and equipment sorted out.

There has also been a substantial cash investment in getting the right equipment for the ride, replacing broken derailleurs and saddles, x-rays etc.

I would like to thank Aileen, Kayla and Michael for their support and love during this time.

This blog post is from my phone as a test to see how blogging along the route will work.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Bike

So I have been getting a lot of questions about the bike that I am going to be using for the race. Well it is a 2007 Specialized Stumpjumper with a couple of modifications. The first thing I did was put a SRAM X-0 derailleur, after my last bike the most important aspect was to have reliable gear shifting. I have also replaced the SRAM X-9 trigger shifters with SRAM X-0 grip shifters.Last year on the Ride to Rhodes I had numerous problems with mud in the trigger shifters and not being able to change gears. Similarly in the Sabie Experience in December, with all the rain and mud on the 3rd day, I rode as a single speed for a lot of the time. So we shall see what the grip shifters do this year.

I have also replaced the saddle with a Selle Italia Yutaak. When you are spending so many hours on the saddle, you have to have something that is comfortable (OK that's a relative term). It looks quite 'porno' but is a fantastic 'ride'.

In preparation for the ride I have just replaces the crank, chain rings, bottom bracket, chain and cassette. I wanted to buy new chain rings from the LBS (local bike shop) but found it was cheaper to buy the full cranks with chain rings from Chain Reaction Cycles in the UK than just the chain rings locally. They also included a new bottom bracket in the kit. I replaced the cranks with Truvativ Stylo (as per the original that came with the bike). I was really happy with them.

I have just bought a new set of wheels, which should arrive tomorrow. They are Mavic Crosstrail tubeless wheels. Those in the know say that the wheel can make the biggest improvement on a bike, all to do with rotational mass. For me one of the biggest attractions is having a tubeless ready wheel and without the hasstle of fightting with rim strips and tubeless tyres that you can't easily fit over a standard rim.

Lights are another area of concern. I battle to see in the dark, never mind trying to ride down technical single track in the dark. The solution I have come up with is to put two high powered LED lights on the bike. The best value for money was the Black Diamond Icon lights. After removing the headbands I cable-tied them to the handle bars and secured the battery pack to the bike frame. This seems to work fairly well. Nothing like Derek's 'landing light' but a fraction of the cost. I have also put a small Petzl Tikka headlight on my helmet for reading maps at night.