The 2 Decade Bucket List item done and dusted… barely…

 

Bucket List Item #6– To complete 21 Cape Town Cycle Tours- formerly known by us as “The Argus”…  a 109 km race around Table Mountain.

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I must confess, like my blogging these past 3 months, my training program went sadly lacking… I did train. But not nearly enough. I also tried something new. Instead of my usual February midday training sessions (summer here, remember…) I trained at night in front of my television set. Doing a few Sufferfest training sessions- really good training material!

But so, last Sunday, 6 March, the day dawned on my 21st race…

And for once it was a nearly perfect day! Last year’s race had to be shortened a lot because of Table Mountain burning, and all the soot in the air threatening our lungs.  In previous races the Southeasterly wind blew a lot- one year up to 12o km/h. But this year- blue skies, no wind, no smoke… perfect!

I knew from the start that I have committed the grave sin of undertraining. I went slowly up Hospital hills, and then suffered a LOT up the 2 km of Edinburgh Drive…  I did manage to ride to the top of this hellish climb. Then, on the Blue Route I felt as if this day just might be survivable… managing speeds of up to 72 km/h on the slight downhills.

At the Naval Base of Simonstown I started feeling quite poorly. A slight wind was now blowing from the front, and the heat picked up a bit. On through Millers Point and over Smitswinkel Bay I felt some strain. But when you reach halfway, there is a long slight downhill, with the wind in your back. That part was really good. On through the beautiful and spooky Scarborough and onwards to Noordhoek I pedalled. But then it started to heat up quite a lot (according to me…)

At the base of the beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive is a lovely place called Noordhoek Farm Village. For the first time ever I stopped there. Went to their restaurant, and ordered a cup of filter coffee. I was seriously contemplating abandoning the race, as I just felt drained. After the cup of coffee I soldiered on towards Chappies. But I knew I was in trouble. I had a hard time breathing, and my heart rate monitor showed that I was above maximum heart rate- 220 minus your age. At about halfway up Chapmans Peak drive I had to pull over. And then, with the heat and the heartrate going through the roof, I had to walk the last km of Chappies- it felt like a walk of shame! Over the top, I made time up- it is a good 4-5 km of downhill, sweeping turns, dodging slower cyclistts- as a motorcyclist I am really good at downhill riding! But then- the dreaded Suikerbossie Drive in Hout Bay. First a 1 km climb, coming back down again, and then a 2 km steep incline.  As I entered the smaller Suikerbossie my legs just loced up solid in a cramp. I could barely manage to turn my ankle to get my shoe out of the pedal. Some spectators helped me to the sidewalk, and I had to lay down in the shade till the cramps subsided. And then I had to walk the 2 km up again to the top of Suikerbossie…

In order to qualify for a medal, you have to finish the race under 7 hours. As I walked up to Suikerbossie’s top, I realised that I had already used up 6 1/2 hours. To get to the finish line from here is usually more than half an hour for me… Was all the suffering going to be a total waste of time?  Still cramping, I got on my bicycle, and started chasing the clock to be in time for my medal. And it was bad! It is a beautiful stretch of road, going past Llundudno, and the 12 Apostles Hotel, and then through Campsbay, Clifton, Bantry Bay, onwards to the finish line at the Greenpoint Stadion. Most of it is downhill. And a lot of riders, having had a better ride than me, slow down just to enjoy the scenery. But me, cramping a lot and in pain, tried my best to reach the cutoff time.

When I finally passed the finish line I looked at my watch. I have made it, but with only minutes to spare… my worst time ever, including the 120 km/h wind race a few years back. But it counted! At this time I was really in pain. I had to go to an Info tent to go and claim my special 21 st medal. And then, feeling the strain, I went and booked myself into the medical tent. I was feeling dizzy and very thirsty. The medical staff took over, tested my pulse, and blood pressure. My pulse kept on racing at 12o, where I usually go back quickly to 65/70. The other problem was when my blood sugar levels were tested, it was up at 11.3. I have never been diabetic, but in the struggle to finish I have taken on too much sports drinks…

But I had my medal. It has taken 21 years to get this medal.

I might still be the slowest cyclist in my home town. I may not always look like an athlete.

But: I have a 21 Cycle Tours medal. And from next year I am riding with the Argus’ sought after  Blue Number, being a member of Club 21.

I really doubted that I would finish this year’s race. But maybe Winston Churchill was right when he said: “Never, never, never, never, never give up…”

 

 

 

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A Bucket List Item becomes reality!

Bucket List Item # 19 became a reality last night! Quite a lot of my friends know that I have never tasted a real lobster or crayfish yet. So yesterday one of my friends, on holiday at a nearby beach, showed up at our holiday house. It turns out that he, always talking to strangers unlike me, met a retired police officer at the rocks.  And this police officer happened to have a frozen crayfish or two in his freezer, as well as a fish closely resembling a Barracuda, that he has sold to my friend.

And so our friends surprised us last night- we had a Cape style evening with fish on the coals, as well as sweet potato and a reasonable amount of red wine that was consumed. As well as the frozen crayfish, that might have been caught when it was still in season…  For my kiddies I bought calamari rings and shrimp, which was also delicious!

IMG_1550So now I also have finally tasted crayfish- I think Lobster is reserved for those with the 2 huge claws? And no, it does not taste like chicken! 🙂

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Fly Inn Modimolle (Nylstroom)

As if last week’s Game Auction was not enough fun for the whole little community of Nylstroom, we are having another huge event this weekend. On the hill overlooking our town is our little landing strip- to call in an airport would be much to big. There is a tarmac landing strip, without any tower. There are a few hangers containing a very few private aircraft,and a microlight or two. But today is the yearly Fly Inn, and the Airstrip is bussling with a lot of aircraft.

One of the star attractions today is the old Harvard. It was used as a training aircraft since World War 2, and for many years the South African Air Force would still be training their cadet pilots in these things, they were eventually replaced by Pilatus aircraftImage

These Harvards are still lovingly maintained by dedicated enthusiasts. They fly on days like these, and for R1800 (US $ 180) you could go for about 15 minutes of historical flight.

Next to the Airstrip there is a huge informal settlement, as in squatter camp.  Someone paid the price for three boys of the informal settlement to have a flight in the Harvard. If this photo doesn’t win me a Pulitzer…  Look on the joy on this child’s face- priceless! Image

And then it was up, up and away…

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It was a huge day for my eldest son, it was also his first flight ever! He and a friend from nursery school flew together in a Beechcraft.

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I now have a few more days of beautiful photos to share, just a last one for today… Image

Did I ever tell you I would  LOVE to be a pilot, and that Aircraft and Flight  has fascinated me since my small boy years?

A Stranger in a strange land…

Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEW.

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A Stranger is someone in unfamiliar territory. I know a lot of people who have never travelled outside the borders of our country. They say there is so much to see and do in our country, why would you need to go elsewhere? And they say this as if it is the only opinion that matters. This might come from our country’s history- in the Apartheid years we were not that welcome everywhere. Some people developed a laager mentality- where you isolate yourself against “the enemy”. It is still with some people in our country- you would still find people thinking that only they are right, and the rest of the world are wrong. They frown upon travel outside the country- what a waste of money, they will whisper to each other…

But if you only travel in your own country, everything is so familiar.  You would find the same supermarkets in every bigger town, the same shops in all the malls, you would eat exactly the same food at all the franchises, some better like Nando’s (started in South Africa!) some acceptable like the Spur Steak ranches, and some… predictable in every way. Like KFC and Mickey D- (not started in South Africa… 🙂 )

Today I am in trouble. All my travels before 2004 where photographed on 35 mm film, with prints. My scanner got too old, it will not install on Windows 7…

My first time feeling totally a stranger was when I arrived in Cairo in 1999. Although most Egyptian people can speak better English than me, most of their shops and product labels are in Arabic writing. And the Middle East is quite foreign to our culture… So it was… interesting to shop around. The one huge bargain I immediately recognized was a King Cone Ice Cream for just 1 Egyptian pound, a 1/3 of what it cost in South Africa then… I ate a lot of them!

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A photo of a photo… at Giza

When dining in Cairo, I really enjoyed the Middle- Eastern food a lot. We South Africans can enjoy lamb in all it’s forms. Cous-cous was a new experience then. And to eat meat with yogurt a new but good idea!

I spent two days in Cairo, and then flew on to Turkey. Turkey was a feast! But there not so many people could understand me in English.  I spoke in Afrikaans once to a lady in Selcuk, and then she answered me in Dutch- I nearly fell on my back…  She worked in Holland for a few years, and of course learned to speak Dutch. If the Dutch want to, they can understand our language very easily. Dutch was it’s foundation.

So… when in a totally foreign culture, I love to try their food. I love to sit in their version of a street café and watch the world go by. I love to listen to their music, and maybe attend their festivals.

My travel experience are not that wide, as it would seem. I have been to Europe quite a few times, for which I am thankful. I have traveled in all Southern African countries except Mozambique and Swaziland- up to Zambia I did see.  I have been in Egypt and once, traumatically, for a few hours on Khartoum’s airport in Sudan. The only part of Asia I could visit so far was Turkey, down as far as Antakya.

I would love to experience the Far East. And the Americas. And the Australasias…  So much to see, so little money…

So yes:

  1.  Experience the food.
  2.  Taste their beer (if any…) or wine…
  3.  Attend a festival
  4.  Listen to their music
  5.  See their museums and historical sites
  6.  Hike in their beautiful nature reserves/ trails…
  7.  Take a lot of photos
  8.  Blog about it…

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Climbing 0′ Cebreiro

Climbing 0' Cebreiro

On the Camino de Santiago, the climb up o’Cebreiro is really tough, if you are not that fit, or you carry a 14 kg backpack…

To see a little bit of o’ Cebreiro at the moment- visit the webcam there from the Municipal Albergue here: http://www.crtvg.es/crtvg/camaras-web/o-cebreiro

I see it is a rainy day today, but then: This is Galicea- what did you expect?

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In the webcam’s view  there is a restaurant. The Meson CArolo:img_0689

It is a really good place to be on a rainy day, nice owners, nice hot fireplace going…IMG_0688

Tomorrow- 2 years ago, I boarded the Lufthansa flight via Frankfurt to Madrid for my Camino. I long to go back every single day…

Thinking of you on the route- Buen Camino!

Bucket List Item #27 Kissing the Blarney Stone

Today’s Daily Prompt just don’t light any candles inside the dark and dusty attic in my head…    I just can’t write about that…

So one day I saw a sign in a little town in Far Far Away- the people there were emigrating to Sierra Leone, and sold all the belongings that would not fit into the shipping container. Some of my most cherished possessions were bought at such garage sales. It happens A LOT that people of my tribe get the feeling to go Walkabout on another piece of the world. These sales are quite a normal part of everyday South African life…

And there it was: a small model of the Blarney Castle where the famous Blarney Stone resides in  Ireland. The touristy type of junk you buy on a vacation, and leave above your fireplace  to gather dust. This old memorabilia were practically on offer for a few cents. And it prompted memories of a travel in our lives.   I bought it, and a few cans of Guiness, and we had ourselves a lovely Irish evening on that holiday. The next morning my head felt like a little Leprechaun had hit me with an ugly stick… Blarney Castle model

Now the real story- My wife’s little sister is living in Ireland, she and her family are now Irish citizens.  And as families tend to do, we had this great longing to go and visit them. In 2006 we went over to Britain, and Ireland, to visit our sisters… 2006- come to think of it- that is a LONG time ago… gears in my head starts spinning, I feel the birth of a crazy idea coming on…

IN any case- my wife just wanted to visit her sister, and stay in her home, for a whole week.  So I went on a walkabout in Ireland, I hired a car, and drove around the country- 2 hours later I was back in Sligo… 🙂  No, it took 3 days- the Irish are very very patient (read slow) drivers in the countryside…

The one experience I want to share, is Bucket List number 27.  The legend states that if you go and kiss the Blarney stone, you will receive the kiss of the gabb. Well, as a pastor, I need to speak publicly a lot. And no, I do not believe that is where my inspiration comes from, but, as I was in the area, I went there…

It is a beautiful castle, and it was a beautiful day in July that I visited it.

Reis 2006_326 And Yes, I did lie down on my back and kiss the stone. And no, I did not pay the huge amount for the photo of it. And no, it did not improve my verbal skills at all…

And as I walked away, I turned around and took a last picture of it, glad I could tick this one off…

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But I still look forward to my visit with the Green Lady of NYC… that one is not even on the horizon yet… (Bucket List Item #44)

Ps. The beautiful Blarney Castle model is made by: www.vivmarston.com  an is a real piece of art, not like the plastic models for sale at the tourist shop at the gate…