Monday, June 17, 2013

The Coega Daily Commute has moved to the new Trails and Tales site at at

Friday, June 22, 2012


Hats off to the wiser heads associated with the CDC.  The obstacles to safe riding on the CDC have been removed.  Great stuff, as controlled access to the Coega IDZ is now provided for bike commuting purposes!   Hopefully my new URL and site will be up and running in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Thats it - done - this blog is being wound up and killed. The purpose of the blog is explained in the side panel (Why the CDC). It was a celebration of place and how to get there through commuting by bike. In recent months it has become increasing difficult to commute to the Coega IDZ by bike. IDZ security measures have effectively cut off direct access to the IDZ from the bike path. To access the IDZ, a 4 to 6 km detour is required along either:

a) The freeway, where it is illegal to ride a bicycle
b) Over the busiest and most dangerous interchange in Port Elizabeth (Motherwell) which is completely unprotected for cyclists and pedestrians.

Doing the CDC is no longer a safe, relaxing, environmentally friendly and healthy way to commute. Its now simply a constant dice with death and a source of great frustration. Under these circumstances it is nothing to celebrate but something to mourn. It is incomprehensible how an initiative which advocates complete policy support for cycling, effectively forces an honest bicycle commuter to shut down this type of blog - as there is no longer a basis for its continued existence.

This all goes back to the early 1990's when the Fat Tracks Mountain Bike Club lobbied extensively for the need for an integrated network of cycling facilities. We saw no value in having isolated bike paths. Everything needed to connect, the Baakens Mountain Bike Trails to cycle routes to schools, beachfront bike paths going through harbours, and road rides with appropriate safety signage. The need for integration stands as true today. While the Coega Daily Commute has been ruined by one gate, other commuters experience similar issues on a daily basis, while also being killed in increasingly large numbers. People in authority should care and implement policy positions in respect of cycling and not simply act like the AWB (Arseholes with Badges). We need to connect our cycling facilities in wonderful and innovative ways, and to that quest I remain committed. Its simply not worth the effort to argue with the AWB - I'll simply risk it and bumble through my riding when doing the Daily Commute to Coega. Unfortunately its no longer a place to celebrate on this site. Cycling is a microcosm of the broader society. Good, sound and environmentally progressive policy is in place, but poor implementation is ruining the laudable intentions of the policies, Tragically its AWB types doing the damage instead of fullfilling their legal mandates or protecting our societal interests. In the next few weeks I will be setting up my new website, devoid of the CDC, but, still heavily focused on my greatest joys, finding great routes to ride bikes in places with wonderful stories to tell.

Monday, September 5, 2011


After nearly four months of searching, I have found it. It started out as an irritating creak. Then it went away, then it came back - louder, then it went away. My Scott Spark had developed a terrible creak and I took it to numerous bike mechanics to get it sorted out. All failed! As a first timer on a carbon bike, I was simply not used to creaks on carbon. They tend to resonate and are difficult to track down. Here's how it went:

1) Its the BB: It was my first experience with PF30 BB's and this was an XX one. I tried everything with the BB and for months was convinced this was the problem. I started cursing Scott and had got to the point where I was going to approach the distributors!

2) Its the Pedals: I started to eliminate all other possibilities. I found an issue on my XTR pedals and swopped them out. New pedals and the creak stopped - for a few days anyway. Then it was back!

3) Its the drop outs: I looked at the drop outs, greased them and cleaned everything. Creak stayed.

4) Its the seat: Stripped it down, cleaned it and tried a new seat. No change.

5) Its the bloody cluster: Then this morning, riding around Central, the penny dropped. On the smallest (11) cog on the rear, the squeak disappeared. I whipped the cluster off. It was not tightened properly. I cleaned it, stuck it back on, tightened it properly, and hey presto - the Squeak was gone.

The most irritating and frustrating thing about my whole Scott career thus far was sorted out.

Hallelujah! I went for a three hour ride and grinned all the way!

Monday, August 29, 2011


The second Zuurberg Mtb Challenge was held on a fantastic course at Bushbuck Lodge on 28 August 2011. The race is a corporate charity event where teams of four riders (two riding 20km and two riding 50km) try and post the best combined time. In the past, I have ridden both the Herald and Mondi sponsored annual races at Addo and on every occasion have found it hard and boring - not a great recipe for upping yourself in the popularity stakes. Both races are basically long open roads with rare highlights of single track. I have also believed, that neither the Mondi or Herald are good representatives of the mountain biking potential in the area.

Well, the Stonehouse Capital Zuurberg Mtb Challenge has changed all that. When Mark Ward from Grinaker Lta offered a ride on their team, I was initially reluctant. Mark Willamott convinced me that it would be a great ride and promised a good course.

The race was hosted on the farm of Trevor and Rob Hayter, Bushbuck Lodge. The farm is picturesquely situated at the foot of the Zuurberg pass. Few people know the centrality of this area in the historical development of the Eastern Cape. Around 1860, Port Elizabeth was the dominant economy in South Africa. Exports, imports and tax revenue from Port Elizabeth, were ahead of Cape Town by a healthy margin (see statistics hereunder from an 1880 Parliamentary "Select Committee to consider Plans for the Improvement of Port Elizabeth harbour").

Much of the growth was fueled by a road network which enabled competitive logistics (based on the Ox Wagon) between the wool farms of the interior and Port Elizabeth. The Stonehouse Capital Zuurberg race was going over the exact same road which gave Port Elizabeth its economic dominance for that brief period. The Eastern Cape lost its economic edge when Cape Town outwitted the Eastern Cape and established its rail infrastructure into the diamond and gold fields, killing the ox wagon trade and ushering in a new economic era.

The race started straight up the Zuurberg pass with Andrew Briggs nailing the pace from the outset. No chance to warm up - simply on the hammer. Five of us went off the front, and then Briggs gassed it with Kevin Taljaard in tow. I lagged off the back of the ever strong Louis De Villiers and a resurgent Mark Willamott and simply did not have the lungs going up the pass (and I think I know the reasons for that). The Zuurberg pass is a great place to reflect, and left me with some nice ideas on the old Ox Wagon routes of the Eastern Cape and my current state of health!

Coming off Camp Fig Tree, I closed down Mark and Louis who had stopped for a mechanical. I rode with them for a while, but, my bike handling was strangely off song. There was no flow and my Scott Spark was not on rails like normal. On the hardpack clay and dewy grass of the Zuurberg slopes, I was slipping and sliding all over the place and feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Either my Continental tires were not up to the game, or I was rusty, probably the latter.

The terrain was absolutely stunning. The Southern slopes of the Zuurberg are covered with Valley Bushveld or Mesic Subtropical Thicket. The entire route was a healthy mix of dirt road, jeep track and twisty game paths with lots of thorn to keep one honest. In contrast to the Herald and Mondi, the Stonehouse Capital route flowed and had a mix distinctly biased towards jeep track and single track.

At a water point, I battled to get my race nutrition (GU's and PowerBar) and lost contact with Louis and Mark, preferring to let them go as I wanted to ride alone to enjoy the flowing jeep track and to regain my singletrack Mojo.

The Mojo came back in the last 10km as I managed to get the Scott Spark to flow and from then it was pure Single Track grin. Andrew Briggs ripped his sidewall and I stopped to pass him a bomb. Clearly Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Addo thicket don't mix very well. I topped up with Stans sealant just before the ride and did not have a problem with my full UST Continental tyres. They are very heavy and I have been considering a lighter tire, though I am still looking around. It is difficult to find the right mix for Eastern Cape conditions. At this stage my UST Contis are strong, but, too heavy. I was also disappointed by how the tires were slipping out on the riding surfaces of Addo. However, in all honesty, I don't know whether it was my Mojo, fitness or tires - or perhaps all three. Nonetheless, there is sufficient doubt, to warrant exploration of fresh rubber.

3km from the end I managed to close down Louis, but, lost out to him when I moved on him too early and he comprehensively outsprinted me. Congratulations to Mark Willamott on a great ride to take the win and tough luck to Andrew Briggs who was the strongest rider on the day.

The involvement of Stonehouse Capital in this race is good news for the Eastern Cape. I believe it will open some eyes as to the potential that the area holds for a quality mountain bike event with top class riding terrain. As pointed out in the past, we should be using race events for people to come back to an area on a sustained basis. The way the Mondi and Herald events are currently run, they only serve to put people off the area. Thanks Stonehouse and everybody else involved - you've breathed new life into a stale riding area! Special thanks to Mark Ward and Grinaker Lta for the invite to ride on their team which eventually ended up finishing in third place!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Sick and tired of replacing the bike mounts for your Garmin Edge? Well I think I may just have found a solution - albeit cumbersome.

If you've Google'd this page, you already know that broken Garmin Edge Bike Mounts are more common than a smelly shammy. Everyone complains about them and Garmin now have a policy to not replace them under warranty (well in South Africa anyway).

Use a sharp scribe or nail to push a hole through the plastic cross bracket, exactly where it aligns with the notch on the Garmin unit as per picture hereunder.

The hole must be the same diameter as a derailleur cable end cap. Fit the Edge unit to the plastic cross and then push a derailleur cable end cap through the hole. You can trim the cap so that it fits flush against the plastic and engages the clip so the Garmin unit and plastic cross are firmly held together.

You can now attach the rubber backing and zip tie the mount and unit to the bar or stem. Obviously, the drawback is that you have to cut and reattach the zip ties everytime you move the unit from one bike to another. While its a bit of an inconvenience, you can buy one heck of a lot of zip ties for the price of one bike mount.

The end cap is soft aluminium. If you trim it to the right length it wont damage either your stem or unit, and it will hold the Garmin unit firmly in place - much like a flywheel key on a motor!

In South Africa five Big Macs will get you one bike mount. In the USA, it will cost you two Big Macs!

Shame on you Garmin South Africa for providing such poor support for items which are clearly manufacturing defects!

Friday, August 5, 2011


Sometimes the marketing muppets just get it plain wrong. I have been mulling over the idea of a 29'er, but, would probably opt for a frameset and build components over. The Specialized Stumpjumper 29'er is on my list so I took at look at their website. Interesting how they position themselves as a product for the discerning buyer, by stating that:

If you're particular about your bike spec right down to the quick releases, start with the ultimate 29er hardtail frameset (barely 1kg) and build it precisely to your liking.

Someone should tell Specialized that a frameset is the frame, front fork, seatpost, seat binder and headset. If that weighs under 1kg, I will eat the frameset. My guess is that its more like 2.5 kg.