Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lying Eyes

Sometimes, very occasionally, something comes along which is just so amazing. I was sent this by a friend who picked it up from and I have copied the picture below. Can you believe that squares A and B are actually the same shade and colour as each other. I didn't until I actually opened it in GIMP and used the colour picker to confirm that they are indeed the same colour.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Out and about in Mpumalanga

A most disappointing day! We were to start in Graskop but, again, the mist was too thick so we drive through to Sabie where it was marginally better. We holed up in a restaurant while we waited for the mist to lift and the rain to stop but eventually I just thought, "Oh what the hell" lets just do it.

The reality of "Long Tom's Pass" is that it is friggin steep for a very long period of time and this was starting from half way up; thank goodness we didn't start from Hazyview. I think that that would have just a bit much. As it was we only did about 7km before "she who must be obeyed" said that enough is enough and that it was far too dangerous. The photo below was taken when I was only about 20m away from the camera so the cars that were doing 60km/hr would only see us at the very last second.

And that, was pretty much the weekend. We spent some time having a really good lunch at Dullstroom but other than that it was a pretty uneventful drive home.

Notwithstanding today I think that we got some really good training in an I have a suspicion that Carl, in particular, is going to be quite enamoured with long distance riding.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Out and about in Mpumalanga

The next morning we were up bright and early for the "easy" day starting in Graskop and heading north to Bourkes Luck potholes and back; a relatively civilised 70km of medium grade riding.

Arriving in Graskop it was covered in heavy mist and Harries Pancakes kindly let us in to have a cup of coffee even though they weren't actually open which was greatly appreciated. It was clearly(?) not going to be a good day to ride from Graskop but luckily for us the proprietor(ess!) happened to ride and recommended a "very" nice ride which has a profile as below!

She was correct about one thing; the ride out was awesome. It was just the return trip which was a bit of a bugger. Carl and Jason forged on ahead while Hennie and I consoled each other at the back. It's a fantastic ride in between the pine trees with the occasional views through the mist and the rain. Really nice to ride on a really good road with wide verges; just made for riding on.

This was on the way back, we had to make it look like we were in less pain that we actually were!

Back at the silk farm we relaxed for the afternoon before a really nice braai for supper. As the token vegetarian it always amazes me that I seem to end up doing the meat incinerating thingy; I mean it is not like I actually have any real interest in whether or not I incinerate the dead cow!

The kids had such a ball in the jacuzzi even though it wasn't heated that they all looked quite prune by the time they got out.

After supper we had long "solve the problems of the world" conversations before people slowly started dropping out as their eyelids got too heavy. Eventually it was just Jason, myself and Dierdre left until 11:30 when I called it a night. Jason finally succumbed at 12:30 and I am really happy that the "R" word only really turned up after I had departed for bed.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Out and about in Mpumalanga

I have been alternately looking forward to and dreading this weekend. Looking forward to it because I think it will be a great weekend but very worried about how my knee which has been misbehaving quite a bit lately will stand up to the multi-day abuse.

Thursday rushed by as it always does when one has far too much to do and way too little time to do it in but I finally managed to get around to buying a bike rack which can tilt which means that I will be able to open the back door of the fortuner without taking the bikes off - a major plus! I don't know what I was thinking but for some reason I thought that it would be assembled so it was a bit of surprise when the first thing that fell out of the box was the instructions on how to put it together sooooo ... we were a bit late to pick Carl up and very late to pick Jason up.

As it turned out it didn't really matter and we have a very smooth and uneventfule drive out to Mashishing which, for all you old south africans, is Lydenburg although it was promptly renamed by Hennie to "ama fishing" in honour of the traditional sport practiced in these parts.

We stayed at Malapo Country Lodge which purports to be a 4 star lodge and while it was very nice and comfortable and I really have no complaints at all; 4 stars seems an awful lot for what is essentially self-catering accommodation.

The next morning we were up bright and early to tackle the route shown below; note the altitude climbs and you're just going to have to believe me on this, they're tougher than the graph looks!

Of course we had to have the obligatory group photo while we all looked fresh and cheerful.

It wasn't long before we had our first "incident" of the weekend, the road directly outside of Mashishing isn't great and some moron in an oncoming two ton truck decided to overtake and gave us the choice of becoming roadkill or coward. Jason hung onto the last two inches of tarmac but myself, carl and, I think, hennie took the coward option and bailed off the road and onto the dirt shoulder. Road bikes don't work so well offroad it turns out! Caron, who was following us in the fortuner, was half on and half off the road and although the truck missed her altogether, it was close enough to smash the right hand mirror just from the wind as it went past. I have never seen this before in my life!

We carried on, my knee aching quite a bit, and I kept on aiming for the next 10km to re-assess whether to carry on but it was never quite sore enough to actually give up. Possibly due to the schedule 3 anti-inflamatories that I managed to get hold of. Robbers pass was great but we soon split into two groups, the eager beavers up front (Jason and Carl) and the "I will survive" group of Hennie and myself at the back; far away at the back.

The four of us back together with the pass way down in the distance. The photo lies, it is far down!

Over the top of Robbers pass we went and then we had the exhilarating (73km/hr top speed) downhill all the way into Pilgrims Rest which has so far escaped the fetish for renaming places. We had a brief break at a "creperie" in pilgrims with Carl looking particularly grim although one wouldn't have thought so from his performance on the next hill which was the one out of pilgrims. The start of the hill is really, really steep, so steep that it is difficult to keep the pedals turning even when standing and all I had to say was "only another 10km's of this" to elicit groans of resignation from the congregation. Although the climb out of Pilgrims is steeper it is, mercifully, much shorter and was over quite quickly and then all we had was another great downhill all the way, pretty much, into Graskop where we stopped for the day.

Kirsten was driving out from Johannesburg on her own and only arrived in Graskop after dark so Carl and I went to fetch her from there because finding the silk farm at night wasn't such an easy task. We had supper and retired quite early pretty knackered from the day.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I am surrounded by heathens!

First I receive several less than complimentary comments on my last blog while I was taking a break after 3 months of solid daily blogging ... then my neighbour opens fire on us!

On would think that living in S.A. one would be rather immune to being shot at but this is not the case!

Caron and I were sitting peacefully on our newly completed and painted patio when we heard a loud crack from somewhere nearby and it took us a while to figure out what it actually was. It was only after about the 10th shot and having pellets rattling around the patio that we finally figured out that it was our neighbour playing around with his bb air rifle. What a moron not to mention a truly lousy shot!

We thought it was children which had been left alone so I drove around to the house and rang the door bell several times but they weren't coming out. Arriving back home he was still at it so I climbed up into the corner where I could see and it wasn't a comfortable feeling looking over the target to where our, very drunk, neighbour was sitting on his patio drinking and taking shots. One feels like one has a big bulls-eye between the eyes.

I shouted at him that the next shot would have the cops coming over and that started the altercation which eventually he conceded that maybe, just maybe, he shouldn't be using his rifle and definitely not when he was drunk.

What we have to put up with.