Thursday, July 16, 2009

Equipment Review

I guess now is a good time to review all the gear and equipment I took with me. It might be useful for someone else doing the ride in the future, as well as a reminder to me as to what worked and what didn't.


I took 2 pairs of CapeStorm Matrix riding shorts. They were great, never had any problems with them, except the last few days when I had lost so much weight that they were quite baggy. I would suggest getting the smallest size possible. It was great having 2 pairs, this way you could always ensure you had a dry pair to put on in the mornings.

One pair of fleece arm warmers and leg warmers were enough. I found the provided enough warmth and wind protection, without being too warm. They are also easy to remove when you get warm. I had a similar problem on the last 3 days, trying to keep them up with my weight loss.

I had one short sleeve riding shirt with me as well as a new one every 5 days. These didn't really work well. I hardly ever used them due to the temperature and I found the backpack chafed my back there the cycling pocket on the back of the shirt. The long sleeve light weight CapeStorm top was all I needed. I would have preferred 2 of these and left the short sleeve shirts at home.

I had 2 CapeStrom Puffadders as well. They were only for the extreme cold and for the evenings. Towards the end I put a Puffadder on when the sun went down and my core temperature would drop and I couldn't get warm again. I think this was due to the lack of any body fat. I used a pair of Polar Fleece gloves which were fantastic, but too warm in the day. I went gloveless most of the time. I should have taken my fingerless riding gloves. To keep my ears warm I used a fleece headband and occasionally a buff when it was really cold, they worked well.

My wet gear was the CapeStorm Monsoon jacket and pants, they were great, except you need to extend the Velcro on the pants to avoid getting them caught in the chain. An elastic band around the bottom also works. Knee length SealSkinz socks were the answer for keeping your feet dry. In very heavy continuous rain they get slightly damp but very acceptable. (remember to put them on the right way Fiona, they only work with the fluffy side in the inside). Now onto my pet hate – SealSkinz gloves – they have a big marking down the length of them saying ‘Waterproof’. Well they are anything but waterproof. Your hands are soaking inside and then when you try and take your hands out the lining comes out with it. They are the most frustrating, useless things I have ever had the misfortune of using.

Evening gear could double as additional cold weather if required. I had a pair of CapeStorm HotRods, a base layer long sleeve shirt, fleece beanie, Puffadder (as listed above), socks and a pair of R50 fake Crocks (these were fantastic to have dry shoes an night).

IMG_0080Shoes!!! Well you probably know the story of my first pair of shoes (Deodora) that just didn't last. Aileen got me a pair of Mavic Cruize shoes on recommendation form the LBS, they were fantastic.


DeuterI bought the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 from Chain Reaction Cycles about a week  before I left. This is the perfect backpack for this type of ride. I had no issues, the only change I would like to see on it is slightly larger hip pouches. It was comfortable throughout and was stable on my back.


I have a previous posting on my bike, describing all the equipment. Everything worked well. The few mechanical problems I had would not be any different any any other bike. My favourite addition to the equipment was the grip shifters, they worked flawlessly throughout, even through the rain, mud and snow. The lights were fantastic although a little heavy, but allowed me to ride some relatively technical single-track in the dark.


I have been using a Bell Delirium helmet for years and love it. Shortly before the race I damaged it so thought I would get a new one and up-spec the the Bell Variant. This was a very uncomfortable helmet, which may have been because it was new. It also came apart at some stage so I had to duct tape it together. My preference is still the Bell Delirium.

If you have any questions on gear and equipment, let me know and Ill give you my opinion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 21 - The Final Push

This day is what we have all been dreading for the last 3 weeks, the notorious Stettyns Kloof. Those who saw the TV episodes that Andrew King did of last years race showed some very broken riders finishing Stettyns.

We started at 4:45 from Trouthaven and had a 20km section to do in sand roads in the dark. we then exited and started hiking around the dam. We then came around into the kloof and could see in the distance where we had to exit over the saddle. I remember thinking that this shouldn't take too long, we will be out before lunch....

Well, it is amazing how wrong one can be. The further we go in the more difficult it got. I tried carrying the bike, but then you hit trees and bush and have to try and push through the bush. The first river crossing I took my shoes and socks off. Before the 2nd one I had fallen in the river so trying to keep dry was history. There were times when you were fighting this terrain meter by meter to make progress. It was really a test of endurance and patience.

Eventually at 16:00 we summited the saddle. There was a long farm road to come out near the bottom of Du Toits Kloof Pass, Which we had to cycle up to the top over the next 11km. What a nasty way to end. From there it was a short downhill to the finish at Dimersfontein Wine Estate

Fiona and I finished at 19:30, which is 21 days 13 hours and 30 minutes to finish the race. We got presented with our Lesotho blankets in the tradition of the race by race director David Waddilove.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sat Day 20 04 july

As I write this I am hoping that Doug and Fi are close to Trouthaven – their last support station on this mammoth event.  I spoke to Doug about 13:30 today and they were leaving their lunch venue – maybe Kasra (??) to cycle 80km to Trouthaven.

I fly to Cape Town tomorrow and meet up with Jean – Fiona’s sister and we will go do the can-can tomorrow at the finish when they get in – with Kayla doing her own victory dance!  They are only likely to get in after 19:00.  The next entry should be a celebratory one.

image All in one

image Kasara

Fri Day 19 03 July

The Karoo

I always thought the Karoo was flat. This myth has been dispelled over the past 2 days. Yesterday we had a total elevation was 3200m !!!!  No wonder I was so trashed.

We left Rouxpos today at 6:00 and arrived at Anysberg at 13:30. They had a huge lunch waiting for us.

We left at 14:00 for Montague. The weather has become a little cooler and the wind is starting to pick up. This made going slower than expected. The biggest problem we are both having is 'sore asses'. Our legs, knees etc are prefect it's only the numbness in your butt. We have to get off and walk frequently to let the blood return to the butt.

We arrived at Montague at 6:15 after a 20km downhill from Ou berg pass. That certainly made the last bit a little quicker.

Neither Fi or myself felt we had it in us to do another stage today. We are staying at the Montague Country Hotel. Certainly many steps up from what we have been used to.

We are going to try a triple tomorrow. If we can do it we are due to finish on Sunday otherwise it will be a Monday finish.

Note from Aileen – I spoke with Doug last night.  He was in much better spirits than the previous 2 nights.  His body is taking strain in that he battles to get warm even after a bath but wakes up in the nights with the sweats.  I just want him home now.

image Swartberg pass

Friday, July 3, 2009

End of ride!

Hi Doug and Aileen,

I’ve enjoyed following your travails on the blog – much easier than trying to ride along!  I must say, your crazy trip looks like a fantastic adventure.  Hiking in broken cycling shoes, however, seems a bad idea.

I trust the finish will be enjoyable, and that the trails have been worth the trials.  Enjoy the post-ride celebrations.

- Mitch

Thurs Day 18 – 02 July

Written by Aileen

I spoke with Doug last night – they got into Rouxpos at 20:30 – 14.25 hour day and 138 kms.  He was absolutely exhausted and energy-less.  It was a long flat day but he was just so tired.  He did not want to eat which is a bad sign of exhaustions for him. 

If they still want to finish on Sunday night they need to do a triple day today (Friday) or tomorrow.  On one of the days they need to cover 250kms.  They have approximately 380kms to cover and the last day is a set day in that they have an approximate 8 hours of climbing and they must have passed Touthaven between 22H00 and 08:00 otherwise they are not allowed to continue as it is too treacherous to do a section in the dark.

Send lots of strength and positive thoughts to Doug and Fi and sms’s are always good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wed Day 17 01 July


This entry is written by Aileen – my Doug was too tired last night to write.

They left Willowvale yesterday morning and set off for Prince Albert some 170kms away – the same distance as the day before.  The route was absolutely flat and fast.

They averaged 18km per hour for the 1st 100kms or so and just cruised. 

Lunch was at a farm called Rondavel.

The bum and legs took strain.  Doug listened to his audio book – I think this is the 1st time he has been able to do this – I guess you have to concentrate too hard on technical stuff.  When they thought they had about 40kms to go they came across Johann Rissik. Apparently he is famous for popping up all over to help riders, he had set up a coffee/tea spot under the trees. Soft chairs and tea and coffee were the order.

Doug and Fi rode the last 30km or so very content and with good strength and arrived at the Dennehof B&B.

Doug called me in the early evening and was soaking in a hot bath – he loves his bathes and this was the 1st one on this trip.  I am sure it soothed his tired legs.

Vasbyt my love – 4 more days left.  Kayla and I are sooooo excited (well she is always excited by life so when she sees her Daddy again I think she will go into overdrive!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pictures – Wed 01 July

image Fi having lunch on the way to Prince Albert

imageDoug also having a break and some nosh.

day 16 – Tuesday 30 June

Yea my shoes arrived.

What a long day. We started from Cambria at 4:45 this morning. As we left the, the mountains rose up to meet us. Within the first 20km we had already done a 400m climb. This was the scene up until lunch time at Dam se Drif at about 80 km. We opted to skip that support station and push on to Willomore.

We eventually arrived at 21:00 this evening after having done 175km and 2500m ascent. Both of us were buggered but the arrival of my new shoes made up for that. Thank you my darling wife for all your organisation

Note from Aileen – I spoke with Doug on Tuesday night – they were both exhausted and in need to good rest.  He remains in great spirits.

Some more pictures – Mon 29 June


Shame these shoes have really had it.  The new shoes will be with Doug on Tuesday night.

image Yip this chick really loves her smoked oysters!

image Beautiful scenery and weather

Mon 29 June – Day 15

Fantastic weather today. We left at 6:30 today but for the first 90 minutes we rode in very heavy mist.  Today was a day of up's and down's with a total ascent of 2150m over 110km. The toughest was a 9km hike up the old 'Ossewa Trail'. It is hard to believe they used to drag of wagons over this mountain. At the top of this is the most spectacular view. You can see the sea near Jeffreys Bay from the one side and the Biviasns Kloof from the otherside. Photos just don't do it justice.


We then rode down the Biviaans kloof reserve. This is some of the most technical downhill riding I have ever done. It was about 4 km of downhill... Awesome!!!!

We estimate that we must have walked almost 15 km today. In spite of that we won the 'immunity challenge' by coming in first again.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day as we are going to try a double again.

Sleeping in Cambria tonight