Archive for April 2010
In the World of sport, the athlete must be proactive and approach possible sponsors. Seldom does the reverse happen, so when Helen from Virgin Active called to ask if I would be interested in any gym equipment, as the Umhloti VA would be having a revamp and their old equipment needed a home. I was knocked over backwards – How awesome is that.
Currently we have two weights made from putting concrete into a tin can with a thin pole connecting to the other tin can. Already Helen & co have come down to check out possibilities – security and shelter are nb. We identified an out building, belonging to Artwell Mhlophe, the Water Balif at Nagle Dam and how perfect that it has a garage door for access of the larger equipment like the Smith Machine.
SPUR ADVENTURE CHALLENGE
What a cracker of a day, the best of everything – record turnout, magic weather and a stunning venue at Lourensford Wine Estate. For my partner Songo Fipaza and I, the setting was all too familiar, having recently finished the Cape Epic Cycle right here a month ago.
This is my third straight year racing/partnering with Songo in the Spur Adv Challenge and so have become good friends. I have huge respect for the work Songo is doing with the kids of the Kyamandi Settlement on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Drugs and theft are career moves for these kids who live here and have nothing, cycling has been a means of busying them with ‘life skills’ (discipline, hard work, timeliness and goal setting), keeping them off the streets. You might recall the team name that the legendary Christof Sauser and Burry Stander raced under in the Cape Epic Cycle – Songo Info, raising money for a bmx track in Kyamandi.
Back to the Spur Adventure Challenge -13km mtb, 3km run, 13km mtb, 3km run (for the record – I took a bet that no female would beat Songo and I. GO- teams took off on their bikes like there was no tomorrow. After a few short sharp climbs, Songo and I found ourselves surprisingly in the front. The dam crossing saw us slip back as we both spluttered across with Songo ‘piggy backing’ on me. It still blows my mind that someone would attempt a water crossing not being able to swim. Some more climbs allowed us to regain the lead. Almost back in the transition, boom – Songo’s rear tubeless tyre got a massive hole.
Bombing wasn’t effective and we had no plugs. We limped into the transition in 10th position. Set off on the trail run, such a lekker route. Returned to the transition in 2nd. And it was here that we battled, what seemed like eternity, to repair the tyre. Panic set in, when the first female team Rusty Bomb of Jeannie Bomford & Merina Rust overtook us standing still. When Songo and I finally set off , I was determined to catch the ‘chicks’, because if not – it would mean Nappy changing for me for a month. Cut a long story short – Yes, nappy changing for me for a month.
Next Spur Race at Groenkloof, Pretoria – Saturday 24th of April, and then the following week at Shongweni Dam in KZN on Sunday 02nd of May.
Believe me, it is the best sporty fun a family can have. Something for everyone. There is also the Bush Baby Trail, an educational 2km/one hour chaperoned walk (parents welcome to accompany their little ones) where surprises await around some corners – like the chance to touch a pet snake…., see a porcupine…. Then parents wanting quality bonding time with their kids can go on the Nature Hike – 6-7km walk on a very picturesque route. And if you in undecided, just DO IT, as 100% of entry fees go to JAM (Joint Aid Management), to feeding hungry kids – currently feeding over 500 000 children.
Enter on the day or at www.spur.co.za
SA SPRINT CHAMPS The cream of South Africa’s sprinters, Olympians and World Cup Champions, descended upon Nagle Dam to take part in the SA Sprint Champs. Distances raced were the 200m, 500m, 1000m, 5000m.
The ‘Change a life’ team has been training hard for this event, because it keeps them sharp, but realistically these distances are far too short. To get a result over such a short distance, you need to be super fast and powerful and done massive strength work in the gym. Our best sprinter, Shaun Rubenstein, has focussed entirely on the 1000m and less for the past 8 years, only sneaking in one Dusi in the process. Such is the necessary focus in order to achieve on an international stage. So when ten ‘Change a Life’ paddlers made finals in different events, I was ecstatic. Zonele and Bheka medalled three times in the u/21 category – 200m Bronze, 500m Bronze, 5000m Silver. Very well done boys, excellent result.
If all went well with the CNN TV shoot then I promised the ‘Change a Life’ boys an ‘eat as much as you want in town. We arrived at the Golden Horse Casino to find that one of the biggest Horse Races in KZN was currently on the go next door at Scottsville.
Subsequently the restaurant was packed as there was a bird’s eye view of the racing. It was interesting watching the total individual involvement of each Valley boy selecting his food from the buffet. Too many things we take for granted, like there’s always food on the table.
The guys couldn’t take their eyes off this beautiful girl, dressed for the racing, sitting on the terrace above them. Instead of taking a group photo, I couldn’t resist asking her for a photograph with the guys in the background. They were so excited about this photo. Then when we left, those brave enough got a little closer – courage in numbers.
HI-TEC GLOBAL LAUNCH
One hundred and fifty five delegates/distributors from around the world were invited to attend the Hi-Tec Global launch in Cape Town. With the Icelandic Volcano causing more havoc than you and I can imagine, all of Hi-Tec’s head office personnel in the UK couldn’t get there due to the airline shut down. But as the highly enthusiastic Frank Wesel (CEO and Founder) said “the show must go on”, and that it did. Power Points were emailed across and others (including myself) stepped up to the plate and delivered their presentations.
Attending this launch, I witnessed first hand Hi-Tec’s future marketing strategy on the Outdoor Market for 2011. Two products excited me. Their incredible outdoor clothing range, showed off by Minki van Westhuizen and her models, and their latest Adventure Trail Shoe, called the V-Lite Infinity. It’s Night and Day, in comparison to any of their previous Trail Shoes, and just so happens to be the lightest in the market.
The CNN crew were an absolute pleasure to accommodate. They never shyed away from getting ‘down and dirty’, and made the Valleys boys feel at ease with their laid back attitude but very professional approach. They were taken by the beauty of Nagle Dam and the surrounding rural area. I thought one day of filming would be difficult to capture everything about my Academy, however viewing some of the footage that evening, they seemed to have captured it just right.
5am – An early Saturday morning start, we ventured over to Thomas’s home to wake him and get some raw footage of a day in the life of a’Change a life’ Academy athlete.
A very real and impromptu opening to the show, as Thomas scrabbles under his bed in the dark to find his training kit and Hi-Tecs. Heading to the dam, we shoot more of my guys strolling casually (as normal) to the dam, bantering and laughing all the way.
Some paddling and running shots, a few interviews and handing out of their monthly USN sports supplements and weekly foodpacks, then delivered to their families. A full days work, with a total of 3 1/2hrs of filming, which will be edited into a 7min show and broadcast around the World – Exciting stuff.
It is interesting that my three top ‘Change a Life’ guys - Lucas, Thomas and Erice, are uplifting their own lives and their families, by building houses in the valley. Eric brags that his house is the biggest and fanciest, “4 rooms Mart and it has a toilet inside”. These three youngsters have managed to afford these homes through their racing- winning prize money and getting incentives. One forgets the harsh living conditions these folk endure. I ask Thomas, “where is the basin”? He looks at me and frowns, “Mart, we have no running water in this whole area, the pipes have been broken for 6 years now”. His Mother and Sister cart a 25l drum of water on their heads from far down the hill with grace and ease – no complaints, because this is Life, deal with it.
There’s a big buzz at Nagle Dam as athletes are arriving in preparation for SA Sprint Champs this weekend. Many of the big guns will be racing as well as a large contingent of development paddlers from around the country.
I went up to the Dilhabeng Canoe Club in Bethlehem last week to deliver some new Lotto boats and I am excited to the paddling potential of these athletes improve as they receive real support. This is where South Africa’s Olympians for Slalom, Master Cele and Cyprian Ngidi live and train. At the end of the month they are off to France for a 3 month training camp. For the last two months, “Change a Life” athlete Nkosi Cele has been shadowing these two paddlers, and now will take over coaching at this club. An exciting opportunity to earn a salary for the first time in his life.
The professional start for the STAGE 5 TT made even the ‘fish ‘n chips’ cyclists exit the ramp in true Lance Armstrong fashion. The views we experieced on this day were some of the best we got to experience during the entire Epic, as the 27km snaked itself 860m upwards behind Worcester. Not having a seeding, I had been placed well at the front of the field for the reverse order start, and by 9:15am I was ready to put my feet up and enjoy a full days re-fuelling and relaxing.
Stage 6 was now the beginning of the count-down to the end, but this was the furthest I had ever ridden and 6h02, the longest day in the saddle. The undulating route from Worcester to Oak Valley in Elgin Apple country, as shown in the riders info booklet, was very deceiving as some of the climbs reached 26%- honest leg-burning efforts needed.
Waking up on day 7, the dust had been settled by some night-time showers and although the end was close, Dr Evil (the route master) had no intentions of easing up on the well-worked over 447 remaining official teams, (600 teams to start).
Having travelled on the N2 highway past Botrivier a thousand times enroute to Plett, it was refreshing to arrive at this quaint little dorp via the ‘back roads’. The journey back was highlighted by the loose rock and sandy ascent up Dassenberg, where even the pros were downsized to portage.
Finishing with awesome singletrack in Lebanon against the majestic Hottentots Holland mountains evaporated the ‘tired from the legs. I couldn’t complain having a ‘snake bite’ on my rear wheel, 3km’s from the end as this was my first bike admin of the entire race. All means of inflating the tyre failed ( later found out that the rear rim had split) and so continued on with a pap wheel.
While resting up in my room at the Houw Hoek Inn, after 5h28 saddle time.I received an sms from good friend, Iain Don-Wauschope: “You buggers, you beat us by a minute today.” My reply- “1minute, 1second… A win’s a win. Make you a deal, winner takes all tomorrow.” Iain- “GAME ON”.
With our ego at stake, Hennie and I charged off from the start of the final Stage 8, target locked on Iain and Ferdi, who had started a batch ahead of us. With having only 65km to work with, we were lucky to track them down early and scuttle past them on a big climb. A compulsory 2km portage up and over the ancient Voortrekker wagon track was to my liking, felt like the good ol’ adventure racing days. From there you could smell the stable doors. Our 46th place finish was the ‘cherry on top’, on what was an exceptional 8 day Mountain Biking experience.
52% of Cape Epic Riders voted Burry & Christoff to win – they settled for second. Interesting fact – Bulls Team didn’t win a Stage but won overall, just shows in endurance racing – “Steady wins the Game”
This Saturday 10th the ‘Change a life’ athletes will be charging up ‘n down, in ‘n around the Valley of a Thousand Hills, showcasing their talents- cycling, paddling, running- to the rest of the world. CNN are coming to film “A Day in the Life of the ‘Change a life’ Athletes”. CNN crew will be staying two nights in the Valley proper, to experience the real thing. They are wanting to profile an individual: from family, getting up in the morning, training, to going to bed at night.
A SUNDAY DRIVE….
Knowing during the easter weekend, my Academy training was in the capable hands of my wingman, Lucas, I disappeared to the Drakensberg to stay in a quaint cottage nestled in the mountains of the Umzinkulu river source. Couldn’t resist a trip into the mountains in Lesotho.