Mtunzini Mountain Biking Newsletter   

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July 2009
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August 2009
The butt stops here!  
Well, who would have thought that so many of you read The Seat Post - and enjoy a glass or two of good red wine as well. A bumper issue this month with lots of events done and dusted and plenty to come in the next few months. I trust you have been taking advantage of our glorious weather to get some miles in.
I can’t say that I have but I certainly enjoyed my lucky draw prize from Heatonville. We had a wonderful game drive and lunch at Thula Thula.
Good news is that Pie is mending slowly but sorry to hear that Les sustained a badly bruised hip and hairline fracture of his femur after some unscheduled airtime riding over a fertilizer bag on the downhill behind Village Hardware.
It turned out that the bag was filled with concrete.
Les is healing fast so hope to see him back in the saddle sooner rather than later.
Also on the down side is that Fred dislocated his shoulder on the ride this Saturday – after discovering that grabbing lots of front brake on a steep downhill is perhaps a bit risky. As was quoted in Ride Magazine recently “Gravity is a law – and no one has ever won an appeal”.
Thanks to Lesley for driving the Hoffman ambulance at short notice. Fred was sent for X-rays which show that the clavicle (collar bone) has separated from the scapula (shoulder blade) – a fairly common “heavy impact” injury. This will heal naturally and Fred should be back for the next Big 5 race in September.
The Hluhluwe Big 5 “Rhino Charge” was well supported by shady characters with its usual good organisation, venue and rides on offer. Joelle Thevenau won the girls 10km ride (I neglected to mention in the last newletter that she was also first girl home in the fun ride at Heatonville).
Charles Thompson was first junior boy and Geraldine was the first sub vet woman home in the intermediate race. Well done! Results are posted on
Luck seems to be on my side at the moment with me scooping a deluxe gas braai in spite of all the Hoffman’s being present for the lucky draws. Will have to have a bring and braai to test it out.
The Hoffmans braved the cold, rain and mud at Eston this weekend. Most singletrack was a muddy mess after heavy rain with plenty of portaging and every stream and dam used as a bikewash.
Kevin says that the most common word on the ride was “ridiculous”. Shades of Hill 2 Hill last year! Following the success of the Mtunzini Super Classic in May, Mtunzini Round Table handed over a cheque for R4 000 to our club. Handing over cheques - and maybe letting go of them - appears to be thirsty work judging by the number of empties afterwards. Thank you to Round Table for the money which will be put to good use developing mountain biking in Mtunzini and the region.
As a club we are becoming partners rather than ad hoc helpers in the events both organisations stage. Thanks to Tanis for her account of the Bonitas/Mondi Umfolozi challenge on the 25th July. The organisers of the fantastic 2009 Bonitas/Mondi Umfolozi MTB Challenge stressed the importance for riders to understand that when embarking on this challenge, there was the potential for interaction with “potentially” dangerous animals such as elephant, black rhino, white rhino, buffalo and lion.
This type of information was not recommended to be read at night, just before switching your light out. Vivid dreams were the order of the day . . . or should I say . . . night.
Riders were encouraged to register on Friday afternoon at the Centenary Centre, Umfolozi Game Reserve, as bikes were then loaded onto a smelly game capture truck and transported to the start of the race in the middle of nowhere on Saturday morning. After a race briefing and dinner, riders retired to the campsite which was set up especially for the event – it was bitterly cold and all riders could be seen looking skywards to check on the cloud cover.. so they said.. actually I was convinced that they were all saying silent prayers in preparation for what the next day would hold. It was pointed out to us most clearly, that experience in Umfolozi has shown that direct flight away from any of the above mentioned animals, may result in their pursuit of you which technologically advanced mountain bikes could outride.
The morning of the race began at about 4am with nervous riders heading for the few portaloos available. I have never understood why, when a race starts at 8am – do mountain bike riders start waking up at 4am.
Two buses (not of the luxurious variety) arrived to transport riders to the start of the race, which was a good hou'rs drive away. Great excitement could be felt in the air – or was that the minus degree temperature.
As we were in a wilderness area, no gunshot signalled the start of the race, rather a loud bellow from the Park Warden.
The first section of the route was through thick sand and the thought did cross my mind as to how one was expected to run through this stuff if pursued by anything with more legs than me – if we were charged, we were advised to leave our bikes and run for cover but the chances were that the animal in question would be happier to trash your discarded bike instead – so owners of uninsured bikes – sorry for you!!
We were also advised to take note of the prevailing wind, but I ask you, how was this possible with the wind whistling past your dry eyeballs while going down hill at a rate of knots.The terrain then turned into the most neglected management track, which equaled the 16km downhill stretch at Giants.
Lose rocks, stones and dongas were the order of the day. We actually could have passed 100 rhino lying in ambush for us mountain bikers, but we never saw one due to the fact that you could not take your dry dusty eyeballs off the road – I did for a brief minute and ended up in a pile on top of some rocks. The sight of fresh blood made me very nervous and I kept repeating to myself “blood is just red sweat” but that didn’t console me as I was very aware from my ex-parks board days, that lions have a very acute sense of smell, especially that of fresh human MTBer's blood.

In fact, at one point when we were riding along the fence line, I consulted with another ex-parks board friend of mine who was riding with me, as to what we would do if a lion jumped out of the bush at us – we decided to throw ourselves at the electric fence, be knocked unconscious and then be totally unaware of the being eaten sensation!!
The route was very hilly as the original founders of the reserve did not fence the park along any contour lines, but instead up every mountain that they could find. In fact, I think this race was a vision of theirs 150 years ago when they did the original fencing – some parts of the route were called the rocky roller coaster and that’s exactly how it was.
We thought we could hear our conservation forefathers chuckling – or was that a hyena – we didn’t hang around to find out.
When we crossed the mighty Mfolozi River, we were greeted with a whole pride of lion spoor interspersed with bike tracks. At this point we were not sure whether the racing snakes had been pursued and eaten by the lions and it was at that point that I made the commitment never to be a racing snake – you open yourself up to all sorts of dangers.
Finally we reached the much spoken about Castle light Beer/water table. For those wanting that even weaker feeling in their legs, beer was on tap or you could merely partake in water or other forms of energy drinks to get you up the last of the big climbs of the day.
Needless to say, we passed on the beer! What a welcome sight seeing the Centenary centre in the distance, which signalled the end of very special adrenalin drenched, laughter filled 55km through a very special part of the world. The magnitude of where we had ridden only sunk in that evening as did the celebratory drinks, sore butts, rugby in the big white tent and of course … the bokdrol spitting competition.
Tanis survived the ride, ignored the gash on her leg and rode the Hluhluwe Rhino Big 5 intermediate event the next day.

Pumping Legs for water

Robyn, Suzi and the Maxwells have returned in one piece after having had a great ride through Hwange and a trip to Vic Falls afterwards. Thanks to Suzi for her account of the trip.
We look forward to the slide show.
On the 25 -26 July four intrepid members of the Mtunzini Athletic Club cycling section rode 100 km through Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe over 2 days to raise funds for pump maintenance and fuel for water hole pumps.
Brian and Jenny Maxwell, Robyn Lombard and Suzi Raymond had the time of their lives dodging elephants and lions on a most glorious ride with 43 Zimbabweans.
Most of the ride was through deep Kalahari sand and our sand riding skills were severely tested. Suzi and Brian had a taste of sand and Robyn’s famous heart rate monitor freaked out when a lioness bolted over the path. Pumping Legs for Water is arranged by the Wildlife and Environment of Zimbabwe and this was the second year this ride was held.
Before being proclaimed a Game Reserve in 1928, this vast wilderness was virtually hunted out with its only human inhabitants being a few San. Ted Davidson realised pumped water was essential for reliable surface water during the long dry season resulting in the first borehole being sunk in the mid 1930's.
Today Hwange boasts in excess of 50 pumped water points throughout the Park. As the Zim government no longer functions in the role of running the park the Bulawayo section of the Zim Wildlife Society has been supporting pump maintenance and fuel for the past 20 years. We thank all the cyclists and runners who supported us in our quest, particularly Paul Mannix who lent us his bike trailer.
We went on to visit Victoria Falls, cycled into Zambia and on the Makgadigadi pans in Botswana, altogether a wonderful ride.

Saturday Rides
Rides leave at 7.00 am from the corner of Siyaya and Valley drives. Please note that helmets are compulsory.

Saturday morning rides will continue in spite of a drop in numbers recently. Maybe the duvet is winning the Saturday morning fight. We haven’t nominated leaders for August but there will be at least one of the regulars present to lead a ride every Saturday.

Forthcoming events
Mtunzini, Heatonville and Hluhluwe are done. Next in the Zululand Big 5 series are:
Monzi 13 September
Kwambo 4th October
The Claas Tour de Krantz at Harburg is on Saturday 8th August. Always a fun event with great German hospitality, food and beer. Some great scenery and well balanced, enjoyable rides.
Remember the Bush Run (or walk) on the 9th August, comprising a 16km run over the golf course, through the nature reserve, onto the beach and back as well as a 5km fun run (or walk).
Registration takes place from 14h00 to 17h00 on Saturday 8th and from 05h30 on Sunday 9th.
The 16 km event starts at 07h00 and the fun run/walk at 07h15.
The Mondi Grantleigh MTB Challenge on the 23rd August offers a good opportunity to stretch the legs on a fairly fast and not too technical a course. The 50km usually includes the (in)famous Barlows hill which is a good test of the legs and the 25km intermediate flat and a good introduction to the distance for the older kids.
The Nashua Nite Race is on the Saturday 5th September.

Mountain biking, running and walking in a fun format. Details to follow in the September Seat Post.


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