Wednesday, 12 December 2012

CB650 Cafe Racer

Lovely wee bike by Ugly Motor Bikes

Thanks to Cafe Racer Culture for the link.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Roof of Africa 2012 - part 2

Friday night I slept like the dead, in spite of....' bastard fowl!'
I was bright and chipper at the start, right up until I asked a marshal my start position, only to be told I was listed as a DNF the day before and now had to start 135th or something.....REALLY !

The reality was that I should have started 51st, but due to a timing 'glitch', acknowledged by organizers, and was told at the time to come talk to them after the race....WTF ! Does not help me when I have to fight my way through all the slower riders I had already dealt with the day before up the side of a mountain.....I was pissed ! And even forgot to take my med's.

So it was on.... and I uncharacteristically whacked it from the word go, blitzing my way through slower riders sometimes 4 or 5 at a time, damn the ankle, I was charging!!

Where I encountered riders all switch-backing up a rocky step section, I would plant it straight up the face, where they were all hair-pinning around the end of a trench I would jump the thing, they would all meander thru a bushy stage on the path, I would bash and crash straight thru cross country, foliage caught up in bike and helmet flaying behind. Not pretty but I was getting the job done.

I had a good chuckle to myself on a good few occasions. The best was a horrible angled rock step at the top of a steep narrow off-camber pass called "music box". It was close to the first refuel so there were allot of spectators helping at the step as well as sitting across the valley watching. I saw the drama up ahead and dropped off the sheer rock-face left, down into the valley, over the stream and up the steep spectator littered climb on the other side, missing out all the tomfoolery. To the adulation of some on-lookers who gave thumbs up, and horror of others who gave looks of "hey you cant do that"....just did !

The day wore on with strength sapping sections coming and going and the only real lapse in concentration I suffered was when I lost the front wheel down a very steep, sandy, step off section and fell on my head then somersaulted over the edge down the side of the mountain with the bike landing on top of me...dumb-ass !

By lunch with only 30 km or so to go we knew I would not have a problem making the cut off so started riding a little slower, just getting it home. Then energy started to really fade a little in the early afternoon as I, in my usual haste forgot to eat at the last refuel....brilliant!

It worked on my mind for a while until I came across a mate and 'demanded' food. All he had was a rancid protein bar, good enough. Truth is it was like chewing on a big lump of window putty but it got me there I suppose.

The day and race finish was achieved with the hectically steep, rocky but spectator lined climb "bushman's pass" really took a big effort, but a awesome feeling having them all cheering and whistling you on.

Got home in 8 hours and 44 mins, even taking my support crew, brother Nic by surprise, he was still farting around down in the parking instead of being at the finish taking pics of my moment of glory..... NICHOLAS...!!??

Total race distance 400 km
Total time 18 hours and 35 mins
Position 53rd in Expert class
Silver medal

The Roof of Africa will always remain one of the toughest enduro races in the world, and its an awesome feeling to take on and master all the challenges it throws you. Or at least the experience of throwing yourself and bike at them.... with zest.

Thanks Nic, Enduroworld, Nomadik, ASAP Racing and School of hard rocks.
Bring on Roof 2013

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Roof of Africa 2012 - part 1

A few weeks ago, my brother Igor competed in the 2012 Roof of Africa - one of the toughest enduros around. Here is his story...

Before I knew it the year had rolled around and it was already time to pack and head back to Lesotho to take on "The mother of hard enduro", THE ROOF OF AFRICA ...Crap, so soon!

As in years past I had no time ( or the will ) to put any serious training I mean why suffer all that time before the event and then go and do some more of it at the race, just do it once at the race and finished.

I had only done two races the whole year, the last being with brother Paul (*a forthcoming blog attraction*) a mere two weeks before, but fortunately my work with my club Enduroworld keeps me on the bike regularly.

The event traditionally kicks off on the Thursday morning with the 'round the houses' race. An all tar, 10 km race through the streets of Maseru town. A non seeding exhibition race, so the plan is always not to burn it and rather save the tyres and bike, but this is extremely difficult when there are a myriad bikes overtaking you left and right, so the result, a heavier throttle hand is employed somewhere early in the first lap, good to settle the nerves I suppose.

With the formalities out the way it was off to the hills for the time trial and down to business.
Time trial was 60km long and took a little over two hours. I am abit of a late starter and need a good hour of riding to get into a good rhythm, so half the time trial is over before I even get going, that's just how I roll. Nevertheless I had a clean run, kept it smooth and consistent with my navigation also being pretty much spot on.

Result 90th in a class of about 180 riders, mid-pack, all good.
On the way back to the lodge to take care of bike prep I noticed as I was cooling down my left ankle was getting increasingly more painful and swollen...problem!

It took a bit of a crush between a rock and the bike in the last race but was no more than a niggle for the last couple of weeks, so what is this all about ?

It got worse and worse as the night went on, this worked on my mind a lot, all this work and money and I cant even put my boot on to start the race....bollocks!

I proceeded to gulp down handfuls of pain killers and sleeping tabs, which just made things worse, it seemed they were battling each other all night, result: pain and sleeplessness ....the 'bastard fowl' that piped up at 1:30am( outside the front door it seemed) and continued until 'real' dawn at 4:30 helped nothing...Superb, exactly what you want before the big race.

So Thursday became Friday and I was not in a good mood, what with an ankle now the size of a grapefruit and a head full of pharmaceuticals.

Fortunately I could still get my boot on so I was racing, all be it with no movement in that foot, so gear change was going to be a challenge, false neutral being the gear I rode in most of the day...!

The day started slow and deliberate, just wanted to keep the wheels turning and on the right track. My reflexes were a little off due to the pain killers and anti-inflammatory so consistency was going to be the name of this game.

Every gear change was like I was being stabbed in the foot. In spite of this, by the second refuel I was still feeling strong and decided to start pushing a little.

The last stretch was a long one, way up in the highlands in the middle of literally, no where..... This works on peoples minds, most riders are not used to being out alone for very long periods in very testing, treacherous and unfamiliar territory. I am, to a degree and felt comfortable. So I used this to my advantage and gained a good 10 or 12 places. Just kept my pace up and did not stop to rest at the end of tiring sections, but rather kept moving. This also maintains a cooler body temp with air moving over you constantly ( temperatures were in mid 30s).

The section boasted the most difficult and feared section "Big dick pass", a rocky, tight switch back drop of about 300m off the side of a cliff. I tackled it without and problem and felt confident at the bottom and mowed down the last 20km home at a good clip.

Days time 7 hours and 30 mins