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Boyfriend, Exercise, Holistic Health, Love, Mountain-biking, Travel: South Africa, Uncategorized

A Diamond in the rough

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one – Chinese proverb

As I have written previously, Wes and I recently took up mountain biking and are both hooked! In order to celebrate our four-year anniversary and our new-found shared passion we signed up for our first race together. We entered the Nissan Trailseeker Diamond Rush mountain biking challenge.

The Preparation

As I wrote about in this post Wes and I had cycled at Emmarentia to practise the technical side of mountain biking as well as some cardio training. The Friday before the race I had woken up with a bad cold (again!) and as I refused to let this interfere with the excitement and anticipation for the weekend I spent the entire day at work drinking Corenza-C, Degoran and dosing up on Vitamin C. I made sure I was warm in bed by 7pm that night whilst Wes bought me dinner and prepared everything for our trip. He checked our bikes, packed our helmets and pumps, filled a cooler box with water, Powerade, naartjies, bananas, ice packs and sweets. He even laid out everything in the kitchen to make me breakfast the next morning. All of this whilst I was so drugged up on flu medicine a bomb could have exploded next to my head and I would have slept on. What a man!

On Saturday morning the alarm went off at half past five and I was feeling better after a very long sleep. We had some Future Life for breakfast and Wes had his shake too. He is on big mission to pick up some weight and me…uh…quite the opposite! Funny the reasons why different people exercise, isn’t it? During the drive there we also ate the USN bars that we had received in the awesome race packs. Our race packs contained other goodies such as USN high protein soups and Nissan socks. We definitely received our money’s worth in the race packs where the entry fee is concerned. We arrived there quite early and luckily so, there were already cars parked everywhere. So many cyclists and everyone looked so professional – I was suddenly quite nervous.

The Cycle

The race is described on the Advendurance website as follows:

If you take to mountain biking like women take to diamonds, do not miss this race! The route traverses areas inaccessible under normal circumstances due to diamond mining (come try your luck), and that is not all! Winding single and jeep tracks take you through pristine areas and over river crossings where you can still stop and drink the water.

The route options are 70 km, 40 km, 20 km and 10 km each with its own excitement. The long distance route takes riders through areas where wild game roam, and even past lion. You ride on the verge of a massive water fall and through a cave – you will not find better mountain biking than this!

Over and above the family fun offered by the NISSAN Trailseeker Series, the town of Cullinan comes to life, catering for the hordes of mountain bikers! Whole-day excitement is on offer, and everyone in the family can have a share. Great meals, snacks and beer to quench your thirst while sharing the story behind your battle scars with your mountain bike buddies, are available at many of the quaint restaurants. Jumping castle and face painting looks after young kids, and we’ll look after your bike and wash it, for a donation, while you relax with a professional massage or rub-down.

Does that not sound too exciting!?

We had decided to cycle the 10km route as we were very new to this and were not too sure what to expect of both the track and our fitness levels. At the start we were surrounded by little kids and we towered over everyone! The only other people over the age of ten cycling this route were the parents of the little kids cycling along them for support. Next time we will most definitely choose a route of 20km or more! There were no technical areas and we basically just cycled around the town on the dirt roads – but I was not complaining; my body was weak from being sick and I do not think I would have made another kilometre. Wes cycled really well and finished in about 20 minutes, I came in 15 minutes after him gasping for air and completely red in the face.

The Venue

The Diamond Rush is the second race of the NISSAN Trailseeker Series and is held in Cullinan, a quaint little town situated  just outside of Pretoria when driving from Johannesburg. Cullinan is a diamond mining town and the world-famous 3106 carats Cullinan Diamond was discovered here.

There were stalls everywhere selling all kinds of cycling gadgets and goodies. Everything was marked down a bit and we each bought a Hydration Pack for the price that you can normally only buy one. We were, and are, super chuffed by the fact that our cycling gadgets collections is growing!

Next on my wish list: a bandanna, an odometer, a ladies saddle, sunglasses and a sleeveless cycling shirt.

Cullinan is such a creative little place and I love it there. My first visit was last year on Mother’s Day when my ma, sis and I travelled on the Steam Train into town for the day and I couldn’t wait to show Wes all the awesome shops and artistic creations.

Arguably the most fascinating little place is “JanHarmsgat se Agterplaas” – a guesthouse, restaurant and function venue. They have used all old “crap” we have all had in our homes at one stage or another or on big farms that we would just throw out and have created something beautiful. I love this place but unfortunately the “agterplaas” section was closed and we could only access the front.

We were also given a fascinating introduction to the 5 C’s of Diamonds: Carat, Colour, Clarity, Cut and Certificate.

There is a tour of the town that can be done but the vehicle in which you drive is an open top and it was a freezing cold weekend so we decided to keep that on the to do list for a future visit.

The Food and Drink

After our cycle we immediately made our way to a beer stand. I had a Cherry cider and Wes a beer called a Blondie (he loves his blondes you see). Later that day we had dinner at the famous pub that brews these beers…

After watching some of the other cyclists finish their races we decided to go have a look at some of the restaurants – by this stage we were ravenous.

We decided to eat at a place at the end of the road called Albizia, the owner was a delight. He had prepared for the mass onslaught of people that day and offered only one thing on the menu: a breakfast baguette. The flavours were incredible and his humour and style made everything even more enjoyable.

After the prize-giving and a nice long shower back at our lodge we proceeded on a pub crawl through the town.

The Cockpit Brewhouse was most definitely our favourite place. André, the “beer nerd” as they affectionately refer to him here, brews all the beers here himself and they are delicious! Have a look at their website for a description of all the beers, it is fascinating!

The Accommodation

Seeing as we had our anniversary to celebrate we had booked to stay the night at Destiny Lodge. Our room was massive and we were pleasantly surprised with a bottle of sherry and cupcakes on arrival!

The Verdict

Our first official cycling race and sightseeing of places in SA was a major success. The historic little town of Cullinan is a must see and the race organisers were brilliant. The day is not only enjoyable for the riders but for family and friends too.

I am looking forward to next year’s challenge where we will most definitely be doing the 70km route. If you want to enter remember to stay alert as this year online entries reached full capacity before the online entries were even closed and I think next year this day will prove to be even more popular!

Click on images to view larger versions.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “A Diamond in the rough

  1. I really love this post!! So inspiring!! It makes me want to get up early on a cool day, exercise, embrace nature and little treasures of our country! Fantastic post Tam!! Really!

    Posted by richrayson | August 21, 2012, 9:18 AM
  2. Special people doing extra special things ! Luvit

    Posted by Elvira Nel | August 29, 2012, 1:10 PM

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