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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Behind the scenes

I've mentioned the kind individuals who helped me out on the trail but there were others behind the scenes who helped to get me to the start line and were supporting me all the way. Taking a perfectly good Giant XTC1 29er and converting it into a functioning singlespeed proved quite challenging in the little time available (I only got confirmation of the entry 3 weeks before the start...) Wanting to try out the dynamo hub and charger further complicated matters as it meant having to build up a new wheelset in time. The problem of sourcing a reliable singlespeed hub was solved when Grant Walliser of International Trade stepped in with a very generous offer to supply components and clothing from amongst the brands he imports. As the Hope agent for SA, he supplied a Hope Pro II Singlespeed hub, an absolutely reliable, truly 'fit and forget' piece of equipment. The freewheel buzzed away happily and it never gave any trouble throughout the trip. I also used a set of Hope Mini hydraulic brakes and was impressed by their fade-free performance on some of the longer, rougher downhill sections (some of these descents went on for 15km). On the clothing side, in addition to all the base layers and other warm gear, my primary outer layers were a Polaris Vortex jacket and a pair of Hoss Ponderosa 3/4 length baggies. The Vortex jacket has a windproof front and sleeves and packs up nice and small for something that warm. I think I was the only rider in baggies (there should be a category for 'Fastest Ride in Baggy Shorts')but I chose them for comfort and extra warmth - having my knees covered kept me warm without needing seperate knee warmers. They were pretty tough too, surviving many fence crossings, gate scalings and thrashes through the bush looking none the worse for wear. Thanks Grant, your kit worked really well and I'll be using it and recommending it in the future.

To build the wheels, I approached Johan Bornman from Yellow Saddle Cycling. While waiting for the actual parts to arrive, he got busy sourcing the correct spoke lengths and suitable rims and then got stuck into the building as soon as was possible. Thanks Johan, those wheels took an absolute pounding out there but they survived without a single broken spoke and are still running true - a job well done.

My mate Rob, from Resonate Audio in Cape Town, gave me a stack of music to load onto my phone for the trip. I hadn't ridden with music before but figured that it might be useful to pass the time on the longer stretches. In the end I used it on selected stretches. It proved a real bonus because when I hit the shuffle button and put my head down, the upbeat tunes kept my legs turning and my mind engaged, making the time and the miles pass quicker. Thanks Rob, those tunes did the trick.

Keeping a blog going was one of the bigger challenges during the ride. After a long day you just want to eat, shower and sleep! Having to take pictures during the day and summarise the day's events every night, sometimes meant sacrificing 30-60min of precious sleep. Not always having signal at night sometimes meant only getting the blog out the following day. I have to thank a friend of mine from Waterval Boven, Claire Taylor, for posting the blog for me every day. I would email it to her from my phone and she would post it up for all the followers. Later when I got the phone set up to post directly to the blog, she would edit and check it or rotate a picture if need be. Thanks Claire, with you in charge, I knew the message would get out and the followers would get their daily fix.

There are others as well who helped before, during or after the ride in some or other way (thanks Dean and Gill for fetching me in Cape Town and for everything else) I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though this event is an individual pursuit, it would not be possible without the help of others and their involvment makes it all the more memorable for me - so thank you all!

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