The Cederberg 100Miler 2 Day Trek

The Cederberg is one of my favourite, if not my favourite place in South Africa. It is one of those places that creates magical memories each time I visit it; its remoteness, its unique mountains and rock formations, its charm and of course its wine! I’ve cycled, run, hiked, swum and spent hours with friends next to a fire with lots of Cederberg wine! This is what made the Cederberg 100 Miler 2 day Trek so appealing to me! Think bikes, majestic scenery, camping, bonfires, wine and friends- both new and old! 100 miles through the Cederberg in 1 day? What on earth for if there is an opportunity to make 2 days of it!

It was a no brainer that I entered the 2017 edition of the Trek, despite the logistics and the fact that I didn’t know anyone at the time who would be riding. I just couldn’t miss out on this! Before I knew it, I arrived at my Friday night’s accommodation which was a cottage at Boskloof Swemgat just outside Clanwilliam. I fell in love with this place immediately and wished I had more time to enjoy its beauty. I floated in the swimming hole on a tube provided by them and watched the sun set behind the mountain with a glass of wine! Then it was off to register and enjoyed dinner provided by the event in the company of Pieter du Plessis (one of the race organisers) and some Cederberg wine!

Saturday morning dawned a perfect day for cycling, crisp and clear and no wind. The usual nervous banter was enjoyed in the bunch before we set off on this adventure! I had found out that one of my great friends Jackie, would be there supporting her boyfriend and she took all my bags etc and would meet us at Nuwerus. My car would be driven to the finish in Kaleo on the Sunday and so with all the logistics taken car of I excitedly set off from Clanwilliam!

The major challenge of the day would be Uitkyk Pass, which is about a 5km climb that seems to go on forever! It would haunt some people but the undulating terrain of the first 30km to Algeria and the 1st waterpoint would calm the nerves and get the heart beating! From Algeria there was a steady climb as we headed towards Uitkyk Pass and I had the company of a few guys as we chatted our way to the base of the pass. As we began winding our way up, the chatting subsided as we all put our heads down to find a good rhythm. I loved riding this pass… the rugged beauty of the Cederberg all around me and the views spectacular. It’s a steady climb, and although challenging it’s completely rideable and enjoyable, if you look around and appreciate its awesomeness!

Once we crested the climb, we were about halfway in and up on the plateau… but don’t be deceived it is by no means flat up there! The waterpoint at Driehoek was a very welcomed sight, they put in a lot of effort and I wish I could’ve stayed longer to eat and drink more! It’s after Driehoek towards Sanddrif that the real Cederberg terrain shows itself… long, sandy and corrugated roads that make you work for each and every kilometer!  I was hoping to find a wine tasting stop as we passed Cederberg Wines, but alas, I had to keep pedaling on towards Nuwerust. The section between Sanddrif and Krom Rivier has in my mind some of the worst corrugations to contend with and so I was relieved to begin the smoother descent into Krom Rivier, where another great waterpoint awaited. I knew this section well, and was happy to have it behind me!

The home stretch to Nuwerust is a very beautiful one… but a challenging one! There are a few unexpected steep, sandy climbs which are not fun 70 odd km’s into a race in the Cederberg! It was therefore a relief to get to Oasis and their big “free beer” sign which enticed the riders! Not being a fan of beer, I opted to push on to the finish at Nuwerust where I could enjoy and ice cold Savanna and relax! I was not disappointed with the awesome race village at Nuwerust… the beautiful campsite under the trees, the bar area and swimming pool creating the perfect Cederberg experience! Jackie had unpacked our bags into our tents, but before I could even think of a shower I enjoyed a few drinks with fellow cyclists before jumping into the very cold pool! I don’t think I even napped that afternoon….  I was having such a great time with friends, new and old!

The evening was such a highlight for me as we watched the sunset over the flames of a massive bonfire, glass of wine in hand! We enjoyed a delicious meal with freshly made roosterkoek over lots of laughs before making our way back to the tents. What a first day it was and I went to sleep tired but oh so content!

We woke up to another beautiful Cederberg day and after a good breakfast we were almost on our way. I knew that the day started with a big climb over a pass before Mount Cedar. I don’t remember it’s name but I have ridden it before and I knew that on cold legs with Day 1’s kilometers in them it would be a tough one… and it was! Fortunately we were in the shadow of the mountain which kept things cool as I concentrated on ‘just keep pedaling’! It gets really steep near the top and many riders weaved across the road to try and take some of the sting off! The plunge down to Mount Cedar goes by in a blur, with a few tricky corners to watch out for. The first challenge of the day was behind… but it certainly wouldn’t be the last!

You know you’re in for some suffering when you ride past a sign that reads “Ribbokspoort 11.5km 580m ascent!” It was long but fortunately not so steep and I could find a comfortable rhythm. There were a few small places to recover which helped… and certainly kept the sense of humor in tact! It is also a spectacular pass, one I have driven many times and I looked around once again in awe of this incredible beauty!


We were once again up on a plateau and the kilometers that followed were hard. Just hard. I wished I had a 29er as my 27,5 wheels just couldn’t keep up with the group that had formed. Yes, I’m sticking with the wheel size story, it had nothing to do with my legs! 😉 Fortunately a guy Gerhard and I stuck together along the long flat sections that seemed to go on for eternity! I am not the best flat road rider and so I found this section a long hard slog and I was grateful when we eventually turned off in the direction of Kaleo! We still had some riding to do though and the final waterpoint was a life saver! There were a few moments of despair when I looked down at my watch which said 80km’s and Kaleo was still nowhere in sight! Eventually, 84km’s later we rode onto the lush green lawn and up to the finish line! I see this year Day 2 is listed as 84km’s so there will be no surprises! 🙂

I was extremely grateful and elated to cross that finish line… the Masgcor Cederberg 100miler had been an extremely special experience and I was sad it was over! We enjoyed lunch on the lawn as we watched the winners of the 1 day (crazy people) crossing the finish line! After greeting new friends made it was time to head home… tired and happy with my adventure cup full of amazing memories! This really is a special and unique event, one which I imagine will be extremely popular in the years to come! It was an unexpected bonus that I finished as the 3rd female rider after the 2 days. Thank you to everyone who makes this event as unique and special as it is and allows us to enjoy this area on bikes!

Do yourself a favor and enter the 2 day trek, you won’t be disappointed: Will you see me there again? Absolutely!! I don’t ever want to miss this event; it is well organsised, the food is good, the route great and the atmosphere unbeatable! See you there!


The ‘TREK’ of a lifetime! Day 3

It was the day of the lockout shock and the dropper seatpost! It was the day of Rapunzel! It was also the worst day of all 3… because it was the end of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush!! Jokes aside… today was the best day I have ever had on a mountain bike!! (I hope I haven’t said this about every day??)

I’m sitting here with a roaring fire, glass of Shiraz in hand in a cold, misty Hilton with Em Gatland! So many words, so many emotions and memories that I’m struggling to write a coherent blog! You would think I would be happy to be on the couch, with a bed to look forward to later… but I already miss the people, trails and race village of the past 3 days! I reckon I have to ride Joburg2C next year so that the experience lasts longer… actually, it’s a non-negotiable! 🙂

I awoke (yes at the unspoken wake up time of 05h00) to the sound of light rain on my tent. What a pleasure after the past 2 days dust! Was it really the last day and did we really have to ride up Spioenkop?? I set off in B batch at 06h40 in perfect riding conditions. The pace was fast and furious for the first flat few km’s… why was everyone in such a rush? It was somewhere on this section that I acquired the nickname ‘Rapunzel’… to put into context, Nick and Peter from the PERI Team were full of banter all 3 days. Yesterday in camp while Nick (while waiting for his special PERI sponsored massage) had said he was sick and tired of me riding past while a big smile on my face… ‘tomorrow I am determined to beat you’! For the next few km’s it was cat and mouse on the ups and downs and somewhere I was named Rapunzel! Fast forward a few km’s and we started the long climb leading to and up Lantana Pass. What I loved about today was the endless banter and laughs on the single track climbs. I guess by the 3rd day you become familiar with those around you… friendships made over suffering up climbs and a few afternoon beers! OK… some were made over Johnny Walker Black Label sundowners and ‘Horny Owl’ Shiraz! (Tristan and Jaco are racing snakes and came 3rd overall so the only way to make friends was off the trail!) ‘Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your golden hair… I need a tow rope’ came from the PERI Team… and I was called Rapunzel by those around us for the rest of the day! 🙂

WP1 was a welcome relief at the top of Lantana Pass before a super fun and fast singletrack descent. A few more climbs followed before the unique Grand Canyon… a single track carved along an old erosion path, with sides that rise well above your head! The narrowness meant you had to hold your line and not clip a handlebar to avoid toppling over! Really cool, unique experience! The mighty Spioenkop loomed in the distance and a gentle climb took us ever closer! Out of nowhere I felt a hand giving me a quick push… Gertjie Harmse had caught up to me! You see, last night I made a deal with him… I would have more wine if he pushed me up Spioenkop! He was a sweep for the event so started in C batch and made his way through the field assisting with any mechanicals etc. It was great to have his company and we chatted the whole way up Spioenkop (he kinda broke our deal but I was feeling stronger than I thought I would!) We were handed our ‘I conquered Spioenkop’ stickers at the Volvo summit and an obligatory photo stop followed on top of the very misty Spioenkop… which gave us an indication of the conditions that were present the night the British made their attack.

What followed was 13km of single track that if you weren’t grinning with pleasure all the way down then you are not normal!! It was the most incredible descent off Spioenkop, down Princess Catherine Way and Snake Bite; along the contour and down towards the Bell Run aka ‘Berm city’. The 5km to go board made my heart sink… which is weird because it is usually a relief!! Back toward Em’Seni, over the PERI bridge and across the finish line one last time! What a feeling! To make things even more unbelievable, I bumped into a school friend Cassy, who was waiting for her husband! I hadn’t seen her for more than 10 years so it really was a special cherry on the cake! 🙂

Before I close I would just like to add what I found really special about this event, besides the trails and organisation is the very evident support of the local community. From landowners who so enthusiastically open up their farms (we crossed 22 farms over the 3 days) to the yummy food, fresh produce and farm fresh milk to the incredible waterpoints! A note on the waterpoints… each one was organised by local schools, churches and other organisations who went out of their way to keep us well fed! A great initiative from Berg & Bush donates R5000 to the best waterpoint of the event… I’m not quite sure how you judge this, I’m glad it’s not me!

I feel like I owe so many Thank You’s for this experience of a lifetime… but I’d like to thank the following on this forum:

  • Em Gatland for her idea and iniative, but most importantly for her amazing photos and world class company!
  • Tim Brink and Ride Magazine for the opportunity to ride and document my experience in your magazine
  • David Moseley… always a pleasure spending time with him, congrats on coming back from a dark place on Day 1 and finishing so strong!
  • BMT, not only for keeping my bike in tip top shape (I didn’t have even the slightest mechanical) but for ensuring I get my mid week training in by getting me on board to do the weekly ladies rides from the shop!
  • VW Commercial Vehicles for the Amarok… what a vehicle!
  • CrampNOT, for the opportunity to test the product a few weeks back… it really works wonders for muscle fatigue and recovery… cramper or not
  • Sarah and the Grindrod Bank team who not only sponsor the event but are fun, friendly and professional!
  • Centriq for the most awesome chill zone, free draught, chocolate milkies, biltong and popcorn
  • Gary and Roxanne Green for the flawless organisation, incredible trails and attention to detail
  • Lee Fuller, the event MC, who was entertaining and knowledgeable (OK, he also promoted by blog a lot! )
  • Everyone in the furthest Warthog Camp… for not snoring, farting or hogging toilets and showers!
  • To every new friend I made (too many to name), you made a solo female rider feel like a queen and part of a special family!
  • The various landowners, charities and the local community who embrace a couple thousand dirty mountain bikers over the 3 events

Due to the amount of FUN and adrenaline I have had on my bike over the past 3 days, and the amount of post race blues… I think I can now call myself a ‘Mountain Biker’!!

Thanks for following my ride through my blog… look out for my article in the RIDE Magazine!



The ‘TREK’ of a lifetime! Day 2

I don’t drink beer. I don’t like beer. But for the past 2 days I have drunk one Castle Light draught a day in the Centriq Chill Zone. Firstly when it’s free and on tap, it’s rude not too and secondly, the best stories of the day’s ride are made up over a few draughts!! J Having said that, anyone who needs to make up a story is clearly not riding the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush!! The laughs and banter shared under the trees of the Tugela River have been world class, and definitely worth drinking beer for!

In a similar fashion, I still don’t call myself a ‘Mountain Biker’. A runner at heart, mountain biking was something I did irregularly, and mainly when I was injured and couldn’t run! My first mountain bike was a blue Scott hardtail, which I bought on Gumtree for R3500! When I started working for Stillwater Sports in 2011, I upgraded to a KTM full sus 26”… actually Elana Meyer’s old bike which KTM sponsored her. I thought I was the bees knees on Maggie May… even though she only made an appearance on the odd occasion! Fast forward to 2014… I was then the event manager of XTERRA South Africa, and Specialized came on board as the official bike partner. To my surprise and excitement I was given a Specialized Rumor  29” to ride… and it changed how I looked at mountain biking! It became something I started to enjoy and my confidence grew as my fear lessened (OK, I was also dating a mountain bike coach at the time! ). A year later TREK took over the sponsorship, and I was given a bright green Fuel Ex 27,5”… which I am riding this race on!

Towards the middle of last year I made one of those life changing decisions, resigned from my job at Stillwater at spent 3 months in New Zealand! My brother lives over there so I would see him and his family… but my spirit of adventure made me decide to take my bike over, hire a trailer and cycle 1500km around NZ fully self-supported, and solo! Have a read of my previous blogs for more! Needless to say my bike and I have a special bond… and I now absolutely love mountain biking! Maybe it’s because I am more fit??

Because of my NZ trip… riding the Berg & Bush as a solo rider is actually a dream!! I don’t have to pitch my own tent every day, make my own food or have wet wipe baths when I was in the wilderness! And I get to share stories of the trails with 650 other like minded people! I had a crash course in bike mechanics with Spook Groenewald before I left last year… but with the amount of roaming mechanics around here I doubt I would even have to put those skills into practise! J

So back to stage 2… PLAY DAY… 60km’s of pure fun! I think I probably had a smile on the face the entire way! We are all relieved to wake up to overcast and cool conditions… especially those who found themselves on a drip yesterday, apparently who were many! These trails are just awesome… many made from cattle and game tracks between aloes and thorn trees… real bushveld that us ‘Capies’ are not used to! I started in B batch today… which meant 30mins less sleep than yesterday’s E batch start! Not that it made a difference anyway as the unspoken wake up time in the tented village is 05h00! J I had a relatively good night’s sleep… fortunately no snorers nearby! I did wake up to a noise that sounded like an animal inside my tent! I was nervous to turn the torch on but relieved to discover it was actually outside!

A couple of flat kilometres warmed the legs up before the first climb of the day, before a super fun descent on ‘Nicky’s Nightmare’! Fortunately for this Nicky it was not a nightmare and I went down with a big smile and a few shreaks! Then into Wesley’s Way, one of the big climbs of the day followed by some awesome views and a fast descent. More farm tracks took us closer to WP1, which again an absolute oasis! Upon arrival your bike is whisked away to be lubed, sunglasses are taken to be cleaned and waterbottles filled with ice cold water!

We were immediately greeted with Mike’s Pass… a single track climb that gets pretty steep towards the top. More spectacular views and we went into ‘Cobra Alley’. This was followed by the infamous ‘Puffadder Pass’… which exceeded all expectation in fun factor! Gnarly in places, smooth and free flowing in others, dropper seat down, it was magic! The single track continued into ‘Mazambaan’ and a track that followed the Tugela River to WP2. WP2 has been my best so far… sign posts on the trees for 200m, singing ladies, ice cream and even some fillet sarmies! I had to leave quickly for fear of getting stuck there! J Red Rock Ridge was the final challenge of the day before more fun single track took us down and across the Tugela River via a floating bridge! Through the trees and I could hear the familiar and welcoming voice of Lee and I crossed the finish line with a big smile! In fact… my teeth were only white part of my body… I was covered in dust from head to toe! This pale skinned, red haired girl was now a tanned, brown haired mountain biker!! J

The vibe at the race village is far more upbeat than yesterday… the Castle Light was flowing faster than the Tugela as new friends were made along its banks in the Centriq Chill Zone!  The highlight of the afternoon was the drive up Spioenkop for sundowners and an entertaining South African history lesson! The Amarok drove up behind a string of vehicles in 1st gear… I don’t think my granny gear is going to cut it tomorrow! It is way beyond a proper climb and comes 35km’s into the 50km stage.

For now… I have found some very like-minded people who share my passion for red wine, good whiskey and much laughter… Spioenkop is tomorrow’s worry! J


The ‘TREK’ of a lifetime! Day 1

First and foremost I owe this to my great friend and phenomenal photographer Em Gatland! It was her idea (after red wine of course) for us to work together to hopefully get some articles published. I would write and she would take some epic photos. That’s the easy part. The difficult part is actually securing the article, which of course secures the media entry into the event! J Em is the event photographer for the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush and so we thought it was the ideal event to give this a go! Long story short, a chance meeting with Tim Brink (editor of Ride Magazine) and a lot of help from David Moseley (Tenfour Media, who is the media liaison for the event) and I received the entry confirmation in my inbox!!

It all felt like a bit of a dream, and my excitement uncontainable! My proposal was riding the Great Trek (the only 1 of the 3 events that allow solo entries), as a solo female and writing about my experience in this (still) male dominated sport! The timing was perfect as I needed to plan a roadtrip along the Unogwaja Route to visit our beneficiaries and hosts. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles agreed to loan me an Amarok for the trip… there is no better vehicle for this purpose and I am extremely grateful for their support!

Next thing I knew I was on my way, in style, headed for Bloem where I would overnight and visit Lebone Village, one of Unogwaja’s beneficiaries. After an inspiring and special visit to Lebone, I was on the road through the Free State towards the KZN border for the start of the race! The race start and registration took place at Windmill Farm, which is situated right on the FS/KZN border. No sooner had I arrived when I bumped into Dave and Em… a very quick registration process and we had our first taste of the yummy on tap cider and beer! Looking around I saw very few women, which confirmed my perception of MTB stage races being male dominated (not bad for a single girl! 😉 )! Dinner, race briefing and nervous banter followed with fellow cyclists before a final glass of wine in the bar before heading for bed! The wind was blowing a gale and thankfully Em had a spare bed in her room so I didn’t have to face a sleepness night in the tent!

Come dawn… a beautiful sunrise but windy, VERY windy!! The good news however is that it would be a tailwind for most of the way to Em’seni. My first challenge however, was the fact that the event is self-navigational, which meant I had to load the routes onto my Suunto and use it to get to Em’seni! I pressed start, the countdown began and we were on our way! What an amazing 100km’s it proved to be! The views from the escarpment were breathtaking, before dropping down ‘Sollie’s Folly’… one of the best single tracks I have had the pleasure of riding! Concentration was required all the way though, as the way down off the edge was long! More single track followed, including the dusty, sandy, steep ‘Smoking Brakes’ section, which was one of those ‘close your eyes and hope for the best’ sections!

The kilometres to the first water point (WP1) seemed to fly by, probably because I was having so much fun! The climb out of WP1 separated the field, and wider farm roads enabled a smooth, fast ride with less traffic. WP2 at 60km came just as quickly, but the 18km’s between WP2 and WP3 were a bit of a slog! The climbing, wind and heat made conditions difficult, and I often found myself alone… but thankfully my sense of humour remained intact! WP3 was an absolute dream… any food type imaginable from pumpkin fritters to chocolate, date balls to potatoes, bananas and Llama bars! It was inside a shed which is a wedding venue, a welcome relief from the relentless heat! Another long climb out of WP3 was the final test before reaching a water tower and the single drop down ‘Everest’. The views at the top were worth every bead of sweat! The race village at Em’seni was waiting and the final 4km of ‘Garden of Eden’ along the banks of the Tugela River under the trees was the best way to end any day on a MTB! A 100km’s later, a warm welcome across the finish line from Lee, an ice cold bottle of water and Volvo facecloth and Em’seni Race Village awaited! Yes I was tired but I felt strong… and I will give Crampnot a lot of credit for this! The product is amazing and really helps with muscle fatigue and recovery… regardless if you cramp or not! My TREK Fuel Ex was a dream… whoever said ‘it’s not about the bike’ is an idiot!!

Coming from an events background I tend to look at events quite critically… and quite honestly I have not found one flaw in the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush organisation! It has been amazing start to the 3 days and I’m excited for what the next 2 days have in store!

Here are some of my highlights so far:

  • The friendliness of all the staff and volunteers
  • The VERY well stocked waterpoints
  • The Search & Rescue Team who seemed to be everywhere, and very friendly
  • The Em’seni Race Village- wow! I crossed the finish line and found the bike wash and bike park with ease. My car which had been shuttled from Windmill was waiting. My bag was easy to find and a tractor shuttle took me to my tent…. Which looks out at the Tugela River!
  • The Centriq Chill Zone… with free chocolate milkies, Castle Lite, biltong and popcorn is amazing! Right on the river with beanbags, hammocks and tables is the best way to recover!

Tomorrow is 60km’s… a day MTB’s rave about! The weather looks cooler (today reached 38C) and we are set for more fun! Now it’s dinner time… and a bit of red wine!



Reminiscing The Rainbow- NZ

The Rainbow… “A 120km trail that follows a historic stock route from Nelson Lakes National Park to the mighty Wairau Valley, through beautiful beech forest, over a spectacular alpine pass and down the mighty Clarence Valley to Hanmer Springs”. “Isolation is the most outstanding feature! Followed by extremes of weather. Go well equipped”.

The Rainbow, 10 days into my trip was my first taste of real New Zealand back country… and one of the most special places I have visited… a place that changed me, and defined how I would approach the rest of my adventure. It would encourage me to always take the road less travelled, to find the remotest spots, and go there. It also showed me what it meant to be alone. Really alone. Just me, my bike and a raging river through a valley guarded by 2 2000m+ mountain ranges. There was no cell reception, so no-one to call if anything went wrong. I had to be tough, to handle anything that came my way.

My visit to The Rainbow was not on my initial rough itinerary… and I have to thank my brother for suggesting it. The route featured in my book ‘Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails’ and had Greg not seen it, I would’ve overlooked it… choosing a less remote option instead. An avid fly fisherman, Greg has fished and camped along the rainbow in pursuit of those trophy trout these waters are renowned for. When he saw it he said ‘you have to go there, it is spectacular, you will love it’! He described its beauty, its remoteness, and I was sold! So I made a few changes to my route to incorporate the Rainbow. The trail is closed to cyclists and vehicles during winter months… mainly because of the many fords that have to be crossed, which often become inpassible in the snow season. I called the landowners to seek special permission to enter out of season and because the weather had been good and the fords crossable they gave me permission!

The 120km trail goes between St Arnaud and Hanmer Springs. We had visited St Arnaud when we were over in 2011 and I fell in love with the place! Lake Rotoiti, where the campsite is situated is just beautiful… and has trails all around it through the beech forest. It is a quiet, remote, quaint town and I was looking forward to going back! I arrived after riding 50km’s into a head wind, and went straight to the little coffee shop to find coffee and wi-fi! A quick check in with home and I went to set up camp. Fortunately the wind died down and I was able to go for a run and watch the sunset over the lake! It was only then that I found out that I couldn’t have a shower… they keep them locked until spring and not even a cold one was possible! Oh well. A dehydrated meal later and it was time for bed… and it would prove to be my first really cold night, as I awoke the next morning to a layer of ice on my tent. Coffee next to the lake and it was time to get going… I did however have to ride around the town looking for a plug point to charge my phone… it was my camera after all!

I eventually started climbing my way out of St Arnaud with much excitement and anticipation. Just before turning off the tar road, I stopped to send a text to my brother “about to enter The Rainbow. Hope to be in Hanmer Springs late tomorrow, will call then”. It was my safety check… and at least Greg would know where to look if I didn’t make it to Hanmer Springs! A gravel road took me town towards the Wairau Gorge and past the Rainbow Ski Area… one of NZ’s popular ski resorts. I suddenly felt very alone in this incredible valley as all I could hear was the raging river to my left, the birds in the beech forest above and the sound of my wheels rolling across the dirt! I met the first of the fords which I managed to navigate by pushing bike and trailer and praying I wouldn’t get stuck!

I eventually came out of the beech forest as I started to climb and the vastness and beauty was incredible. It is difficult to explain what made it so special but I was absolutely in awe! I had my book on hand which would be my guide and I knew I would start climbing the pass before I came to the hut where I had planned to spend the night. I was so happy not to have to pitch my tent and pack up the next day! Just before the climb really started I came across a locked gate, which I was expecting. However to get bike and trailer over the said locked gate was a whole nother story!! With much fussing (and swearing) I got to the other side… only to find one of the holes that the safety pin on the trailer goes into had gotten damaged… and I could no longer get the pin in! This would mean I couldn’t fix the trailer securely on the axle… a bit of a disaster! I tried cable ties, but they didn’t last. I tried to ride, but fell over twice as the trailer came unhitched on the one side. Fortunately I was now riding mostly uphill, which helped and I managed to go on. I dreaded every downhill and knew that the next day I would face a massive downhill into the Clarence Valley and I started to panic a bit. Maybe i could make some sort of a plan at the hut? After a while I came to the beginning of the Molesworth Station farm… which had a FENCE!!! I carefully unravelled some of the wire and managed to get it loose… and it was the perfect size to use in the hole! I secured bike to trailer with this piece of wire… which would serve as my safety pin for the rest of my trip! (I even brought it home as a memento!) Was quite impressed, but more relieved with my McGyver skills!

Another long while of climbing and I caught sight of the Sedgemere hut… about 4km’s before the hut that the booked mentioned. I got there, went inside and almost did cartwheels when I saw this cosy hut, with fireplace and wood for 3 months… and not another soul in sight! It was a very basic hut, 3 bunk beds, fire place, work bench and an outside long drop. Water was available from the stream nearby but had to be boiled. I immediately lit the fire and started settling in. It was almost dark and I was having another ‘pot shower’ when I suddenly saw lights and a car pulling in. You see, there is no booking system and huts are first come first served… and anyone can stay. A few mins later and 2 middle aged guys burst in, announcing that they too would be staying over! Scott and Craig were on a trout fishing trip and turned out to be really great company! They were properly kitted out and fed me fresh trout which they smoked outside, and steak! It was heaven! It is the strangest thing… lying in the darkness in bed chatting to these complete strangers!

I was up earliesh, anxious to get on my way as I knew the big climb to the Island Saddle (1372m) awaited. It didn’t help that the guys told me they drove up in 1st gear in the Land Cruiser! I knew that after 10km’s I’d be at the top and a big downhill into the Clarence river Valley would follow. I also knew that at the end of the day I could soak in the famous Hanmer Springs hot thermal pools… which was all the motivation I needed! My new friends waved me off and I began the long hard slog up to the Island Saddle. It was cold and windy at the top, but the views spectacular. A big downhill, which was quite hairey in places eventually made a turn and I had the wind behind me. I made a small detour at the bottom to visit Lake Tennyson- a high-country glacial lake famous for its trout fishing. The trout we had eaten the previous night was caught in this lake and the guys recommended going to see it. Unfortunately the wind was howling so not nice to stay for a picnic, but it was well worth seeing!

The ride along the Clarence River Valley was fairly easy going, but seemed to go on forever! Hours passed before I finally saw signs of civilisation as the St James Homestead came into view. They have done a lot of work on the mountain biking trails in the area but I didn’t fancy tackling the ‘technical, rocky trails’ with my trailer! I came to the intersection and saw the first sign board to Hanmer Springs, 8km away. I stopped there to take more photos and as I was about to get going a friendly runner coming down the pass stopped to chat! He insisted on taking a photo of me and told me how he had done similar trips, also solo with a trailer! We parted ways and I tackled Jack’s Pass, the last challenge before the descent into Hanmer Springs!

I arrived at the holiday park in Hanmer Springs with very mixed emotions-part relief, part disappointment that I left the Rainbow behind but mostly absolutely amazed and in awe of what I had experienced over the past 2 days! So difficult to explain, but so profound. After pitching my tent I texted my brother “Safely in Hanmer Springs. WOW. You told me it would be amazing, but you didn’t tell me it would change my life”!! Needless to say he called immediately and it was so good to share some of the experiences with him, as I knew he understood the magic of the Rainbow!

By now those thermal springs were calling, as was my hunger! I did shower first at the campsite though before going to the springs… It had been 3 days (pls don’t judge) since my last proper shower and I was covered in dust so thought it not appropriate to get in the springs! 🙂 You can’t begin to imagine how good the pizza and glass of red wine was before getting in the springs! and those springs…. absolutely heavenly for a tired body!! They are pretty hot though, ranging between 38 and 42C so one can’t spend too much time in them. Chatted to some people (as you do lying in a hot pool) and wearily made my way back to camp!

I woke the next morning to rain… and a flat rear tyre. I will save that story for another day, but I ended up having to stay an extra day in Hanmer Springs so I tested the coffee shops and went for a nice run on some of the local trails!

The photos speak for themselves… and this is only about half of them! Thank you The Rainbow!


UNOGWAJA- A journey of the Heart

UNOGWAJA. A journey I have closely watched since 2011. A group of people (44 in total) who have inspired me and carried the hope of our nation. Something I always wanted to be more involved in.

I will never forget the message I received back in 2011 from Blakey and Macky, who had been friends since UCT days. They were going to cycle from CT to PMB over 10 days and then run Comrades the next day… what?? They would be going through Kokstad and since I was the only person they knew from there asked for help with accommodation. Since then, my parents have hosted the Kokstad stop of Unogwaja (now at St Patrick’s College as there are too many for their home!) and have become part of the family! In 2014 and 2015 I went home to meet the team in Kokstad and support at the Comrades. In 2015 I joined Brundle and Macky on 2 days of their epic walk up to PMB, from CT to Franschhoek and Franklin to Creighton in KZN. Work commitments meant I could never be more involved in Unogwaja by being part of the support crew. A year ago I accepted this… this was how it would be and I would support in whichever way I could.

In July last year I took that huge leap of faith to follow a new course in life. What that looked like I had no idea… but it was necessary. And so I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime in New Zealand… a time of resetting, healing and good old soul searching. I came back a changed person, but my immediate future still uncertain. Until I received a call from the Stoff, somewhere between Christmas and New Year! The day after I returned back to CT I met Macky for a run and we discussed an opportunity that I just could not turn down! I was humbled and honored that I would be asked to help take both Unogwaja and Red Sock Friday to new heights. It was the perfect opportunity to combine my skills, passions and heart… my life suddenly had a new course to follow!

With just 4 months before the 2016 Unogwaja Challenge began there was much to be done. As I learnt more, so my respect for what Macky has built over the past 6 years grew immensely. With the help of volunteers and some wonderful sponsors, Unogwaja has developed into more than a brand, but a legacy, a carrier of hope. Connecting with the different roleplayers has been a real highlight of my journey thus far- their passion, support and commitment admirable.

Then of course I began meeting CT based members of the team- both support crew and riders. Through runs, drinks and fundraisers I got to know these big hearted, passionate change makers who know how to live life in abundance! I love how Unogwaja brings people together from all around the world for a common purpose… people who I would never have crossed paths with. This year 6 countries were represented on Unogwaja- SA, Brazil, Australia, USA, Canada and the UK. I had the pleasure of doing most of the airport pick ups… sometimes with other team members, sometimes alone… always with an Unogwaja flag! What struck me the most was that every greeting was as if we were life long friends… the excitement, anticipation and connection so real. It was like that with every team member as the team slowly got together in CT those days before we left.

As with any event, the weeks leading up to it are crazy… with that ever growing to do list! There is so much detail that goes into Unogwaja from personalized cycling kit, to accommodation and food, to the CT and PMB processions, to the safety of the riders, to laundry… the list is ongoing! When Stoff arrived in CT on 27 April, things were taken to the next level as our departure was around the corner. Stoff… a man of energy, passion and drive. A father who has stood by and supported his son in inexplicable ways and is integral in ensuring the success of Unogwaja. It has been a pleasure to learn from him and stand alongside both Stoff and Macky.

It was a relief to finally get on the road that rainy morning outside the Southern Sun Waterfront. The procession the day before through the streets of CT had been an incredible start to 2016, the team were nervous yet excited and friends and family watched as many tears were shed. We could now focus on the next 11 days, of getting the team safely and comfortably to PMB. Besides eating, sleeping, riding their bikes and applying bum cream (fortunately), the support crew takes care of every detail of the riders’ journey! Needless to say the support crew and the role they play are pivotal. It is a selfless and sometimes thankless role as they serve the riders and the vision of Unogwaja. We were blessed with an amazing team of people in 2016, each of whom brought their own strengths, personalities and awesomeness! Without their involvement, we would not be able to take on this journey in the way we do and I salute every one of the support crew who sacrificed their time to journey with us.

I had the role of driving the ‘Mothership’ alongside my great Brazilian friend, Michele. As with all support crew, our days began at 04h30 and we were non stop until late in the evenings. Even though we were busy most of the day we certainly found time to enjoy many laughs with team members, drink lots of coffee, wave those Unogwaja flags and scream like banshees and enjoy driving through our beautiful country and interact with its people! We got to be at the forefront of the emotions as the team arrived for breakfast, lunch or the overnight stop. We got to meet them at the top of some of the big climbs… we got to see emotion that often found us crying with them. As with any sport, so many emotions and feelings make up a journey like this. Sometimes there was singing and dancing on the side of the road during their breaks, other times the mood was more sombre. Sometimes there were big smiles on the faces of the riders as we drove past, other times their eyes were filled with pain. All the time, their eyes and faces were filled with determination, focused on the meaning of this journey, the bigger picture. It was an absolute honor to witness the fierce grit, determination and heart with which this team conducted themselves; the moments shared, the tears shed.

You cannot come to the end of this journey unchanged, it is impossible! I think every team member walked away with a profound sense of achievement… both personally and as a collective, as a team. I believe that every Unogwaja carries with them a number of incredible memories, lessons learnt and friendships that will last forever. For me personally, some of these include:

  • The immense physical achievement of those 12 remarkable team members
  • The fundraising efforts which to date total close to R1 200 000
  • Walking alongside thousands of school children during the CT and PMB processions
  • The sharing of testimonies, of stories of hope
  • The bike handover in Willowmore and hearing Gussie’s story of Vukusabenze Shelter
  • The indescribable beauty of SA and its people
  • The story of Hope Unogwaja carries
  • The hosts who graciously hosted and fed us
  • The hugs, tears and laughs shared with the team
  • The people. The team. Who I will cherish forever

The transition back to ‘normal’ life has been a rather difficult one… I think for the whole team. The wonderful thing about Unogwaja though, is that it never ends! Once you have encountered Unogwaja, and it’s people, you carry it in your heart, always. For me, I am priveleged to be able to look ahead, not only to the 2017 Challenge for which applications open next month, but also to the change Unogwaja is making to the youth of our country. To help build this remarkable legacy, to stand beside Macky and support his vision, his passion and his leadership.

Thank You Unogwaja 2016. Thank You Nat, Migs, Wisey, Greg, Pete Dogg, Ian, Chris, Dale, Amanda, Guin, Aline and Andrea- the 2016 Team members. Than You Stoff, Macky, Malotana, Steve, Em, Leo, Jess, Brundle, Gary, Ros, Nkoya and Michele- the 2016 Support Crew. You have all touched my heart, taught me lessons and enriched my life. My our journey together continue to be one of love, light, laughter, friendship, dance moves, red wine and epic support. I am humbled. Grateful. Honored.




Nostalgia and Mavora Lakes

nos·tal·gia: “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”.

For some reason I have recently been feeling particularly nostalgic about my New Zealand trip. Perhaps it was the Skype call to Greg, Claire & Family and the realization of how far NZ is away from here. That I don’t know when I will see them again and when I do that my God Son Finn will be that much older and we’ll have to get to know each other again. Perhaps it is also that I miss those weeks of simplicity, of overcoming challenges, of marveling in the natural beauty of the country, and learning to enjoy my own company and clear my mind of all the ‘stuff’ that had been weighing me down for so long. Mostly I think, it is because I feel caught back in the wheel of life, weighed down by life’s challenges and pressured by the wordly expectations.I feel lonely on this wheel… which seems ironic… but even though I was alone on this adventure, I never felt lonely but rather enjoyed and embraced the solitude. It is something I’m trying to get my around, this feeling of loneliness admidst friends, family and a busy life vs the calm contentment of being completely alone.

So in all this, I went back and read my journal and where I was exactly 6 months ago (I tend to do this fairly often when I need some inspiration & perspective). It seems fitting that I was at the Mavora Lakes… where I was completely alone, not a person in sight for 2 days! It was one of my most special and memorable places, for a number of reasons. It was another wonderful recommendation from my brother, and I knew it was remote! I had spent 2 amazing nights at Te Anau, the closest town to Milford Sound, where I had run some of the Kepler Track and spent a phenominal day sea kayaking on the Milford Sound! I had planned to spend the night at the lakes on my way back to Queenstown. Some research told me the only way I could get back to Queenstown from the lakes was to cycle to Walter Peak Farm on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and get the TSS Ernslaw accross the lake and back to Queenstown! I was so excited for this next part of adventure, but I knew the weather was going to change, and they were expecting some snow. I contemplated staying another night in Te Anau but realized that in bad weather there was little I would be able to do in Te Anau. Well little outdoorsy, adventurous things! A trip to the local DOC office confirmed the weather report, but the worst was forecast for late afternoon. So after the kind lady saying “Love, please just make sure you let someone know where you are going, and go safely” I decided to pack up and get on the road! Knowing there would be no cell phone signal until Queenstown I sent another one of those texts to my brother saying “leaving Te Anau now for Mavora Lakes, expect to be back in Queenstown on Tuesday evening”.

That 70km to Mavora Lakes stands out as one of the toughest of my trip… with 55 of those km’s being straight into a strong head wind. It was also all uphill. In my mind was the weather report that had stated ‘strong northerly wind turning southerly’. The southerly brings the snow… but the strong northerly didn’t change didn’t change to the southerly and I was riding just about dead north!! I did not see another person as the farm lands turned into mountainous grass lands. There were many tears that day and as I lay on the side of the road trying to stretch my aching back, I gave myself another one of those stern pep talks!! Where would crying get me? I had 2 options… pitch my tent right there or pull myself together and keep pedalling! So I put my head down and kept pedalling and eventually saw a sign indicating 10kms to go. What felt like an eternity later I found the lakes… which were just incredible! You can basically camp anywhere… there are long drops located at various locations. I found a bit of beech forest right next to the lake, that was kind of sheltered from the wind, which was still howling! It was now getting really cold and I struggled with the tent in the wind! It is quite incredible what the shelter of a tent can do, it was my home, my comfort and my safe space. I had a quick ‘wet wipe’ wash and boiled the kettle for some coffee. I lay there listening to the howling wind, until it finally dropped just before sunset. So I made my way out the tent and sat beside the lake, taking in the peace and beauty. I also took a few photos, just before the rain started. It rained all night. Soon after sunrise the rain finally stopped… and the sight as I unzipped my tent was one I will never forget! It had snowed on the mountains, just about all the way down to the lake and the reflection on the lake was incredible!

Suddenly yesterday’s toughness was a distant memory as I was filled with a child like excitement! Even though I was under some time pressure to make the 16h30 TSS Ernslaw trip, I couldn’t resist packing my gas cooker, kettle and oats and going to find a breakfast spot! I could have sat there in awe of what I was seeing all day, but time was marching on! I think if I had had cell phone signal I would’ve sent a messgae to my brother telling him I was staying an extra day! I packed up my soaking, muddy tent and reluctantly got on my way… but the snow capped mountains all around me were spectacular! Because of the rain and snow the fords were flowing pretty strongly and I stupidly fell in one, bike and all, which was the coldest water I’ve ever experienced! The 60km ride to the ferry was deceivingly long… and more uphill than I’d expected! At one stage I was worried I would miss the boat but by the time I saw Walter Peak in the distance I knew I would be fine. Walter Peak is one of the largest sheep farms in New Zealand… at one stage there were 40000 sheep on it! Today it is a big tourist attraction to take the TSS Ernslaw accross and then have a bit of a tour and sheep shearing demonstration. It was pretty impressive! The TSS Ernslaw was even more impressive though!! The TSS Ernslaw is a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer and is just beautiful! They gladly took my bike and trailer onboard and I loved the cruise… with live piano music and singing adding to the atmosphere! A very scenic 45min cruise took us back into Queenstown. The weather had cleared nicely, exposing the Remarkable Mountain Range with their fresh covering of snow.

I was ready for a glass of wine and some company and so after setting up camp I made my way into a pub, sat next to a roaring fire, drank some wine and met a bunch of tourists!



Reminiscing an Adventure of a lifetime!

It is almost 3 months since I returned from an adventure that challenged, changed and grew me. A trip that helped define who I am, what i am capable of and what truly makes me come alive. A trip that will forever be remembered for so many reasons, and one that I have difficulty putting into words!

I have been meaning to update this blog since my return, but how can I possibly summarise my experiences, and emotions? I managed to keep a journal throughout my journey and I often go back and read it… some days the excitement and elation is almost tangible, as is the raw emotion and exhaustion of those tough days. I certainly experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows during those 5,5 weeks of solo cycle touring, but I would not wish for it to have been any different.

Allow me to go back to the 9th of September 2015… when I set off, with tick bit fever, my awesome TREK and minimal clothing for the 36hr journey to Auckland, New Zealand! I think I had 10 Myprodol’s before finally arriving to be met by Claire and my gorgeous nephew Finn, who i met for the first time! Another 3 hour drive later and we drove into the farm, where I spent the first 3 weeks with my brother and his special family! With 4 boys and a dairy farm, it was a busy yet wonderful time as I put on gum boots and overalls each morning to feed calves! In the evenings Greg (my brother) and I discussed my trip and where I should try and go. Being a trout fisherman he knows some of the most remote, beautiful places and all his input was invaluable.

With a basic itinerary, camping equipment, some food supplies, bike spares,  and as much clothing that could fit into the space left in my bag it was time to head to Auckland to begin the big adventure! I hired a ‘Bob Yak Trailer’, which fits onto the back axle and has one wheel, and suspension nogal, from a bike shop… so whatever didn’t fit on the trailer, couldn’t come! My departure was not an elegant one… as my brother watched in horror as I fell over numerous times before finally riding in a straight line! This was after he offered to rather buy me a flight to Queenstown and that he wasn’t going to allow me to go on my own like that! 🙂

And so it began… the travelling circus that covered about 1500km of the most incredible countyside!! New Zealand truly is the most amazing country, with scenery that constantly changes, and surprises. Sometimes 2 or 3 days would go by when I didn’t have any human contact.. it was just me and the remote, spectacular countryside! I wish I could write about every day… and maybe I will one day! Instead I will give you my itinerary and answer some of the most frequently asked questions I have received!

My itinerary:

30 Sept 2015: Auckland- Waitomo (bus + 15km riding)

01 Oct 2015: Waitomo- Pureora (start of the Timber Trail): 70km

02 Oct 2015: Pureora – Piro Piro: 40km (poured with rain all day)

03 Oct 2015: Piro Piro- Taumaranui: 70km (even ate McDonald’s)

04 Oct 2015: Taumaranui- Tongariro National park (50km) (drank some Wine!)

05 Oct 2015: Tongariro: cycled and did a 25km run to the Tama Lakes (crater eruption lakes)

06 Oct 2015: Tongariro- Wellington (bus): only night I spent in a backpackers

07 Oct 2015: Wellington- Pelorus Bridge (3hr ferry trip + 55km cycling)- best campside I stayed at!

08 Oct 2015: Pelorus Bridge- Nelson (40km via Maungatapu 4×4 Track) Should’ve taken the longer road option… the most difficult day of the trip by far

09 Oct 2015: Nelson- Wakefield (35km via Great Taste Trail)

10 oct 2015: Wakefield- St Arnaud (60km)- experienced the WIND for the first time

11 Oct 2015: St Arnaud- Rainbow Trail Day 1 (65km)- this place is just incredible

12 Oct 2015: Doc Hut in Rainbow- Hanmer Springs (55km)- thermal hot springs were incredible!

13 Oct 2015: Hanmer Springs- got delayed by the one bike mechanic in town being unbale to fix a tubeless tyre!

14 Oct 2015: Hanmer Springs- lewis Pass Deer Valley (70km)- too much wind again

15 Oct 2015: Lewis Pass- Reefton (65km): Epic night with locals at the pub!

16 Oct 2015: Reefton- Westport (80km)- stayed with Sally… slept in a BED with a real pillow!

17 Oct 2015: Westport- Fox Glacier (Bus)

18 Oct 2015: Fox Glacier – Wanaka (Bus)

19 Oct- 20 Oct: Wanaka- fell in love with this town, awesome people, beautiful setting, running & MTB trails for days!

21 Oct 2015: Wanaka- Arrow Town via Crown Range (50km)- thought I was going to die! Cross winds down the pass so bad i had to walk.

22 Oct 2015: Arrow Town – Queenstown via Queenstoen Trails (50km)

23 Oct 2015: Queenstown- exploring

24 Oct 2015: Queenstown- Te Anau (Bus)- ran some of the Kepler Track

25 Oct 2015: Te Anau & Milford Sound- amazing sea kayak trip on Milford Sound

26 Oct 2015: Te Anau- Mavora Lakes (70km)- not a person in sight!

27 Oct 2015: Mavora Lakes- Queenstown (60km plus epic ferry on TSS Ernslaw Steam Boat)

28 Oct 2015: Queenstown- Mount Cook (Bus)

29 Oct 2015: Mount Cook- one of my favorites, fascinated by the alpine environment. Lits of running & exploring! Freezing night!

30 Oct 2015: Mount Cook- Twizel (70km)

31 Oct 2015: Twizel- Lake Tekapo (60km via Alps2Ocean Trail) LAST day fo cyling

01 Nov 2015: Lake Tekapo- Christchurch (5am RWC final and bus)

02 Nov 2015: Christchurch

03 Nov 2015: picked up Camper, drove to Kaikoura

04 Nov 2015: Kaikoura- Wellington

05 Nov 2015: Wellington- Rotorua

07 Nov 2015: Rotorua- Auckland the END

Some FAQ’s:

  1. Were you ever scared? No, never! I felt very safe in NZ!
  2. What did you do in the evenings? It depended where I was and how I felt! Sometimes I got to a campsite, set up camp, put on my running shoes and went exploring! Other times I was too exhausted to do anything than make some simple food and lie on my mattress! If in town, I sometimes went out for dinner/drinks!
  3. What was the weather like? Very variable! I had rain, sunshine, hectic wind, event some snow. My coldest night was -7 in Mount Cook!
  4. What did you eat? A lot of 2 minute noodles, cuppa soup, dehydrated meals and oats every morning! When I went through towns I would grab lunch/dinner/fresh fruit & veg!
  5. Were you always alone? Yes!! I cycled the entire time alone! I did meet some great people along the way though.
  6. Did you have many mechanicals? NO!! Thank goodness, only the 1 flat tyre!
  7. How much did the trailer weigh? No idea! But it was damn heavy!
  8. Were you completely self sufficient? Yes! I always ensured I had enough food etc for at least 3 days before restocking when necessary.
  9. Would you do it again? ABSOLUTELY!!! I would go tomorrow!
  10. Were you lonely? At times yes. Especially when the going got tough.

Some things I learnt:

  • The cleats on cycling shoes are great for hammering in tent pegs!
  • There is nothing flat about NZ!
  • The First Ascent Wines2Whales bag is NOT 100% waterproof!!
  • NEVER be without SandFly repellent… do not leave the tent in the morning without putting on sunscreen and repellent!
  • The wind can blow, especially on the South Island!
  • I would rather ride in rain than wind
  • A bob trailer is the way to go- even on single track
  • Always trust Fly Fishermen!! 🙂
  • Fords are COLD, especially when you fall in them, bike and all!
  • the DOC campsites are the best, especially the remote ones
  • Every peddle stroke does get you closer to the next campsite!
  • Always carry wetwipes for the ‘longdrop only’ campsites!
  • Never be ashamed of riding for hours in Granny Gear!
  • A bike trailer is a great conversation starter.
  • Kiwi drivers have respect for cyclists!
  • If you have a choice, always choose the ‘adventurous’ route
  • Sometimes it feels so good to shout and swear into nothing when the riding is tough!
  • Asians & Poms love to travel in NZ!
  • Aussies are the most friendly tourists
  • A silk liner inside your sleeping bag is a winner!
  • Kiwis are extremely friendly and welcoming
  • I am actually much tougher than I thought!
  • It is easier to ride from place to place than take a bus… it is a mission getting everything on and off the bus
  • The Pinot Noir from NZ is delicious!
  • Always ask locals which pub to go to… avoid the touristy places as much as possible

Some other facts:

  • I put up and took down my tent 31 times!
  • Kiwi’s are the most emotional rugby supporters in the world!! Witnessed the RWC final in a pub at 5am… tears, beers and tequilas were flowing!
  • My longest time without a shower was 3 days!!
  • There were a number of things I couldn’t do due to the weather- like run the Tongariro Alpine Crossing & hike the Milford Track. I have to go back in summer when the snow and ice has melted!
  • I hate selfies!!
  • A glass of wine at a pub costs the same as a bottle at a supermarket. But I never had space to carry a bottle!
  • Cell phone reception on the south island is pretty rare!

I have stories for days, and will hopefully share them soon! I am planning an informal get together with photos etc for those who would like to hear more. And if anything it’s a great excuse to get together!

Thank you to everyone who supported me during my time away… especially my wonderful parents! I reckon every person should do something like this at some stage in their lives… you won’t regret it!!




Adventure Beckons…

In my last blog post I didn’t yet have a plan. I do now, and it still seems surreal that in just 2 days time I will be embarking on my biggest adventure! I will be on my way to the beautiful country of New Zealand… with my bike, and however many clothes I can fit into my luggage allowance after the bike! 🙂 I am hugely excited, not only to explore the country but more so to get the opportunity to spend time with my brother and his family! I have not seen them in 4 years, since we went over for the 2011 World Cup… and I have not yet met my 2 year old nephew!

I will arrive in Auckland, 38 hours after leaving Cape Town and go up to my brother’s farm, which is North West of Auckland. With 4 kids, and a dairy farm, I am under no false illusions that this will be a holiday! 🙂 I’m so looking forward to being there, helping where I can and slotting into their lives! During my time with them I will no doubt do some exploring in my running shoes or on my bike, and hopefully get to visit some of the trails nearby!

I will be with them for around 2,5 weeks, before I head down south on my bike. I will hire panniers, and pack in a tent and the bare essentials to get me through 6 weeks of traveling! I do have a rough plan of where I will go and what I will do, but I am sure that this might change as I go along! I will ride off road as much as possible, and I plan on doing some of the many multi day rides that they have put together. I will also run, and hike some of the multi day hikes around the country. There is so much to see and do in NZ, and the more I read the more I want to do! The only thing that is certain is that I have to be in Christchurch on 3 November, where I will pick up a campervan, for $1 a day, and drive it back to Auckland! They call it a ‘relocation deal’ whereby you help the rental companies get the vehicles back to their depot, hence it costs next to nothing!

I have identified a number of places and things I would like to see and do, which include the following highlihgts:

I will get back to Auckland on 7 November and spend another 10 days with Greg. I leave NZ on 18 November but have a week in Melbourne with family, before returning home on 25 November!

Yes I’m excited, and yes I’m quite apprehensive!! Sometimes the thought of traveling alone on a bike freaks me out, but I know i will have an amazing experience! I hope to keep my blog up to date as much as possible, when I get access to wifi! If you are reading this and have any suggestions of what to do in NZ, please let me know!

I will certainly miss all my friends and family back home… thanks to you all who have been such a great support and encouraged me to do this!

Yes I have left Stillwater. No I don’t have a plan.

For the past month i have wanted to carry a sign saying this, to try and avoid the questions, the reactions and the reality. Some days it is easy to talk about, other days it hurts, a lot. Some days I wake up excited, energised, optimistic; while other days the tears fall the moment I open my eyes, and i am scared, uncertain.

I read this quote the other day: “The 3 C’s in Life: Choice, Chance, Change. You must make the choice to take the chance, if you want anything in your life to change”. I made that choice, I took the chance. No-one else. And it is up to me to ensure that the change happens, in a postive way that brings growth and opportunity. It was not easy to make the choice and take the chance. Stillwater was not only a career but a family, a place of much growth and challenges. I will take away learnings, memories and friends that will stay with me forever, and opportunities that I could not have wished for 5 years ago.

So why would I give this up? Something that has become such a part of my life and added so much value? The underlying reason was this: I was no longer doing myself, my job or the company justice. I was not the motivated, passionate person I was. I was not growing. I was frustrated. I felt like something inside me had died. I was exhausted. It is no-ones fault, I carry no blame or resentment. It was time.

For those that know me well know that I am a heart person- I make decisions more from the heart than from my head. Sometimes this is good, other times not so good. I can try as much as I like to convince myself with my head, but if my heart says otherwise then that’s just the way it will be! Everything in my head told me not to leave, to stay, to stick it out. I have a great, secure job with a monthly income. I live in a perfect cottage on a farm. I have a wonderful network of friends in Stellenbosch. Resigning from my job would risk all of this. But my heart told me otherwise and with the counsil of people close to me I knew this was the only decision.

It has been interesting to see people’s reactions as I began sharing the news. Obviously the first reaction is ‘what now? What are your plans?’ Most people call me brave, bold. I’m sure many silently call me stupid! It has been comforting to hear of people who have found themselves in similar positions and how things worked out for them. Just the other day a friend told me how she wished she was as brave as me to do exactly the same.

I have been completely blown away by the number of people that love, support and believe in me. This has been displayed in both the smallest of ways, and the most obvious of ways. But knowing that so many people are genuinely THERE for me is a huge comfort and offers great encouragement. I am incredibly Blessed by a family who support me 100%, and without them I don’t think I could have made the decision. I have been flooded with support from my friends who have been there during the darkest of times.Then there are those who have supported me in a professional capacity, who have made me realise that I WILL survive, that there are many opportunities when I am ready to take them.

So the question remains “What Next”? At the moment I am enjoying ‘funemployment’ and taking some time out. I am enjoying the freedom of just being, of doing what I feel like doing, of running or riding in the mountains with no time frames, of not having to rush between things. I am enjoying allowing myself time to think, reflect and heal.

I am cautious to not jump into anything too quickly, before I am 100% ready. I need to go back to the drawing board and think about my passions and where I would like to be. I need to find that place of contentment.

I have some ideas, which involve travel, and a lot of adventure. It involves family. It may be the only opportunity I have to go on some crazy adventures, while I am single and have no commitments. This involves a blog post of its own, so watch this space!

Thanks for following me, and your support!