Monday, 18 July 2011

Scouting for a run, by bike

A few months ago my friend Alex had a great idea for a runabout run. I stitched together some maps and planned a route. It was only on Saturday that we got out to scout it, on our bikes. Always easier to scout on bikes especially when you don't know where the road closures are.

We all met at Sandton City on Saturday afternoon. There was me, Alex, Tommy, Tony and Nathan. Nathan seems to be the only one who missed the email to wear his AR Club cycle top... but he still arrived in blue so we were all matching (actually, there wasn't an email - just fun coincidence).

It is really fun to ride through suburbs that you don't know at all. Well, just over 2hrs later we found ourselves at our destination, the Rhodesfield Gautrain station in Kempton Park. My route proved good because we did not get trapped by any road closures. A few places the route can be improved as there is construction going on that wasn't on Google Earth. 27km to Rhodesfield on mostly road and a few kays of trail.

We'd seen on the web that bikes were not allowed on the Gautrain unless in bike bags. We were hoping to get lucky on a quiet Saturday afternoon. The station manager was really sweet and helpful but said no can do. He offered us the option of taking our bikes to the airport to have them wrapped. We chose to ride back to Sandton.

Interestingly, there were some pretty-looking bike racks outside the station enterance. Please tell me who in their right mind would ride to the station, leave their bike there all day (even if it is chained) and then fetch it when they return later? The manager said that there are a few people who bike commute. They ride with their bike bags, pack the bike into bag before getting on the train and then unpack and ride off on the other side.

I do think it would be really productive for Gautrain to assign the last compartment to accommodate people with bikes - like by taking out a few rows of seats the bikers can stand with their bikes or lean them up against each other at the back. After all, the ride only takes 10-15 minutes...

Our route home was pretty good and direct. It also saw us riding through Alexandra on London Road. It was just starting to get dark so we rode fast. Amazing that just as you crest the hill you're in Wynberg.

Total distance covered was 52km and it was just so much fun playing around together. Then we went to Tony's place to watch both Expedition Africa shows, which he'd recorded for us. Both very good - stunning footage and graphics; well assembled. I definitely favoured Andrew King's production (D4 Productions) of Merrell Adventure Addicts. What stood out for me was that the team narrated the show from their pre-, during and post-race interviews and also that the focus of the show was only on one team. Because of this they were able to get across more of the emotion, challenge, difficulty and duration of the race. It's really hard to cover multiple teams, a 500km distance and a 5-day duration in an hour, which is what the ATV Productions episode did. Considering this, it was still a good show but I only wish they'd had another two or three hours to play with. I'm sure they had a lot more super footage (great shots) and content; but time is always the limiting factor in broadcast. Well done to both crews for quite different and really good productions. You can watch the Merrell Adventure Addicts show online. It's big - Nathan said it was about 250MB, but worth it.

A scouting ride with friends and pizza and adventure racing telly afterwards (plus some TdF from Sat afternoon) - an absolutely wonderful day.


Anonymous said...

It would be awesome if we could introduce a safe bike commute culture. It really is an awesome in the Netherlands (amongst others), and a great start and end to the work day. Perhaps a fold up bike as is common here could work (though will need some gears for the hills), assuming that would be allowed on the train...

Tommy Booth said...

Ya it was great fun. We must do the run as soon as spring comes. How did that pic come out of us in the train station with our bikes?