Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Great Italian Motorcycle Display

Watch this, you can't but be impressed. In fact go and watch it on YouTube, that way my blog loads faster.

Just watch it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Organically grown, hand-picked, sun-dried, ripe apricots

No poisons, no sulphur, no Woolworths packaging, no transport, dried apricots. In fact, none of the bullshit normally associated with dried fruit. The only catch is that you need to come here by bike to collect your sample!

So that is one of the reasons the blog has been a bit dry lately. Another reason is that these lovely little apricots have siblings, large numbers of siblings who have been turned into jam, chutney and sweet chili apricot sauce (to braai your snoek wif or to baste your Sunday roast). Again, all clean, packed in re-usable, recyclable glass.

So, in the local idiom, I am "op ge-jam". Tastings by appointment. Samples available to cyclists who arrive by bike.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gaan ons Saterdag ry?

As with anything new, small steps can be frustrating and I'm not the kind of person to take small steps! Rather rush off in a direction, crash, bash, re-orientate, rush off again, crash, bash, re-orientate, run off again. Not for me the thoughtful, well-planned, carefully orchestrated.
Well, you could say that I waste a lot of energy in all this crashing and bashing, but at least the energy has less than @#$#-all to do with Eksdom.

So, Prince Albert Wheelers is a bit unusual for me, small steps, carefully considered ones too.

Our group of "development cyclists" (what a disgusting, patronising, racist, bullshit term), hereinafter referred to as the PA Wheelers, is coming together. Two Saturday rides later and we are beginning to attract the attention where it counts - amongst young, local cyclists.

The last ride on Saturday was a small affair, with yours truly being the clan elder (by far, and I'm still a youngster).
We have a warning to issue to one Burry Stander: Watch your back, Bull is on his way.

And I'm going to hit the criticism for a six before I even get it....yes, in the group were two boys on bikes with no brakes and no helmets. I do not have it in me to tell two laaities that they can't ride with us because they don't have helmets or brakes.
So we rode up to Eerstewater. And back. The exciting bit was Bull doing his Burry Stander imitation back down the pass. No brakes.No helmet. No fear.
I was the one crapping myself as I went round the corner expecting to find bloed, kak en hare smeared on the rock face. Only to find Bull with a huge smile on his face and eyes like saucers.
The most telling bit was the 50 metre skid mark he made on the road - with his bare right foot.

Bull demonstrating the fine art of braking

On a more serious note: If you have any spare cycling kit (helmets and gloves for now) Bull and his mates could put it to good use. Oh yes, and components. Maybe some brakes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I refuse to believe

I refuse to believe that I am the only person in this country who thinks the bikes shown on the http://www.sunrace-sturmeyarcher.blogspot.com/ are beautiful.

Am I wrong?

I'll take all four, thanks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

....it flows pretty strongly through Prince Albert too.

Why is it that people are so offended when you tell them that their computer has a virus? Why do they fluff up and deny frantically?

I got whacked by a virus about 3 years ago and then went serious on anti-virus software (Panda, top product and even better live (human) service. And NOTHING gets through.

So happens I insert a clean, scanned memory stick into a local office computer (no names no pack drill) and when I plug it into my laptop again, Panda goes wild. Yup, not one, but two viruses off the other computer.

Now for the funny bit. I informed the IT person who looks after the computer that they have a virus, politely, very politely. Holy shit, it might have been easier if I suggested that they personally had the big H. They have the latest free antivirus software installed, so it's impossible.......

Denial flows through it.

By the way, the "free" antivirus software failed to stop the virus (W32/AutoRun.APJ.worm)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Gert Swarts and his trailer

Mobility can mean different things, depends on your situation, I suppose.

One of the greatest limitations of bicycle transport is humping your "stuff" along with you, and that stuff can be anything from your slinky little Apple to a whole pile of garden tools and pretty much anything in between. Well, Gert Swarts is one step closer to overcoming that hurdle.

Bike trailers are nothing new and there are a host of variations on the theme; single wheel, double wheel, short, long, light, heavy, side hitch, top hitch..........
The only thing is that they appear to be few and far between (I only know of one person who has one) and I have never seen one in this neck of the vlaktes.

So that's probably what motivated me to make this trailer for Gert.

Appropriate branding !

The detail of how I made it is in an earlier post, with some rather poor quality pictures, but you'll get the general idea. If there are any "rules" then they must be:
  • weight centred over the axle
  • strength over weight
  • made of locally repairable materials
For the rest, the trailer can be made to order, depending on what's available. Some of the Northern Hemisphere sites talk of using wood (but with Black X SA Pine rather not!)

Interesting to note that both of these frames were about to go off the scrap recycling depot in Oudtshoorn, talk about saved from the knackers!

And what has it meant to me?

Quite a lot in fact, to take two scrap frames and fabricate a pretty decent trailer is very satisfying. And helped along by the legendary Jame Marshall Hendrix.


and.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCwCBh0z3Hs&feature=related

... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GydN5VDDBMM&feature=related

So, if you have two old steel frames in sight, you'd better tie them down or they could just end up in the Karoo as a trailer. If you have two old steel road bike frames even better. (In fact we've closed in on the old steel frame futures market!)

Hasta la vista, Gert

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"So sleep die ding" (That's how it tows)

Gert Swarts has taken the proverbial bull by the horns, his red "Gerrie Visser" is one busy bike. Gert looks after a number of properties in town, so being mobile is vital.

A week ago, Gert mentioned that he needed a trailer to haul his tools, compost and other work-related stuff around town. This clearly intersected with one of my needs (to make a bike trailer). I said to Gert that if he supplied two old steel bike frames (carbon doesn't weld so easily), I'd build him a trailer.

Anna's husband, Ampie generously donated another old steel frame from his scrap yard and , voila, we were in business.

After some not very fruitful internet research, I felt that I'd just follow my instinct and make the trailer. I'll describe this bit in detail, in case there are others who want to do the same. Unfortunately, I'm not good at documenting this kind of process, so the pics are all "after".

Part 1 : The Trailer

I took two old steel 26"(wheel size!) mtb frames (it helps if they are dimensionally similar, but that's not essential. The older, the better. (The older bikes have thicker steel sections which make for easier welding)

Strip the frames, re-cycle the bits.

Using two one-metre long pieces of 10mm threaded bar, fix the two frames alongside one another, this aids in alignment. I put one through the rear drop-outs and the other through the bottom bracket shell (Here I made large wooden washers)

Now it starts to look like something. You should have two frames, side by side, with a 10mm rod fixing them at the rear drop-outs and the BB. Don't worry about wheels at this stage.

Look at the inside chain stays, this is where you will attach the supports for the load bed. Depending on your design, you can probably remove the "front half" from the frames at this stage. Cut the top tube just in front of the seat tube and cut the down tube just in front of the BB.

The picture gets clearer, you now have two rear triangles which will form the wheel arches of your trailer. And not unsurprisingly, they will fit a standard 26" mtb wheel - what a bargain.

At this stage, you will need to attach the cross supports between the two inside chain stays. I welded them, but I'm sure one could also rivet or bolt them.

You will need to extend the load bed behind the axle in order to spread the load evenly over the axle. Again, welding and flat bar come to the rescue.

I then welded a length of flat bar between the tops of the two seat posts. All nice and rigid now.

Use a decent bit of steel for the goose-neck to attach the trailer to the bike (I used 20mm x 1,6mm square tube)

Old steel frames are much easier to work with (easier to weld) and can be bent to exacting tolerances. Remember, we are using two rear triangles and would ordinarily need to use two rear mtb wheels. Once you have welded the load bed together, it's a simple matter to bend the outer chain stays inwards (carefully) to bring the drop-out width to something approximating a front wheel (110mm, plus or minus half a brick). Because we are weight weenies, this is an important detail.

Put wheels (mtb slicks work a treat) on your trailer and suddenly you feel like this could actually work!

Part Two: The hitch

Gert wants a trailer to carry up to 25kg bags of compost, so I made the hitch accordingly. Gert's bike has mounting points for a rear rack, so I made up a rudimentary rear rack of flat bar and fabricated a simple hitch. So simple that I can't describe it, so look at the pictures please!

The idea is that the trailer is put at 90 degrees to the bike, the hitch is inserted and then off you go. The trailer and the bike have to be at 90 degrees to each other for the hitch to be removed.

This trailer can carry 100kg, although Gert will probably not carry much more than 25kg at a time.

I would appreciate any comments as I think this is the first of many trailers........

Trailer incomplete, rear view

Hitched to bike, almost complete


Close up of rack.

Close up of hitch

Hitch pin (12mm square bar)

Trailer at 90 deg. to bike

Hitch pin going in

Hitch pin in


Daily Trippers

It all started when Steven Thomas of Day Trippers mentioned that he had a number of old mtb's which needed to find new homes.........
Being the persuasive person that I am, I eventually arrived in Prince Albert with a trailer-load of bikes and parts. Thank you Steven and Di.

As many of you will know, owning a good bike (even an old one) can be a life-changing experience. Add to that the fact that most workers in Prince Albert walk to work and you can see where we're heading. Initially we had thought of starting a "cycling club", but after a few false starts I realised that these bikes would have the most impact if they were owned by people who had job, people who were walking to work.

I started a process of identifying people who would make the most use of the bikes, but almost more importantly, people who would take care of the bikes and act as role models for other potential cyclists

So often, when introducing resources (in this case bikes) to resource-poor communities, a range of factors come into play which can cause more harm than good. My years in the NGO world were spent working with impoverished rural people, there I learned the importance of not introducing resources faster than they could be assimilated meaningfully. It's a very fine line between wanting to "help" and causing an undignified scramble for the new resources. We've all seen it and it is both de-humanising and frustrating for all concerned.

After careful consideration, I decided to do this one differently. Bike recipients would be responsible people who have a clear, identified need for a bike while being the kind of person who would take care of the bike. I eventually identified ten people from a broad range of Prince Albert's community, people who are seen as role models, people who would effectively be ideal "marketing agents" for the cycling lifestyle.

My thinking was that these initial bike recipients would pave the way for any future cycle transport work in Prince Albert; and that is exactly what has happened.

I now have daily requests from people who wish to part of what's "going on". My response is simple: "Speak to one of those who has a bike and they will introduce you to the "scheme".

This way we have a network of people who are introduced to the "scheme" who have undergone some form of vetting or approval by existing cycle commuters. This distances me and filters out any who might be tempted to trade the bike for a papsak (a very real prospect in this part of the world!)

Well now that we have the first ten cyclists out there strutting their stuff, I feel that things are finally moving. An extra ten bikes, ten more people who have more time in their day, ten people who might be getting fit while riding, ten more people who have dramatically improved mobility.

Here they are:

Neels and Shuleen

Jan and Gollie

Gert and Arrie

Anna and Abie

Valencia and Petrus

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ten Speed Bicycles

Every now and then something happens to click and off I go again...

Thanks to the unnamed person who sent me the "Life is a ten-speed bike bike. Most of us have gears we never use. Charles Schulz."

To which I am obliged to render..."Life is like a singlespeed bike; sometimes you just have to pedal harder, at other times you can coast. That's why real people ride singlespeed."

Same person puts me onto this........


......... which has forever changed my opinion of rap.

This has to be one of the best takes on the mutha ucker killa beeatch (c) rap

As for riding, rumour has it that there's a stylish new singlespeed flying around a little Karoo dorp. Rumoured to be raw steel finish, coaster hub, clean, clear lines. If I see her, I'll post some pictures.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

That wonderful, two-wheeled invention

This somehow raises the bar and makes a lot of the hipster fixie stuff look pretty average.........................


Another discipline on two wheels. Serious discipline.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tim Noakes says.....

Tim Noakes on the subject of the Murray Orthoped saddle.

Interesting, straightforward and it makes sense. No bullshit, no hype, no extraneous terminology, just the facts.

Take a look.


Oh, and while we're on this subject, Harry Rissik would like to notify the cycling fraternity that he claims the sole rights to the use of the name "ZAMBUTT". This is his idea for the name of a new "chamois cream" containing, amongst other things, Zambuk.
He was also wondering why it is referred to as Chamois cream when you smear it on your backside......

Monday, August 17, 2009

...a gem from Kent's Bike Blog

"And so I pack 280 miles into two days of riding. I carry too much stuff, of course, but that is part of the learning. My camera proves its worth again, while my GPS only tells me useless things like "you are here." I know that, that's why I'm here.?

Yup, couldn't agree more.

And my other favourite.......(not from Kent)

"For your next adventure, ensure that you have the routes pre-loaded on your GPS"

So where's the adventure?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Paul de Vivie - The Father of cyclotouring

Velocio's Seven Rules

1. Make your stops short and infrequent so as not to lose your drive.

2. Eat lightly and often. Eat before getting hungry, drink before you are thirsty.

3. Never ride until you are so tired that you cannot eat or sleep.

4. Put on extra clothing before you're cold, and take it off before you're hot. Don't be afraid of exposing your skin to the sun, air, and rain.

5. Don't drink wine, eat meat, or smoke---at least during the ride.

6. Never rush things. Ride within yourself, particularly during the first few hours of a ride when you feel strong and are tempted to force the pace.

7. Never pedal out of vanity, don't be a show-off.

Thanks to http://www.outyourbackdoor.com

Just another silly video from youtoob....

.......not everyone's cup of tea, this.

Just make damn sure you don't have a mouthful of tea when you watch this .


Sometimes ya just gotta larf.

Yet another object of desire.....

You have to give it to them, these people know what they're doing....

This one's a 1910 29r, have a look at http://www.edsbikes.us/bikes.htm

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

Oh yes, this one is huge, 4 million hits and counting.

Bloody brilliant.

And it knocks the snivelling that happens on Hellopeter into a cocked hat.

Volvo, are you listening? Volvo ? Come in Volvo..............anybody home?

Thanks Anders for the heads-up http://threelilybuds.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Doping is as doping does

Don't let anyone tell you that there's dope involved in the TDF, ever!

The bottom line is that big money has too much invested in the business of cycling, and particularly the TDF. And as we know, money doesn't talk, it barks out commands and orders.

Basically, what isn't tested for, isn't found. Is there an agreement that certain drugs/doping techniques are tested for while others are not? Maybe, just maybe.

The list below makes interesting, albeit tragic reading.


Viva the beautiful sport, viva.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


This was posted here in error, it should be on the blog http://princealbertsouthafrica.blogspot.com

It's the official municipal reaction to the town's shocking water quality management system.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

The universe has a sense of humour

A good way to end the Freedom Challenge, I thought, would be to ride down the pass after giving Bruce and Erik coffee at Teeberg.

Simple enough, get a lift up with Steven, have coffee and then breeze back to town. What could be simpler?
As I waved goodbye to Steven and the Karoo Surfers, I took a while to appreciate the view across to the Nuweveldberge, stunning. Then helmet, gloves, buff, windbreaker for the chilly descent.

Hop on and..............................flat front tyre. No problem, when I finally got the valve open with my semi-frozen fingers, I pumped the wheel up extra hard just in case.

Fifty metres down the road it went soft again. Anyway, after lots of patient fiddling and pumping I realised that" Stans" and "sidewall cut" do not belong in the same sentence. Not for the first time that I was reminded of this fact, mind you. Today was to be my walking day and no amount of squirming was going to change that!

And how many bikes have I fixed over the last ten days? More specifically, how many tubeless wheels have been through my hands? I don't remember. So why does mine have to be the one?.

Simply because the universe has a sense of humour

It was a new experience, walking a bike all the way down the pass, or rather being dragged down the pass by a bike. Needless to say, the Pajero boys didn't even wind down their windows to ask why I was pushing my bike downhill. But then, if you can drive a car with the name "Pajero" you aren't easily going to stop and risk abuse from some idiotic cyclist! http://www.pistonheads.com/GASSING/topic.asp?h=0&f=23&t=392436&mid=0&i=40&nmt=Crap%20car%20names....&mid=0

Did I forget to mention that your SUV makes you look fat?

Right down near the bottom of the pass, two young Dutch women stopped to offer help, so I asked them to phone Lindsay when they got to town. Thank you Inge and Anneline.

Friday, July 3, 2009

'n Lang Dag

Ja, vandag was 'n lang dag.
It started yesterday with the Namibian contingent trying to sneak in via the Gang, trust them to miss the route with the only Cuca shop south of Oshakati.

Just as the dust settled on that, I received a message that Greg needed to be fetched from Rondawel, arrived at Rondawel as the sun set to find one sick man.

As an indication of how the Freedom Challenge network really works: My phone rang within one minute of leaving Rondawel, Mrs Marincowitz to warn us that her husband was coming home and "jy weet mos hoe ry die boere in die middel van die pad" Five minutes later and it's Greg's concerned sister on the phone. A few minutes after that his father. Picture that, there Greg and I were, just south of Rondawel (you don't know where that is?) and his family were able to track us through the Race Office (Theresa the Impeccable), get the doctor lined up for him (Pam the Unflappable) and his bed warmed at Dennehof (Heaven on Earth)

Oh yes, that was yesterday.

Early this morning I cleaned Louis and Pierre's bikes, fitted new brake pads and then to Dennehof to face the beast in the form of Siseko Marareni's bike:
  • Bent derailleur hanger (why, why, why must they all be different?)
  • Broken rear derailleur cable
  • Broken seat post clamp
  • Broken seat clamp
  • Wheel bearings knackered
  • Brake blocks shot
  • Loose headset
  • Computer not working
  • Front tyre ripped
Fortunately for us, the network kicked in again. Essie of Oudtshoorn Fietse pulled out all the stops and found all we needed. Lindsay flew over the mountain on his GS and within no time I was fitting the new gubbins to Siseko's bike. I'm confident that the bike left Prince Albert in better condition than it left Pietermaritzburg.

And just as I was wiping my hands clean, in rode Esti, Andre and Derek Baard. Full wash, five sets of new brake pads, two new cassettes, two new chains. (I must admit that I let Andre fit his own computer.
Then the by now standard Dennehof dinner in the company of interesting people.

.....and yes, Ria, I did finally drink the coffee, about three hours after you brought it to me!

I wouldn't want it any other way.


I'm gutted. Distraught. Wind gone right out of my sails, spokes gone from my wheels.

Cuca Shop Annie just upped and left, without a care in the world for the poor struggling cyclists.

At least Annie has promised us that she'll be back for the entire duration of the Freedom Challenge 2010.

All we have left is this pic of her boetie and his friend Louis leaving town....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

...and the stupid bastards rode straight past

What a day, things just seemed to know how and where to fall.

And then we had to set up Annie's Cuca shop, yup, Annie's Cuca Shop. Hold onto your hat Mr. Waddilove, this could be the turning point we've all been waiting for.

Fiona and Doug were the first customers, but the racing peloton were not as charmed as they steamed off towards Prince Albert. Annie, maybe we need to tone it down a bit?

This, jintelmen and lady, is what you missed.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Damn frustrating SRAM X-0 shifter !!!!!!!!!!

After spending hours trying to get Carl Crous' shifter to work, I eventually realised that the worn pawl was not going to co-operate. Not now, not tonight, never.

Do your best, your best will vary from time to time, but do your best.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Saturday afternoon well spent

Unashamedly like the Park Tools workstand, but with that originality of the home-made option.

Oh yes, and it didn't cost R2000.

The White Gloves are no more

On the first day of the school holidays I always used to joke that Michael Jackson was coming to South Africa. Yes, I know, tasteless senseless and not very funny....

Well, I suppose the excitement of the coming school holidays was finally too much.

Tim James through...

After much searching around on the vlaktes late last night and in the wee hours of the morning, Tim popped out at about 09h30.

He's 100% and on his way after a quick breakfast.

Tim is riding in ideal conditions, not a cloud for a hundred miles, not a breath of wind, crisp and fresh with the Swartberg covered in a high blanket of snow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bloody Hell, Barnes

Andrew Barnes is in Kasra........................

After getting severely stuck in the snow yesterday, Andrew rode from the top of Seweweekspoort to Kasra. One time.

That's Seweweekspoort, Rouxpos, Anysberg, Montagu, MacGregor, Kasra. A week's riding to ordinary people.

Must be the saddle. Couldn't possibly be his natural talent, fitness, drive, determination, etc!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Barnes Charming his way across the Vlaktes

Andrew Barnes is through, in fact by now, he's probably well on his way to Rouxpos.

We met 35km out on the Swartskraal road yesterday morning, with a howling North-Wester blowing in his face. Looking on the bright side, it was a relatively warm 6 degrees with no rain.

The challenge for me was to fit two new tubeless tyres for Andrew while he slept for a few hours...or so I thought!

On arrival at Dennehof he calmly announced that he planned to leave "in about half an hour".

I now know that it's possible to remove the wheels from the bike, take them down to the workshop, remove the old tyres, clean the mess of old Stans, refit new tyres, seat them, Stans them, pump them, go back to Dennehof and refit the wheels and find Barnes lounging in front of the fire at Dennehof. All in 31 minutes.

Andrew will no doubt deny this, but I had to kick him out of Dennehof.

To give some idea of the sacrifice Andrew made yesterday.... there was a room, warmed for his arrival, lots of hot water, a soft dry bed, lots of great food, Lindsay pacing up and down the driveway, even someone to open the gate for him.....typical Dennehof hospitality.

To choose between the luxury of Dennehof and the Swartberg pass yesterday took sheer determination. Maybe that's why Andrew didn't even look inside the room!

Dennehof is fully prepped for the riders as they come in, full-on bike park with a high pressure cleaner, lights, 24/7 on call mechanic. You might even be met by Lindsay on his bike out in the veld (his BMW bike, that is)

And that's before you get to the front door.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Waiting for the RASA09 riders........

Every year it's more exciting, every year it's different; waiting for the little specks to arrive on the Swartskraal road.

The rewards for me are huge, seeing the surprised looks on rider's faces when I pop out of nowhere with the hot beverage of their choice. Knowing what it means to these riders is fundamental.

From the first year, when I got the "I'm not sure if you remember me, my name's David Waddilove" phone call, to this morning's excitement.........

Graeme Murray (saddlemaker extraordinaire) is watching the race closely because Andrew Barnes is on one of his saddles. When Graeme heard about Dave Barr's plight, his immediate reaction was "well, why don't we get a saddle to the *&^%**&%$ Aussie bastard!"

That's to me what the Freedom Challenge is about. Creating a space for the good in people to shine.

So it happens that there's a saddle winging it's way to Dave by overnight counter-to-counter courier (the Post Office play a big and often un-acknowledged role in this kind of thing) Who else can get a saddle from Velddrif to Rhodes in 24 hours?

While this was all being arranged, we received news that Dave Barr had turned back due to bad weather (I assume his sore backside played a role). Hang in there mate, we're getting the real thing to you as fast as is humanly possible.

Something else that deserves a mention, in fact much more than a mention, is that Steven and Di Thomas have donated a large number of bikes to cycling projects along the Freedom Challenge route. I'll stop gushing here, Steve, and just put a picture instead...

Gert Swarts with his "Gerrie Visser" bike,

....and Jan Smit with his,
both courtesy of Steven and Di Thomas of Daytrippers

You two, of all people will know what these bikes means to Gert and Jan.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My apologies.

It appears that this blog has degenerated into a bike-porn dump.
Couldn't help myself.

While there are no immediate trips or requests for trips, the bike-porn will continue.

This is worth a laugh........!!!!


Muti-angle-wheel bicycle appears in Qingdao

Well, it appears that Africa's influence is great; Muti angles and all...............
More here http://www.china.org.cn/china/photos/2009-05/07/content_17738257_4.htm

No Flats, No Stan's. Tubeless, spokeless, speechless. At least it's singlespeed.

None of that CNC, Hydroformed, Carbon-wa-wa-wa bullshit here, this is a "Real Man's" bike, probably well-suited to the legendary Sheldon Brown's "Real Man" saddle (You can Google that for yourself or contact Kevin Davie and Steven Thomas (they know) http://sheldonbrown.com/real-man.html

Case of Windhoek for the first rider to complete the Freedom Challenge on one (the bike or the saddle)